Training autoflowers for bigger yields

Autoflowers are smaller than your average photoperiod, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve big yields. Despite their small stature, autos are an incredibly resilient and robust member of the cannabis family, and they respond very well to training. However, because of their short vegetative stage and size you may not be able to apply all the methods you’ve learnt in the same way. So, what are the best approaches to training autoflowers for bigger yields?

When to avoid training autoflowers

  1. During the Early Stages of Growth: Autoflowering plants grow quickly and are at their most vulnerable during the early stages of growth. Training during this period can cause stress and damage to the plant, leading to reduced yields and poor quality buds.
  2. When the Plant is in Flowering Stage: During the flowering stage, the plant is focused on producing buds, and any training or pruning can disrupt the process and reduce yields.
  3. When the Plant is Undergoing Stress: If the plant is already undergoing stress from factors such as disease, pests, or environmental conditions, it is best to avoid training until the plant has fully recovered.
  4. When the Plant is Too Old: As autoflowering plants mature, they become less flexible and more brittle, making training more difficult and potentially damaging. It’s best to avoid training when the plant is in its final stages of growth.

When to start LST training autoflowers?

You can start LST (Low Stress Training) of autoflowering cannabis plants when they reach a height of about 6-12 inches, which is typically around 2-3 weeks after germination. This is the ideal time to start training, as the plant is still small enough to be manipulated easily, but has developed enough structure to be trained without causing excessive stress. During this time, the plant is also still in the vegetative stage and has not yet begun to flower, which makes it easier to shape the plant to your desired form. As the plant continues to grow, it’s important to continue to bend and tie the branches as needed to maintain the desired shape, which will help to encourage the growth of more buds and improve yields.

How much will training an autoflower increase yield by?

The amount of increase in yield that a trained autoflowering cannabis plant can produce varies depending on several factors such as strain, growing conditions, and the specific training method used. Generally, though, training autoflowering plants can increase yields by anywhere from 10-50% or more.

However, it’s important to remember that training is not a guarantee of increased yields and requires a certain level of skill and experience to execute effectively. Additionally, the level of increase in yield will also depend on the specific training method used and the plants’ growing conditions, light, nutrients and even the type of soil. To really get the best out of your plants you should use a soil that offers good drainage and water retention, the best soils for autoflowers will also contain plenty of naturally occurring nutrients.

LST training autoflowers

Low stress training (LST) is a technique whereby you alter a plants growth pattern by bending its branches into a more efficient shape. This allows you to manipulate the plant and create a flat canopy shape that is better optimized for light absorption when growing indoors. The great thing about low stress training is that it is easy to apply and causes very little damage or stress to a plant.

LST training can be done several ways, the most common approaches are ScrOG, the tie and bend method or using LST clips. All of which have similar outcomes but with slightly different techniques used to achieve the end goal.

What are the benefits of LST training autoflowers?

  1. Bigger yields: By carefully bending and manipulating the stems and branches of the plant, LST can encourage the growth of multiple branches, leading to a bushier plant with increased yields.
  2. Improved light exposure: By spreading out the growth of the plant, LST can help ensure that all parts of the plant receive adequate light exposure, leading to more even growth and higher yields.
  3. Better quality bud: By promoting even growth and improving light exposure, LST can lead to higher quality buds with more consistent size, shape, and potency.
  4. Increased resilience: Autoflowers are typically smaller and less resilient than photoperiod plants, but LST can help increase their strength and resilience, improving their overall health and vitality.
  5. Space-saving: Autoflowers typically have a shorter growing cycle and limited height, so LST can help maximize the yield from a given growing area by promoting a bushier, more compact plant.

It is important to approach LST carefully with autoflowers, as they are more delicate and susceptible to stress than photoperiod plants. It is essential to monitor the plant and adjust as needed to ensure its health and well-being.

LST tie and bend for autos

The tie and bend approach to LST training involves using either clips or plant ties to secure the branches in place as you bend them. Most growers either put pegs in the soil or drill holes around the top of the pot to use as an anchor point for the plant ties. The aim of this method is to gradually bend the branches as they grow to encourage lateral growth which creates a flat canopy style shape. This results in better light distribution and bigger yields.

Additionally, using LST on autoflowers during the early stages of growth is recommended as the plant is more flexible and easier to manipulate. LST should be performed gradually, over time, and with care, to avoid causing any damage to the branches or stems of the plant. With proper care and attention, LST can significantly improve the quality and yield of your autoflowering cannabis plants, making it a useful and effective technique for any grower to consider.

Main things to note with LST ‘Tie and bend’:

  • Requires you to continuously tie new shoots down as a plant grows so it can be time consuming.
  • More difficult to do on larger grows with multiple plants than ScrOG as it can be fiddly.
  • Causes very little stress to a plant and allows you to shape a plant more controlled than with scrog. This is great if you want to get experimental and grow your plant into a funky shape such as a spiral.
low stress training autoflower plant

ScrOG training for autos

ScrOG (Screen of Green) training is a cultivation method where a screen or mesh is placed over the top of the plants. Once in place you can bend the branches as the plant grows using the screen to keep the top of the plant the same height. This helps to even out light distribution and encourage more lateral growth, leading to more bud sites and bigger yields. You can easily ScrOG autoflowers cannabis without causing any stress to the plant whilst still increasing the yield.

ScrOG training is a versatile technique that can be adapted to fit a variety of growing setups and systems, whether you are growing weed in soil, hydroponics, or any other medium. It’s important to note that the screen or mesh must be sturdy and able to support the weight of the plants as they grow. Regular maintenance of the ScrOG is also necessary to keep the plants contained and promote even growth. With proper planning and execution, ScrOG training can be an effective way to improve the yield and quality of your autoflowering cannabis plants.

Main things to note with ScrOG:

  • Requires some setting up and some sort of structure to hold the scrog net in place.
  • Once in place, it is quick and easy to bend the branches using the scrog net.
  • Helps you to easily keep all of the plants the same height throughout the grow.
  • Causes little to no stress to cannabis plants while increasing yield.
screen of green training autoflowers
DIY ScrOG net made from bamboo used to train autoflowers

SOG training for autos

SOG (Sea of Green) training is a method where lots of small plants are grown closely together. It is not so much a training technique but more of a growing style that is often used with autoflowering strains. The idea is to create a “sea” of buds, with lots small plants packed into a grow room. The results in faster harvests and good yields with very little hassle. The SOG technique is perfect for any cash croppers, or those that may not want to spend too much time training their plants but still want to make the most out of the available grow space.

The SOG technique is often used in combination with other cultivation methods, such as LST or ScrOG, to further improve yields and optimize the growing process. It’s also a great option for growers who are looking for a low-maintenance growing style, as the small size of the plants means that they require less care and attention than larger plants. With proper planning and execution, SOG training can be a highly effective way to maximize your yields and achieve a bountiful harvest of high-quality cannabis.

Main things to note with SOG

  • Simple, straight forward approach to growing that requires very little extra work.
  • Great for cash croppers of anyone that doesn’t want to necessarily train plants.
sea of green training autoflowers

HST training autoflowers

High stress training (HST) is comprised of several growing techniques that can be used to train cannabis plants with the goal of increasing yield. As the name suggests, HST does cause some stress to a cannabis plant, therefore it should be done with a more measured approach. Because the shorter life cycle of autoflowers, many growers avoid using HST altogether, however, when done correctly and with the correct type of autoflower you can achieve great results.

Autoflowers have much shorter vegetative and flowering stages than photoperiods, so HST training is not suitable for every strain. Sativa autoflowering strains are better suited to HST. This is because they have longer life cycles than indicas and this allows them a little longer to recover from any stress.

Defoliating Autos

Defoliation training is a cultivation method where you remove some of the lower leaves, branches, and shoots in order to redirect the plant’s energy towards to other areas. This helps to increase light penetration and air circulation, leading to stronger and better bud production.

The process is typically repeated throughout the plant’s life cycle, where you systematically remove around 10% of the least productive leaves or those causing shade to other parts of the plant. It can be used with both photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis strains. However, it’s important to note when defoliating autoflowers that it must be done carefully, as removing too many leaves can stress the plant and negatively impact yield. As a rule of thumb you should start off by removing no more than 10% and see how the plant responds, you can use this as a guide to your next round of defoliation.

defoliating autoflower cannabis plants

Topping Autos

Topping autoflowers, has been a topic for debate among growers. While most will say that topping should not be done with autoflowers others are able to top autoflowers successfully and achieve impressive yields. Topping is a training method that involves cutting off the tip of the main central stem of the plant. This forces the plant to grow two main shoots instead of one, leading to a bushier, fuller plant with more bud sites. Topping causes stress to a plant and for it to receive the full benefit of this training technique, the plant needs at least a few weeks of recovery time. Unfortunately, most autoflowering plants don’t allow enough recovery time in-between the vegetative and flowering stages. Which means the plant could begin to flower while it is in a stressed state, most likely resulting in reduced yields or stunted growth. However, if done correctly and with the right autoflowering strain topping can work. Autoflowering sativas are generally the best suited strains to topping because they have longer vegetative and flowering stages which gives the plant the best chance of recovering.

Although topping autoflowers is possible, overall it is a risky training method to apply to autoflowers and therefore it is not necessarily the best approach to increasing yield. You will see very similar results from LST methods with much less risk involved.

result of topping autoflower cannabis plant

Fimming Autos (not suited to autoflowers)

Fimming (or “FIMming”) is a training method that involves pinching or removing the top 75% of the tip of the main stem. This encourages the plant to grow four main stems, resulting in more large bud sites and bigger yields. Fimming is a great training technique to use with photoperiod strains, but it’s important to note that fimming can be stressful for the plant, so it should be done carefully and not too close to the flowering stage which makes it unsuitable for autoflowers. You may hear from other growers claim that they have fimmed their autoflowers, which certainly is possible to do, however, more often than not it will do more damage than good to the yield. Better alternatives to fimming with autoflowers are ScrOG and the tie and bend LST method.

fimming autoflower plants

Is fimming and topping autoflowers worth the risk?

Fimming (topping) autoflowering plants can result in more branches and potentially more yield, but it also comes with risks such as stunted growth and decreased overall quality of the plant. Whether or not it is worth it to top autoflowers depends on various factors such as the grower’s goals, experience level, and the specific strain of the autoflower. Some autoflowers may respond well to topping while others may not, so it is important to research and experiment to determine what works best for a particular situation.

Overall I would say fimming or topping autoflowers for the vast majority of growers isn’t worth it. If you are on this page looking for ways to increase yield, then LST methods in my experience cannot be beaten. If done correctly, you can certainly increase yields by topping, however, the risk does not outweigh the reward. Particularly for the less experienced growers fimming and topping should be reserved for photoperiods.

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