We’ve already dipped into topics concerning low and high-stress growing techniques, but there are some even more intense techniques out there. One such method is called stem splitting. Although it’s been in practice since the 1970s, stem splitting continues to generate conversation in the cannabis industry. The question being asked among most growers is this: should you take the blade to your marijuana plant? Read on to decide if stem splitting is for you.
What Is Stem Splitting?
Stem splitting is the act of cutting into your cannabis plant’s main stem in the days leading up to harvest. We know, we know, this sounds like the last thing you should do to your plant in such a fragile stage of growth. But hear us out: a lot of professional growers swear by this high-stress technique, claiming it makes for bigger yields, more trichomes, and improved bud potency.
Why Stem Splitting Makes Sense
Why should slicing into your cannabis plant yield better weed? Growing techniques like topping and super-cropping are generally ways to stress out the plant to your benefit. Something like splitting the stem causes a lot of stress for the plant, encouraging it to take in more nutrients. More nutrients mean more growth – in this case, denser buds and a higher concentration of trichomes. Increased trichome production is the goal that cannabis growers are trying to achieve by splitting stems in the last days of flowering. The biological purpose of trichomes – aside from getting us high – is actually to protect the cannabis plant against illnesses and pests. By tricking Mother Nature into trying to protect herself, we get more potent buds in the end.
LST Vs. HST
Cannabis Stem Splitting: The Technique
Don’t start hacking into your cannabis plants just yet. Take a moment and read through our technique for stem splitting. It’s better to go in with a plan! You’ll need just a few materials to get started.
Before you get started, you’ll need to collect a few things you probably already have lying around the house:
- A small, sharp, clean blade (like an X-Acto knife or paring knife)
- Chopsticks, pencils, toothpicks, or skewers to separate the stem
- String or tape to mark where you’ll cut the stem
Once you’ve got your tools in place, all you need is surgical precision. You aren’t going to be sawing away at your plant; rather, you’ll be carefully splitting the stem open as if you were giving your plant a little surgery. Keep in mind also that stem splitting is a practice best suited to outdoor crops. You can try it with your indoor plants and still be successful, though!
Step 1: Mark Out The Incision Site
Start by locating where you will make the incision. Just below the lowest branches of the plant, mark out an area down the stem that’s about 10–20cm (4-8 inches) in length, depending on the size of your plant. Mark the top and the bottom of the area by knotting string or taping around the stem.
Step 2: Cut Through The Stem
Next, insert the blade through the stem at the highest point of your marked off area. Slowly and carefully, cut a straight line right through the center of the stem. Run the knife down to the lower mark, keeping it stuck in the stem for the next step.
Step 3: Slide The Chopsticks In
Using your knife and chopsticks (or pencils, skewers, etc.), pry open the cut and insert up to three chopsticks, depending on the size of your plant. Once you have them inside the incision, remove the knife and space out the chopsticks. That’s it, you’ve done it!
Fusing Weed Plants
Frequently Asked Questions About Stem Splitting
Now that you know how to split the stem, you probably still have a few questions about the risks, timing, and effectiveness of the practice. We’ve got you covered.
When Should I Split The Stem?
When it comes to stem splitting, remember: Timing. Is. Everything. Most growers tend to favor the last week of flowering before harvest, although others suggest splitting only in the last 3 days before harvest. The general consensus is 7-10 days beforehand, but one thing’s for sure: if you split too early, your marijuana plant won’t be happy about it. The last thing you want to do is ruin your crop by splitting the stems before it’s time.
What Are The Risks Of Stem Splitting?
As just mentioned, stem splitting can be really hard on a plant because of just how aggressive this technique is. Subjecting your cannabis plant to high levels of stress just before completion of the bloom cycle is risky. We recommend only experienced growers branch out into this technique, especially those who are really trying to push their potency to the limit for concentrates. Stem splitting is also not advised for autoflowering strains, as it’s simply way too extreme for them.
Has The Efficacy Of Stem Splitting Been Proven?
Many skilled growers swear by stem splitting as a way to pump up their harvest in both potency and yield. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of scientific data to back up these claims. All we know is that stem splitting supposedly originated in Holland back in the 1970s. We can’t point you in the direction of hard data, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not you believe the hype.
Improved Potency, Here We Come!
The idea of splitting the main stem of your precious marijuana plant may seem pretty brutal. But hey, expert Dutch growers know best, right? It wouldn’t be a popular technique if it didn’t work! This one goes out to all you veteran growers out there: have you tried this technique? How has it worked out for you? Let us know in the comments below!
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