If you’re unfamiliar with cannabis growing tactics, you should consider low stress training (LST) to improve your cannabis yield.
What Is Low Stress Training, and How Does It Work?
Low stress training is a yield-boosting method that allows cannabis growers to help their cannabis plants utilize maximum space and sunlight to grow more buds. This practice involves gently bending branches away from the main stem.
You can bend taller stems and branches and tie them in place to achieve a flat plant canopy for better light penetration.
Low stress training helps create multiple bud sites, allowing your plant to use sunlight more efficiently. Normally cannabis plants have one main stem that develops a large cola. It co-exists with side branches that produce smaller buds.
The natural tendency of a cannabis plant is to grow in the shape of a Christmas tree. This is called apical dominance. Low stress training helps break apical dominance as it flattens out the plants’ canopy. As a result, all the branches of the plant grow equally, resulting in the same shape and height.
Bending the plant’s stems away from the interior of the cannabis plant and breaking apical dominance also helps increase light penetration. When all areas of the plant have better light exposure, there’s more photosynthesis which allows the plant to produce more energy and foliage.
It also creates more viable bud sites within a few weeks, resulting in a larger yield at the time of harvest.
How Does Low Stress Training Help Increase Yields?
Low stress training helps achieve a flat canopy. Therefore, it exposes all the bud sites to direct sunlight, resulting in trained plants creating fat buds in the same planting environment.
The primary idea behind low stress training is to bend down taller stems of the large plants to grow the plants in the same height and shape with even light distribution to all the bud sites. This produces larger yields as compared to untrained plants.
Your cannabis plant also gets more airflow through such plant training methods. This keeps your plant healthy as compared to untrained plants.
Besides this, LST helps your plant produce fatter top colas with fewer popcorn buds, increasing your yield.
When to Start Low Stress Training (LST) for Cannabis Plant?
The best time for low stress training is when the cannabis plant is young. Once the stems become older, they get hard and woody.
If you use low stress training methods in the late phases of the plant’s growth, you will accidentally snap the stems.
New stems are flexible, so it’s suitable to train when the plant has about six leaf clusters. If you want the best results for cannabis growth, practice low stress training as early as possible. Make sure that you start low stress training when the cannabis plants are in the vegetative stage.
It isn’t recommended to start LST when your plants are flowering because once bud formation starts, you’d want the entire plant to use all its energy into growing dense buds.
How to Low Stress Train – Step by Step Instruction
Here is our five-step guide for low stress training your marijuana plants. Of course, if you don’t want to top your plants, you can skip step one and follow instructions from step two.
Step 1 | Topping Your Plants
All the training methods for cannabis plants require breaking the apical dominance. When you cut the main stem of a cannabis plant, it starts to branch out.
The lower growth tips receive equal sunlight and become colas. So topping means that you have to cut off the top of a cannabis plant to promote horizontal growth.
Topping also makes low stress training easier as you get a symmetrical platform to work on instead of just caring for one main stem. Topping training highly encourages the plants to grow bushy and wide as they receive direct light. Once your plant grows four to six nodes, you can cut down to the third node.
Step 2 | Use LST Clips
If the stems are harder to tie down, you can use LST clips or duct tape. Using LST clips for bending stems is suitable until the plant’s second week of flowering because, at this stage, your cannabis plant’s stretching phase slows down. If you bend the stems and they snap, it’s too late to start low stress training.
Step 3 | Bend the Tallest Stems and Tie Them Down
The primary idea of low stress training is to keep the stems at the same distance, so you need to bend the tallest stems to align them with the smaller stems. Then, you can use twisty ties to secure the taller stems in place.
But before you bend the stems to tie them, make sure that they’re flexible enough for you to pull down. Remember to bend slowly and gently.
If the stems are flexible, you can bend them away from the middle of the cannabis plant. This technique helps create a star shape with a flat top.
Step 4 | Light Defoliation
Light defoliation is an essential step that allows you to clean up the middle of the marijuana plant because you remove the leaves at the bottom. Unfortunately, these leaves do not receive more light, so they cannot produce dense buds.
Defoliation is also an important step for preparing the plant for its flowering stage as it helps remove leaves that block sunlight from reaching the new growth sites.
Step 5 | Initiate the Flowering Stage
You should continue low stress training throughout the plant’s vegetative stage until your plant achieves the height, shape, and width you want.
Your plant is ready for flowering when your cannabis plant forms a flat canopy and reaches half of the desired height. When your plant switches to the flowering stage, it starts to double in height within a couple of weeks.
This process is called the flowering stretch. LST is almost completed after the first month of the flowering stage.
Your cannabis plant may take some days to recover from low stress training, but you’ll notice new shoots along the bent stems.
You can leave the LST clips and ties in place when the plant grows and forms new colas. Then, colas will start producing buds. Since growth tips receive maximum sunlight, your plant will produce denser, more solid buds.
You can wait for the buds to fatten up while your plant uses all its energy to make flowers. The plant’s structure won’t change during the flowering phase if you have used proper low stress training in the vegetative stage.
Since you make a horizontal table of your bushy plants in their vegetative phase, every bud producing site receives sufficient light and produces larger buds resulting in a larger yield.
Step by Step Low Stress Training Diagram
Low Stress Training Tools
Low stress training requires gentle tools that do not damage the plant or break the stems. For example, you must use stretchy plant tape, rubber-coated wires, and pipe cleaners instead of regular strings or wires as they may cut into young stems and cause damage.
If you don’t find rubber-coated wires, you can use LST clips or anything that isn’t sharp or thin, like strings. Here are some suitable tools.
When to Stop Low Stress Training (LST) for Weed Plants?
You should stop low stress training around one month into the flowering phase of your weed plant. Then, when your weed plant starts to produce buds, it will exhibit exceptional growth for several weeks.
During this stretching period, you can continue your low stress training regime and maintain a flat canopy for your plant’s flowering sites for them to receive maximum sunlight.
After one month of the flowering stage, the stretching phase stops. Then the cannabis plant utilizes all of its energy in flower production. This slows down vegetative growth, so your plant does not require further training.
It is recommended you stop low stress training during week 4 of the flowering phase, as LST may cause damage to the developing buds. If you touch the delicate flowers, it can rupture resin glands and highly impact the quality of your buds.
Therefore it’s best to avoid touching the buds after week four of the flowering phase and stop low stress training.
Many growers think that low stress training is suitable for indoor plants only, but this is far from true. Plant training isn’t exclusively practiced on indoor plants as it equally benefits outdoor cannabis plants.
Cannabis growers living in colder climates can use low stress training for outdoor plants to increase the yield during the summer season. In this way, you can benefit from a high yield throughout the year.
LST is an extremely efficient and affordable method to increase the yield of indoor and outdoor plants since more sunlight is directly proportional to higher yields for your
LST cannabis plants.