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Advanced Pruning Techniques for Bigger, Better Buds

Better Buds

The 420 Gardener

Pruning is an essential practice for cannabis cultivators aiming to maximize their yields and improve the quality of their buds. Advanced pruning techniques such as topping, FIMing, low-stress training (LST), and the Kyle Kushman technique can significantly enhance plant structure and promote robust growth. This article will explore these techniques in detail, providing step-by-step instructions to help growers implement them effectively.

The Importance of Pruning

Pruning is the process of selectively removing parts of a plant to encourage desired growth patterns. In cannabis cultivation, effective pruning can lead to:

  1. Increased Yield: By redistributing energy to the main colas, pruning can result in larger, more abundant buds.
  2. Better Light Penetration: Pruning allows light to reach lower parts of the plant, promoting even growth.
  3. Improved Airflow: Removing excess foliage reduces the risk of mold and pests by improving air circulation around the plant.


Topping is a technique where the main stem of the plant is cut off to encourage the growth of two new main colas instead of one. This method is especially beneficial for increasing the overall yield.

How to Top Your Cannabis Plant:

  1. Identify the Main Stem: Locate the top of the main stem of the plant.
  2. Make the Cut: Using sterilized scissors, cut the stem just above the third or fourth node (the point where a set of leaves attaches to the stem).
  3. Wait for Recovery: The plant will divert its energy to the two new growth points, forming two main colas.


FIMing (short for “F**k, I Missed”) is similar to topping but involves removing a smaller portion of the main stem, resulting in the growth of multiple colas from the same point.

How to FIM Your Cannabis Plant:

  1. Identify the Growth Tip: Locate the top growth tip of the main stem.
  2. Pinch or Cut: Pinch or cut about 75% of the new growth tip. Unlike topping, you don’t remove the entire top.
  3. Observe New Growth: This technique will typically result in 3-8 new colas forming from the pinched tip.

Low-Stress Training (LST)

Low-Stress Training (LST) involves bending and tying down the plant’s branches to create a flat, even canopy. This technique maximizes light exposure and encourages the growth of multiple colas.

How to Perform LST:

  1. Start Early: Begin LST when the plant is still young and flexible.
  2. Bend the Main Stem: Gently bend the main stem and tie it down horizontally using soft plant ties or garden wire.
  3. Secure Side Branches: As the plant grows, continue to bend and tie down the new branches, aiming to keep all growth at an even height.
  4. Adjust Regularly: Check and adjust the ties regularly to ensure the plant grows in the desired shape.

The Kyle Kushman Technique

The Kyle Kushman technique, also known as “Chiropractic Supercropping,” is an advanced method that combines elements of LST and high-stress training to maximize bud production. Kushman, a renowned cannabis cultivator, developed this technique to enhance plant strength and yield.

How to Implement the Kyle Kushman Technique:

  1. Supercropping: This involves gently pinching and bending the plant’s stems without breaking them. The goal is to create small internal injuries that cause the plant to respond by growing stronger and producing more buds.
    • Identify the Branches: Select branches that are healthy and flexible.
    • Pinch and Bend: Pinch the stem between your thumb and forefinger until you feel the internal fibers soften. Gently bend the stem at a 90-degree angle.
    • Support if Needed: Use plant ties or stakes to support the bent stems until they heal.
  1. Defoliation: This step involves selectively removing leaves to improve light penetration and airflow.
    • Remove Large Fan Leaves: Focus on removing large fan leaves that block light from reaching the lower parts of the plant.
    • Target Lower Nodes: Remove leaves from the lower nodes that do not receive adequate light, directing more energy to the top colas.
  1. Timing: Implement these techniques during the vegetative stage and early flowering stage to avoid stressing the plant too much during bud production.

Combining Techniques for Optimal Results

To achieve the best results, consider combining these techniques based on your specific growing conditions and plant needs. Here’s a suggested approach:

  1. Start with Topping or FIMing: Begin by topping or FIMing your plants early in the vegetative stage to encourage multiple cola formation.
  2. Incorporate LST: As the new colas grow, use LST to spread the branches and create an even canopy.
  3. Apply the Kyle Kushman Technique: Introduce supercropping and defoliation to strengthen the plant and improve light penetration.

In The End?

Advanced pruning techniques like topping, FIMing, low-stress training, and the Kyle Kushman technique can significantly enhance cannabis plant structure and yield. By understanding and implementing these methods, growers can achieve bigger, better buds with higher potency and improved quality. Regular monitoring and adjusting your approach based on plant response will help you master these techniques and enjoy the full benefits of your cannabis cultivation efforts.


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