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Can I Use Topping On Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

16 February 2023
Read more to discover if topping autos is beneficial, and what techniques we recommend when it comes to training autoflowering Cannabis.
16 February 2023
6 min read
Can I Use Topping On Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?

Read more
  • 1. What exactly is topping?
  • 2. Applying topping technique on autos
  • 2. a. Advantages and disadvantages of topping autos
  • 3. Best training techniques as alternative to topping
  • 4. Is topping really necessary?
  • 5. Topping autoflowering strains - faqs
  • 6. In conclusion

When working with a photoperiod strain, it is possible to top your Cannabis plants as many times as you wish during the vegetative stage. Due to autoflowering strains not being photoperiod dependent, there is a short window to work with in regards to training autoflowers. Below we break down if topping is beneficial, the recommended training techniques, the window to work in, and our best strains for those of you who enjoy some good-old plant training.

1. What Exactly Is Topping?

The name topping or pinching just means the removal of the main crown shoot, resulting in two auxiliary shoots at the highest point of the plant. As the crown shoot is responsible for apical dominance, the growth hormone Auxin is no longer required, allowing Cannabis plants to then grow a more bushy and laterally dominant canopy. When a Cannabis plant is topped only once, the growth structure will change dramatically, as all of the side branches attempt to catch up with the rest of the top shoots. The most important thing in this process is that the vertical height is reduced, allowing a grower with limited height, or working with a challenging cultivar to work more easily.


Can I Use Topping On Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?: Topping Graph

How to top autoflowering cannabis plants.

Grow Tips

  • Topping should only be performed during the vegetative stage.
  • It is important to allow Cannabis plants to recover and grow back in their own time.
  • Can be performed once or multiple times to promote a very bushy canopy.
  • A simple technique that can be performed using scissors or finger and thumb.
  • Topping encourages two main shoots to grow in replacement of the one that was cut away.

2. Applying Topping Technique On Autos

There are some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to topping autos. Depending on the strains you are growing, you will definitely notice the difference between for example a stunted, short plant with minimal production, or on the contrary, a big, bushy girl that meets all your practical requirements height-wise. Just like our latest addition to the family, Orange Sherbet Auto, this Sativa dominant hybrid grows up to 150cm meeting your expectations flawlessly with her huge bushy yields.

There will be a 21-day window in which autos can be manipulated and trained before their natural desire to flower takes over. It is during this time that topping your auto-flowering plants is advised. Anytime after the first 3 weeks may be counterproductive and cause the plants more harm than good, during the pinnacle growing stages. The same rule applies when flowering a photoperiod Cannabis seed under 12/12 with no vegetative time, as there will be a 21-day window where the plants will focus on growing roots and as much foliage and branches as possible.

The best auto flowering cultivars to work with are hybrids or Sativa-dominant, as these will normally finish around 120-150cm if left untrained. Both Sativa dominant strains like Wedding Cheesecake Auto and Original Auto Amnesia Haze have a very large growth structure, they grow tall, making them more than a perfect option for topping.  

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Topping Autos  


Can I Use Topping On Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?: Pros and Cons

The pros and cons of topping autoflowers.

3. Best Training Techniques As Alternative To Topping

Rather than take the risk with topping autoflowering Cannabis, especially if you are not completely familiar with how a strain grows from start to finish, it is better to use other techniques such as L.S.T.

Can I Use Topping On Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?: Low Stress Training Graph

Low-stress training is a very gentle and easy way to open up the size of your canopy, allowing all of the lower growth to be exposed to direct light. The result is a lush, lollipopped style appearance that causes the plants very little stress.

Grow Tips

  • L.S.T is very easy to perform and is a good technique to use on Indica, hybrid, and Sativa autoflowering strains.
  • Another way to manipulate the height of your plants, without the necessity to pinch out and prevent apical dominance.
  • Combined with pruning, L.S.T is the most effective way to increase yields and the number of buds on each plant.
  • This method can be successfully performed using twine or metal wire.

4. Is Topping Really Necessary?

In short, no but it depends on several things such as your grow equipment, specific strain, etc… As you may know, topping an autoflower will essentially cause it to grow sideways and develop 2 or more main colas (or more) instead of just one huge one. Topping cannabis plants also helps improve airflow between the buds and branches, and allows light to reach the lower bud sites.  So in order for you to know if you should top your autoflowers or not, you have to think about your growing conditions. So first of all ask yourself if your light fixture is strong enough to reach lower buds. If it’s not, you should consider topping as it will allow lower buds to get more light and help you get better yields.

The next question you should ask yourself is if your fan is strong enough. It’s essential to have good ventilation as this will not only prevent mold but keep your plants happy and healthy, so if the answer is no, then you should consider topping. Now, if you’re a beginner and don’t want to stress your plants always consider LST techniques as you will be able to get the same results without the risk of stressing your plants.

There we go then, pretty much everything you need to know about topping autoflowering cultivars. But, as with all aspects of cannabis cultivation, if you are fresh to the game then you are probably slightly confused about the whole thing still. Let's run through the most commonly asked questions, and see if we cant answer them in the simplest way possible.

5. Topping Autoflowering Strains - FAQs

Can I top autoflowering cannabis plants?

Yes! You sure can, but only once the plant has grown to a certain height and is showing more than 3 to 4 nodes. Be careful though, some strains will not take kindly at all, and you'll end up with a smaller yield than you hoped for, especially when using techniques that should increase the final bud weight.


Should I top autoflowering strains?

It’s entirely up to you, but as a general rule of thumb when it comes to autos - no, probably not. Topping is just so stressful that the negatives usually outweigh the positives. We top a plant to increase its yield, and this is almost always the outcome when topping photoperiodic strains (as they can be forced to stay in veg growth as long as you like). Autos will automatically switch to flower production after around 4 weeks, which means they usually do not have time to bounce back.


Are there any other techniques that can be used with autoflowering cannabis plants?

Absolutely! All the different Low-Stress training techniques are perfect perfectly viable ways to increase yield when dealing with autos. Each of these methods works by manipulating the growth pattern of the plant, in order to give the canopy a much more horizontal growth pattern. This tricks the plant into more evenly spreading both the growth hormones and the nutrients throughout all of the budding sites instead of just focusing on the main cola.

It also allows for better light penetration and airflow through the canopy which also benefits the final yield and reduces any chances of mold issues arising. In general, we suggest forgetting about topping your autos altogether and just using either the ScrOG or tie-down techniques. They offer similar benefits to topping, but none of the growth stunting stress. It just makes sense to give your fast-growing autos the best chance at reaching their potential, instead of stunting them and possibly reducing the final yield.

6. In Conclusion

On the basis you are familiar with the cultivar in question and understand the benefits of topping your autos then you will have no issues. However, a beginner grower looking to get the biggest yields possibly should take it easy with topping, as they run the risk of stunting their plants or worse yet causing unwanted stress and trauma too late into the developing stages of bud production. Our advice is to always research the cultivar and determine which training methods will be advantageous or counterproductive. L.S.T will deliver much better results if you are new to growing and is more applicable to all autoflowering Cannabis plants comparison to pinching.