To Defoliate Or Not To Defoliate
Interesting topic. I have tried both as probably most growers have I suspect. Based on my experience, I did not see a real difference when performing aggressive defoliation versus not, but each grow is different no? Different strains, maybe a slightly different nutrient mixture, different challenges (pests, temps, humidity, etc) so unless all things are equal it's hard to draw a real conclusion. I have never practiced any defoliation when doing an outdoor grow other than some lower branches that might be laying on the ground.
Where I have landed is to defoliate just enough to facilitate easy watering and that's about it. Since I normally do a SOG style grow, when I move into flower I might take off a few lower branches that are not seeing any light since doing the SOG creates a thicker canopy for the light to penetrate. However, based on the information from the article I might stop doing that too. Seems logical that the more leaves you have to process any available light the better. I mean if they are green they are contributing something to the overall health of the plant right?
Also, I used to pull off leaves when they started to yellow, but stopped doing that too. My thought is the plant is taking nutrients from that leaf for a reason so if I pluck it, won't the plant just adjust and start taking nutrients from another leaf...and so on. Now I wait until the leaf it slightly brown and about ready to fall off before I remove it.
One thing that was not clear to me from the article though. As you progress through the flowering stage and buds start to appear on lower branches, I will take a leaf or two to allow the light to get to buds that are being shaded. Not a lot, just one here and there and it does seem to have helped those buds get a little fatter. Is there any real value in doing this or not? Other than it make me feel like I helped that little bud 😎