Defoliation Side By Side - Bushy Plants

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I have done A LOT of searching, and as we all know we still haven't got a conclusive answer on whether defoliation is beneficial or not.

Most of the side by side's have been done pretty badly. People have defoliated tall plants that don't even fill out the entire canopy, pretty much negating the point of defoliation in the first place; to improve light penetration to the lower parts of the plant. I mean, if there is plenty of space for the light to bounce down from the sides to the lower parts of the plant, what is the point of defoliating in the 1st place?

From my studies I've come to the conclusion, that defoliation should help in getting higher yields, if there is enough foliage at the bottom of the plant, so that those leaves and bud sites can absorb the light that passes through the top. There should always be enough foliage throughout the plant so that no light is wasted by passing down to the bottom of the grow space and bouncing back up.

Now I plan to test this theory, and find out whether defoliation can increase yields on an extremely bushy plant.

Plants:
- Critical Bilbo, all from clones on a mother plant, age 6 months.
(The person I got these clones from has yielded over 1g/w under a 600w HPS using SCROG method, so the genetics should be pretty good for this test)

Grow setup:
4x Zeus 308 "quantum boards" running at 480w, spectrum 3000K
1x 50 watt, hyper red & far red booster
Total of watts 528, measured from the wall.
Big oscillating fan
1000cfm exhaust (running @700)

Climate:
Day temp: 25-27 celsius
Night temp: 18-19 celsius
Humidity: 40-45%
I will do my best to keep the climate in this range throughout the entire grow

Nutrient schedule & soil:
Guanokalong Complete mix with added perlite of 30% total
Biocanna nutrient line
Canna Boost (not bio)
Soil Balance Pro
Epsom Salts
Worm Castings tea

Vegetative phase & training:
4 weeks
Topped once
Supercropped 5 times
Foliar fed with silicon & Epsom salts in the first 2 weeks

My plan is to defoliate at day 21 of flower, I will be defoliating 3 plants in total, the plants on the right side in the attached pictures.

Right now I just passed the first week of flowering (day 9), so we are gonna have to wait a couple of weeks before the chop. Meanwhile enjoy the pictures ;)

L11.JPG

L22.JPG

L33.JPG
 

Jack og

JackOG
Staff member
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I only defoliate to increase air flow, scrog for yeilds , as lower branches never yield any better. And I’ve seen no increase in yield via defoliation. I lollipop, and very slight defoliation for air flow reasons only.
Hope my answer helps
 
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Defoliation is merely a technique to use as needed. Like when leaves are crowded and moisture is caught between them. Or like jack said to increase air flow for the same reason.

In my system I grow little bushes with space around them so I almost never pick a healthy leaf. Only leaves more than half damaged.

In a tight setup like the op shows some lead removal may help.

When I stripped plants like the defoliators show I lost not only yield but density and quality.

The fan leaves are the biggest source of photosynthesis. Buds have little leaves.

Also if we strip them they grow back. Seems like a waste of time of not needed.
 
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I'm thinking that by defoliating, I can increase the surface are of leaves that can absorb light.
As the light is not blocked by the top layer of leaves, the light will penetrate within the plant and bounce back and forth around the foliage..

@Jack og, you made a good point with increasing airflow, I hadn't even thought about that. As cannabis is a wind pollinated plant, increasing airflow within the plant should help increase yields, maybe even more so then the added light penetration.
 
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I'm thinking that by defoliating, I can increase the surface are of leaves that can absorb light.
As the light is not blocked by the top layer of leaves, the light will penetrate within the plant and bounce back and forth around the foliage..

@Jack og, you made a good point with increasing airflow, I hadn't even thought about that. As cannabis is a wind pollinated plant, increasing airflow within the plant should help increase yields, maybe even more so then the added light penetration.
The light doesn’t bounce around the foliage it bathes it.

Light passes through leaves quite a bit. They are not solid to light. Different wavelengths pass through different amounts and the plant uses the leaves as a filter of sorts.

There is a limit to the lights effective distance though.
 
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The light doesn’t bounce around the foliage it bathes it.

Light passes through leaves quite a bit. They are not solid to light. Different wavelengths pass through different amounts and the plant uses the leaves as a filter of sorts.

There is a limit to the lights effective distance though.
You nailed the term perfectly! "Bathing in the light" is a much more accurate term of what I was aiming for :)

I've done some measurements on how much the light passes through my foliage, at the top of the canopy I have a 1000 PAR right now, and the bottom leaves are receiving 10 PAR ratings, so the bottom leaves are not really able to photosynthesize at that point anymore, and require energy from other leaves to keep them operational.

To my understanding, all leaves should receive at least 200 PAR, so that they can sustain themselves through photosynthesis.

Conclusion is that my plants are way too tall at the moment. I still need more experience on my belt to know the exact time to flip the switch so that all leaves would get the minimum of 200 par. I guess this is why people lollipop too, but I think lollipopping is useless too if the plant height is kept correct. It's a useful method when plants have been let to grow too tall. As so is defoliating to get ight penetration for bottom leaves.
 
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You nailed the term perfectly! "Bathing in the light" is a much more accurate term of what I was aiming for :)

I've done some measurements on how much the light passes through my foliage, at the top of the canopy I have a 1000 PAR right now, and the bottom leaves are receiving 10 PAR ratings, so the bottom leaves are not really able to photosynthesize at that point anymore, and require energy from other leaves to keep them operational.

To my understanding, all leaves should receive at least 200 PAR, so that they can sustain themselves through photosynthesis.

Conclusion is that my plants are way too tall at the moment. I still need more experience on my belt to know the exact time to flip the switch so that all leaves would get the minimum of 200 par. I guess this is why people lollipop too, but I think lollipopping is useless too if the plant height is kept correct. It's a useful method when plants have been let to grow too tall. As so is defoliating to get ight penetration for bottom leaves.

That’s right but defoliating won’t make indoor lighting effective farther away. And it’s the leaves not bud sites that need the most light for growth.

I keep my plants at 30” over the pot under 600’s so they bud almost all the way down. I bend most of them by week 2 in 12/12 to make bushes. Then train or supercrop to even the canopy and keep plants in the sweet spot. The lights are fixed up high and I use stands too.

A55A00D7-4681-49FC-BB97-6A2F20166AD1.jpeg
 
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That’s right but defoliating won’t make indoor lighting effective farther away. And it’s the leaves not bud sites that need the most light for growth.

I keep my plants at 30” over the pot under 600’s so they bud almost all the way down. I bend most of them by week 2 in 12/12 to make bushes. Then train or supercrop to even the canopy and keep plants in the sweet spot. The lights are fixed up high and I use stands too.

View attachment 847662
Do you fill out the entire growth space while doing that? I once only had two plants running, which took around a 3x3 space in my 4x4 tent, I had 0% popcorn bud on that run, only giant cola's down til the bottom of the plant. I speculate it's because the light bounced through the tent walls to the bottom of the plant.

And yeah, I realize it's the leaves doing the hard work to increase bud size, not the buds themselves. Just thinking that most likely bud development is at it's best when the buds nearest sugar/fan leaves get the light, instead of having the plant transport the resources from the top to the bottom.

I just can't wait to do this test, I'm optimistic I can improve yields with defoliation, however I'm prepared for the harvest to be reduced too. It's really frightening to cut down the leaves, when I have not done so before (well a few failed tests when I was starting this hobby and had no idea what I was doing, lol), and it will definitely be a shame if this experiment fails. But yeah, you can't get better without experimenting :)
 
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Do you fill out the entire growth space while doing that? I once only had two plants running, which took around a 3x3 space in my 4x4 tent, I had 0% popcorn bud on that run, only giant cola's down til the bottom of the plant. I speculate it's because the light bounced through the tent walls to the bottom of the plant.

And yeah, I realize it's the leaves doing the hard work to increase bud size, not the buds themselves. Just thinking that most likely bud development is at it's best when the buds nearest sugar/fan leaves get the light, instead of having the plant transport the resources from the top to the bottom.

I just can't wait to do this test, I'm optimistic I can improve yields with defoliation, however I'm prepared for the harvest to be reduced too. It's really frightening to cut down the leaves, when I have not done so before (well a few failed tests when I was starting this hobby and had no idea what I was doing, lol), and it will definitely be a shame if this experiment fails. But yeah, you can't get better without experimenting :)

I’m tuned in to watch your results too.

My plants are all at different stages to be harvested each week or so so I need to move them around And bring in new plants all the time so it is a bit different situation.

However my best yield in a 4x4 space under a 600w hps was 24oz dry not counting small, loose or larfy buds. I grew 4 bushes of a known decent yielding strain. Seed run but I got lucky with a half pound plant in the mix.

Did the same with 3 under a 315 cmh and got 15 oz.

I think the plants reach higher potential when left to grow with a little space around them.

So like I said I would probably thin out your plants a bit for airflow. Should help if not overdone I think.

By the way. Great job! Your plants look beautiful and healthy. Love it!
 
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@MIMedGrower Thanks for the support! It really motivates me to keep sharing updates seeing comments like these :)

You've got some amazing results yourself! G/W is something I can only dream about so far. My best result is 0,7g/w running Viparspectras, and this is my first proper grow using decent light fixtures ("quantum boards"), so am really hoping to 1up my previous results.
 
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I'm very anxious to see your results. Just in case you didn't come across it in your research; a dude wrote a book called 3 a light and tried selling it for $500. I don't know how many satisfied customers he had and I didn't buy it but you can google about it like I did. From all the reviews and photo screen shots, what I gathered was his "secrets" to getting 3 a light boiled down to very thorough LST/topping (nothing new there) and extreme defoliation. He calls it schwazzing, I will try to post a pic, its done on day 1 and 21 of flower I think.

Don't quote me on any of this, it's easy to google for specifics. I'm not encouraging or discouraging anything but I would love to follow along in your experiment.
 
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@3 balls
Yeah I've seen this "schwazzing" technique been mentioned on Royal Queen Seeds blog, and Growweedeasy. Haven't seen any side by sides on the topic, but IMO it really seems that it's a scam. Just doesn't make any sense that this would work, based on the knowledge I have on physics and chemistry.

It could be a great way to reduce stretching during flowering though, in tight spaces it might even increase yield to keep the plants short.

Maybe I'll try this in the future to see if it's a scam or not, so far I'm gonna be doubtful though :)
 
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@3 balls
Yeah I've seen this "schwazzing" technique been mentioned on Royal Queen Seeds blog, and Growweedeasy. Haven't seen any side by sides on the topic, but IMO it really seems that it's a scam. Just doesn't make any sense that this would work, based on the knowledge I have on physics and chemistry.

It could be a great way to reduce stretching during flowering though, in tight spaces it might even increase yield to keep the plants short.

Maybe I'll try this in the future to see if it's a scam or not, so far I'm gonna be doubtful though :)

If you did that to the diesel/Thai hybrids I’m growing I think it would become a seed run. Lol.
 
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@3 balls
Yeah I've seen this "schwazzing" technique been mentioned on Royal Queen Seeds blog, and Growweedeasy. Haven't seen any side by sides on the topic, but IMO it really seems that it's a scam. Just doesn't make any sense that this would work, based on the knowledge I have on physics and chemistry.

It could be a great way to reduce stretching during flowering though, in tight spaces it might even increase yield to keep the plants short.

Maybe I'll try this in the future to see if it's a scam or not, so far I'm gonna be doubtful though :)
Well in that case, I triple dog dare you to try it on these.;)
 
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I once cut all fan leaves from one plant just before switching to flower (strain: white gold). It never recovered or grew back new fan leaves. Yield was over 50% less then on other plants, and all of the growth, including the main cola's was "larfy shit".

That experiment was far from scientific back then, since I barely knew what I was doing, and did not record any data either.
 
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Okay, week two flower (day 14) update time!
Buds are starting to form up, just 7 days to go til' my planned defoliation date.

I lent an EC meter and recorded some values, so I thought I might as well share them with you as well.

Tap water:
EC: 0.2
PH: 6.8

Feeding solution:
EC: 1.35-1.70*
PH: 5.50-5.75*
*some nutrients are used every other watering

Run-off:
EC: 1.7
PH: 7.0

Looking at the data it seems like I'm getting some nutrient buildup in the soil, so I might have to increase the amount of runoff water, still really far away from any troubles though.

I've also done some measurements with a LUX meter, and converted the data into PAR using a multiplying factor I got from my lamp retailer. Approximately, I have a 2x2 area that is lit at 1000PPF, the sides and edges of the tent range between 550-700PPF. Drop from the 2x2 area to the sides is linear. Fixture distance from canopy is 19 inches. I stopped using my red booster light after day 10, right now only running the Zeus boards.

Since the end of some of my leaf tips have been a bit yellow, I'm not sure if it's tip burn or genetics, but it hasn't progressed during flowering. I've added some close-up shots of the leaves so you can judge for yourself. Overall plants are in perfect health though.

Happy holidays, I'll be back right before new years to give you an update on the defoliation!
 
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Looking spectacular! Your defol side by side has my undivided attention. I have the same problem with my plant on day 12 of flower but I have nothing like the bud sites on these babies. Keep up the fine work and GL.
Thanks for the kind words! I've noticed that using more far-red spectrum light speeds up the transition from veg to flower. I really suggest trying out a far-red booster if you wish to initiate flowering faster :)
 

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