Cannabis super cropping how-to guide

Cannabis super cropping how-to guide

Cannabis super cropping is a high stress cultivation technique which can help you control the height and structure of a cannabis plant. Usually the stem of the cannabis plant is gently squeezed and crushed between thumb and finger. This doesn’t damage the external wall of the stem, but it does crush the inner cell lining that gives the stem it’s structural strength. This allows the stem to be bent into a horizontal position, reducing the height of your plant.

What is super cropping and what are the main benefits?

Indoor growers may sometimes find that they are continually raising the height of their grow lights due to the central main bloom stretching too far above the others. If the height of the main bloom was nearer that of the other blooms it would allow more efficient light utilisation, with more blooms in the optical ‘sweet spot’ of the light.

By gently crushing the main stem and firmly tying it in a horizontal position (as you would with LST, low stress training) you can achieve this. The area of the super cropped/crushed stem will heal internally with a slightly bulbous external appearance (or ‘knuckle’), but otherwise it will be perfectly healthy. This toughened area which results from super cropping is stronger than the original stem and helps to support even heavier blooms.

Many less experienced growers are afraid to super crop their cannabis plants in case the stem is permanently damaged. Growers should be reassured, super cropping is relatively easy and intuitive, even if you haven’t done it before. It is rare to see severe problems result from super cropping when the basic rules are followed.

Strawberry Cough grown indoors from seeds using Half-pipe SCROG + bending/super-cropping techniques.
Strawberry Cough grown indoors with SCROG + bending/super cropping techniques.

Many cannabis super croppers believe that the stress of super cropping actually benefits the plant, stimulating her to grow vigorously in order to repair the damage and rewarding the grower with a plant structure which may be able to yield more heavily.

If you want to see what super cropping looks like in practice the following Strawberry Cough grow review combines the use of the SCROG method alongside super cropping and produced some great looking results.

Review:
Strawberry Cough indoor grow review using super cropping and the SCROG method

Can you super crop outdoor cannabis and why would you do it?

Yes you can. One good reason why an outdoor cannabis grower would super cropped might be to control the overall height of the cannabis plant to prevent it being easily seen. By super cropping the main stem and tying it down, you can reduce the visibility of your outdoor plant. This is always useful if e.g. your back-garden cannabis plant is getting a little too tall and you are worried that others could see it. Cannabis can be super cropped repeatedly on different branches if required.

Sneak peak of an urban grow where super cropping was used to keep the main bloom just below the height of the garden fence.
Frisian Duck approaching harvest in The Netherlands. The grower used super cropping in an almost-successful attempt to keep his plant below the height of their garden fence. No complaints from the neighbours!

What’s the main benefit of super cropping cannabis?

The main benefit of super cropping indoor cannabis is enhanced yields which result from more of the buds being grown under optimised light intensities. With super cropping, the cannabis plant should have a slightly more level, flatter canopy of blooms without a dominant central bloom.

This allows the grow light to be positioned at a height which allows the majority of the blooms to receive optimised light intensity levels (also known as the ‘optical sweet spot’). This is in contrast to a non-super cropped plant which may only have the upper-most main bloom in the optical sweet spot.

We supercropped a lot of branches during the vegetative stage and you could see thick knots forming on these parts of the stems.
Glueberry O.G with thick knots forming on the stems following a heaver super cropping during veg.

Can you super crop autoflowers?

Yes, and a minority of auto growers do so regularly when growing autoflowering cannabis seeds. Super cropping is useful if your main central bloom is growing significantly faster/taller than the rest of your autoflower. By super cropping it, you allow the main central bloom to remain at a similar height to the other blooms. This can result in more efficient light utilisation and superior final yields. It can also help produce a bushier, shorter autoflower which may be better suited to grow rooms with less vertical headroom.

Related:
Topping autoflowers for yield, good or bad idea?

Auto Lemon Kix The supercropping technique helped them to catch almost as much light as the main cola
In this Auto Lemon Kix grow, the super cropping technique helped the side buds to catch almost as much light as the main cola. The branches remained strong and sturdy enough to hold the flowers upright.

When to super crop your cannabis plant?

Super cropping cannabis plants during late vegetative growth is a good way to manipulate and control your plant structure in preparation for an optimised bloom with the majority of the buds in the optical sweet spot. If the branch/stem is woody then it may be a little too late to super crop.

Woody branches which have lost their youthful flexibility present a greater risk of snapping and may need repairing with tape. ‘Green’, flexible branches/stems are preferred. If you’re new to super cropping consider doing it around a week before you initiate bloom, this gives your plant some time to recover before flowering begins.

Experienced cannabis growers may also super crop in the early stages of bloom, perhaps during the first couple of weeks when the plant may be showing rapid stretching on some of the taller branches. Again, the principle is to limit the growth of the tallest branch/branches and allow more of the subsequent blooms to be around a similar height.

Kerosene Krash, the two biggest plants were supercropped
Four Keroene Krash plants growing together indoors. The two biggest plants were super cropped.

When super cropping cannabis could be a bad idea….

If your plant is struggling, perhaps with a pest infestation/weak growth/nutrient issues etc it makes sense to avoid giving any additional stress to your plant. In these circumstances there is no need to try super cropping on a plant which is well below optimum health.

Likewise, late bloom is considered a difficult time to super crop your plant, though in some cases it is unavoidable. Super cropping may be inevitable if your main central bloom is near the grow light and you are half way through bloom.

The risk of super cropping in late bloom is that plant energy is diverted away from bud/trichome production in order to repair and recover from super cropping. If you can avoid super cropping in late bloom it makes sense, it is always preferred to get the high stress training out of the way earlier in the grow cycle.

What do you need to super crop cannabis

You just need your fingers to gently crush the stem, some garden string/cord to tie down the super cropped branch and some tape in case the stem splits open. Some growers use garden canes to help tie down the branches. Remember to be patient, a super cropped cannabis plant will need some care and attention in the subsequent days as you ensure the new growth is going to plan. In particular, you will need to monitor and correct the plants natural tendency to revert to vertical growth. You may need to repeatedly tie-down the super cropped stem.

How to super crop cannabis step-by-step

This Master Kush grew into a bushy plant despite a broken stem following a single super cropping attempt.

Don’t feel too worried or nervous about super cropping cannabis plants, many growers use the technique routinely. Although it feels like quite a damaging process, cannabis generally copes well with super cropping. The following step by step guide may help.

Cannabis supercropping and broken branches If you break a branch in the process of super cropping your cannabis plant don’t panic. Simply fix the branch in it’s new position, usually this is a horizontal position, and apply some tape over the split stem. Over the following few days new plant growth will repair and seal the split, resulting in a ‘knuckle’ where the split used to be
  • Avoid woody stems which may be too old and brittle to be super cropped.
  • Select the branch you want to super crop, gently squeeze and crush between thumb and finger. Super cropping areas less than 2-3 nodes from the plant tip is generally not recommended.
  • Apply the minimum pressure required so that the stem is able to be bent from a vertical position to the desired horizontal position. You may need to gently roll your fingers to help the process. Take your time and be gentle.
  • As the branch/stem loses it’s rigidity you can carefully lower the branch into a more horizontal position. Once in place, carefully tie the branch into a fixed position. You may want to lean the super cropped stem against another branch for support until the super cropped branch regains strength.
  • The super cropped branch will soon want to revert to it’s original vertical position. That means over the following days you may need to check and adjust the super cropped branch to ensure it remains tied/fixed in place. Some growers will tie garden cord to the super cropped branch and tie the other end of the cord to a hole in the rim of the plant container.

Super cropping vs topping cannabis

Super cropping cannabis and topping are both high stress growth techniques. That means that the plant suffers from high levels of stress during and after. That will cost you a few days of growth, but you may feel that this is time well spent which will allow a superior final plant structure which better suits your grow room.

Super cropping suits the grower who doesn’t want to completely remove the growing tip of their plant. Super cropping also suits the grower who doesn’t mind a small amount of subsequent plant maintenance to monitor and adjust the super cropped branch in the following days. Topping is the complete removal of the growing tip of the plant, it may be a one-off procedure with little or no subsequent plant LST maintenance. If you want to know more about low stress training the following guide explains all you need to know.

Related:
Cannabis low stress training (LST) for better yields – everything you need to know

Instead, with topping, the grower may feel that they will leave the plant to naturally adopt a more bushier, squat appearance. With topping, the grower also has the option to use the removed plant tip and grow it as a cutting. If you want to know more about the pros and cons of topping cannabis, the following review provides lots of useful professional advice.

Related:
Topping cannabis, how to top cannabis, when and why

Are there any similarities between cannabis super cropping and the SCROG method?

Super cropping and SCROG are quite different cannabis training techniques. But they share common principles, namely the manipulation of growth/shape of the cannabis plant to boost yield and maximise efficient use of the grow light. If you want to know more about the SCROG method of cannabis cultivation then the following SCROG bible is highly recommended reading.

Related:
The SCROG method of cannabis cultivation

Other super cropping tips for even bigger yields

CBD Charlotte’s Angel allowed to grow naturally with some bending and super cropping.

Experienced growers may combine different grow techniques. For example, after super cropping their plant they may make extensive use of LST (low stress training) and tie down numerous side blooms in order to create a level canopy of blooms under the grow light. Some growers may even try to mainline their plant, which is a technique where each branch is carefully trained horizontally to create a manifold appearance.

One of the most important tips when super cropping cannabis plants is to ensure that the super cropped branch is firmly tied in place and is checked regularly. Otherwise it may slowly revert to vertical growth. The best advice is to be ready with some string/garden-cord to tie the branch into it’s new (usually horizontal) growing position.

One other useful tip is to be ready with some duck-tape/DIY-tape just in case the stem does split badly during super cropping. If the stem does split open during super cropping, don’t panic, the plant will usually survive. Just wrap some tape around the split stem and secure/fasten the plant firmly in position. Usually the plant will fully recover after a week.

If you haven’t super cropped cannabis before don’t feel too intimidated by the process, it’s easy and straightforward, allowing you to get maximum productivity from your grow room and maximum value from your cannabis seeds.

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