It’s that time of year again when growers everywhere are getting ready to defoliate their cannabis plants. But when is the best time to do it?
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Defoliation is the removal of leaves from a plant, and is a common horticultural practice that can be used to increase yield in cannabis plants. When done correctly, defoliation can result in larger, denser buds come harvest time. However, if not done carefully, defoliation can stress out your plants and reduce yields. In this article, we’ll go over when and how to defoliate cannabis for maximum yield.
What is defoliation?
Defoliation is the process of removing leaves from a cannabis plant. It is usually done to improve light exposure and air circulation to the lower parts of the plant, which can increase yields. Defoliation can also be used to shape plants or remove unwanted leaves.
There are two main types of defoliation: partial and total. Partial defoliation involves removing leaves from specific areas of the plant, while total defoliation involves removing all the leaves from the plant. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, which will be discussed in more detail below.
Partial defoliation is often done to improve light exposure and air circulation to the lower parts of the plant. This can be especially beneficial in grow rooms or greenhouses where space is limited and plants are growing close together.
Partial defoliation can also be used to shape plants or remove unwanted leaves. For example, if you want your cannabis plants to grow wider instead of taller, you can remove the leaves on the sides of the plant (this is called “lollipopping”). Or if you want to remove fan leaves that are blocking your view of the buds, you can snip them off with a pair of scissors.
The main advantage of partial defoliation is that it’s less stressful for plants than total defoliation. This means that there is less risk of damaging your plants or stunting their growth.
The main disadvantage of partial defoliation is that it can be time-consuming and difficult to do properly. If you don’t remove enough leaves, you won’t see any benefits; but if you remove too many leaves, you could damage your plants or stunt their growth.
Total defoliation is often done when growers are trying to increase yields by exposing as much of the plant’s surface area as possible to light and air. This method can also be used to shape plants or remove unwanted leaves (such as fan leaves that are blocking your view of the buds).
The main advantage of total defoliation is that it’s less time-consuming than partial defoliation (since you don’t have to carefully select which leaves to remove). It can also be easier to achieve uniform results with total defoliation.
The main disadvantage of total defoliation is that it’s more stressful for plants than partial defoliation. This means that there is a greater risk of damaging your plants or stunting their growth. Totaldefoliated cannabis plants will also need more care and attention during recovery because they will have no leaves left to produce food for the plant through photosynthesis.
Advantages of defoliation
Advantages of defoliation:
-Encourages branching and lateral growth
-Releases energy stored in leaves for use in fruits or flowers
-Reduces chances of fungal infection
-Improves air circulation and light penetration
-Makes it easier to control pests and diseases
Disadvantages of defoliation
While defoliation has numerous advantages, there are a few disadvantages to consider before taking leaf off your beloved marijuana plants.
First and foremost, defoliation stresses your plants. While a little bit of stress can often be beneficial for plants (stimulating growth), too much stress can be detrimental. Because of this, you should never defoliate more than 20-25% of the leaves on your plant at one time. If you remove too many leaves at once, you risk damaging or even killing your plant.
Another potential downside to defoliation is that it can cause your plant to produce fewer buds. While removing leaves doesn’t directly impact bud production, it can indirectly impact bud production by stressing your plant or by exposing your buds to too much light (if you remove too many upper leaves).
Finally, defoliation requires extra time and effort on your part. Not only do you have to spend time removing leaves from your plant, but you also have to be extra vigilant in monitoring your plant’s health afterwards to make sure that it is recovering properly from the stress of defoliation.
The best time to defoliate
The best time to defoliate cannabis plants is about 2-4 weeks before harvest. This timing allows the plant to recover quickly and still have time to produce good yields.
There are two main reasons to defoliate: to increase air circulation and light penetration in the canopy, or to reduce the plant’s water needs. If your plant is too close to the ground or if there are too many large leaves blocking light from getting to the buds, then defoliating can help increase yields.
Defoliating also shocks the plant and forces it to use up stored energy reserves, which can lead to increased yields. However, if done too close to harvest, it can stress the plant and reduce yields.
To defoliate your cannabis plants, start by removing any dead or dying leaves. Then, gently remove any large fan leaves that are blocking light from reaching the buds. You can do this by hand or with a sharp pair of scissors. Be careful not to damage the buds when trimming leaves.
How to defoliate
Cannabis plants can be divided into 3 types according to their leaf shape: broadleaf, intermediate, and narrowleaf. Broadleaf cannabis plants have the widest leaves, while narrowleaf plants have the thinnest. Most commercial strains are a mix of all 3 types.
The ideal time to defoliate your cannabis plants depends on the type of plant you’re growing. For example, early defoliation (when the plant is young) is beneficial for broadleaf plants because it encourages them to grow wider. On the other hand, late defoliation (when the plant is older) is better for narrowleaf plants because it allows more light to reach the buds.
It’s also important to consider the stage of growth when you defoliate. For instance, if you want your plant to grow taller, you should defoliate it during the vegetative stage. However, if you want your plant to produce more buds, you should defoliate it during the flowering stage.
To sum it up, here are 3 general tips for when to defoliate your cannabis plants:
-Broadleaf plants: early defoliation (when the plant is young)
-Narrowleaf plants: late defoliation (when the plant is older)
-If you want your plant to grow taller: defoliate during the vegetative stage
-If you want your plant to produce more buds: defoliate during the flowering stage
To sum it up, the best time to defoliate your cannabis plants is when they are in the vegetative stage and have 5-6 nodes. By defoliating early and often, you will encourage your plant to grow wider rather than taller, leading to a bigger yield. Just be sure not to overdo it — too much defoliation can stress your plants out and lead to smaller buds.