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Topping Autoflowers - why and how

MickJ

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Topping an autoflower is a choice. If you have the room and height to let her grow then the choice is yours. If, like me you have vertical restrictions then you might want to consider topping. There are many threads in AFN about topping (@autobeast is one of them) but I just thought a quick demonstration with the results after a week would give first timers the confidence to give it a go. When ever and where ever you top the plant will give you different results. Each set of large leaves off the main stem will produce a side branch that will turn into a small cola, this is called the node. The more light this cola gets, the bigger it gets but never usually as big as the main central cola. If you top the plant, the main cola is removed but the plant then thinks it is damaged and all the smaller colas then start to develop more quickly to try and get above the canopy of the plant and take the place of the main cola. The result is many main colas that are slightly smaller than the original cola would have been.
How many colas you get depends on which node you cut above. The lowest two leaves produce the smallest and weakest of these colas and (in my experience) with LST these almost never catch up to the rest. If each node produces two colas then for every node below where you top you will have 2x the number of nodes left on the stem. I top at the 5th node which gives me 10 main colas. Some top at 4 and some at 6. I have found the more colas you have the smaller each cola is likely to be.
Once you decide or try different ones to suit yourself, allow the plant to grow enough above the node so you can get your cutting implement of choice in the space with out damaging the rest of the plant. Then simply cut the top off. My plants stall for a day then off they go again. I will update this page with one I did 12hrs ago with 12 hour spacing photos for a week so you can see the progress.
Below is a series of pictures showing the topping process.
Selecting and showing the nodes

The main cola to be topped

Topping the main cola


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MickJ

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24 hrs in and the colas are starting to grow up. A bit of leaf tucking to let more light in, should do it. Looks like 9 colas will come up strong enough.


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24 hrs in and the colas are starting to grow up. A bit of leaf tucking to let more light in, should do it. Looks like 9 colas will come up strong enough.


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Setting aside your height issues, I've always wondered whether topping reduces yield per month.
Stalled growth and recovery time could lengthen time to harvest.
But all I have is suspicions without evidence.
 

MickJ

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Setting aside your height issues, I've always wondered whether topping reduces yield per month.
Stalled growth and recovery time could lengthen time to harvest.
But all I have is suspicions without evidence.
I find the stall minimal, as you can see in the past 24hrs. The yield is the same or similar I have found. The main difference for me is shorter plant and less popcorn buds making up the total weight.

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MickJ

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36 hours - colas rising and the two top ones are starting to get big. Should end up a nice shape.


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MickJ

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Great tutorial. I'm curious to know how you calculate eventually how many colas you get?


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Every node or set of leaves produces a small branch which turns into a cola. When you top the plant they all try to be main colas to replace the top one. If you top at the 4th node up from the soil, you get 8 potential colas. As I said though the lowest or first node from the soil never really amounts to much. I top at the 5th node so I get up to 10 colas.

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