Written by Joshua Sheets
Topping cannabis is a phrase that encompasses three horticultural techniques; pinching, taking clones, and the FIM technique. When topping cannabis it is important to remember that your intent is to displace the growth hormones in the auxin family. When you remove a growing tip (apical meristem) the high concentration of these hormones is gone, and the nodes underneath replace the apical meristem. What does this mean? Top the plant and the the nodes underneath become tops. When it comes to pruning cannabis or trimming cannabis plants be mindful, one cut can easily take a branch with one top and transform it into a branch with 2,3, or even more tops growing from it. You are triggering branching by cutting away tops (topping cannabis).
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Topping v Pinching
Pinching achieves similar results as topping or trimming cannabis plants. Simply remove the apical meristem on a shoot by delicately pinching it off by hand. This is enough to allow the lower nodes to push forth shoots. Example: a verticle plant that is 18″ tall can be pinched and put into flower and by the end of flowering a plant that had one top can have 2,3, or more.
FIM Topping Technique
The FIM or Fuck I Missed technique is another process that achieves similar results to topping cannabis plants. The process involves cutting the apical meristem in half using a 45° angle cut. Clinical studies have shown that using this topping technique encourages less stress to the plant and higher yields. (This particular topping technique comes from the pages of High Times. An ask Ed (Rosenthal) article from the late 90s. The term was either coined by the letter-writer or the editor. The Fuck I Missed technique is an example of a cannabis cultivation techniques that’s delivered a unique contribution to horticultural science.)
When you understand the basics of topping cannabis, why not simply take a cutting from a stem and make a whole new plant? After taking a stem cutting the nodes underneath will shoot forth just as if you pinched or used the FIM technique. For an illustrated step by step guide to cloning check out my new book Homegrown Marijuana: Create a Hydroponic Growing System in Your Own Home. Need more help? Check out my new website.
Our latest columnist, Joshua Sheets, is a hyro expert, author and Washington-based cannabis cultivator with decades of experience operating both small-and large-scale set-ups. He’s also a professional horticulturist and a consultant who works with one of the largest and most successful nurseries in the state.