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Defoliation

Hello fellow growers!
I’ve been employing some heavy defoliation techniques on my flower room and thought i should start a topic discussing this method and any other growers methods they’d like to share. I start defoliating at the end of week 3 up to the start of week 4. I take off nearly all the large fan leaves, leaving the smaller fan leaves. Any overlapping leaves or leaves that shade lower leaves are removed. I’m pretty aggressive, and like to see deep light penetration. It’s especially important to make sure all the plants are very healthy before defoliating. The removal of so many leaves seems to leave the plant a little vulnerable for the first week or two, but it quickly rebounds if you keep all the grow conditions optimal.

I’ll add a few pics… I 'm an amateur photo editor, so I apologize. I made attempts to adjust for the HPS Orange. :)!

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IME, some strains respond well, some don’t.

I “think” I’ve noticed, smaller plant methods do better too.

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Thats good to know. Im trying it for the first time. Half the room are 3ft tall plants, the other half are 6ft tall. All the plants are 3 strains from exotic genetix (pink, kimbo kush, black mamba). Pink is a sativa dominant and seems to do better than the two indica doms. Pink has longer internode lengths so much less was trimmed off to allow more light into the plant. Im just starting wk 5 of flower and all the plants appear to be doing well. Im noticing a good amount of bud swell every two days. I’ll post a few more pics tomorrow.

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I find indica responds better to heavy leaf removal than sativa . I over plant and remove leaves continuously through out the grow cycle.

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Yeah the Indicas have so many small leaves that it’s almost essential to take all the large leaves early and then constantly defoliate as the small leaves grow larger and replace what I cut off. By the time I defoliate (It takes me about a week) it’s time to start over and do a maintenance trim. I’ve experimented with heavy and conservative defoliation and definitely seen better results from the heavier defoliated plants. I get more production further down the plant and the upper flowers fattened up more than the conservatively defoliated plants. It’s definitely the thing to do, I’ll be defoliating from now on.

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On the advice of some grower friends who year in and year out consistently grow the best and the most, I’m trying something radical with ONE of my plants. Super-defoliation. The strain is Remedy a high-CBD indica-dominant hybrid. We’ll see.

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Thanks for posting. I look forward to seeing your results. I’ve found that I have to keep defoliating every two weeks as the smaller leaves replace the ones removed quickly. Do you have more plants that haven’t been defoliated for comparison?

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Wow! That is some intense defoliation. What do you expect to see?

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Hey Gary, Yes this is the only one I’ve gone to such an extreme on. The others are the “control” plants.
Hunter, this plant just started flowering and I trimmed off everything except the flowers at the ends of the stems and the fan leaves around those flowers. I trimmed off all the little space-wasters. I’m hoping that all I will get will be a collection of nice buds.
This Remedy strain is a late-flowering strain so I’m hoping that it will put all of its energy and resources into the flowers, not producing more vegetation this late in the year. Genetically I know it can’t hurry the flowering process, but we’ll see what happens. I also think that opening the plant up like this will greatly reduce the possibility for mold as I doubt if it will be ready to harvest before the fall rains come and the humidity spikes. If it works “Great!”, if not I will know not to do it again.

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I think you’ll like the results. I have some different grow conditions and I noticed a very nice change. I hope it goes well for you.

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So here we are three weeks after hacking back the lower leaves. Nothing but healthy flowers and dark green vegetation. The small leaves and buds in the center have not grown back.

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I’ve been experimenting as well, but I’ve noticed most of my sativa dominant strains do better big leafing in week 5 over my indica strains. I’ve also been leaving everything on my Girl scout and Candy Land( both have the same plant structure and bud development) and been getting nugs the same size on the bottom as the top.

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We’ve done no defoliation, light, and heavy, mostly on sativa dominant hybrids, but some indica dominant as well.

Indicas tend to benefit a little more, because their broad leaves shade a great deal more of the foliage below them.

However, we got yield increases of 10-12% across the board with both kinds doing heavy defoliation. Light penetration into the canopy is much improved, airflow into the canopy is improved, bugs and mold have fewer places to hide and grow, and it helps slow the plants transpiration indoors.

We do it once at week 3 of flower, with some fairly heavy pruning of the lower canopy, and again around week 6. The plants always seem happier than they started.

Distilling the plants energy into 6-8 branches and 20-25 flower sites (on 3’ skinny OGs) helps make larger tops and reduced the smaller bottom flowers, but the defoliating allows that thinner canopy to get much more light.

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Currently doing side by sides in 20 light rooms. I have results in from 1 room we did minor defoliation and I was amazed. We went from 1.7-2 to 2.5- 2.76 pounds per light with 3 different strains . My new side by sides are going along with Josh Haupt’s" 3 pounds a light" book. We were doing everything in the book expect the heavy defoliation.
So, defoliate on day 0 and again on day 20 to get tighter bud zones and maximize light .
I have yet to try on indicas , but leafer Sativas seem to do great with this method.

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Another plus side was that it take my guys half the time to spray a room and we are using less.

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3 weeks later…
Left side is the 100% defoliation . Nodes are definitely tighter and bottom buds are forming just as big as top.
The only difference is the size of the buds from my control side(right) are a little larger, although the bottom buds are not quite as big.
Its looking like a much higher yield will come from left with slightly smaller buds.

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OK, Gary, I’m going to chime in my two cents here: I will, however, preface my response with a brief disclaimer: defoliation is as personal as choosing your underwear in the morning; meaning it’s all about what works for you!

I have a technique I have been developing over the course of a lifetime of growing. The technique calls for a “rule of five” approach to pruning, which demands a FIM (Fuck! I Missed! [i.e. removing about 75% of the new growth at the top of a node, leaving about 25% of the node}) every five new internodes. By doing this FIM, the grower is transforming the energy within the plant system via a series of hormonal responses. By doing this I achieve two desirable results: one, I have literally hundreds of blooming buds; and two, I have an extremely even canopy with every flower top receiving equal light. Another ancillary benefit to this pruning practice is virtually every flower on the plant has “bag appeal” (thereby minimizing loss through waste) and all the buds test at similar cannabinoid/terpene levels (high standard of purity).

When I approach the topic of the removal of leaves, I have a balanced approach: I always try to never remove too much. I do, however, remove many leaves during the course of the plants growth cycle, but only during very specific times. I always remove the leaves that are demonstrating pronounced chlorosis (yellowing). Keep in mind leaf shedding happens naturally during the plants’ life cycle. I do the majority of my leaf removal during the first two weeks of flower, which is when I really shape the canopy, allowing for that even flower set I am looking for. After about the second week of flower, I pretty much leave the FIM/pruning alone until the flush phase.

When the flush begins, a healthy plant will begin to consume remaining micro and macronutrients still remaining in the canopy. As the remaining nutrients are spent, you will notice an increase in yellowing in your leaves. This is a good sign. Your finished product will be cleaner for this. I remove those yellow leaves which the plant has already begun to shed.

My pruning techniques work for me. I routinely pull over one gram of harvested dry product for every watt of light consumed. I largely attribute my success as a grower to learning to respond to the needs of my plants. Pruning and trimming are huge parts of a plant’s needs.

Like people, plants can be picky. Different cultivars respond differently to pruning and defoliation. I find that sativa-dominant strains tend to enjoy a good “haircut” more often that stout, short, indica-dominant varietals. Your plant will let you know what and how much to trim. You just have to tune in to her needs.

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