Topping Cannabis: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Topping Cannabis

In the lush green realm of cannabis cultivation, ancient practices meet modern innovation and a lifestyle of balance, luxury, and abundance. And when practice you may hear about when it comes to growing cannabis is “topping.”

But what exactly is topping? Why does it matter, and how do you do it? We’re here at BFF to get to the root of this conversation, helping you make informed decisions when it comes to your own cultivation.

Let’s delve straight into the heart of it.

What Is Topping?

Topping is a key cultivation technique rooted in the science of plant growth and development.

Primarily used to boost the yield and enhance the overall vitality of cannabis plants, topping is the practice of cutting off the top of a growing cannabis stem, forcing the plant to refocus its energy on the lower parts of the plant. This popular practice is a testament to how a slight alteration in growth patterns can make a significant impact.

The process of topping is meticulous and deliberate. It involves identifying the main stem or the ‘apical stem’ of the cannabis plant — the part of the plant that grows upward and outward the fastest. The apical stem holds dominance over the rest of the plant due to a hormone called auxin, which regulates plant growth and promotes vertical growth.

But, when you carefully cut off the top of the apical stem, you essentially disrupt this dominance, causing the plant to redistribute its growth hormones.

The outcome? The plant gets triggered to develop two main stems instead of one, leading to a more bush-like growth pattern.

What Is the Difference Between Topped and Non-Topped Cannabis Plants?

The key difference between topped and non-topped cannabis plants lies in their growth patterns and resulting yield.

A non-topped cannabis plant grows in its natural form, taking on a conical, Christmas tree-like shape. This plant will form one primary cola, or top bud, and smaller secondary buds along the lower branches. This growth pattern can result in lower yields as energy, and resources are not distributed evenly across the plant.

When we top a cannabis plant, on the other hand, we promote the growth of two colas instead of one. This not only increases the potential yield but also ensures a more even distribution of nutrients and energy throughout the plant. In doing so, we encourage the plant to flourish, much like how we humans thrive when we maintain balance.

What Are the Benefits of Topping Cannabis Plants?

Topping cannabis plants brings with it a wealth of benefits that span from improved plant health to enhanced yields.

Increased Yield

When you top a cannabis plant, you’re altering its growth pattern to favor a bushier form over the traditional Christmas tree shape. This increases the number of colas (flowering sites) on the plant, which directly affects the yield.

More colas mean more flowers, hence, a higher yield. It’s an efficient technique to maximize the plant’s genetic potential and create a bounty of high-quality cannabis flowers.

Balanced Growth

Topping cultivates a sense of equilibrium within the cannabis plant, creating a more even, balanced botanical specimen. A bushier structure allows for a harmonious distribution of light and nutrients across the plant, akin to a well-orchestrated symphony.

The result is healthier, more robust, and consistent buds throughout the plant. The principle of balance reflected in topping mirrors the universal concept of balance — a balance between giving and taking, growth and control, efficiency, and sustainability.

Management and Control

Topped plants, with their compact and spread-out structure, are paragons of manageability. They are much easier to handle, guide, and control, making them the ideal candidates for indoor or space-limited growing environments.

The configuration of topped plants also facilitates better airflow between branches, reducing the risk of mold and pest infestation. Topped plants are a testament to how cultivating control in nature can lead to fruitful abundance. Their controlled growth embodies the concept of harmonious coexistence between nature and human intervention.

Quality Improvement

By promoting a more even canopy that ensures that light distribution is more uniform across the plant, topping can improve the quality of your buds. All the buds on a topped plant receive similar amounts of light, leading to more consistent and high-quality harvests.

It’s not just about quantity but the quality of the yield that makes topping a beloved technique among cultivators.

Harnessing the power of topping in cannabis cultivation is a testament to the industry’s ability to leverage nature and science. It’s an ancient technique applied to a modern, ever-evolving industry, proving that sometimes, old wisdom can bring new abundance.

The effects of topping can be transformative. Consider the cannabis grower who doubles their yield without needing to double their number of plants or the size of their grow space. Consider the consistent quality across all the buds in the harvest, bringing satisfaction to those who seek natural, organic ways of enhancing their lifestyle.

At Blue Forest Farms, this cultivation method supports our commitment to abundance. It’s about creating more than just high-yield plants; it’s about fostering a sustainable farming ecosystem where every plant gets to express its full genetic potential, contribute positively to the environment, and be part of the drive for earthly balance.

Are There Any Downsides to Topping Cannabis Plants?

While topping is a beneficial practice for many cannabis cultivators, it’s essential to be aware of the potential complications involved.

Understanding the full scope of topping can help you avoid or better respond to any issues that occur during cultivation.

Plant Stress

Topping is a form of high-stress training (HST) that, while beneficial, places the plant under a significant amount of stress. If performed incorrectly or too frequently, this could potentially harm the plant, hindering its growth or even leading to disease or death.

Timing is Key

Timing is of the essence when it comes to topping. Topping too early in a plant’s life cycle can stunt its growth, as the plant may not have developed enough to cope with the stress. Conversely, topping too late could also cause unnecessary stress and may not give the plant enough time to recover and reap the benefits before it enters the flowering stage.

Increased Demands

Plants that have been topped often require more of a grower’s time and attention. These plants may need additional support, such as trellising, to accommodate their bushier growth. Furthermore, they may require more nutrients and water due to the increase in the number of buds.

Potential for Disease

Any time you make a cut on a plant, there’s a potential risk of disease or pest infestation at the wound site. However, this can be mitigated by using clean, sharp tools for topping and ensuring that the growing environment is clean and well-maintained.

With adequate knowledge, proper technique, and timely care, they can be effectively managed. The key to successful topping lies in the balance — by understanding the balance between the plant’s needs and the stress it can handle, growers can use topping to unlock the full potential of their cannabis plants.

How To Top Cannabis: A Step-By-Step Guide

Topping cannabis plants might seem a daunting task at first, especially if you’re new to the world of cultivation. But don’t worry — once you grasp the basics, it becomes a manageable, almost intuitive process.

Step 1: When To Top

First things first, knowing when your plant is ready for topping is crucial. Too early could stunt its growth; too late could cause unnecessary stress. A cannabis plant is usually ready to be topped when it has developed between four and six nodes — these are the points from which leaves or branches grow.

Step 2: Prepare Your Tools

For the topping process, you will need a pair of clean, sharp pruning scissors. Ensuring your tools are clean helps prevent any potential spread of diseases.

Step 3: Identify Your Top

The top of your cannabis plant is the new growth that develops between the existing nodes. You’ll want to identify the latest growth on your plant, ideally at the fourth or fifth node.

Step 4: Make Your Cut

Cut the identified top growth just above the node. Be careful not to cut into the node itself. It’s vital to leave a small stub above the node, which will help prevent any potential diseases or pests from infiltrating your plant.

Step 5: Monitor Your Plant

After topping, give your plant some TLC. Keep an eye on it for a few days to ensure it’s responding well to the topping and beginning to develop two new main stems.

A positive response is characterized by the emergence of two new growth points on the node below the cut. If this doesn’t happen, it might be a sign that your plant is under stress, and you may need to take steps to facilitate its recovery.

Step 6: Feed Your Plant Appropriately

Topped plants have an increased number of budding sites and, thus, a greater demand for nutrients. Keep a close eye on your plant’s nutritional needs and adjust your feeding regime accordingly. Too little nutrients could stunt growth, while too much could cause nutrient burn.

Step 7: Maintain a Clean Environment

Keeping your growing space clean minimizes the risk of disease. This is particularly crucial after topping, as the cut site can be an entry point for pathogens. Regular checks for signs of disease or pests, coupled with appropriate preventive measures, can keep your plant healthy and thriving.

Step 8: Repeat if Necessary

Depending on your plant’s growth rate and your yield goals, you may decide to top your plant more than once.

Remember, each time you top, you double the number of main colas. But be cautious; excessive topping can stress the plant, so always monitor its response before proceeding with additional topping.

Navigating the world of cannabis cultivation requires a balance of knowledge, observation, and patience. With each step, you’re not only improving the yield and quality of your plants but also deepening your understanding and connection with these remarkable organisms.

How Does Topping Influence the Quality of CBD Products?

The value of topping extends far beyond the confines of the cultivation space. The profound influence this practice has on the quality and effectiveness of CBD products is truly noteworthy.

When a cannabis plant is topped, it directly affects the development of cannabinoids, the compounds that give hemp its therapeutic qualities. The enhanced light distribution and uniform growth pattern achieved through topping contribute to the optimal development of these compounds. This means that the CBD extracted from topped plants tends to be of a higher quality.

When you choose CBD products from Blue Forest Farms, you’re choosing consistency, quality, and sustainability. The high-CBD products we offer are all derived from our carefully-topped hemp plants. The meticulous process of topping, coupled with our commitment to superior genetics, ensures that you get a consistently high-quality product.

The Bottom Line

Topping cannabis is an art and a science — one that is rooted deep in the rich history of cannabis cultivation that we continue to honor with our sustainable growing practices today.

Here, we’ve explored the technique from the ground up — its purpose, the science behind it, and its transformative impact on yield and quality. Understanding the steps for topping provides you with an invaluable tool that delivers both quantitative and qualitative benefits.

The importance of topping extends beyond the cultivation process. It resonates with the ethos of balance, quality, and luxury that defines Blue Forest Farms. Our commitment to this sustainable practice reflects our dedication to delivering handpicked, high-quality genetics for our seeds that offer consistent, high-CBD results.

Whether you’re using BFF seeds for your hobby garden or your hemp-producing farm, knowing how and when to top your cannabis plants can make all the difference.

Are you ready to experience the difference that balance, quality, and luxury can make in your life? We invite you to explore Blue Forest Farms’ range of quality seeds and CBD products.


Auxin | Definition, Functions, & Uses | Britannica

Early topping: an alternative to standard topping increases yield in cannabis production | ResearchGate

Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids | NCBI

Hemp Production Program Questions and Answers | USDA