Achieving high yields is the goal of every indoor marijuana grower. Frankly, it is the reason why websites like howtogrowmarijuana.com exist in the first place: we all want to get out the most of our plants, by putting in the least possible amount of effort.
There are many factors that can play a significant role in the final yield of your crop: things like the conditions of your grow room, proper maintenance of the plants or even strain genetics, can do a world of difference when it comes to the flowers that your plants will produce.
In this guide, we will share with you 4+1 simple (but in-depth) tips to increase the yield of your indoor growing setup, be it soil or hydroponic.
Why is this important
Although we have covered this issue in the past, it is important to put the right harvesting time in the bigger picture. Although it might seem unimportant at first, choosing the correct time to harvest your plants is important. It is vital to remember that impatience and rash decisions may lead you to some lesser quality product, even if you’ve done everything correctly. In fact, your plant’s more productive growth phase is right before harvesting time. Obviously, you don’t want to interfere with that. Generally, there is a two to three-week period of time during the flowering phase that is recommended for harvesting. There are some differences between harvesting earlier or later within that specific window of time (buds collected earlier give a more cerebral high, whereas later harvests have a more stoned effect). Under no circumstances should you harvest outside this time period.
Cannabinoids Fluctuations and Timing
As we have seen in past articles of HTG, cannabinoids are what make up for your marijuana plant’s psychoactive effect. All the lingo used among cannabis users (high, stoned, blazed, baked, ripped etc.), inadvertently refers to the cannabinoid content of a specific plant. As we have established above, different harvest times between the appropriate harvesting window will lead to fluctuations in the cannabinoid contents of your plant. Naturally, this will have an interesting effect on your smoking experience.
THC is known to concentrate on the fully-developed trichomes of the bud. It is developed late in the flowering period and will degrade over time, breaking down into CBN, which gives a more opiate-like sensation. CBD is perhaps the second most popular cannabinoid and its interaction with THC can affect the quality of the high. It is not degradable, like THC, and binds well with CBN, increasing the tranquilizing effect of the smoke.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. You may play around a little bit with harvesting times and see the result, but never, ever, harvest early.
How to understand when the time is right
Now that you know the importance of timing for a nice and plentiful yield, you are probably wondering “How do I KNOW when I should harvest my buds?”
Luckily, there are quite a few ways of recognizing when the right time for harvest has come. Below we are going to list some of them. Start by using those telltale signs until you feel comfortable enough to instinctively know when your plants are ready.
Look at the Specs of your seeds
If you’ve ever bought seeds from a seed bank (chances are that you have), you should have noticed that the approximate harvest date is written on the packaging. To be fair, this indication, while not necessarily wrong, is rather arbitrary; different conditions and growing systems might affect the actual harvesting time. Therefore, keep that in mind, but trust your eyes (and this guide) more.
Watch the color of the pistils
When your plant is reaching maturity, you will notice that the color of the pistils will start to darken with time. To observe that it might be helpful if you could acquire a reliable 20x magnifying glass. It could save you a lot of time. When about 50% of them start to turn brown, harvesting time is approaching. As time goes by, the pistils will progressively darken. After that, it is only a matter of preference. Generally, darker pistils=more bodily effect.
Pay attention to the trichomes
Another instance where a good magnifying glass will solve your problems. With the help of a magnifier, you can take a much closer look at your buds’ trichomes (not to be confused with the pistils, which are longer hair projecting from the flower), for color fluctuations. All the magic happens inside these precious little glands. This is where the buds mouthwatering resin is produced. Apart from some amazing photo-ops, the trichomes can help you immensely in understanding the timing of your harvest. Generally, they will go through three discernable phases before and during flowering
- First, you will notice that their heads will take a flat (mushroom-like) shape;
- As time passes, the trichomes’ color will start to change from clear to hazy;
- In their final stage of development, the trichomes will begin to darken and turn yellowish/brown;
- When the ratio of hazy-to-brown trichomes is about 60 – 40%, you have hit the sweet (s)pot.
There is an agreement among marijuana growers, that this method is probably the most reliable. Again, you’ll need a good magnifying glass (or a microscope) and a lot of patience to understand what’s going on.
Quick Summary/ Q&A
I can see short transparent hairs sticking out of my buds. Should I harvest?
Absolutely not. Your plant is still young and if you harvest, you’ll end up with a meager amount of low-quality product
I like my high to be psychoactive so I want to harvest early. How do I know that my plant just entered the right phase?
You’ll know that your plant is ready when approximately 40% of your plant’s pistils have turned brown and started curling inwards. Also, “psychoactive” means “more THC”. Most of the THC has covered the buds when the trichomes are cloudy and the pistils are about 50% darkened. You just hit the jackpot.
Are all strains the same?
No. Some strains trichomes never progress further than the frosty white color. If you see that they have turned hazy and not turning amber, that’s a sign of such a variety.
My trichomes have turned gray and wilted. What have I done wrong?
Patience is a virtue. Too much of it, on the other hand, is not. Although it is highly unlikely that you’ll ever come across such a sight, this means that your harvest window has passed.
As you become more and more experienced in cultivating marijuana, you will find it easier to understand when the time has come. Every expert has their own secret techniques and the beauty is to discover your own. Sharing your knowledge with the community is an optional, but great step to follow next.
This tip will not only help you improve your yield, but it will also ensure that you will always get the most out of your end product.
*For more specific information on how to harvest your marijuana on this page.
Choose The Right Nutrients
You and your plants share one major characteristic: you both need the right nutrients (at the correct dosage) in order to survive. The difference, on the other hand, is that your plants don’t exactly “eat”. They photosynthesize. Their “food” comes from light energy which is crucial to their development.
So, what do the “nutrients” do then?
This common misconception is partly fueled by growers who often refer to nutrients as “food” in their forum conversations, probably to save themselves some time (you can find out more on the importance of lighting further down in this article). In fact, nutrients act as “helping” agents that facilitate the process of photosynthesis and help break down all the necessary components that make up your plant’s life. They are essentially, food supplements rather than actual food. Therefore, the phrase “you are what you eat” is not exactly accurate than in the case of marijuana plants. Their auxiliary role does not mean that they are of lower importance. On the contrary, if used correctly, they can help quite a lot with plant development.
However, before we go on with this tip you need to remember that stuffing your plants with nutrients, will not lead to bigger and better yields. On the contrary, it will inevitably lead to a case of “nutrient burn”, which is a potentially fatal plant sickness (you can find out more about plant diseases and symptoms here). For now, we are going to see how the right nutrients can help your plants achieve bigger yields.
The building blocks of Cannabis Plant Life
Of course, it’s not only over-eager growers that are causing a problem by feeding their plant too much. Nutrient deficiencies (the opposite of nutrient burns) are a constant threat to your plants and the symptoms between the two are not always easily discernable. However, you can use our guide to try and identify the problems with your plants.
Generally, not all nutrients are the same. They fall under three different categories
Essential Mineral Macronutrients (derived from soil)
- Nitrogen (N);
- Phosphorus (P);
- Potassium (K);
- Calcium (Ca);
- Magnesium (Mg);
- Sulfur (S).
Fertilizer bags and nutrient supplements, often feature three numbers in their packaging, that indicate the quantity of the three main elements (N, P, and K) is contained in the product. The number are always listed in this order: N – P – K.
Non-Mineral Elements (derived from air and water)
- Carbon (C);
- Hydrogen (H);
- Oxygen (O).
- Zinc (Zn);
- Iron (Fe);
- Manganese (Mn);
- Molybdenum (Mo);
- Chlorine (Cl);
- Cobalt (Co);
- Silicon (Si);
- Boron (B);
- Copper (Cu).
Although they are called “micro” nutrients and are indeed only used at trace amounts, these minerals are crucial to a plants’ health.
Balancing the Nutrient Intake of your Plant for Optimal Yield
Ignore (yes, ignore) manufacturer’s suggestions
When feeding your plant with nutrients, it would be wise to take the manufacturer’s suggestions with a pinch of salt, especially when it comes to bottled nutrients. Generally, your plants require much fewer nutrients than you are giving them. Unless you notice some definite signs of a particular deficiency, use a lower (about 50% lower) amount of nutrient solution to your plant. There is no “one-size-fits-all” recipe when it comes to plant nutrients and you need to be flexible to respond to their nutritional needs. The best course of action is to not be over-protective with your plants.
Keep Track of the Time
It is important to know which phase your plant is at any given moment. It is perfectly normal for plants to lose a few leaves or get slight discolorations about 2-4 weeks before entering the harvesting phase. If you mistake this perfectly natural development for a nutrient deficiency and rush in with your nutrients like Captain America, you’ll actually hinder your plant’s production. The truth is that plants at this stage actually require fewer nutrients than normal. Not only will the plant distribute its energy where it needs to go (flowering), but the end product will actually be tastier too. Leaves wither and die in this phase because the plant is focusing on flowering. Let nature do its work and learn from old-school growers.
Learn About Compost and its Benefits
If you are growing in soil, whether indoors or outdoors, organic compost and compost tea made by you, might be the solution to all deficiency problems. The benefits of mixing your own compost are both financial and environmental. Not only is it costlier to use pre-made chemical fertilizer, but it is also grossly environmentally unfriendly. Organic compost makes good use of stuff that would’ve otherwise been thrown away. Not to mention that it can be used both as a soil additive and a tea for foliar spray. Simplicity is key here: you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get great results.
Compost is essentially nature’s way of recycling resources and making sure nothing goes to waste. The art and techniques of composting have almost been forgotten, but luckily, we can give you some pointer on how to grow your marijuana like they did in the good old days. Basically, if you want to delve deeper into the philosophy of organic growing, you’ll find out that your product will even taste different. So, this gives you a great chance of playing around with your plants.
How to make compost
The basic ingredients for compost might be anything that will naturally biodegrade. Although the basic principle is “if it rots, it can become compost”, there are some exceptions to the rule. It is generally best to avoid including cooked food, printed pages, meat, dairy products or pet excrements in your compost mix. They are known for transmitting diseases to the plants.
Here are some compost ingredients, categorized by the speed in which they will turn into the soil mix.
Grass clippings, leaves, manure, young plants.
Wood ash (no more than 2 gallons per year), egg cartons, tea bags, used coffee grounds, straw/hay, and any other reasonably fast-rotting items.
Wood shavings, hard plants, sawdust, hedge trimmings.
Depending on how quickly you want your compost to be used, you should choose the right ingredients. You can even choose dead marijuana plants if you have any. Making compost is relatively easy (although you might want to mix all the ingredients in an outdoor environment). Here is a quick step-by-step guide to compost making
- You need a container (any box will do) placed in a shady spot, on a flat surface. Then you can start adding the ingredients, mixed with a little bit of soil to aid the decomposition of organic matter.
- When the compost pile feels a bit warm, or about 7 days later, mix the heap. Try to move as much stuff from the bottom to the top. If the heap is dry, add water. If it is overly soggy, add more dry material. It will take at best 6-8 weeks for the compost to complete, but that depends largely on how much material you put in. In some cases, it could take up to a year.
- You’ll notice that its ready when it transforms into a uniform, dark brown blend that smells crudely.
Composting is a lengthy process that requires dedication, tenacity, and patience. You can find lots of information on compost techniques here. Generally, you’ll want to store your compost and have an ample supply. Since it takes such a long time to create, it’s wise to preserve and think ahead.
Making Compost Tea for Foliar Feed
- Fill a bucket with up to 1/3 full of finished compost.
- Add water to fill up the rest of the bucket.
- Let the mixture sit for 3-5 days.
- Filter it by using a cloth (old t-shirt, etc.) and stretch it over another bucket, to make a makeshift teabag.
- Tie it down over the bucket with a large rubber band or anything else that will hold it down.
- Strain the mixture through the cloth into the empty bucket slowly, like you do with cooked pasta.
- Dilute the compost tea further, until takes the color of weak tea.
- The solids taken from the cloth can be either thrown into your soil or thrown back into your compost heap.
How to Apply Compost
Compost can be mixed into the soil as a fertilizer, or prepare plots for seedlings on outdoor grows. It is good if your plants are already growing to make compost tea as a fertilizer. You can also use it as mulch or apply it on top of your plants’ soil.
The Advantages of Compost
Compost is a messy, but cheap and reliable way of making sure that you’ll never need chemical products again. Here are some additional reasons
- It acts as organic soil balancing agent, improving soil health while simultaneously expanding its bacterial ecosystem. This is particularly beneficial in low nutrient soils;
- It renders chemical fertilizers obsolete.
- It holds more water. This is very important in crops where marijuana suffers from water stress, such as in Guerrilla cultivation.
- Mature compost (mulch) prevents the growth of weed and protects soil from harmful solar rays;
- It promotes the growth of earthworms, which are very important in breaking down nutrients;
- It is an environmentally conscious choice since you can use garbage from your own bin;
- Dead plants are, by law of nature, destined to become food for newer plants. Help nature close the circle of life by using them in your compost mix.
- Nutrients are essential for your plants well being. Provide them the correct amount but don’t overdo it;
- Nothing can replace solid knowledge. Be realistic with the amount of nutrient you give your plants;
- Use at least 50% less of the amount that manufacturers suggest and increase the dosage only in the event of a deficiency;
- Do not confuse natural withering and yellowing of the plants before flowering with nutrient deficiency;
- Compost is an ancient, customizable and cheap technique that solves most nutrient problems. Use it, if you have the time and space;
- Read up a little bit on plant physiology. There are no miracle recipes when it comes to increasing your yields.
Create the Perfect Environment
A nice growing environment can work wonders for your plants’ healthy development and lead to a plentiful yield. Generally, if you’re growing outdoors, all of these aspects are much harder to control. However, on indoor grows, you can manipulate every single aspect of the environment, thus creating an optimal place for the growth of your babies. Specifically, you’ll want to pay extra attention to Light, Temperature & Humidity, and Airflow matters.
Light is your plants’ only food source. As we have established at the beginning of this article, nutrients are just playing a secondary (albeit important) role in the proper nutrition of your plant. Proper light exposure is the Alpha and the Omega when it comes to growing marijuana (or indeed, any other plant). When you’re growing indoors, whether on soil or nonsoil setups, your goal should be to emulate the regular sunlight exposure. This will not only ensure that your plants will stay healthy, but also, the production of optimal yield.
Although we can only feel the heat that light emits, plants can go one step further and harness solar power through chlorophyll. Spectrums of light are absorbed by the leaves in very specific wavelengths. The rest of the process takes place inside the plant. However, it is extremely important that your plant receives adequate and plentiful light everywhere. Below, we’ll give you some pointers in choosing the right light setup for your needs. If you know how to properly use lighting, then you’ll have a great ally in producing the highest possible yield.
How Much Light Is Too Much?
There is a handy rule of thumb when you are trying to determine how much light you should
There is a handy rule of thumb when you are trying to determine how much light you should actually use. If you have plants up to 30” (76cm) tall, you can do the following: multiply the length and the width to get the total square footage. Then take this number, and divide it by your lamp’s wattage. For example, if you have a 4×4 room, it’s 16 square feet. If your lamp is 1000 watts, divide that by 16 square feet, and you’ll get 62W per square foot. Anything more than 35 watts per square foot is fine for plants of this size. On the other hand, anything more than 65W is a waste of energy. If you are using LED lights, you should really take some time to do some research on the actual wattage of the setup. For more information on the specific grow lights, visit our page here.
For larger plants, you need to add more lights, that will help flowering and higher yields on all the plants’ branches. It could also be useful to determine your light pattern. For that, you can use a light meter. Make sure that no plants are outside of the light’s reach. As the plant grows, it will narrow down the area that the light reaches. Of course, bigger areas need more lights and the whole setup’s canopy should be re-adjusted. Also, you can use a vertical reflector to ensure that every part of your plant gets the light it needs.
This is especially useful for taller plants; the beam of light comes directly from the sides, and the conical reflector directs it downward. Therefore, the plants’ growing tips will get the right amount of light because this light reaches fully to the side of the garden. For the next light, ensure that the second reflector is positioned in a way that keeps the light 12-18” away from the first reflector. Every plant below these two reflectors will get all the light they need. Finally, it is necessary to be careful with the distance you leave between your plants and the lights. If not positioned correctly, the heat that the lights emit can eventually burn them.
You’ll find three types of lights on the market. The first two excel at different stages of plant development, while the third promises to take things from start to finish.
- Metal halide (MH) lamps in the 5000 to 6500 k or approximately 350 to 550nm spectrum are great during the spouting and vegetative stages. Follow your seed bank’s instructions to determine for how long you have to use these lights. It should be anything from 2-4 weeks.
- High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps in the 2000 to 4000K or 540 to 700 nm spectrum are great for the pre-flowering and flowering stages.
- Full-spectrum LED lamps have been all the rage in the last few years. Truth is, they are continually researched and improved, but investing in a LED light setup might still be a hit and miss. It is true, however, that they use much less electricity and claim to provide a more precise delivery of the necessary wavelengths of light from 420 nm to 750 nm that will grow your plants from seed to harvest. Their wattage has been an issue of much debate and getting the necessary power for your setup might prove a very costly endeavor.
There are some techniques to ensure that your plants will get even light distribution, but they have to do with the plants themselves. Therefore, we will analyze those later on.
Whether you’re growing in soil or not, providing your plants with sufficient lighting is the cornerstone of a great crop. However, be sure to use lamps that do not generate a lot of heat that could potentially lead to fire hazard or raise the temperature to uncomfortable levels.
Temperature & Humidity
Speaking of temperature: your plants do not like extremes in terms of temperature. Plants that are exposed to intense heat or cold run a serious risk of under-development. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure that your grow room’s temperature at around 70-75ºF (20-23ºC). Anything more or less than that can cause severe problems to your plants. Note that if you choose to artificially supply your plants with more CO2 (more on that next), you should raise the temperature slightly, to around 80ºF(27ºC).
Here is an optimal temperature list according to the stage of plant development
- Seedling and Vegetative Stage: 70-85ºF (20-30ºC);
- Flowering Stage: 65-80ºF (18-26ºC).
Why keeping control of the Temperature is Important
If the temperature drops below the suggested levels (especially during your plant’s dark period), the development of your crop will be significantly hindered. Outdoor strains are generally more resilient and can withstand heavier temperature fluctuations. There are some devices which can help you achieve the perfect temperature levels, such as heating mats, or gas patio heaters.
However, you should always remember: it is equally important not to provide too much heat to your plants. Despite the fact that marijuana plants can more easily endure warmer temperatures, prolonged exposition to such environments can lead to lower yields and/or airy buds. To regulate heating, you could try a standard ground A/C unit or fans. But mainly, you should watch out for the most direct source of heat that affects your plants: your grow lights. Try to invest in cooler/water-cooled lights that regulate heat. Also, adjust the canopy level to be at a suitable level above your plants. LED grow lights emit significantly lower levels of heat. Therefore, it could be worth researching through the latest model to find one that will cover your needs. You can check out more about LED grow lights here.
Air & Humidity
Proper airflow and ventilation are also key in order to ensure that your plants have a sturdy basis in which to produce monster yields. Humidity generally measures the amount of water that is present in the air, while relative humidity refers to the maximum amount of water that can be present in the air at a specific temperature. Proper ventilation and control of the humidity levels will allow your plants to reach the maximum level of their potential.
Ventilation systems consist of two (or three) components: the air extractor, an interior fan and occasionally, an extractor fan.
- The Air Extractor
It is the most important part of any ventilation system. It controls and regulates the air flow inside the grow room. Generally, the more lights you use, the more powerful the extractor must be. You can choose between commercial and industrial extractors. The latter are considerably more powerful and should only be used for seriously large crops!
- Air extraction Fans
Extractor fans are not necessary for smaller crops and they act as a complimentary device to the extractor system. However, it can improve the climate of a grow room and limit the pressure caused by the extractor fan. Their capacity must always stay at lower levels than the extractor fan. You could always use a regular oscillating fan to improve air circulation inside your grow room.
Proper ventilation can be very important to your plants’ well-being. It helps them build a stronger body and stems while lowering relative humidity. In addition, it ensures that all the vital gas exchanges are carried out efficiently, leading to healthier and higher-yielding plants.
When growing cannabis plants, relative humidity(RH) is equally as important as the temperature of the air, and is something you should pay attention to. Humidity levels can affect your plants’ terpene levels. Terpenes are a cannabinoid that is responsible for the taste and smell of your end product. Different plants flourish at different relative humidity levels, although too high levels of it will almost certainly lead to mold (which can in turn cause other problems). Relative humidity and temperature should be controlled in unison when growing marijuana. Too hot and dry air can lead to slow growth, while the opposite makes the plants vulnerable to fungal or mold problems (not to mention all the bugs and pests that can plague your crops).
If you understand the importance of all of these factors but you simply can not spare the time (or the money) to get them all right, don’t worry. You can always invest in a grow box or a grow tent. These devices come as a pre-assembled package and contain all the necessary components to guide you through your first grow, as painlessly as possible. Check our website for the best and latest models.
Train Your Plants!
This is arguably one of the most surefire (and cheap) ways of increasing your yields. Training your plants does not, of course, mean taking them for a walk in the park, but simply manipulating their shape so they grow more stems and kolas, producing more buds.
The advantage of this practice is that you can create a plant that absorbs light more efficiently and evenly, producing equally heavy buds. Non-trained plants tend to produce their heavier buds at the top; the lower parts of the plant grow smaller because light penetration is not as intense.
Plants are very complex and versatile organisms that can adapt to many different situations. Their flexible survival mechanisms are what ensures their development and growth. Plant training takes advantage of the plants’ natural elasticity and ability to fit in different conditions, to ensure that they will grow bushy and strong. While improving the yields is our goal here, this is a first-class opportunity to learn more about the plants and their wondrous nature.
There are three major categories in which all the different plant training techniques are classified.
- Bending Parts of the Plant
- Low-Stress Training
- Super Cropping
- Monster Cropping
- Screen of Green (SCROG)
- No Technique Plant Training
- Pruning of the Plant
- Sea of Green
Below, we will attempt to look at each technique separately and explain how they work in a simple and easy to digest manner.
Topping the plant is essentially the process of removing the main shoot of the central stem. If done correctly this will force the plant to grow two young shoots instead of one, thus inverting the plant’s natural “Christmas tree” shape, to a bushier one.
Plants behave in this way because when it is topped, the top of growth control is located in the main shoot. What the main shoot does, is to send suppressive hormones down to auxiliary shoots. This stops them from growing rapidly. While this mechanism does effectively stop the lower shoots from growing, it does immensely favor the main shoot, as long as it remains untouched. When the main shoot is removed, the branches beneath it will stop receiving the suppressive hormones and will be free to grow at a full rate in order to take its place, provided there are enough secondary shoots.
FIMing (Fuck, I Missed) is a sub-technique of topping. In this variation, you should leave just a small part of growth on the main shoot intact. This way, the plant will for some reason “glitch” and assume that four shoots, instead of two, are the dominant shoots. If all goes well, four new shoots will grow where two should develop. Note that this method is largely a matter of luck. However, your chances will be increased if you manage to perform a circular incision or if you simply top the plant twice.
Super cropping involves crushing of the soft inner tissue of the stem. While effectively hurting your plant might seem counter-intuitive, this technique will give you some control over the plant’s structure. It is widely used to increase yield and health.
How It Works
This soft inner tissue of the plant is made up of cellulose and forms a network of vascular tissue that is responsible for the transport of water and nutrients along the stem. The breaking of the soft tissue causes a natural reaction from the plant: much like the human skin which is hardened after an injury, the tissue will be rebuilt stronger than before.
While rebuilding the tissue, the plant expands on the aforementioned cellulose network, growing a thicker stem than before, increasing the transport of water and nutrients, therefore increasing yield. This technique should be performed during the second or third week of vegetative growth. You can do it by squeezing a branch between your forefinger and thumb and keep pinching and twisting it at the same time, the insides start to collapse. Just be careful not to break the stem. It might droop for a little while, but this is perfectly normal and it should heal over time.
Contrary to topping, you don’t cut any parts of the plant. Instead, you just manipulate its structure. Super cropping can be applied many times during the vegetative stage. You should know, however, that this will significantly delay the flowering stage, as the plant enters unexpected healing periods. Both of these techniques are considered to be High-Stress Training. Below, we will see something less “painful”.
Low-Stress Training (or LST) simply involves tying down the main shoot of the plant. This technique will essentially fool the plant into believing that the that the main shoot is gone. Consequently, it will produce a similar effect to topping, without running the risk of harming the plant.
You can, in fact, tie each new branch as it pops up. This will result in a bushy, thick plant, that will be more compact and resilient. You even can combine LST training, to form a plant that takes advantage of all the available space. Training the plant in this manner takes time and demands patience.
Sea of Green
Sea of Green (SoG) is not as much of a technique, as it is a method of growing. Originating from the Netherlands, its philosophy is oriented towards growing lots of small plants, instead of a few larger ones. The idea is that the smaller plants will reach maturity faster, drastically reducing the time and costs between the new crops and harvesting.
Each plant will grow one very large top bud because the density of the plants will create a canopy that will absorb light exceptionally well at the top level of the plants. It is obvious that tall plants are not a good choice for this, as their triangular shape is not suitable to the main idea behind this style of growing.
Since the goal is to make the buds cover as much of the grow space as possible, you should normally grow about four plants per sq. ft. As the plants mature, you can reduce that to one plant per sq., adding more seedlings if you have sufficient lighting. It goes without saying that you should not top your plants when using this method, as it is part of the plan to keep the stem intact. If you choose a strain that has a natural tendency to favor the main kola, then you will enjoy extremely abundant yields.
Contrary to topping, this technique works well with LST training, as it can help you create bushier plants (follow the instructions above). This will allow the lower branches to receive more light as well. Since the focus of your attention should be the main kola, feel free to remove the bottom branches and use them to start clones.
Screen of Green (ScrOG)
Screen of Green is pretty similar to the Sea of Green style. For this technique, you use a suspended net over the plants and direct them to grow through it. This net will make it easier to isolate the growing branches from the not so developed ones. The idea is that the plants will eventually cover the grow room. The additional benefit of the SCROG net is that it can also provide support, especially when the buds become too heavy for the branches. Since your goal is bigger and fatter buds, the additional support from the SCROG net can really come in handy, as the main branches can easily snap under the weight of their own flower.
There are several tips and tricks for SCROGing: some growers prefer to suspend the net unevenly, so that one side is growing higher than the other, providing a larger light area for the buds. Another variation is the “vertical SCROGing” which involves a light hung vertically in the middle of the grow room, forcing the plants to grow around it.
This technique is one of the most complicated that we will present in this article. This method requires you to take clones from marijuana plants in the flowering stage and then re-rooting them. Under normal circumstances, they will start growing through the vegetative stage, creating extremely abundant plants.
How it Works
- You should start by taking clones of a cannabis plant that is about 3 weeks into flowering. According to the majority of growers out there, this is the best time to take clones from a plant (although you can always do it later without noticeable effects);
- Try to take cuttings from the lower branches;
- Transfer the cutting into a glass of water and let it sit until the root starts to sprout. Be careful not to let any air get into the vascular system of the cutting;
- The incision needs to be run along the stem to increase the area for the absorption of water and/or nutrients (depending on the cloning technique you’re using);
- You will have to go back to a vegetative light schedule for the clone (18/6, 20/4, or 24/0);
- Wait until the clones take root. This should take from a few weeks to never, as many of the clones will die in the process. Be sure to give the cuttings all the oxygen they need. You might want to invest in a propagation bubbler;
- If you are using a humidity dome, watch out for mold attacks. Ventilate properly;
- Eventually, the clones will start going back to the vegetative stage and they will start growing again. After normal cannabis leaves start to appear, you can apply some LST to increase the density of your plant. Let nature do its job.
Choose naturally high-yielding strains
This is perhaps the most obvious tip that we could give, so we have decided to put it last. Genetics play a huge role in the final yield that your plants will produce. Thanks to decades of continuous and relentless research by seed banks and independent growers all over the world, we now have precisely engineered, high yielding strains readily available to us.
All of the techniques and tips described above can prove instrumental in achieving high yields and should be followed anyway. However, in growing, there is not a 100%, surefire way to ensure success. Genetics is perhaps the only factor that can ensure a high yield.
Howtogrowmarijuana.com has listed 1000s of strains for you to research and choose from. We have even cataloged many of them by most awarded, THC content, CBD content. Here, we will list our top-5 yielding strains (under alphabetical order).
Big Bomb Auto is a short hybrid between Big Bomb and an unknown ruderalis, featuring pretty average THC levels but incredible production rates. The shape of the plant is short and robust, that mostly puts on weight in the last weeks of flowering. They produce slightly better in soil. However, they are suitable for all kinds of growing setups. It responds very well to SCROG
Yield: 600gm – 650gm2
Cherry Bomb is a cross between a large yielding Big Bomb with an unknown fruity strain, hence the cherry variety. The result is a potent and high yielding hybrid. The plant grows to medium height and has a heavy bud structure that will respond great to SCROG setup, because of the additional support.
This strain thrives in hydroponics and will produce exceptional yields of 600 to 650 grams per square meter within 8 to 10 weeks of flowering. Its abundant yielding rate and exceptional flavor the Cherry Bomb strain is a no-nonsense choice for new and experienced growers alike. Strong, tasty and highly forgiving to mistakes, if you want a good strain to get you started in the growing world, look no further.
Yield: 600gm2 (21.2oz)
An extremely potent indica strain, LSD is a cross between Mazar and a classic Skunk strain. LSD plants are short and sturdy and respond great to all of the techniques we explained above (SoG, SCROG, LST), to add more product to an already high yielding strain.
If you want to grow a great yielder that will not need any help from you to deliver rich and plentiful buds, you can’t go wrong with LSD. With a fast-growing time (6-7 weeks) and a THC level that can knock out a horse, this strain is an excellent choice.
SSH is a multi-awarded Sativa dominant strain. Looking back at its long and illustrious history one can find a multitude of cups and awards. It took first prize overall in 1998 and 1999 High Times Cannabis Cups, and third place overall in 2005 and 2007. It also claimed first prize in the Hydro Cup in 1997 and 1998, and top three placings in the Sativa Cup and People’s Cup in 2000.
With a pedigree that good and a yield rate that is enough to satisfy even the most demanding of growers, it’s no wonder this strain has achieved its legendary status. If you use the SCROG method indoors, the SSH can produce harvests of up to 450 grams per square meter. Flowering times range from nine to 12 weeks.
Yield: 900 gm2
Being parented by one of the most beloved strains worldwide, the White Widow, White Rhino does not need any special introductions among experienced and/or newbie growers. This extremely potent hybrid is also an impressive yielder. It responds great to SCROG setups.
White Rhino is an Indica dominant White Widow hybrid. It was originally developed by Green House Seeds, although it has now achieved worldwide fame for its plentiful yields and friendliness to newbies. It flowers fairly quickly (8-9 weeks), producing thick and resinous buds.
Final thoughts on big yields.
Increasing marijuana yields can be a challenging task, that requires a lot of preparation. Before you go on and try all the tips recommended in this here guide, remember that in marijuana growing, nothing is set in stone. Your plants are wondrous but extremely delicate beings. There is a good chance that not all things might work out.
Every marijuana plant is different from the other. On many occasions, you will have to try repeatedly before you find out what’s best suited for you and your plants. We hope that this guide has at least succeeded in giving you a general idea of the methods that you can follow to increase your yield and make marijuana growing a more rewarding experience. Of course, the possibilities are endless.