Early Thoughts on High Stress Training

Today I trimmed the majority of a Black Domina harvest. This is an old school strain bred by Sensi Seeds and is composed of the classic genetics close to landraces, such as Northern Lights, Afghani, Hash Plant and Ortega. I germinated six seeds and got a one-hundred percent success rate. I had high hopes for this strain, and it delivered in some ways, while falling short in others. All the short comings most likely traced back to one factor, me, the cultivator. Although the results weren’t as I had hoped, I got something more important than higher quality or yield; I learned.

Going into this run, I hadn’t experimented with topping or high stress training much. Up to this point I had relied on low stress training methods and pruning the bottom nodes to eliminate the weak branches. Looking back, I can see I missed an important fact about the Black Domina genetics; they are short and bushy in stature. This should have been an indicator that topping this strain was probably not the best of ideas. But that’s what I did. Four of the plants I clipped the top node or two. For the two plants that were the tallest and had the most vigor, I performed Nebula’s Manifolding Technique on. If you’re not familiar with that high stress training method, instructions can be found here.

The four plants that got clipped seemed to bounce back alright and began demonstrating their growth outwards and upwards within a few days. The two that I performed the manifolding technique on were slow to bounce back from the initial topping. This should have been an indicator that I may want to reconsider what I was doing. Regardless of that, I had made my mind up what I was going to do before I went into this grow and followed through with the initial plan. When the timing was right, I did the second round of toppings on the main shoots of each plant. There was even more struggle for them to bounce back from this round. One of them never really recovered and stayed very small the whole way through flowering. On this plant the final yield was minimal.

When I performed the initial topping on the two manifolded plants, I decided to dip those tops into rooting hormone and clone them. One of the tops rooted but barely grew throughout the whole flower phase and the end result wasn’t even worth trimming, so I just tossed into trim for edibles. The second top rooted nicely and grew decent, this was the top from the plant that did bounce back from the manifolding technique.

The plants all looked decent through flowering, but it was clear that the yield wasn’t going to be impressive. It was the collateral damage from the high stress training. On the upside, it seemed like the quality was still going to be on point. When it came time to harvest, I hung the plants and dried them whole minus the fan leaves. I was able to average a temperature of sixty-six degrees with a humidity of fifty-nine percent for fourteen days. When it came time to trim, the end-product wasn’t as promising as I had hoped in terms of quality.

After trimming all six plants, five of the plants were unimpressive. These five plants also had a poor calyx to leaf ratio. The sugar trim on these five plants was moderate quality, at best. The one plant that did stand out had a structure that reminded me a lot of White Widow but was a lighter green that most White Widow I had smoked in the past. This plant had solid sugar trim and the buds were more filled out and denser. This plant was also the biggest producer.

By the time I had trimmed all the main plants, it was clear to me that topping or using high stress training on shorter and bushier plants may not be a good idea. At this point I remembered the top I cloned from one of the manifolded plants was still hanging. As soon as I took a closer look at it, I was blown away. There were buds that grew along the main stalk at each node. I had removed the branches, leaving only the main stalk flowering sites and the cola at the top. These buds were by far the best out of the whole crop I had trimmed. The buds were so much better that it looked like the plant had come from completely different genetics. The flowers had beautiful structure and they were completely frosted out.

This really got me thinking. The top shoot from one plant produced far better-quality cannabis than any single bud site from the six full plants. And that’s even with that cloned top being the exact genetic makeup of one of those six plants.

The reason why I cultivate cannabis is so that I can get the best quality possible. My motto is “quality above everything else, always.” This has me questioning if I really want to top at all. I realize these results may be pronounced because the genetics aren’t ideal to high stress train to begin with, but still…. If I am topping cannabis plants and this is interfering with quality, is that really something I want to be doing? Even if it only reduces the overall quality potential by ten percent, I’m not sure I want to do that. For me, yield is low priority anyways.

I was planning on doing topping again with the round I just started of Cannarado and Wyeast genetics. I’m going to have to take some time to reconsider this. I’m leaning towards seeing what these amazing breeder’s genetics are capable of in their full cola-style original form.