Super cropping is the name for a High-Stress Training (HST) technique when you stress the plant by slightly hurting it in a planned way.
As a result, the plant will grow bushier, with more buds and possibly even higher THC levels! This is the plant’s natural response to protect herself in the wild in case things go wrong. As the grower, you can use this technique to get bigger yields and more potent buds!
Cannabis is the only known plant that naturally creates THC (along with CBD and other cannabinoids, which makes these plants of particular interest to humans).
THC is the principal element in the cannabis plant that causes the plant’s well-loved psychoactive effects. THC is produced primarily in the flowers of female cannabis plants.
But cannabinoid-like substances are abundant in almost all plants and animals, including humans. Humans and mammals naturally have a ton of receptors for cannabinoids throughout our brains and bodies.
If you’ve ever slept, eaten, forgotten, or relaxed, you’ve used your Endocannabinoid system (yay for being a mammal!) and natural cannabinoids.
So why does the cannabis plant produce THC, which causes significant psychotropic effects?
Did you know that THC is produced by the marijuana plant for protection?
It’s not doing a great job protecting the plants from humans! (Or maybe it is good for them since we keep cultivating these plants)
In the wild, deer and many other creatures might eat marijuana flowers, preventing the plants from making seeds and reproducing.
Yet, as far as we can tell, most animals won’t strip a whole marijuana plant of ALL its buds. Either they think cannabinoids taste terrible, or maybe they hate the effects. Therefore we believe the plants use THC as a way to deter predators.
Maybe the animals forget what they’re doing and wander off?
Because these plants use THC to protect against predators, when marijuana plants are stressed, they’ll put their bud and cannabinoid production into overdrive as a last-ditch effort to protect themselves.
Why is that all important?
For a marijuana plant, creating the prized cannabinoid-laden buds (which are used to make seeds) is their life’s work.
As a cannabis grower, you must understand what causes cannabis plants to produce the biggest, most potent buds possible.
So I’m going to let you in on a big secret to getting the best buds when growing marijuana.
While marijuana growers want to ensure that these plants survive until harvest, keeping them as absolutely healthy as possible in a 100% perfect environment without any special techniques won’t get you the best results.
The key to getting the most giant, potent buds is providing your cannabis plants with the perfect environment to grow. A marijuana plant’s natural environment is an essential part of its growth and development.
Marijuana growers use various techniques to create the perfect environment for their plants. Still, the best way to ensure a healthy, potent crop is to mimic your cannabis plants’ natural environment. Add super cropping to a perfected environment and watch your plants thrive.
Instead, the best buds are produced when you learn how to stress the plants just the right way to increase yields and cannabinoid production.
This brings me to super cropping, one of the easiest, most effective ways to stress your marijuana plant for better harvests.
This straightforward technique will dramatically increase your yields; all it takes is your fingers, duct tape, a bit of growing experience, and the knowledge of what to do. It’s based on the idea we discussed of stressing the plant, so it goes crazy with bud production.
- Your fingers
- A bit of growing experience
- Something to tie down branches in place – plant twisty and regular zip ties both work great, or you can get creative! (just avoid anything “sharp” like a string which can start to cut into your plant’s “skin” over time)
- Duct tape (if you make a mistake)
- The knowledge of what to do (jump to super crop tutorial)
How to utilize Super Cropping in your marijuana garden
Super-cropping is best done during the vegetative stage, once the plant has grown many healthy branches and is growing vigorously, but before it is full into the flowering stage.
- For super-cropping, you want to choose parts of the plant that are old, but still pliable (sometimes called “bendy”). The parts you use this technique on should still be green and not wood-like the bottom of the central stalk.
- If your plant has multiple colas, you should super-crop the same location on multiple colas. When there’s only one main cola, you super crop the pliable, greener growth towards the top.
- Basically, you’re trying to create a flat canopy at the top without any stems sticking up taller than the rest.
The idea is to damage the inner tissue of the plant without causing damage to the outside “skin.” This makes the stem super pliable, so it can easily be bent in the direction you would like it to grow.
- Grab the branch and squeeze with firm pressure between your thumb and forefinger as if you’re trying to crush the stem where you want it to bend. This helps “loosen” the joint you are about to make.
- Wiggle the stem between your fingers slowly back and forth for 10+ seconds while maintaining pressure to loosen it up where you want it to bend.
- Continue wiggling until it feels like the inside of the stem has softened. The stem should feel pliable and loose at the joint you just made.
- Slowly and gently bend over the stem towards your desired direction, and secure in place.
This video demonstrates a grower squeezing the stem, then bending it over. This was a very young and flexible stem. For stiffer stems, you may need to wiggle back and forth for up to 60 seconds while squeezing/crushing the stem between your fingers before it “loosens up” enough to bend without breaking the skin. Never force it! If it feels like it’s going to snap it probably will!
Some growers grab each branch and snap them quickly, but doing this makes it more likely you’ll snap the outside tissue and need tape.
With that being said, cannabis plants are surprisingly resilient. If you don’t bend the super-crop site hard enough, it will bounce back to where it was in a few hours. You may still need to secure the stem to prevent it from growing back up!
You know you’ve succeeded when the plant appears somewhat “broken” and rests at a 90-degree angle where you bent it, and the branch stays down.
This illustration is a perfect example of a super crop that doesn’t even need tape. Use tape if you go a little overboard.
In the best-case scenario, the stem remains at a permanent 90° angle while the outside tissue stays intact. At this point, you need to secure the stem back down, or it will come up again in just a day or two.
But no matter how you super crop, this process can cause your plant to grow a bunch of new colas and leaves. A plant doesn’t want to put all its effort into a branch that (as far as your plant is concerned) has probably just been attacked by animals!
In the best-case scenario, you don’t even need tape, because the outside of the plant is still whole.
- If you’ve gone a bit overboard, you may need to use duct tape (or another strong tape) to reinforce the plant so it can heal properly, especially if you can see an open slit or crack on the outside of the stem.
- If there was no cracking (yay!) then you only need to secure down your stem (or it will flip right back up in a day or two). Plant twisty ties or regular zip ties both work great!
- Regardless, the place that you originally bent will grow a big “˜knot’ almost like a permanent band-aid, which can transport more water, nutrients, and other good stuff compared to before.
- Wait about one week before removing any tape. It’s normal for the tissues to have discoloration at the healing sites.
- If the site is still grey and appears totally wounded, just put the tape back on until it has grown her protective “knuckle”.
Until then, the plant will be able to transport nutrients and maintain all normal processes as long as it has the tape as reinforcement.
If the plant tries to straighten any branches, just tie them down (using Low-Stress Training techniques). Stems will easily give in to your will after being super cropped.
Unlike topping or extensively plucking leaves, super cropping does not dramatically slow down the plant’s growth (though you should expect to give her a little time to recover) while giving you many of the same benefits of these other High-Stress Training techniques.