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News and Best Practices

Super Cropping: Stress as a Tool

June 14, 2016

Typically, cannabis growers think of stress as a bad thing. When plants are transferred to new containers, when they’re pruned, when they experience intense cold or heat or over fertilization—all of these things can increase stress on the plant, which can significantly diminish yields.

But what if someone told you there’s a way to actually increase yields using a controlled system of stress? There is: It’s called super cropping. In short, super cropping uses bent branches, which tricks the plant into thinking it is being eaten by animals (which, in the case of human consumers, isn’t too far off the mark). The bends cause the plant to physiologically change, to increase its protective measures against animals that would be eating it. Plant biologists believe THC evolved as a defensive mechanism in cannabis, thwarting off herbivores from eating too many of its flowers before the plant could reproduce.

Super cropping has several advantages. First, it induces the growth of new branches, which means more buds. Second, many growers claim that the stress increases the production of cannabinoids, especially THC. Third, super cropping is an incredibly low-cost technique and, once you master it, it’s essentially free.

How to super crop

  1. The process begins on plants in the first two to three weeks of the vegetative stage. There should be short branches that are still green and have not yet matured into “woody” sticks.
  2. The super cropping bend should be done between the first and third leaf nodes on a branch. Pick one and start there.
  3. With your fingers, bend the branch at a 90 degree angle. If you do this correctly, you should hear or feel a snap, but the outside tissue of the branch should appear relatively undamaged. This is why green branches that haven’t matured to a woody state are essential for super cropping. There may be some bruising or discoloration, and this is normal. If the branch splits or breaks, it may require some additional support (see step 5).
  4. Take your time during the bending process. A popular analogy is that the branch should bend like a water hose. It’s best to test just a few branches at first, to see if your particular plant responds well to super cropping. If the plant doesn’t respond well (such as healing takes too long, no additional branches or buds sprout, etc.), do not super crop that particular strain/batch.
  5. If you happen to split or break a branch when bending, just wrap it up in a small amount of duct tape. Cannabis is fairly resilient; it should be able to heal through the damage. Once the branch heals, you can remove the tape. If the branch has not healed yet, simply apply new tape.

And that’s it! If you did it right, the plant should flourish outward in a bushy pattern, rather than growing straight up like a pine tree. Super cropping is ideal when growing in enclosed spaces or spaces that lack height. Some grow operations will stack plants in this manner, since the super-cropped plants have a tendency to grow out rather than up.

Some plants may require additional support when super cropped. As the branches grow outward, consider using ties or bamboo props to keep the branches from slumping too far down. Slumping can decrease yields (by blocking light to lower sections of the plant) or increase the risk of damage (as the branch bends or breaks from its own weight).


By Randy Robinson

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