How To Increase Yields: Cannabis Defoliation

Defoliation is a high-risk method of increasing yields and should be used by more experienced growers.
22 June 2020
10 min read
 How To Increase Yields: Cannabis Defoliation

Contents:

Defoliation is a method that can increase yields, by removing the excess foliage your plant will redirect its energy to the buds.

By doing this, you allow the light to reach deeper and increase airflow, all of these combined may result in bigger and denser buds.

1. Cannabis Defoliation

Cannabis defoliation is a controversial method, there are a lot of growers who don’t believe in it and a lot who do. The reason why is that the cannabis plant uses fan leaves in the process of photosynthesis so by removing them you are decreasing the area your plant has to absorb light.

The defoliation method consists of removing the leaves that may be overshadowing buds and in places where there are too many leaves close together.

 

By removing some leaves, you can allow the buds to develop better, just make sure you don't overdo it!
 

Even though the idea is to redirect the plant’s energy from the excess foliage to the developing buds, this will also allow the buds to be more exposed to the light, which will provide better airflow and more space for the buds.

This technique is sometimes mistaken for lollipopping, although both consist of removing leaves, lollipopping consists of removing the foliage in the lower branches while defoliation means strategically removing leaves where you see fit to help increase yields.

Be aware that if you defoliate aggressively you will stress your plants and that can stunt growth and lower yields. Also, remember you should only remove leaves if it’s needed.

2. When To Defoliate?

Before removing even one leaf, you should make sure you’ll benefit from it. You should have minimum knowledge in cannabis cultivation to evaluate if it’s worth risking your harvest.

 

Defoliation in the vegetative stage.
 

Growers usually defoliate in combination with plant training techniques like Scrog, tying down branches or topping, this makes it easier to tie the branches or even the canopy.

It’s recommended you only defoliate in the vegetative phase (even though you can also defoliate in the first weeks of the flowering stage). You can start removing leaves as soon as they enter the growing stage but it’s better to wait at least 1-2 weeks to start defoliating.

Have in mind that some strains can be more sensitive than others and may take 4-7 days to recover and continue growing normally. You can extremely reduce growth and yields when removing autoflowers leaves, so be careful.

3. How To Defoliate?

If you’re new to defoliating, it is best to use scissors and sterilize them with alcohol before using them. More experienced grower pluck the leaves with their fingers, using the fingernails to make a clean cut, but if you’re not experienced enough you can end up tearing the skin of the stem, making your plant more susceptible to bugs.

4. How Much To Remove And How Often?

There’s no way to say exactly when to stop removing leaves, it will depend on the foliage of your plant and what you want to achieve at the end.

 

To avoid stressing your plants you should remove little by little, remember, your objective is to allow the light to reach deeper without removing too much.
 

To make sure you’re not stressing it, you should remove 1-3 leaves at a time every 4-7 days or when you see she has recovered completely and only remove a maximum of 10-20% of the total foliage.

Remember the objective is to allow the light to reach deeper and provide more airflow, so you should not remove leaves near bud sites, as this will most certainly affect growth and won’t allow more airflow nor more access to light.

It is important you don’t forget that removing too many fan leaves will slow down photosynthesis, resulting in the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

5. Advantages And Disadvantages Of Defoliation

Advantages

•  It can increase airflow and the penetration of light to the buds.

•  It can encourage the development of denser flowers.

•  It can increase the final yield.

 

The objective of defoliation is to allow the light to reach deeper and provide more airflow.

Disadvantages

•  Can cause your plant stress.

•  Takes a bit of experience to perform correctly and successfully.

6. In Conclusion

Just like all other HST techniques, it can be really easy to stress your plant with defoliation, removing leaves should be used along with training techniques.

If you’re planning to defoliate in order to increase yields, you should first take a look at other plant training techniques, some of these methods also allow you to improve airflow and allow more light to reach your buds without giving your plants too much stress.

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