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When To Start Low Stress Training (LST) Your Autoflower

Low-stress training is a plant training technique used to train cannabis plants into the desired shape to maximize light usage and yields, among other benefits.

LST allows growers to control height and maximize yields without having to invest in new growing equipment and with relatively little work.

1. What is Low Stress Training?

Low stress training (also known as LST) is a technique used to train your weed plant into the desired result using the lowest amount of stress possible. There are also High stress training (HST) techniques like topping or pruning but we won’t be talking about them here as they tend to stunt growing for a short period of time and cannot be used with autoflowers as they have a determined life cycle.

2. When to Start Low Stress Training

There isn’t an exact age or size to start LST’ing autos, in theory, you can start as soon as the first true leaves grow, we recommend start training as soon as your plant can reach the edge of the pot, around 10-15cm or 4 – 6 inches (use this as a guideline, it mainly depends on the structure of your plant more than the size).

Before starting, you need to be sure you’ll benefit from it as it may have a toll on your autoflower, read a bit on how to LST autos, and always remember that you should not LST during flowering because it will stress your plant and decrease the yields.

Any kind of stress (even from overwatering) can ultimately ruin your harvest so make sure you really need to do it before starting any plant training method.

3. Why use LST?

LST is used to maximize output yield, maximize light usage, decrease the vertical space needed or just to control stretching using the least amount of stress possible.

Training Method Advantages
Tie-down Gives you the ability to control stretch and mold your plant anyway you want and need.
SCRoG Suited to even the canopy and increase the number of bud sites.
SoG Used to maximize limited growing spaces.

We recommend starting slowly training this autoflower at around week 3 and stop when you can’t notice any more growth, at this stage, she will only focus on bud production.

At Fast Buds we offer a wide variety of strains that perform outstandingly with LST, we particularly recommend one of our most popular strains to date Zkittlez Auto among others.

She develops a large main cola and a few lateral side branches, she tends to take a lot of nutrients resulting in a sturdy strain that will respond nicely to training and will grow multiple hefty colas throughout the plant.

TIP: When performing LST, start slowly and be careful not to hurt your plants. The best way is to bend it a little each day in order to get the least amount of stress, be patient, and don’t overdo it!

Maximize Yield Output

The overall yield of your autoflower plant can be increased by using LST, more light will get to the foliage, thus producing more food and resulting in denser buds.

More Dense Buds

Normally LST is needed to make buds on the lower branches denser, if no LST is performed you would need another light source. This is one of two ways of maximizing the overall yield when harvesting and also saving a couple of bucks.

Get Light to Lower Branches

Getting light to lower branches is another way to maximize yield and is especially good to perform with autoflowers because they tend to be smaller and bushier so this would result in not only more bud but also a better-looking plant overall.

Decrease Space Needed

Normally growers have a limited space to grow their autoflowers, this method is used to control the space your plant takes, especially if you have multiple plants in a small space. The best way to control space is by using the SCROG method and Tie down method will be explained in detail in the next topics.

Control Stretching

Sometimes when autoflowers don’t get enough light they tend to stretch and can get very bad, resulting in aery buds and can end up taking too much space.

Have in mind that you can also perform LST outdoors but usually is not needed because your plants aren’t limited by space.

4. Additional Recommendations and LST Techniques

have in mind that there isn’t such thing as the most effective LST for cannabis plants, there are several methods used when low-stress training such as SCROG, and the Tie-down method, and they should be used according to how your plants grow.

Both of them will have similar results and can be used for achieving what we covered earlier.

The Tie Down Method

The Tie-down method consists of making holes on the edge of your pot and use any kind of string (must be flexible) to bend and hold down your plant, usually starting with the main branch, your goal is to level all branches to the main cola.

For this plant training method we highly recommend trying out our Lemon Pie Auto, this high yielder can produce up to 550gr/m2 and develops a great structure with great internodal spacing that allows you to comfortably tie down the branches, increasing the yields.

By properly bending down the branches and shaping your cannabis plant, you will reach a structure similar to what you would get with a SCRoG net.

She is so heavy had to lay the plant on its side to cut and remove trellis so her branches and even main stem did not split. Sticky as she can be, had to clean hands and trimmers (eyes once lol) many times for just a light trim. Easy trim Excellent plant Fast Buds. – HisHope

The tie-down method doesn’t necessarily need to be used to even out your canopy, you can shape your plants either way you want, even just for controlling their height if you have a limited growing space.

Doing it properly will allow your plant to develop multiple bud sites that get equal amounts of light and result in better quality and bigger yields.

Pros

  • Easy and cheap.
  • No planning necessary.
  • No problem when moving your plants around.

Cons

  • You will have to tie each branch individually throughout your plant’s vegetative stage, which can be time-consuming.

The Screen of Green (SCROG) Method

The Screen of Green consists of using a net or type of screen, similar to a volleyball net, used to maintain branches to the same height by bending and holding the branches down.

This is a great method to spread out the canopy and take full advantage of your growing space, by spreading out the canopy your plant will develop bud sites that will get just the right amount of light to fatten up nicely.

One important element when talking about SCROG is genetics, depending on the plant structure you can have different results because some strains work better in this type of setup.

When Scrogging, it’s better to use one strain at a time and preferably a strain that grows shorter and with a lot of flowering sites.

Vertical SCRoG

A vertical SCROG is the best way to maximize your growing space, this method works by having a SCRoG net vertically that extends on to the sides of your growing tent.

By doing it this way you allow your plants to grow more bud sites and absorb all the light emitted by your light fixture, reducing light waste and enhancing your yields even more.

I have also used some more paper clips (XL sized ones) to pull side branches to the main stem, it works pretty darn well in keeping the plant upright because these buds are getting extremely heavy – some of the branches could not hold them up anymore. This also sort evened the canopy out a little, which is great of course. I think this will be a good harvest! – FrankieBones

Orange Sherbert Auto performs extremely well with LST techniques thanks to her Sativa heritage, perfect for vertical Scrogging. This lady is one of our tallest hybrids reaching up to 150cm (around 60in) and yielding up to 600 gr/m2 (1.3lb) therefore low-stress training is not only advised but recommended.

Low-stress training is a plant training technique used to train cannabis plants into the desired shape to maximize light usage and yields, among other benefits.

An easy guide to low-stress training

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Contents

  1. What is low-stress training?
  2. How is low-stress training performed on cannabis plants?
  3. Another type of low-stress training: the screen of green
  4. Can you low-stress train in the flowering stage?
  5. When can you start LST?
  6. How do you train autoflowering strains?

Low-stress training (LST) is a method used by growers to control the height and shape of cannabis plants. For newbie growers, it’s a useful technique that can increase crop yields and round out cultivation skills.

What is low-stress training?

Low-stress training enables growers to fully exploit the available space and light by manipulating the growth pattern of plants. Cannabis plants tend to grow into a formation known as apical dominance , where the plant is bushier at the bottom and narrows to a single elongated cola at the apex. This natural formation tends to result in a single dominant bud at the top of the plant, which monopolizes nutrients and hormones, leaving smaller buds on the lateral branches.

Cannabis plants tend to grow into a formation known as apical dominance, where the plant is bushier at the bottom and narrows to a single elongated cola at the apex. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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The purpose of LST is to encourage the plant to flatten at the canopy, thus providing more even access to light, and multiple thriving bud sites. This constriction allows sugars and the growth hormone auxin to distribute more evenly . By flattening out the canopy, the entire plant also receives more light, promoting the growth of more buds and larger yields.

LST is usually carried out during the vegetative phase while the stem and shoots are still pliable. The cannabis plant begins to grow in a circular pattern rather than straight up. When the plant enters its flowering stage, healthy colas will sprout upwards from the sideways-growing plant.

LST involves gently bending and tying strategic branches and stems. The technique decreases the risk of over-stressing the plant, allowing it to adjust to the training measures and adapt more rapidly. For those unwilling to try or unfamiliar with high-stress training techniques, low-stress training is a low-risk practice to which plants generally respond favorably.

LST can be used on both indoor and outdoor plants, optimizing space and maximizing bud output. For outdoor cultivators, it can help to keep a crop low profile.

How is low-stress training performed on cannabis plants?

LST can be initiated when the plant’s stem and shoots become long enough to be tied down. Make sure you use stretchy plant tape, pipe cleaners, or rubber-coated wire as they are more gentle on shoots and stems. Regular wire or string should be avoided as it may cut into the stems as they grow, causing damage.

  • The first step is to create several small holes around the rim of the plant container. Some growers even insert a tomato ring at this stage. Tomato rings can be useful if the plant becomes significantly larger as it grows. The ties will be looped through the holes or attached to the tomato rings, then secured to the shoots.
  • Bend the main stem and gently secure it to the rim of the container. Many cannabis growers tie the stem in a circular shape around the container as it grows so it begins to coil like a snake. Other growers choose to bend the shoots outwards away from the stem, securing the shoots to the holes in the container with ties. The plant then begins to take on a spider-like appearance.
  • Make sure you bend the shoots or stem gently. It’s helpful to have duct tape on hand in case there are any accidents–the tape can be used to hold together any snaps or breaks. Cannabis plants are reasonably robust, so there’s no need to be overly concerned about a broken shoot as it can heal.
  • Some light defoliation, or removal of leaves, in the beginning can maximize light penetration.
  • LST is a process. As new shoots appear, they will need to be bent and tied down. As the shoots grow larger and more leaves appear, the bends may need to be periodically adjusted to keep the canopy even.

Another type of low-stress training: the screen of green

While you can gently bend and tie down long branches, there are other methods of carrying out low-stress training. The Screen of Green, or ScrOG , facilitates low-stress training with the use of a screen. The ScrOG low-stress method encourages horizontal growth as it forces plants to grow through a suspended screen. When the branches begin to reach through the screen, they are simply tucked back underneath. Vertical growth is inhibited, and the growth spreads to the side branches in response, encouraging bud sites to form in areas that would have otherwise been dormant. Like low-stress training, ScrOG helps optimize yields.

The ScrOG low-stress method encourages horizontal growth as it forces plants to grow through a suspended screen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Can you low-stress train in the flowering stage?

LST is most commonly performed during the vegetative period when the shoots are pliable and the plant’s growth can be more easily directed. That being said, low-stress training can also be used during the flowering phase . Bending stems during flowering can help ensure even exposure to light. For growers looking to redistribute the plant’s energy from many growth sites to a few, the first couple of weeks of flowering can be a good time for low stress training.

LST is generally not initiated on plants that are mature and fully flowering. Constant LST, however, throughout both the vegetative and early flowering phases, can help keep mother plants healthy and capable of producing robust clones.

When can you start LST?

It’s a good idea to begin low-stress training as soon as the plant is in the vegetative state and has established several robust nodes . When the shoots and main stem reach a length where they can be bent and fixed, LST can be easily carried out and will yield the best results. Waiting until later in the vegetative or flowering cycle can become problematic as the stems and shoots can become too rigid to bend.

How do you train autoflowering strains?

Autoflowering cannabis plants grow rapidly as they do not require a change in light to commence flowering. High-stress training methods can cause problems for autoflowering strains as their two-to-three month life cycle leaves little time to recover from damage. Low-stress training methods, however, represent an ideal way to manipulate autoflowering plants and maximize their yield.

Since flowering can begin in as few as two to four weeks in autoflowering cultivars, LST should begin earlier to reap the benefits. The technique provides the same benefits for autoflowering cultivars as photoperiodic ones – it can help spread and even out the canopy and encourage more abundant, denser colas.

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