We caught up with Kyle Kushman, indoor expert at the Homegrown Cannabis Co. We wanted to know the secrets to pulling huge yields from every single grow, using a selection of techniques he calls Kushman Chiropractic, or Supercropping.
Whether per plant or square meter, the yield stats for most cannabis strains can seem… let’s say optimistic. Even in ideal conditions, it can be difficult to pull more than a pound from your average plant.
Many home-growers worry about matching expectations to reality, especially when it comes to yield. The most common concerns are…
How can I be sure I’m getting the most from my Homegrown cultivars?
How can I match my own experience to the stats I see next to the strains?
Can I maximize yields without sacrificing quality?
Without further delay, let’s ask Kyle!….
SM: Let’s dive straight in. Give us your secrets, how do you get the most from your plants?
KK: Ha ha, no beating around the bush – I like it!!! Listen, there are so many things you can do to improve yields. Feed and water correctly, make sure the temp and humidity are always optimum, pick the best feminized seeds AND, a big one for beginners: avoid mistakes.
SM: Of course, but what sort of direct, hands-on action can you take, what can you do to the actual plant to boost yields?
KK: Well, that’s definitely where Supercropping comes in – techniques like pruning, bending, breaking, topping… some are easier to master than others.
SM: Can you start with the easiest? Assume our readers are beginners…
KK: Sure – okay, beginners want to start with selective leaf pruning. The first thing I need to point out is yes, this is counterintuitive – how can removing bits of the plant increase yields, right? Well, it’s essentially about resource-management. Big leaves look great, but you’re not in this for the leaves, you’re in this for the flower.
SM: Why do they need to be removed?
KK: Look at the direction of light, look at how the big leaves hog it all, keeping potential bud sites in the shade. Get rid of them. In fact, once your plant is well into veg, you can regularly prune all the interior leaves below the first layer. This will prevent overcrowding and make sure the resources are properly directed.
SM: Sounds simple enough!
KK: And, once you’re confident, you can start branch and node pruning, too.
SM: Ah, we get asked this a lot… what are nodes, exactly?
KK: Great question! They’re the bits that form new offshoots. So… any nodes on the main stem are likely to form new branches. Nodes on branches can form new branches, leaves or buds. They’re an essential part of the plant but, like leaves and branches, you don’t want too many of them.
Pruning branches is easy, you just need to identify the sucker branches (branches that suck energy from the plant without giving anything back). These are generally the lower branches that don’t receive as much light. Removing them diverts energy to your bud-growing upper branches – exactly where you want it.
SM: So, less means more?
KK: Mostly, yeah. The same principle applies to nodes. Remove as many as you can, leaving just the top 3 nodes on each branch. Minimize the energy your plant spends on growth inside the shade, maximize the energy spent on buds, colas and trichome-rich flower.
SM: Do you consider topping to be part of a good pruning schedule, too?
KK: Absolutely. I’ll explain to your readers what we mean by topping, it’s quite easy to grasp. Topping is, essentially, snipping off the top of the plant, a.k.a the apex or the tip.
It’s a quick way of increasing the number of top colas – every time you cut one, two grow back! And they grow more evenly, into a flatter canopy.
SM: What’s the advantage?
KK: Well, a flat canopy is going to receive an even spread of light. Where your plant started out looking like a rough pyramid, it will now more closely resemble a menorah, or inverted pyramid. More bud sites getting more of the light.
You can also train your plant to produce an even canopy without cutting the tops. Simply bend the ‘sticky-outy’ branches down and tie them off, or you can even weave them into a SCROG.
SM: For readers unsure what a SCROG is…
KK: A screen of green. Making a single plant grow horizontally into a mesh or screen. Check out Homegrown, there’s a great, step-by-step article on how to make a SCROG, and a fantastic piece about Sea of Green, too. Both great training methods.
SM: And easier than what’s coming next, right? The real chiropractics…
KK: That’s for sure, but nobody should be put off by any of these techniques, all they take is practice. Let’s look at snapping and twisting, one of my favorite skills…
When you twist a stalk until you hear it crack inside, you’re breaking the inner hurd, leaving the outer part fully intact. As it repairs, you’ll see a knuckle form, adding strength to the branch.
If you repeat this process up and down the branches, multiple times (never in the same place twice), you’ll end up with an incredibly strong plant. It will be physically stronger in terms of weight-carrying, and the buds will end up bigger and healthier.
SM: How does it improve the buds?
KK: The knuckles you make will serve to widen the cellular pathways that run up and down the branches and stalks. This means nutrients and water move more quickly and more efficiently around the plant. More knuckles, more nuggets!
SM: You make it sound so easy! I bet our readers can’t wait to get started. How old does your plant need to be before you can supercrop?
KK: Depends on the technique. You can leaf prune from about three to four weeks in veg, gradually introducing the other techniques as the plant gets bigger and stronger.
You’ll want to stop all supercropping no later than two weeks into flower. Snapping and twisting really should end as soon as flowering starts.
SM: Thanks, Kyle.
KK: No problem!
If you want to dive deeper into Supercropping, buy seeds or master any other growing techniques, please visit the Homegrown Cannabis Co.
Kyle "the grower" Kushman is an international cannabis educator, emissary and cultivator whose collaborations have earned 13 Medical Cannabis Cup awards, including three US Cannabis Cups for Best Flower. He is recognized for several cannabis cultivars, including Strawberry Cough, Cherry Lopez, Starberry, Star Dawg and Blue Dawg.