Flowering and Defoliation: Should material be removed to allow light penetration to "interior" bud formations?

A question from a 1st timer: Is it beneficial to remove largest leaves after flowering begins to allow maximum light to reach buds along branches and “interior” bud sites?
I have been removing leaves big as my hand and larger on the plants that are flowering at multiple sites on the plants. (Estimate from 80 to 140 budding sites all over plants, white hairs showing in growths 1/4 to 3/4 inches long, begining to “stack” along flowering main shoot and branch tips.) These plants I have done this with APPEAR to be increasing flower growth on non-main flower sites while still increasing size and quantity at all the growing tips, both main stalks and branchs.
The ones I have NOT removed the larger leaves from are growing the main shoot tips and branch ends at about the same rate as the defoliated ones, however, the non-main and/or “interior” budding sites are not growing as rapidly as those that have had the hand size and larger leaves removed 2 to 3 times weekly.
I have read on this site and elsewhere from veterans of multiple grows (or those who represent as such), that this practice is detrimental to the final yield at harvest time. I am not disputing this information, which appears to be consistently against the practice, from persons claiming direct 1st hand knowledge of reduced yield. I wonder if they really did comparative yield studies in side by side grows of same strain and environmental conditions between plants of same size, age, and density or # of bud sites when defoliation begins on one of the plants. (assuming plants are in pairs for the comparison), and seeing how much production varies, on defoliated vs non defoliation of large shade leaves.
I must say, from my grow, having flowering plants treated both ways, that those I have defoliated are adding material to more of the "non-main"budding sites, or “interior” buds faster than the ones I did not remove light blocking larger leaves from, while the “main growth” tips on both appear to increase in length and bulk at very nearly the same rates of growth.
If this trend continues as it has these last 3 or 4 weeks, the defoliated plants will be producing larger and denser buds everywhere on my ladies than the ones that had no leaves removes. Perhaps my results are unusual, or perhaps taking only the largest leaves and letting the ones under “hand sized” stay on the plant until they pass my removal size criteria really IS as beneficial as my results seem to indicate thus far.
The grow is several weeks from completion, so my observations are preliminary, but so far are holding true as described. Again, the material removed 2 or 3 times a week are leaves hand size or larger. All smaller leaves are left on until they reach a minimum of “big as my hand”. Removing those size leaves only does a great deal relative to the quantity of sunlight being able to penetrate to the plants’ “interior” bud sites.
At this point in my grow, my current opinion is that controlled, selective, and CAREFUL vegetation removal can increase yield through increased sunlight penetration to more of the flowering sites on the plant. I believe the trade off between photoreactive surface area and light availability to more bud sites is a sort of balancing act, utilizing available energy, (sunlight) but distributing it more effectively. The trade off is not to reduce the plants ability to convert energy to growth, it is to redirect some of that energy to the growth areas. If the energy is not used to keep large leaves healthy, but instead is providing previously shaded flowers that energy for growth, the energy available to the overall plant is the same, or even increased in the amount utilized for more growth.
Have I made an error in my logic chain, or do my thoughts on this subject sound plausible? I hope to get opinions from those persons who will consider my thoughts, rather than those who quote from “The accepted methods based on past experience” as put forth by the “experts”.
I am not saying the experts are wrong, I am just putting out there that “No, never defoliate” may not be the blanket fact it is presented to be. How many of sciences discovered “laws that always hold true”
are proven to have exceptions, or even become entirely obsolete because new methods are applied?
Look what quantum theory did to physics, for example. Changed the entire face of particle research, much deemed impossible was suddenly possible, unimaginable possibilities emerged with the new way of thinking, and knowledge advanced by a quantum leap! (Pun intended.)
Methods improve over time, small changes can make huge differences in outcome.
Please, feedback and opinions are most welcome. My reason for interacting on this site with other growers is to increase my own knowledge and understanding, so as to improve my ability to produce ever better cannabis, and hopefully be able to contribute to others in our growing community at large by adding my voice to support widespread availability of this miraculous, life enhancing plant throughout the world, for the benefit of all men everywhere.
Hoping to hear thoughts from many on this site. Lots for me to learn from all of you. I will ask lots of questions, hopefully intelligent ones, and seek opinions backed with insights.
I am a new member here. This is my 1st post to this forum.
Thank all of you.

6 Likes

Fan leaves should naturally turn yellow uniformly while sugar leaves remain healthy with vitality, so yes they should be removed but not until the plant has extracted all the mobile nutrients, mainly nitrogen, otherwise with too high Nitrogen or too low Phosphorous flowering will be impeded and leaf growth prevalent, and slow to finish.

So yea, remove them when they’re extracted of nutrients but don’t wait until they’re shriveled, drooped, or dried out, pluck them when they’re yellow and let rays shine in on the buds and their sugar leaves.

5 Likes

Great topic and welcome to ILGM forum, I bet you’l like it here. Have you checked out some of @BigDaddyCain grows? His plants are very impressive. He may chime in on this with his past experience and expertise on defoliation. I have to say, defoliation was what my cheese needed and I’m glad he turned me on to the technique. Happy growing and plucking :v::green_heart:

2 Likes

Yeah I need to do that… I dont have the time when I get to work on them to take them out and properly examine and defoliate.

2 Likes

Hello I see I was mentioning here by @GreenJewels k now what’s the question you have about defoliation. It super easy to do and will up your yields alot

2 Likes

Could agree more @Shatter.

Tho defoliating before flowering has great advantages also. Allowing the nutrients to work in areas that will produce bigger buds instead of larfy popcorn smaller bottom interior garbage.

Before switching lighting a nice stripping of the plant in the week leading up to the schedule change with a 24 hr dark period between the schedules to help her switch over.

I like to clear out anything basically smaller then a magic marker and use those as clones

3 Likes

I run a Scrog. At week 3 of flower, I strip EVERYTHING below the net. I have taken the majority of the fan leaves by this time. The whole idea is to get light and air movement down into your canopy. Are we wanting to grow buds or leaves. In order not to have a lot of lard, you MUST get light to the buds, not just the tops. Hope this helps @SwtBdMn

2 Likes

Hey, BigDaddy

YES! This sounds like the information I was seeking to obtain.
My question is if I am doing the correct thing. The 1st paragraph of my initial post tells my current approach. The rest of the post is giving further details, and my thoughts and observations that led to my implementation the described defoliation regimen.
Being as I am still several weeks from finishing, (assuming they don’t revert to veg stage! fingers crossed here), I decided to put it to all of you here at ILGM forum, where the seed stock was obtained.
This being my first grow after 35 years of inactivity, everything has changed! I educated myself as to current tech. and methodology, and decided on making my “live soil mix” myself, and it came out beautifully, draining very well yet remaining moist, light and airy. Mix contains 15% worn castings and 8 to 10% compost, and 5 to 8% trace elements. Weekly water using organic teas and additional nutrients to feed the ladies, adding bat shit and reducing nitrogen content since flowering began. Seedlings indoors under LED, transplanted to 16 gallon cloth bags (14 - 15 gallons of soil each), and moved into a 10’ x 20’ x 7’ high greenhouse w/plastic sheet floor fastened to the greenhouse walls. All vent have fine screen. Oscillating fans keep air moving, adding air conditioning tomorrow, as temps hit 120 inside. My decision to use a sealed greenhouse was made with lessening pest problems a primary consideration, while retaining the natural lighting, humidity, and temperature fluctuations of a “natural” outdoor grow environment of equal importance.
It is my view that the very best flavors and highs are produced by plants grown in soil, and with the natural variations in lighting and climate build a “character and complexity” in the final product. I do not believe these qualities can be obtained growing under strictly controlled indoor artificially produced climate and light cycles.
Topped plants while in veg., and started defoliation of larger leaves when flowering at inner branch nodes began.
As buds begin to “stack” I remove all the larger leaves that are light blocking to the secondary flowering areas. (As opposed to main growing tips) As the budding "spreads and plumps), I have removed all leaves larger than the palm of my hand.
Well into flowering, say 1/2 to 2/3 of total flowering time (estimated), I will have almost all leaves removed, except for those growing in the buds, (1 to 3 leaf segments), at the growing tips, and leaving less than palm sized leaves growing adjacent to buds that are smaller.
This seems to be working well, this far, and the flowering appears to have out paced that of the plants that received less aggressive defoliation, both in # of bud sites, and in size of the buds. Side by side comparisons of same strains, on all three strains I am working with. GDP, Skywalker and Gold Leaf.
So, I guess my question to you, BDC, is this: Am I totally blowing it, or heading in the right direction? You, being a veteran grower who defoliates, are precisely the type person I hoped to contact. Can you give me any advice to improve my approach? Have I already done too much? Are my methods entirely wrong? Is my thinking on the subject based on inaccurate ideas?
BDC, any advice, insights, or comments, positive or critical will be received with an open mind, due consideration, and, knowing me, more questions and discussion. If you are open to an ongoing dialog, of course. Regardless, any feedback will be very much appreciated. Future plans include “skrogging”.
My goal is high yield soil grown hybreds, smooth smoking and pure tasting, perfectly cured, “Private Reserve” quality cannabis flowers. Premo Bud, is what I hope to achieve. Collective knowledge is what I hope to participate in. ILGM seems a good place to do this.

Thank you for your interest and response.
Hey, we all need a goal, right?

2 Likes

Grandaddy013, it sure does. Your methodology and explanation mimic my ideas and logic exactly, and has gone far in bolstering my self confidence. You have my gratitude for freely sharing your comments.

Thank you for responding. I hope this thread gets some attention from others wondering about this subject. A lot of information is accumulating from you all. This is f*%king GREAT!

I hope the thread helps others making decisions on approach in their grow efforts.

2 Likes

I am running a bit ahead of leaf yellowing, looking for maximum illumination of the plants interior. I am following your Nitrogen reduction and Phosphorous increase for flowering via weekly nutrient feedings.
I also keep the buds sugar leaves intact. It is all growing like hell, and looks vibrant and healthy.

These ladies are, to me, absolutely sublime. Will try and post some pics before harvest, and show my beauties off!

Thanks for the interest and response. Keep on keeping on!

2 Likes

Defoliation is definitely an option, though certain strains will benefit more than others. I, personally, have never heard someone say to never prune. Cutting off those huge leaves and/or cutting/tucking leaves blocking bud sites is a great idea, especially during late veg/early bloom.

3 Likes

Google schwazzing. I swear by it

2 Likes

Ok the proper way to defoliate is about 1.5 weeks before you are rdy to flip to 12/12 you will take any and all leafs that have a steam on it to cut if you have to dig for the stem then that leaf isn’t rdy to be clipped then after that you flip to 12/12 keep them clean of fan leafs with stems for the first week of stretching then let them be for a week then in the 3rd week of flower you do your final leaf removal and that’s it from that point on you will only take leafs that are dmg or blocking light :bulb: from bud sights the years of no light hitting the floor are gone you want light to go threw canopy so all bud sights are getting light. Also you still clean the bottom 8 inches like normal to the stalk even with defoliation you still don’t want the suckers on the bottom that will not turn to anything

4 Likes

@SwtBdMn if you are new to sight to tag some one in to your thread and so we know you have a question put @ first then the name and it will tag people in to answer so if you have a question for my put @BigDaddyCain and I’ll get an email saying u have a question

1 Like

Thanks for the reply. Much appreciated.

@BigDaddyCain Yes, new to the sight. Thanks for the response and the heads up with the @ symbol. Thank you!

1 Like

@Grandaddy013, it sure does. Your methodology and explanation mimic my ideas and logic exactly, and has gone far in bolstering my self confidence. You have my gratitude for freely sharing your comments.

Thank you for responding. I hope this thread gets some attention from others wondering about this subject. A lot of information is accumulating from you all. This is f*%king GREAT!

I hope the thread helps others making decisions on approach in their grow efforts.

1 Like

Does that mean my way is improper? I’m learning something new every day. That’s what I love about this place.

2 Likes

@BigDaddyCain thank you for sharing your expertise on defoliation. It is inspiring to have someone who is practicing the method to increase yield that I have reasoned to be increased with selective, intelligent defoliation. I am sure to learn much here, and do pay heed to various forms presented by other growers, many of who have multiple grows experience.
I grew Sensi 35 years ago, with no femmed seeds or autoflowers existed. The result was great, but man, what a pain weeding out males and “he-she” plants, which would appear frequently with all males removed.
It is most certainly a better world today, as far as cannabis cultivation goes. Loads of information available, pics of growers goods, all the nutrient products and literature, femmed seeds, etc. In my idle years of not growing, for lack of time and grow space, the progress was revolutionary. These days, legalization and resources readily available has created an absolute growers paradise, in my view.
I don’t know how it was so many years before I found out about all this advancement that has taken place. (Well, I sort of do know … I was married 4 times over the years … worked hard… rode Harleys for 42 years … so growing my stash was not a priority. My life was pretty full, not much time left for pursuing such time consuming endevors. Now, 65 and retired from everyday working, I have the time, and on social security, I have the incentive to grow my own for personal stash, and to spread amongst those friends I have that use.)
Anyway, it’s all good, I am enjoying the reads available here on the site. I hope to be a contributor in the forums, as I gain more knowledge and feel I can offer informed information to others, as others are doing for me now.
Thanks to you, and everyone else participating in these forums.

3 Likes

@BigDaddyCain, I don’t flip to 12/12. My grow is outdoors in a green house. I am relying on the natural lengths of daylight for this grow. Planning autoflowers for next grow, to check them out.
I expect I will stay with daylight triggered strains, for the longer veg time, larger plants, still outdoors in a greenhouse, but I do plan to add a motorized dark cover so that I can control day length on future grows. Next spring, I hope to have a firm grow plan in mind to follow, eliminating my mistakes with this first grow, and see how it goes then. I expect the experience I am getting now will greatly improve my plants over current results, although I expect several will hit 7’ tall before flowering has completed its cycle.
Anyway, currently I have no way to control length of daylight, so am relying on Mom nature, in all her complexity, to govern plant growth for this grow, which I screwed up with light durations from seedlings to outdoor vegging triggering premature flowering.
We’ll see how it goes with these. If they return to veg state, or will continue flowering as they appear to be doing thus far.
Wish me some of that beginers luck, I think my plants and I need a bit to finish well.
Thanks all

1 Like