Howdy Nico!
Love the work you and HT do! Hope you can answer this simple question for me… I grow my medicine using a LED panel in a small cabinet. The buds on the top of the plant mature before the ones on the lower branches. Can I chop the mature buds and expect better, larger buds than what I have now or would I be wasting my time? Thanks and keep up the great work!
—SparkyGump via Edit.Grow@hightimes.com

Hello Sparky,

Thanks for reading HT.com and writing in with a question!

As you likely know, I’m not the biggest fan of LED lights for horticultural purposes. However, in a small cabinet to grow some head stash, sure give it a go. But the reason you are not getting equal maturation of buds throughout your plant is because the LED lamp is not putting out enough light quantity to penetrate down to the lower branches. Light quantity, or energy, comes in the form of photons and most LED are not strong enough to provide this light intensity. The ones that are will cost upwards of $1,000 and will lose their typical advantages of lower power consumption and less heat byproduct to gain that light intensity.

To answer your question—yes, you can cut the mature buds from the top of the plant and clear the branches and leaves to allow better light penetration to the lower portion of the plant. And the lower buds will continue to grow and ripen and can be harvested a week or two later.

Photo by Nico Escodido

Photo by Nico Escodido

However, you must be very careful and judicious in your harvesting. You cannot simply lob off the top half of the plant all at once, as that would create some serious stress on the plant and could shock it into submission, whereby all fruit production comes to a halt as the plant hopelessly attempts to repair or regrow its lost limbs. So what you can do is take just one top cola a day, so as not to overwhelm the plant. Try to remove the top side branches at first, leaving the central terminal shoot, as removing the terminal shoot will send signals to release plant growth hormones (auxins) that will induce more branching, not fruiting, and this will confuse the plant and disrupt flowering.

This endeavor is a tricky one and not really recommended, but it is possible. The impact of your yield will be noticeable as the increase in yield on the lower branches will not be great, especially with an LED panel. For future considerations, check out a small HID bulb such as a 250-watt HPS, which could work well in a small cabinet with a proper exhaust fan near the top. Best of luck and enjoy the harvest!

Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!

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Got questions? Email ‘em over to Nico at NicosNuggets@hightimes.com and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line! (Tip: Before sending a question, try the new Search feature on the HIGH TIMES website. Simply click the “magnifier” icon at the top right and type “Nico + your subject topic” to see if your question has already been answered!)

Don’t miss the previous Nico’s Nuggets: How to Flower Plants for Beginner Growers

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