Cannabis growers have to use every tool at their disposal to create the best crop yields possible. One of the most vital methods to improve an operation’s yield is trimming cannabis plants.
In our helpful explainer, we’ll break down everything you should know about pruning cannabis—from its benefits to the right timing to the basics of pruning.
The Benefits of Pruning Cannabis Plants
Why should cannabis growers prune their plants in the first place? Basically, trimming your plants while they grow removes the unproductive and unsatisfactory buds from the plants so they can focus their energy and resources on more promising growth.
Pruning makes the plant more efficient and allows water and light to flow to the best buds and grow healthier. Fewer leaves and growth mean more light and better airflow for the rest. A gardener might do the same for tomatoes or peppers in a vegetable garden.
When’s the Right Time To Prune?
The timing of pruning is vital to the process being effective for the cannabis plant. You could harm the crop if you do it at the wrong juncture of the plant’s growth.
The ideal time to trim cannabis plants to improve the yield is early—the first week or two of its vegetative growth before it enters the flowering stage. By pruning the plant early, the buds and leaves will have more airflow and light transparency as it begins to flower and grow healthy buds.
What You’ll Need To Prune Cannabis
It doesn’t take much to prune cannabis plants, but you’ll need a few basic materials like:
- Fine scissors
- Alcohol wipes or spray bottles of alcohol
- Clean and soft rag
The pruners are for the heavier and thicker branches of the plant, while the scissors are for the smaller stems. The alcohol wipes and rag are to keep your hands and the tools clean while pruning to avoid the buildup of sticky resin.
The Basics of Pruning Cannabis Plants
It’s finally the right time in your crop’s age to prune, and you’ve got the proper materials—all that’s left is to trim! We’ll walk you through the basics of what you need to know to prune your cannabis plants correctly.
Examine the Plant
Before you start hacking and cutting away at your plants, take a second to examine the plant entirely. First, ensure it’s in the right growth stage for pruning, and then see if any apparent leaves or stems need pruning (yellow or undeveloped leaves or branches).
What’s the plant’s position regarding the light source? What part of the plant looks healthiest, and where does it look like it could use more space for breathing and absorbing light? It’s always best to prune with a plan.
Start Low and Work Up
It’s best to start pruning at the bottom and work your way up—as that’s where most of the branches and stems should be trimmed. The lower leaves and branches are typically the least productive since the upper branches block light and compete for oxygen.
Here is where pruners will find the parts of the plant that can go—underdeveloped buds, leaves, and stems that aren’t capable of maturing into healthy buds. Growers typically prune the lower portions of the plant the most.
Make Room in the Middle Section
The middle section of the cannabis plant is where most of its main stalks and bud sites reside. Cultivators don’t want to cut too many leaves and buds and damage the yield, but there’s still an opportunity for pruning.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to wipe and clean your scissors and pruners while pruning to keep your tools clean and sanitary.
The middle portion is where many bud sites are, but it’s beneficial to trim them down and remove some competition. Trimming away some of the smaller buds will give more room, oxygen, and light for the more promising buds to grow without interference. It’s a delicate balance between quantity and quality, but the more you trim and prune, the better feel you’ll get for it.
Careful With the Upper Leaves
Growers can also trim the top of the cannabis plant, but they should be cautious of how much they prune. The upper portion of cannabis contains large fan leaves, which act as solar receptors and are vital to the crop’s health.
The buds and leaves at the top are typically the healthiest since they have the best access to air and light. If there are yellowing or slender leaves at the top portion, you should trim them. Otherwise, leave the upper area of the plant alone.
Are Pruning and Trimming the Same Thing?
You’ll sometimes hear pruning and trimming used interchangeably, but they don’t always mean the same in cannabis cultivation. Pruning means cutting away unproductive leaves and buds before harvest—trimming can also mean that, but there’s also trimming after the harvest.
Trimming post-harvest is typically referred to as wet or dry trimming—the two main methods. It can confuse beginners, so it’s best to refer to pruning for pre-harvest and trimming for post-harvest.
Trimming After Harvest: Wet vs. Dry Trimming
Cultivators have two options when trimming after the harvest: wet or dry. Wet trimming is immediately trimming after harvesting the stalks when the plant is fresh or “wet.”
Dry trimming involves storing the harvested stalks and buds in a controlled environment of ideal humidity and airflow. This drying process allows the buds to cure before trimming—which some cultivators think gives the buds a better quality.
It mostly comes down to the preferences of efficiency or quality on behalf of the grower, so if you’re new, it’s best to try each method and see what works best for you and your crop.
How an Automated Trimmer Can Improve Your Yield
Another opportunity to improve your cannabis yield is to utilize an automated bud trimmer. Bud trimming machines are becoming more popular yearly because they’re advantageous for cannabis operations, big and small.
An automated bud trimmer can work with wet and dry trimming methods, improve the consistency of trimming, and do the work of a dozen workers in a fraction of the time. An automated machine is a simple upgrade if you want to improve your operation’s efficiency, quality, and security.
We hope this guide has been helpful and informative for your cannabis cultivation! If you have any questions or want to learn more about cannabis trimming machines and automated equipment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our helpful staff at Easy Trim!