Cannabis defoliation is a great way to boost yields, create efficient light absorption, and to create better airflow. As leaves grow larger they require more water, sunlight and nutrients but their ability to perform functions such as photosynthesis become more limited. Larger leaves on the cannabis plant also shade bud sites and make for less airflow. By defoliating, we selectively trim off these unwanted leaves. Because trimming stresses the plant, you need to be mindful of how much your are defoliating. If you defoliate too much at once, you can stunt or herm the plant. The best approach to defoliating cannabis is carefully and in stages.
When to Defoliate Cannabis Plants
The first time I defoliate is at the end of vegetative stage and right before flipping the lights. At this stage, you are shaping your canopy to be nice and even, and removing any large leaves that are shading nodes or are low in the canopy.
Then, I like to selectively prune throughout the middle of the flowering period. Remember — don’t do too much trimming at once especially in flower, the stress could cause the plants to herm. I usually start around week 3 or 4 then will prune some and give it a week before pruning again. Twice is usually enough, but all strains grow differently. You may need to prune a particular strain a lot more than another based on how it grows.
You should always use clean trimming scissors when defoliating cannabis. Clean the trimmers with some rubbing alcohol before use. This will mitigate the chance for infection and limit the stress that you are causing to the plant.
The Benefits of Defoliation
Defoliating cannabis plants boosts your yields and supports the growth of your canopy in a few ways.
- By removing extra plant matter, the cannabis focuses more energy to the development of buds. It also removes ethylene that builds up in the larger leaves, ethylene triggers ageing and ripening in plants.
- Increases photosynthesis and other primary plants functions. Pruning cannabis also increases exposure to light and air when you selective prune out the leaves that are shading bud sites, supporting photosynthesis. By selectively pruning away the leaves shading bud sites or restricting airflow, you will create the optimal growing conditions. The removal of shading leaves will increase light throughout the canopy, giving the lower buds a chance to get dense and fully develop/mature.
- Mitigates microbial growth and reduces risk of bud rot and powdery mildew. If you are having humidity issues in your grow room or greenhouse, defoliating can be great. (See also: Cannabis Humidity Control from Cultivation to Consumption) Cannabis defoliation increases airflow and also all that plant matter is full of water, so by removing it you take away the chance for it to evaporate/perspire into the air.
Preserve What You Grow When You Harvest
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