How To Dramatically Boost Yields With Cannabis Lollipopping
Cannabis plants have a finite amount of energy. As a grower, you’ll want to help them direct energy to the areas producing the best possible bud. As it turns out, lollipopping is one of the best ways to do just that. It’s a pruning technique that’s meant to enhance the buds at the top, pairing well with other techniques like ScrOG and mainlining.
Lollipopping is a pruning technique that helps your cannabis plants focus their energy on their biggest bud sites, usually around their canopies. It’s easy, low-stress, and it can help you produce heavy harvests of some exceptional buds. Read on to learn more about lollipopping your cannabis.
THE BENEFITS OF LOLLIPOPPING
Cannabis plants, like any other, generate energy from the light, water, and nutrients they take in from their environment. This energy, however, is limited. Lollipopping, as it’s referred to among growers, is all about helping your plants focus that energy on developing buds in the right places. More specifically, it shifts focus towards parts of the plant that receive the most light.
Untrimmed or untrained cannabis plants grow like Christmas trees. By the time they’re ready to flower, it’s likely they’ll have developed a dense canopy that allows very little light to break through. This means, of course, that light won’t reach the bud sites toward the bottom. Left untouched, these lower nodes will produce small, airy “popcorn” buds that lack potency, flavour and aroma, and bag appeal.
Lollipopping involves removing growth up to a certain point on each branch of your cannabis plant to maximise efforts towards the topmost bud sites. By lollipopping, you not only help direct light to the right nodes, but optimise the limited energy stores of your plants. The end result is a heavier harvest of big, dense buds with maximum potency and flavour.
HOW TO LOLLIPOP YOUR CANNABIS PLANTS
Lollipopping is a simple technique, but you should still exercise caution. You’ll want to lollipop your plants just before they begin flowering. We also recommend pruning—removing unnecessary branches—as well, although you should proceed slowly, and with a plan.
- Start with sharp, clean shears to prune your plants. Our curved trimming scissors, for example, are great for making precise cuts close to the nodes. For bigger, thicker branches, invest in a pair of shears. Begin by removing obvious foliage. The first few branches near the bottom of your plant obviously won’t get enough light to develop fully. Get rid of these first.
- Once you’ve taken care of the most obvious problem areas, we recommend following Kyle Kushman’s pruning advice and removing any branches that don’t break at least 50% of the height of the plant. As your plants stretch during the early weeks of flowering, these branches will get shaded out and never develop properly. Lollipopping doesn’t have to involve removing entire branches, but pruning is often used in tandem as necessary.
- Next, start removing branches growing in the middle of the plant, specifically those underneath the canopy. Not only will they likely not get enough light, but this interior foliage also covers up a lot of sites that could develop into sizable buds. Also at this stage, you should remove any branches or leaves that are dying or yellowing.
- Finally, you’ll want to get to actually lollipopping each individual branch on your plant. Some growers recommend leaving no more than three nodes from the tip of each branch. That, however, depends a lot on the strain, the size, and the health of the individual plant. The time at which you’re pruning also comes into play. If your plants are smaller and you’re trimming late, for example, we recommend trimming below the top 4/5 nodes. In any case, remove all the growth leading up to the topmost nodes on each branch.
Once you’ve lollipopped each branch, we recommend giving your plants 2–3 days to recover before flipping your lights. Also, remember not to over-prune as this can stunt their growth. If you’ve never tried lollipopping before, start slow and work your way up to an ideal pruning strategy.
LOLLIPOPPING VS DEFOLIATION — UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES
Defoliation is not the same technique as lollipopping, but many growers get the two confused. While they both involve removing leaves, lollipopping focuses on the bottom part of a plant. Essentially, it’s all about removing growth that doesn’t get enough light. This process allows plants to focus energy on developing buds at the top of their canopy, where light is abundant. Visually, lollipopped plants have bare stems with no foliage towards the bottom, similar to a lollipop stick.
On the other hand, defoliation is all about improving light exposure and airflow for all parts of the plant. Rather than giving exclusive preference to buds at the top, defoliation gives all buds a chance. If you want to try it out, we recommend reading deeper into the defoliation process and the benefits it can offer.
COMBINE LOLLIPOPPING WITH SCROG AND MAIN-LINING
To really improve the size and quality of your yields, we recommend coupling lollipopping with other training techniques.
Main-lining, for instance, is the key to controlling the natural apical dominance of cannabis plants. It involves using a combination of topping and LST to create symmetrical plants with a Y-shaped, manifold-like main stem. Every time you do this, you multiply the number of colas your plant develops and help evenly direct its flow of energy to all of its branches.
This, in particular, is a technique that goes extremely well with lollipopping. When combined, these two techniques not only maximise the light in your grow space, but also enhance your plants’ energy for bud production.
Besides main-lining, lollipopping also works exceptionally well with ScrOG. Remember that ScrOG is all about developing an even canopy by weaving growth through a mesh screen. By coupling ScrOG with main-lining and lollipopping, you’ll be helping your plants direct energy evenly and efficiently towards this canopy.
START LOLLIPOPPING TODAY!
If you’re approaching flowering time, we highly recommend trying the lollipopping technique before flipping your lights. Remember, though, you should start slow and with reserve. If you’re new to this technique, consider trying different degrees of lollipopping and pruning on different plants of the same strain, then compare your results during harvest time to find that sweet spot.
Heard about cannabis lollipopping? Click here for an in-depth look at this technique, how it works, and how to use it produce bigger yields of better weed.
Lollipopping Cannabis: Does It Increase Yield?
Last updated November 3, 2020 By Steven Leave a Comment
A cannabis lollipop?
But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Lollipopping cannabis is a technique growers use to increase yields. But it is not without controversy.
While some marijuana growers swear by it, others consider it a waste of time at best, and a detriment to yields at worst.
So which is it? Does lollipopping increase yield, or does it hurt?
It turns out, it can do both. Let’s find out why and, more importantly, if you should be lollipopping your marijuana plants.
What Is Lollipopping Cannabis?
Lollipopping cannabis plants refers to the removal of growth on the lower portion of the plants, in order to free up more resources on the upper portion. With bare stems on the bottom and thick growth on top, the plants end up resembling a lollipop.
Because the lower parts don’t get as much light, buds in that area will never grow to their full potential anyway. Removing them keeps the plant from using resources on them. This means it can use those resources to make buds on the main kola sites even larger.
It also allows air to flow through the lower reaches of the plants more easily. This improved air circulation ensures humidity does not build up, preventing rust fungus or other types of mold from forming.
The lollipopping technique is especially effective in grow rooms that only have lighting above the plants, and none coming from the sides or below. It is also great in climates with high humidity levels.
But it’s not all positive. Lolipopping is actually a somewhat controversial technique. We will cover some of the potential problems below, in the section on disadvantages. First, let’s take a closer look at all of the advantages of lollipopping.
Benefits Of Lollipopping
As mentioned, the primary benefit of lollipopping is that it ensures all of a plant’s energy is directed toward the main kola sites, where it can make the biggest impact.
Instead of wasting energy to grow leaves and buds in shaded areas, where they can never really thrive anyway, all of that energy gained from the lighting and the nutrients is used to boost buds in the upper parts of the plant, where they enjoy the ideal conditions to grow to monstrous sizes.
We also mentioned a secondary benefit: improved air circulation. Whenever you water your plants, humidity increases, especially in the lower areas of the plants. If the foliage is thick, the humidity gets trapped there and leads to fungal growth.
Without the thick lower foliage, air circulates more easily, drying out the moisture and preventing the growth of mold. This is especially important in humid climates.
Drawbacks Of Lollipopping
There is a reason marijuana plants grow leaves on their lower reaches. These leaves are large and provide a lot of surface area for photosynthesis. When you remove them, your plant loses a source of energy.
Furthermore, the buds you remove from the lower part might not ever grow overly large, but they are still viable buds. Sure, these so-called-popcorn buds are smaller and not nearly as dense, but they still give you the same effect.
And it is not certain that the increase in size of the main kola sites is larger than the loss of yield from removing the popcorn buds. So does this mean that lollipopping does not actually result in an increase in yield?
Does Lollipopping Increase Yield?
In some cases it does and in some it does not. It really depends on what kind of grow you have. In general, lollipopping is effective when there is no side lighting and with SCROG (screen of green) or SOG (sea of green) grows.
Basically, lollipopping can have a positive effect on yields whenever you have a thick canopy that prevents light from reaching the lower areas, and those areas are also not getting light from the sides. Plus, there is the benefit of mold prevention in humid climates.
In order to take full advantage, you want to pair it with a light that specializes in delivering a more even light spread, instead of one with a very focused beam that penetrates deeply below the cannabis. Read our review of the Aceple AG-6000 to learn about the best option. Any of the quantum board style lights work well, too.
Do You Recommend Lollipopping Cannabis Plants?
As I’m sure you’re able to guess from the previous section: it depends. We never recommend it for outdoor grows, because light hits the plants from all angles throughout the day.
You’re better off pruning away some of the larger fan leaves to allow more light to hit the lower bud sites. The same is true for any indoor grow with side lighting.
But for most other situations, we definitely recommend lollipopping. And always in conjunction with pruning, and ideally, stress training (i.e. training the main branches to spread out horizontally, in order to increase the canopy area). This means that lollipopping is especially effective for SCROG and SOG grows.
Sea of green (SOG) grows cram a lot of smaller plants into the grow space to create a flat and thick canopy. Because little light penetrates this canopy, it is beneficial to get rid of any growth on the lower portions of the plants.
Screen of green (SCROG) grows are very similar to SOG. SCROG uses multiple toppings, stress training and a netting to ensure a flat and even canopy. Removing all growth below the screen is essential to maximize bud growth above the screen.
When To Lollipop
You’ll see a ton of different advice on when to lollipop your cannabis plants. Part of that is due to people mistaking lollipopping and pruning. The two go hand in hand.
You want to begin removing leaves and branches during vegging, a few weeks before switching your lights to a flowering schedule. This allows the plants time to recover from the shock, before they enter the flowering stage. Then you follow up by removing new bud growth whenever it appears during flowering.
How To Lollipop Marijuana Plants
You will also see a lot of different advice concerning how high up the plant to prune. And again: it depends.
The most common advice is to either remove everything below the 4th bud site on each branch (some even say below the 3rd), or to remove all growth from the bottom third (some even say the bottom half).
These are all good rules of thumb that you can use as a guide, especially when lollipopping for the first time. But you’ll want to take note of where the light reaches and adjust the amount you trim off based on that.
Go ahead and lollipop higher up, if those areas are still extremely shaded. On the other hand, if lower areas get a good amount of light, don’t go so high up with the trimming.
As for what to remove, you want to get rid of all smaller branches that do not reach up to the canopy at all. Then remove all foliage from the branches that remain.
As mentioned, do the initial lollipopping during vegging. Later, once the plant has entered flowering, you simply do some light follow-up pruning, to ensure the bottom portion stays bare. The most important thing during this stage is to remove any bud growth, to avoid those turning into popcorn buds.
Lollipopping Marijuana: Final Thoughts
As you can see, lollipopping can boost yields, under the right conditions. If you have a grow where the bottom portion of your plants does not receive much lights, removing the growth from that part of your plants can increase your overall yields.
This also prevents these leaves turning yellow during flowering and falling off. That’s not a problem, but trimming the leaves off before that happens saves resources..
But if you are growing outside, or your indoor grow is receiving light from the side, lollipopping will probably not increase your yields any and is actually more likely to decrease them.
If you think it might benefit you, but you’re still on the fence, why not just give it a try? Lollipop your weed plants during your next grow and see what difference it makes. At the very least, you’ll have some cooler looking bonsai-like plants!
Lollipopping cannabis sounds delicious, but it is actually a growing technique that can potentially boost yields. However, it can also harm them, if you don't…