To Defoliate Or Not To Defoliate
Thanks for the information. Was getting ready to take some of the fan leaves off of my best girl to open her up for more light inside the plant body. Before doing so, thought I'd do some reading first. I'm glad I did.
Rereading your article has reminded me that those leaves are needed and to let her focus her attention of flowering. Noticed yesterday afternoon she has begun to explode with little white hairs all over the place. In my zeal to make sure those develop as best they could, I found myself reaching for the snippers. Really happy your info was here for a refresher. Will concentrate on the lower third looking for those areas that won't develop because light doesn't get there and let her focus on making beautiful flowers.
I do remove small branches from the lower 1/3 (commonly referred to as lollypopping) right before flip. I also pull cuts for clones at that time. This greatly reduces larf which is a pain to deal with a harvest anyway. I start off trimming the big buds and feeling all proud of myself and by the time I get to the larf I’m just like fukit and throw whole branches away. I find it beneficial to just not grow them in the first place.
I also selectively prune big fan leaves that are blocking a terminal bud site, or are laying on top of another leaf and causing condensation from plant transpiration.
I have “stripped” the big fans a few times between day 14-21 of flower. I have no side by side comparison to prove that it made the buds bigger, which is questionable. But I’m pretty sure it stalled the plants for about 10 days. I have seen people post pics of their four branch “manifold” plant which they stripped everything in veg but the very top node of each branch. The plant didn’t die, but it sure looked real pissed off. Even after two weeks there was very little new growth. Not something I would recommend. For me it comes down to knowing your plant, environment, and grow style. Which is why I recommend new growers stick with the same strain for a few grows. Get a feel for how the plant reacts to what you’re doing.
After reading the thread, I would say I prune rather than defoliate. I don’t pull leaves just because they’re leaves. But I do pull upper leaves that are shading lower buds. Now what scientific processes are at play here I’m not exactly sure. I am not a botanist. I’m a home cannabis grower that’s growing in a tent. And through observation I have concluded the following. If I do not remove any leaves, by harvest time any buds that are 6-8” below the canopy are useless. They are not even really buds, just small puffs of pistols on the top of a very skinny branch. If I strategically remove leaves that are blocking those lower buds, they develop into actual buds that can be harvested and dried. I don’t know why this happens, I just know it does. I have a theory that it may have something to do with wind exposure as cannabis is a wind pollinated plant. So it stands to reason that the bud sites with the most wind exposure would be where the plant directs energy for development in anticipation of pollination. Seems like a plausible enough explanation for what I’m observing. I also don’t buy the argument that no commercial crops are defoliated for yield. Here’s why, if I’m growing tomatoes in my 4x4 tent, I’m going to shape that plant the best I can, so the plant can make the most out of the available light, wind, and co2. Including pruning or bending branches and removing leaves. But if I’m growing 5 acres of tomatoe plants outdoors, not only is defoliation a logistical nightmare, but I don’t think I would see the same benefits on the plant. Because outdoors has a much brighter full spectrum light and strong breezes. In that case the plant needs all its leaves to catch the light as the sun moves across the sky. Also, when growing in a tent I want to reduce any micro climates inside the canopy caused from leaves stacked on top of each other and possibly causing PM. So I prune those leaves away. I will say that I try to limit the leaf removal to those that are absolutely necessary to achieve my goals. And I try not to do too much at one time with a few days in between. I don’t subscribe to the “on day 21 and 42 strip all leaves” idea of defoliation. That will more than likely shock the plant and cost me at least a week grow time. I’m not trying to claim some crazy yield numbers, I just hate larfy buds. They seem like such a waste after spending so much time, effort and money growing the plant. So anything I can do to reduce the larf at harvest is beneficial.
after reading all these infos, I think I'm gonna defoliate this time in my case.
the main reason is for better aiflow and remove excessive shades on buds, I think I'm gonna go for a "heavy" prune.
I heard a grower saying the big dark green leaves are full of nitrogen that inhibits the bud formation because the plant focuses on processing that nitrogen. I think it's a good piece of info if true [@dr-coco?]
I read the best moment for this practice is between the 15 and the 21 days into flowering and because all "that food" [=leaves] will not be used anyway before the end of the plant.
I have to say I'm a wild grower, usually I remove very few leaves and only in the last two grows I started removing the partially damaged ones... I'm quite "shy" when it takes to cut.
Anyway I can't expect a different results doing the same thing. But I'm gonna suffer cutting green big beautiful leaves.
This is my opinion: best case for defoliation prune branches and growth tips that would waste energy counter to you desired plant shape
Ex: I clipped the bottom growth tips 12-20hrs before I took this photo and the opposite shoot has doubled in size(DWC 315wCMH)