How to Top Cannabis Plants for Better Yields

by TREVOR HENNINGS August 9, 2018

Topping your cannabis plants is an essential step to getting quality yields in your garden indoors or out. This technique involves cutting the very top of the plant to promote more lateral growth. This article will dive into topping as well as a similar training technique popularly called “FIMing” (short for “f**k I missed,” if you were wondering) or “fimming.”

Both techniques are simple and easy to perform, and can make a big difference in your final yield.

Why Is Topping Cannabis Necessary?
If left to grow on its own, a cannabis plant will focus most of its energy on one main stalk, called the cola. The result is one long dominant cola with smaller stalks surrounding it. These stalks produce small, “larfy” buds that impact the overall size and quality of your yield.

To make matters worse, when growing indoors, you’ll have to constantly adjust your lights to distance them from the tallest colas in the canopy. Meanwhile, the lower stalks will be much too far away from the lights, further harming your final yield.

However, topping can fix these problems.

This process is done during the vegetative cycle to help to redistribute growth hormones from the main stalk to new offshoots and stalks further down the plant. Topping (or FIMing) will create an even canopy as the growth hormones are distributed to all the developing stalks and colas.

Topping vs. FIMing
Topping is the tried-and-true method preferred by outdoor and large commercial farmers. Outdoor growers will often top plants multiple times to get a large bushy structure. Topped plants remain more stable, thus require less support than plants trained with FIM.

The FIMing technique works great for growers in small spaces who are trying to get maximum yields. With so many new stalks generated, you can easily fill out a canopy in a sea of green grow with a short vegetative cycle. However, your plants will need more support, so take extra care in trellising your garden.

Whichever technique you choose, you’ll no doubt see a substantial increase in yield. If you aren’t sure what method works best for you, try both and see which you prefer. Growing is a continual learning experiment and cannabis plants are resilient, so don’t be afraid to conduct research and learn from mistakes.

How to Top (or FIM) Cannabis Plants

Topping or FIMing cannabis plants is a high-stress training (HST) method that works best when the plants are developed and ready for drastic changes. As a rule of thumb, most gardeners will wait until a plant grows 4-5 nodes with healthy, vibrant coloration.

Step 1: Get your tools & disinfect.

To start, you’ll need nothing more than a sharp razor blade or a pair of scissors. The tool should be sterilized with rubbing alcohol to help prevent any infections in the plant. (While this is very rare, it doesn’t hurt to be safe).

Step 2: Decide where to make your cut.

The difference between topping and FIMing is nothing more than the location of where you cut the plant. With topping, you remove the newest growth on the main stem, but with FIMing, you cut off the upper half of the new growth (which is why the technique is called “F**k I Missed).

When you top your cannabis plants, you will see two new stalks emerge from where you cut whereas when you FIM, you might see 3-8 new stalks emerge.

Step 3: Monitor your results.

With both techniques, you’ll see more energy directed to lower branches on your plants, and they’ll begin to catch up with the newly trained dominant stalk. It takes a few weeks before your plants fully recover—then they can be trained again if you so choose.

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