How to Train Your Cannabis Plants From Seed

This article on ‘How to Train Your Cannabis Plants From Seed’ is part of a broader series on growing. Check out our masterpost to Growing Cannabis Indoors here!

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Bagseed – ‘Should I Grow it Out?’

In case you weren’t aware of what ‘Bagseed’ is… it’s simply what the name entails – the seeds you find at the bottom of your baggie. Random bagseeds are often less stress-resistant, and often develop phenotypical hermaphroditism or stress-induced self-pollination, especially under poor environmental conditions.

how to train your cannabis plants bagseed

Seeds from ‘hermies’ are always going to be feminised.

If you get a male in any of your ‘bagseed’, then a natural pollination of the female plant by a surrounding male has occurred at some point during the growing process. This means you are more likely to be developing something stable and worthwhile… however, be warned.

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You’re still growing untested genetics – which is not recommended for beginners.

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Natural Hermaphroditism

Natural Hermaphroditism occurs when the ‘hermie’ gene has been activated and passed down in successive seeds. If the parental plants were stressed in their environment, the resulting plants are likely to produce ‘hermie’ seeds.

The gene activated by stress in flower leading to hermaphroditic plants is found in every cannabis specimen. The name of the game is reducing the plant’s stress tolerance and down-regulation of the effects of this specific gene, to prevent the plant from expressing it phenotypically. 

Self-pollination is how the cannabis plant would once survive through tough times, when no males were around, or healthy enough to pollinate the female… or when environmental conditions were extremely tough, and would otherwise lead to low amounts of seedstock in the ground for the next season of plants.

Using chemical treatments (like colloidal silver spray) for sex reversal (induced ‘hermies’) has been shown not to pass down the ‘hermie’ gene in resulting seeds.

Seed Generations

F1/2/3/4 denotes sequential generations of breeding selected siblings, whether male or female, or even a female and reversed female plant (which produces fem seeds).
F1 seeds are of two separate strains that have been bred together into a new strain.

In-Crossing, Out-Crossing and Back-Crossing for Genetic Stability

Inbreeding is a natural part of plant reproduction. It does not lead to the same results as inbreeding in humans and animals (luckily). In-crosses (breed to sibling), out-crosses (breed to another strain) and back-crosses (breed to a parent) are common practices.

Stability of your phenotype tends to dramatically increase over subsequent generations of breeding, where parent plants are properly stress-tested and well selected for certain traits. After many generations, the average conversion of genotype to phenotype will becomes know as an IBL, or an ‘in-breeding line strain’, for its genetic consistency.

Testing for resistance against heat, cold, pathogens, stress, and selecting for the quality of flower/fruit are all essential to refining your seedstock for quality genetics.

At the end of the grow, a good seed will pay its own price back 100 times over. You can also create a mother plant for unlimited free clones to keep forever. Most good breeders will be happy to assist you with info surrounding genetics.

Recommendations for Feminised Seeds

Check out Holy Smoke Seeds and Inhouse Genetics.

Other recommended seedbanks include DNA Genetics, Archive Seedbank, Karma Genetics, The Plug Seedbank, Cannarado, Rare Dankness, Mosca, Mephisto (for auto), Exotic Genetix, Dank Genetics, 420 Fastbuds (for auto), Mr. Nice seeds and MMG (Medical Marijuana Genetics).

Plant Training

Topping, Lollipopping, Supercropping and LST (Low Stress Training)

Vege Training starts at 4 weeks. We have prepared for two plants in a 4x2ft tent.

I grow from seed in a rockwool cube, and germinate seeds in a paper towel. Once roots are poking out of the bottom of the rockwool, the seeds are placed onto a 4L coco coir container bed and grown out to their fourth or fifth nodes.

When placing your rockwool cube into coco coir… do not completely bury the rockwool cube. You only want to partially cover the cube. The aim is to get good coco coir contact with the roots at the bottom and sides of the cube, allowing for aeration. Until your plant has rooted into the coco, partially covering the cube will ensure the roots are not stunted.

Use of microbial and kelp products help alleviate some transplant stress.

The plant is then ‘topped’ back to the third node. You can clone that ‘topped’ section of plant, and save it to be a potential mother plant later – that is, if you have the space/time and care, and it turns out to be a keeper plant.

Once the plant has recovered from its ‘topping’, and has been growing again for about a week or so, I transplant the seedlings into a final growing medium – usually a 5 gallon ‘smart pot’ with inch-layer perlite on the bottom, then coco coir.

Breaking Apical Dominance

Cannabis growing under a SCROG (Screen of Green) net, shown here.

In vegetative stage, you want to break apical dominance of the plant, getting as many equally thick stems growing as possible, from the base of the plant. There are a few ways to do this:
  • Training your plants in the first 2-3 weeks of flower are crucial for even canopy development.
  • Break apical dominance as evenly as possibly between new plant arms, as the size of the stem/arm is relative to nutrient carrying/bud size making capacity of that arm.
    • It’s easier to break the earlier you start tying things down.
  • The tops of the plants getting the most intense light will grow preferentially.
    • You want to use supercropping and LST to tie the thickest/longest plant arms lower than the others, until they catch up in growth, development and size.
  • Plant ties (rubber with wire centre) and U shaped metal stakes are good for tying down plant arms in early vege to begin breaking apical dominance
  • Your plant can double in size in just a few days, rendering all of your previous training fairly useless.
    • Daily supercropping, LST and tucking growth under ‘SCROG’ (Screen of Green) netting is recommended, until fruits are well and truly growing.
      • 2 nets can be useful – 1 placed before going into flower, and the lights flipped when the plant is lollipopped until ~75% net squares are filled with a few nodes of growth. The plant is then weaved under the SCROG with LST and supercropping, until the plant cannot be trained horizontally anymore. A (2) SCROG is placed above to help with initial training and spacing the colas; as well as supporting them later in the growing process, as they lean over.

An Example of LST (Low Stress Training).

Use Kelp as a Foliar Spray

In vege, Kelp can help with lateral branching (cytokinins)

Defoliate Plant Arms

Do this when they are outgrowing the others in length – this can help slightly stunt them. ‘Topping’ plant arms that are completely outgrowing the others and are difficult to supercrop/LST can significantly stunt the arm and allow easier Low Stress Training of the two new tops.

‘Lollipopping’ and Defoliation in Vegetative Stage

Performing the bulk of your plant training and manifolding in vegetative stage is definitely optimal. You should try to leave the plant alone as much as possible during flower.

The idea is to optimise light penetration, airflow, humidity, canopy depth, and canopy fill horizontally throughout the grow space. This is done using defoliation – the tactical removal of higher fan leaves for light penetration, or lower fan leaves for air flow.

‘Lollipopping’ is the practice of removing entire lower growth nodes to concentrate ‘budding’.

An example of ‘Lollipopping’.

The process of properly lollipopping, defoliating, and timing the 12/12 flip varies wildly between individual strains and phenotypes. If you can get it right, using these techniques in vegetative stage leads to large increases in yield and quality, at the expense of increased ‘vege times’.

Training is a preparation of the plant for flowering stage. It requires that you predict how the plant will behave, leading up to flower.

Generally, you should lollipop the thinner and/or lower arms, leaving less nodes… as these arms have less nutrient carrying and bud-producing capacity.

Let the plant recover from pre-flip lollipopping/defoliation. Ensure the plant is growing regularly again before flipping the lights. Placing a SCROG net just before flipping to flowering stage can help increase the success of your Low Stress Training.

Try to fill 50-75% of the SCROG net with a few nodes of growth before changing your light schedule from ‘vegetative’ to ‘flowering’.

Flower Training

Lollipopping and Defoliation in Flowering Stage

In flower, you are best doing stressful training before bud growth really gets going.

Common reasons to defoliate and lollipop in flower include excessive, unexpected plant stretching, poor environmental conditions, poor airflow/high humidity and increased light penetration to lower budsites. 

Training in flower will lead to decreasing your overall yield but increase the overall quality of the final yield by improving the quality of lower buds. Optimising environmental issues, such as airflow and humidity through training in flower can still lead to improvements in both – just not to the degree that proper training in vegetative stage would have.

Stripping/lollipopping the bottom third or so of a flowering plant has been said to reduce the chance of ‘hermies’ in your less stress-tolerant specimens.

‘Lollipopping’ in flower is a bit like picking off a healthy scab. Your body mounts a stress response, and starts healing that region extra quick… but only to replace the scab you just ripped off. This causes the wound to take longer to heal.

The fan leaves are your plant’s organic solar panels, which also function as batteries or nutrient stores. They are very useful. The cannabis plant uses fan leaves as a primary buffer against certain environmental stresses. In an indoor growing operation, where light intensity significantly drops with distance from the light, and only penetrates from above… there is just less of a need for those trusty fan leaves.  You want to increase light penetration.

Growing out clones over and over again will let you nail down training in vege and allow you to leave them alone more in flower for best results with yield and quality

3 weeks up to 6 weeks (at most) from seed should be more than enough to vegetate your plants from seed, then flip them to fill a 4x2ft space. Remember your plant will at least double, or triple in size, multiple times. Once in post-flip stretch, you want to really focus on creating a nice, even canopy. Supercropping and Low Stress Training really help here – as does a second SCROG net. 1ft – 2ft of canopy is ideal.

If you need to lollipop more than you first thought in vegetative stage, the first 21 days post 12/12 flip is the best time.
If you need to defoliate to get more airflow and light to bud sites, then day 21 and 45 are roughly good times to do a larger defoliation of fan leaves blocking bud sites and/or stopping airflow through the plant.

Resources

Check out the Instagram account crazy_hazy_74 for some fantastic mainlining/lollipopping examples.
Mitch

Author: Mitch

Mitch Keys is a young writer from Brisbane, Australia unfolding in a dynamic process of becoming (like everyone else, so don’t go thinking he’s special or anything). He likes being alive.

Mitch
Mitch Keys is a young writer from Brisbane, Australia unfolding in a dynamic process of becoming (like everyone else, so don’t go thinking he’s special or anything). He likes being alive.
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