Techniques like topping and pruning are great for beginners, but as you become more advanced you may want to consider super cropping your plants.
The name alone implies this form of plant training is a bit more intense. And if you are looking to increase your yield without increasing the plant count you are growing, it is a great option.
But not only will it increase the weight of your harvest - it will even enhance the potency and overall quality of your flower!
We’re making some bold claims here, so let’s not waste any more time. We’re going to teach you how to super crop your plants, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this style. First, let’s explain what super cropping even is!
What Is Super Cropping?
If you’ve read this far, you can already guess that super cropping is an advanced plant training technique.
It involves pinching and bending branches in an effort to damage the delicate inner tissues without breaking the plant’s “outer skin”.
This is why we recommend this technique only for advanced growers, as there are plenty of other things to worry about on your first couple grows. If you make mistakes on your super crop, it could destroy your yields.
If you’re a beginner grower, we recommend you check out our complete guide on plant training to understand why growers manipulate their plants, and learn some of the beginner techniques.
Super Cropping Results: Does This Technique Really Increase Yield?
To get a bit more specific, super cropping is classified as a high-stress plant training technique (HST). Just like humans, plants can become stressed.
What this means is that you are going to really freak your plant out when you super crop. While it sounds counter intuitive, there is actually science supporting it.
How Stress Increases Production Of Certain Compounds
Think about your plants out in nature. Like every living thing, they have predators - in this case, animals that want to eat the lush green foliage.
And, like every living thing - our plants have natural defense mechanisms to try and prevent this from happening.
When the plant starts to get damaged physically, it thinks something is trying to eat it. It responds by increasing compounds to try and fend off predators. So when you physically damage the branches of your plant yourself, you kind of stimulate this response.
Many of the best growers in the world purposely induce stress to push out incredible growth and quality. There are all kinds of ways you can do this, and high-stress training techniques are just one.
Directing Plant Growth
Another reason growers see great results with super cropping is because it helps you manipulate the way in which your plants grow.
If you are in the majority of growers who don't have unlimited growing space, this is important to you.
By super cropping your plants, you can train them to grow very wide and not super tall, which is important for those growing in height-limited conditions - such as a closet grow setup.
When To Start Super Cropping Plants?
Now, part of what makes super cropping challenging is that on top of having to be surgical with your fingers, you need to have your timing dialed in.
There are specific times you should and should not super crop. We recommend starting during the vegetative stage once your plant has plenty of branches, but before these become so hardened off that you cannot bend them.
If the branch is too hardened, you won’t be able to bend it, but will instead end up snapping it - which is what we really want to avoid.
Can I Super Crop During Flower?
You cannot super crop during flower because you end up causing more harm than good here. During flower, you want your plants to spend all their energy producing buds - not repairing damaged tissue.
Furthermore, you are more likely to end up snapping a branch during flower as your plants are older, and thus more hardened.
If you snap a branch during flower, there is a lower chance it’ll be able to heal itself before you harvest. This means a lower yield.
How Long After Super Cropping Can I Flower?
After you super crop your plants, we recommend waiting at least two weeks before switching to flower.
This gives your plant time to recover and repair itself. While we now know that stressing your plants can be a good thing, the act of switching your photoperiod from 18/6 to 12/12 is stressful enough as it is.
You don’t want to give your plant too much stress during flower - at least, not until the last week or so. Now that you have some basic information on super cropping, we want to teach you how to super crop your plants!
Can You Super Crop Autoflower Plants?
Because they grow incredibly quickly and don’t grow based on the photoperiod (Veg/flower), some growers are hesitant to super crop autoflower plants.
But, if you have an idea of how long until your plants start flowering (most autoflower varieties have a general timeline that stays the same per genetics), you can still use this technique!
You just have to be more careful about your timing, while also being sure not to break any branches since there is less time for the plant to heal before flower.
Just wait until the branches look right - not too young, not too old - just right, and pliable.
How To Super Crop Your Plants To Increase Yield
We are going to break down a fairly complex technique into just three simple steps. We highly recommend you watch a video of someone performing this technique before attempting it yourself, just to be sure you are doing it right!
Step 1) Identify Branches To Super Crop
The first step is finding which branches you want to super crop. This is important because you need to find branches that have a high probability of repairing themselves, so you can actually reap the benefits of this training style.
Stick with branches that are somewhat old, but not quite hardened off. You should still be able to bend the branch without too much effort - just using a few fingers.
The branch selections you’ll want to make varies based on how many main colas you have. If you just have one, you’ll want to super crop the pliable green growth at the top. If you have multiple colas, you’ll want to super crop each one at the same spot.
This is because you don’t want one cola to dominate the plant - you want to create a flat canopy. In essence, that’s what all plant training boils down to!
Step 2) Super Crop Selected Branches By Squeezing & Bending
Now comes the fun part - actually super cropping your plant. You need to be really, really careful here because there is a fine line between a successful super crop and a broken branch that now cuts your yield.
The idea is to just damage the inner tissue without actually breaking the outer skin. This will make it easier to bend the branch the direction you want.
Using just your thumb and your index finger, “crush” the stem where you want to bend. Apply gentle pressure at first, and start slowly squeezing harder while wiggling the stem between your fingers back and forth. You’re trying to slowly break up the inner tissue. Take your time, so you don’t overdo it.
You will definitely feel the inside of the stem loosen. It will start to feel more pliable and loose at this joint you’ve made. At this point, you can gently bend the stem over towards the direction you want, and secure it in place with a twisty tie.
Step 3) Damage Control (Fixing Any Broken Branches)
Even the most surgical growers can make mistakes during super cropping. Luckily for us, our plants are incredibly resilient and can bounce back from most things. But, we still need to help them out a bit if we do damage a branch more than intended.
If needed, use some plant tape to cover any open wounds on the plant. This will do two things: For one, it will prevent pests/diseases from infiltrating the opening. Two, it will help your plant seal up the opening quicker.
You may notice that the site at which you bent starts to develop a big knot - this is totally normal, as the plant is overcompensating to heal the wounded area.
At this point, your work is done. Your branches are bent at 90 degrees, and will start producing additional colas. Better yet, the canopy is flat, so no 1 cola will dominate the plant.
Final Thoughts On Super Cropping Your Plants
Now that you know how to super crop your plants, you can try this strategy out yourself and see how it stacks up compared to your standard plant training techniques.
If you follow our guide and exercise caution, you won’t deal with any broken branches, and if you do, you know how to correct the issue.
All that’s left to do is grab any plant training supplies such as trellis, twist ties, stakes, etc, and get to work! You’ll be blown away by the increase in yield and quality you enjoy.