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main-line topping ******best method******

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"Main-Lining"
The act of training a cannabis plant to form a "hub" or "manifold" off a single node, creating a center for equal energy distribution from the roots to each cola.



See that main-lined marijuana plant at harvest.... Nothing but huge, dense buds!



Hub: A place or thing that forms the effective center of an activity, region, or network.

Manifold: A pipe or chamber branching into several openings, "the pipeline manifold"

..
The result of main-lining marijuana is an even canopy and bigger yields with little extra effort.

No more larfy popcorn buds stealing energy away from the main colas!

Here's a few more marijuana main-lining pictures so you can see what I mean about the effortlessly even canopy. Main-lining is effective for increasing yields both indoors and outdoors.

Outdoors - Greater stealth & control



Indoors - Easy flat canopies & bigger yields with the same grow lights

 
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Main-Lining is just a concept about builing a plant off a single node. You don't have to get everything perfect to reap huge benefits. Many growers do main-lining their own way, and still get the rewards as long as they build their hub / manifold off a single node.

Main-Lining is an incredibly powerful way to gain complete control over your plants in small spaces, and also gives outdoor growers the power to control the size and shape of their plants for more consistent yields.

One of the best things about main-lining is that it's a "front-loaded" process. Most of the work happens right at the beginning of the plant's life, during the first few weeks. After that you mostly get to lay back and reap the benefits.

Set Up Your Hub / Manifold In the Early Vegetative Stage
(take a few weeks at most, when starting from seed)


Then just sit back and allow plants to grow into this naturally efficient shape


Bonus: The main-lining technique can be adapted to produce plants that fit in almost any space

As you're growing out young plants, simply pay attention to building thick stems from a single node on the trunk, (aim for a high VCSA - vascular cambium surface area) to evenly deliver nutrients from the roots to each of your colas.

That's it.

It doesn't matter how a grower achieves this. This tutorial and all the examples should get you started, and I encourage you to adapt this technique to suit your own setup and growing style.
 
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The Theory Behind Main-Lining

Note: "Main-lining" is a name that was first coined by Nugbuckets. Nugbuckets says he is sure main-lining has been done before and it probably even has a name, but he just naturally started calling it main-lining and the name has stuck for growers around the world.

Main-lining is a form of plant training to help cannabis plants grow evenly, with only fat colas and no tiny "popcorn" buds that many growers just throw away.

These tiny buds take away energy from the big colas. Many growers choose to "lollipop" their plants by trimming away all the lower growth, yet main-lining takes lollipopping to a new level, with better results and less wasted energy.

What's the Difference Between Plain Lollipopping and Main-Lining?

With main-lining, you create a plant where every cola is exactly the same number of "steps" away from the roots. All colas originate from the exact same part of the marijuana plant, which naturally causes each cola to receive an even amount of nutrients and energy.

As a result, plants grow with an even, flat canopy, which produces the best yields for indoor growers using grow lights. Many different training techniques can be used to produce an even canopy, yet main-lining seems to be one of the most effective technique for small-scale marijuana growers.

With main-lining marijuana plants, the purpose is to build a "hub" off of a single node, creating a manifold for equal energy distribution from the root mass to the growing tops.

This pic shows what i mean by "manifold" really well.......my little V-8!



Notice how there is a main "hub" (manifold) to distribute energy evenly to all colas

First You Create A Hub So Each Cola Gets Equal Access to the Roots

With main-lining, all the branches/colas on a marijuana plant come off of the same node on the trunk. Each cola then gets an even amount of hormones and nutrients (growing supplies) from the root mass.

Basically you are building a "hub" from the roots, make sense?

This hub or "manifold" allows your plant to evenly distribute energy to all of the colas, so your canopy naturally grows flat, even and orderly.

 
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All you have to do is follow the steps of creating a hub in the vegetative stage, and your young marijuana plants will naturally and automatically grow into this efficient shape, without much, if any, further work needed from you.

Therefore one of the big benefits of main-lining is it takes a lot of the hard work out of canopy management.

I am all about creating an even canopy of similarly sized stems and colas, like green lady soldiers lined up ready to kick ass and take names. No weak colas, no runts, no spindly branches. I love that with main-lining you pre-build your canopy so everything grows even and consistant.

Anyone who has grown indoors knows how hard it can be to produce an even canopy. Especially when you're growing in a small space, you've got to be able to keep your plant as short and wide as possible to take advantage of your indoor grow lights.

If you don't train your plants properly, it reduces your overall yields because some colas get bigger and taller than others, and then they block other bud sites from getting light.

With main-lining, you want all your colas to come off the main stem, like spokes on a wheel, so each of them is almost exactly the same as each other.

Take a look at this hub / manifold from a main-lined plant that had 16 main colas at harvest -
Notice how the growth is symmetrical on each side of the main split



This means that each cola gets to share nutrient pathways with all your other colas. This allows your plant to form just a small number of very efficient pathways, instead of spreading energy by making uneven pathways to many different nodes on the main trunk.

Main-lining is easy to accomplish when a marijuana plant is grown from seed since seedlings grow symmetrically. It's more difficult to main-line marijuana plants grown from clones since they usually do not grow symmetrically, but it's still possible.

I'll cover both methods in this article. Jump directly down to the...
 
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How Nugbuckets Discovered Main-Lining

When I first started growing marijuana, I would top the main cola, and leave two nodes coming off the main trunk. This is structurally similar to what growers do when they FIM the plant. I'd begin to build my bonzai-type structure while trying to manage the canopy as well as I could.

Yet no matter what I tried, I still noticed a huge difference in the energy output of the colas originating from the upper and lower node, even when they were separated by mere inches on the trunk. They grew similarly, but colas still varied quite a bit.

Then it hit me, even a single inch on the trunk separating the two nodes was the key to these differences.

Even a single inch of space separating two nodes coming off a main trunk, like the plant in this picture below, will cause the colas to grow differently from each other



I wondered what would happen if I created a single manifold to distribute all the energy evenly from the main trunk.

In my next grow, I decided to build the entire structure off of a single node to create my manifold....



The results spoke for themselves... Creating a manifold off a single node caused the plants to naturally grow with more orderly canopies and long, dense colas. This technique also revealed a variety of other unexpected benefits.

Main-lining was born!

 
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Disclaimer!!! Some strains are better suited than others for the main-lining method. The best strains for main-lining display "single cola dominance," which means that it tends to grow in the class "Christmas tree" shape of Indicas, Afghani strains, Kushes, etc.

Sativa dominant strains often do not grow in this shape, and tend to have lots of secondary branches naturally spring up. Clones also tend not display the same level of single cola dominance as plants grown directly from seeds. With that being said, main-lining can be used with all strains and even clones to optimize the nutrient distribution from the roots and create more balanced plants.

I've included several specific examples of main-lining below so you can see how the main-lining technique differs for different strains and growing styles.
The simple canopy rings I use are made from a heavy duty tomato or peony cage commonly found in garden stores. I cut and bend the bottom to spect. You should modify your canopy ring as needed for your setup.



When combined with soft ties, the hoop allows the grower to instantly modify the footprint of the plant simply by sliding the stems along the perimeter of the ring. This can come in very handy, when "puzzle piecing" plants into a defined space!

Nebula's Main-Lining Strain Pick: BlackJack


Why Did Nebula Pick Blackjack? This highly medical strain by Nirvana is easy to grow, responds like a champ to main-lining, and produces a Jack Herer / Haze style buzz

 
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believe the optimal time to start main-lining a healthy marijuana seedling is when she has 5-6 total nodes. Wait a little longer if you feel the plant is not growing fast and healthy.

Note: a node is a pair of growth tips that are directly across from each other.
Each growth tip has the ability to become a new main cola.


This BlackJack seedling is ready to start main-lining!


This seedling is also ready
 
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You can still use this technique if your plant is bigger and has already grown more nodes, but please note that this technique involves cutting off the top of your plant down to the 3rd node. So the bigger your plant is when you startmain-lining, the more this technique will set you back, timewise.

So if you start with a bigger plant, you will be losing more of the time and effort your plants already put into their growth.

However, other than the time lost, there's no reason you can't start main-lining an older/bigger plant.

Just make sure the plant is still in the vegetative stage! Never start main-lining a plant that has already starting flowering (making buds).

You could start with a much bigger plant if you want - this older plant can still be main-lined
(you'll just lose the time spent growing past the 5th or 6th node)



In our experiments, we've found that main-lining when the plant has 5-6 nodes in total seems to get the best results with the least amount of extra vegetative time. With a plant this size, you get all the benefits of main-lining, without really adding much more time onto your grow.

I do not recommend cutting small plants with less than 5-6 total nodes. Especially young clones! (Note: This step-by-step tutorial is specifically for plants grown from seed, though you can jump down to the speficic process aboutmain-lining clones) It is important that your plant has had time to establish a healthy root mass and be growing vigorously. When this technique is applied to younger plants, it tends to really slow down plant growth for quite a while.



Cutting off the top of your plant is a technique known as "topping." So a common way you'll hear marijuana growers give these instructions is to say to "top your plant down to the 3rd node."

Why Top Instead of Fim?

You can throw the top part of the plant away or you can replant this top and use it to create a new plant which is an exact copy (clone) of your original plant.

Learn more about using cuttings to produce new marijuana clones

After this step, your original plant should have just 3 nodes in total.
 
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Step 2b: Remove all growth below the 3rd node

Remove all the growth, including cotyledons and fan leaves, below the 3rd node.

This third node will become the center of your main-lining manifold, and by removing all other growth, you are telling the plant to send all energy and effort to developing just that node.

Therefor the purpose of this step is to leave just the two stems/growth tips coming from the 3rd node, so that the roots only have to bring energy to this one hub / manifold. This will allow you plant to distribute energy evenly to all parts of the plant.
.





The 3rd node is going to become your manifold / hub, so with this step, you "tell" the plant to put energy only into the two growth tips on the 3rd node. Once the other growth tips are removed, the plant will divert all energy into the one node that's remaining.

Your plant should look something like this after this step



Or this...

 
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Are you worried about taking off too much?

You may want to leave extra fan leaves on the plant for now, including the ones which are directly attached to the 3rd node.

What's most important in this step is removing extra growth tips below the 3rd node.

Leaving extra fan leaves is a big time-saving tactic, especially if your new main node hasn't grown out much, such as in this example below.


This plant was a bit too young to start being main-lined . She definitely needed the extra power from a few extra fan leaves to provide energy to the two tiny growth tips, so they grow out quickly.

With any plant, leaving a few extra fan leaves temporarily can help power the growth of nearby nodes.

 
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tep 2c: Secure 2 new mains at right angles from the ground

Tie down your two new mains gently, so they form a right angle from the ground (or as close as you can).

If you waited until your 5th or 6th node to start-main-lining, you'll probably be able to do this step right away. However, if your 2 mains are too small to tied down, give your plant a couple of days so the new mains can grow out. Once you have enough growth on your mains to safely bend, it's time to start tis part of Step 2c.

Each strain grows differently in each setup. Some plants need extra time to grow out new mains. Other plants will already have long enough stems already that you can tie them down directly after the last step.

Some strains respond well to bending and training, others don't. Listen to your intuition. If you do happen to snap/break one of your stems, just tape it back up with duck tape and the plant may be able to heal herself.

I tend to really be a tad rough with my marijuana plants because I'm so familiar with how they grow, and I know when I'm pushing them too hard. If you're ever worried that you're moving too fast, then give plants a day or two between each step so you can see how they will react.

Slow, gentle movements will prevent injusty, while being one of the best ways to learn what your plants like and don't like.

In a stressful environment (such as very hot temperatures, if the plant is young, or if the plant is suffering from a problem/deficiency), it's always better to err on the side of waiting a little bit too long between steps, just to give your plant time to adjust and make sure she will be able to handle the bonding / pruning / training.

This is how Nugbuckets bonds his mains down - to the extreme with thick bendy wire
 
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Secure mains down without cutting into them. This is important!

You can use almost anything to tie down your plant, as long as it isn't thin enough to cut into the "skin" of the plant. Softt gardening wire, coat hangers, or anything relatively thick and bendy will do the job. Avoid string as it will cut into your plant!

This hydroponics plant was secured down with garden ties that were curved into hooks so they wouldn't directly cut into the plant - the other sides were hooked to the reservoir



Tying down your two mains coming out of the hub will keep your final plant much shorter overall, and this will give your main trunk the signature "main-lined" appearance.

Nugbuckets originally perfected main-lining in a 3' tall cabinet (pictures below), so every inch of vertical height was crucial. If growing indoors in a small space where lack of vertical space is an issue, definitely don't skip this step!

Quick Summary of Step 2

This one full plant in the middle shows the "before". The rest of the plants illustrate the "after" of what your plants should pretty much look like at the end of Step 2
 
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3: Allow plant to start growing vigorously again, then top all main colas symmetrically to double the number of mains

Watch the new colas (mains) you created in the last step.

Wait until plant has started growing fast and healthy. You will know it's time to take Step 3 when you notice your main colas are stretching upwards and growing heathfully.

Some growers wait for each main to grow out a few nodes, while other growers (including Nugbuckets) will often cut the plant after seeing just the growth tips fully formed.

These plants are green, healthy, and growing fast - they're ready to be topped again





Look along the length of your mains for nodes to become your new mains - nodes should be located in the same place on each side of the hub / manifold

On each main, choose a node. The nodes you choose will form the basis of new mains after topping the plant.

The most important aspect of this step is to make sure you choose nodes in the same place on both sides of the plant. This is very important to the efficiency of your hub / manifold.

Try to choose nodes that have symmetrical growth when possible, yet don't worry if you can't - main-lining will work as long as you choose nodes in the same place on both sides of the manifold.
 
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you've chosen your nodes, top to that node (cut stem directly above the node).

Cut stems directly above your chosen nodes



Make sure you do this in the same place on every main, so every node you cut exactly matches one you're cutting on the other side of the manifold.

Be careful not to damage the growth tips coming out of the node as each one will soon become a new main.

For now, leave the fan leaves directly attached to the new mains. These will power their growth.

After
All your old mains should now look something like this - notice the two growth tips at the end, which will become new mains.



Each time you top all the mains on a plant, you will double the total number of main colas, so after this step, you will have twice as many mains as you had before.
 
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3b: Remove extra growth tips below your new mains

Nugbuckets will usually do this step directly after the last step. Some growers, especially beginner main-liners, may choose to wait a few days to make sure the plant has responded well to being topped, before removing the other growth tips. There's more room for error that way.

You can choose to leave or remove the fan leaves, Nugbuckets tends to remove all fan leaves except the ones directly attached to the remaining mains.

What is most important is that you remove all growth tips besides your new mains. You want your plant to be putting all her new growing energy into your chosen mains. Every other growth tip just steals energy away from the manifold you are creating.

Before



After

 
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4: Repeat Step 3 until you have the desired number of colas (keep topping plants until you have 8, 16, or 32 mains)

As Nugbuckets mentioned, each time you top the plant, it doubles the total number of colas. This is because you're essentially splitting a main cola in two with every topping.

So you top a plant once for 2 main colas, top a second time for 4 mains, top a third time for 8 mains, etc.

This chart should help you figure out how many times you want to top your plant in total, and how many colas will be produced. There's more information below the chart about why.



Growing Indoors: Top 3 times for 8 colas

As a general rule, when growing indoors under grow lights it's best to have 8 total nodes. This means you will top the plant a total of 3 times, including the first time.

Growing Outdoors or in Greenhouse: Top 3-4 or more times for 8-16+ colas

When growing outdoors it's best to have 8-16 total nodes or more to take advantage of the light of the sun and allow your plants to grow into huge bushy monsters. This means you will top the plant a total of 3-4+ times.

Growing Scrog Style: Top 5 times for 32 colas

When growing using the Scrog technique, I prefer to produce 32 total nodes to get the most out of each plant under the Scrog net. This means you will top the plant a total of 5 times.

I only use the Scrog technique when growing a Sativa dominant strain (as these tend to make lots more secondary branching and "fill out" more than Indica-dominant straains). I always allow the plant to have some time to stretch and really fill out under the net before I initiate flowering.

What does main-lining look like with a ScrOG setup?

Picture Example - Marijuana plant topped for 8 final mains

Before - 4 mains



Before - Side view



After

Same plant after being pruned for 8 mains (and secured to the sides of the pot)



Just a few days later, her 8 new mains are already pointed up and facing the sun

 
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Picture Example - Plant topped for 16 mains

After waiting for the 8 mains to grow out a bit, you can prune / top again for 16 mains, like this plant



And so on, until you have the total desired number of mains.

Remember! More main colas is not necessarily better. For most setups, I've found that 8 or 16 main colas is the optimal number. Unless you're growing in a ScrOG setup, more mains usually won't result in bigger yields, but those plants do take longer in the vegetative stage.



You have done all the work of building your manifold, and now you are just guiding your plant into your desired shape.

Some growers choose to secure their mains in other ways, for example using gardening wire to attach colas to your growing pot / hydroponics reservoir, or installing a ScrOG net.

I personally prefer to attach the plant to a cheap and simple tomato ring, as this provides a great scaffolding.

These rings (sold as heavy duty tomato rings or peony rings) usually come much too tall, so I cut them down to spec.The exact size you want depends on your setup. I generally cut them so the hoop rests about 14" above the soil. You would want to go taller for bigger plants with more colas.

You will be able to secure your colas to the hoop as they grow (I use soft ties, so I can slide the colas around as I "piece the plant together."

Soft ties are a great way to secure mains to the ring



These tomato hoops will givs you an easy way to produce the flat, even canopy that most growers want.

If growing indoors where vertical height it limited, I will lightly supercrop plants to keep them ultra short and even, especially if I notice any colas growing taller than the rest.

You can either attach all your colas to the edges of the rings, or you can leave a few colas unattached so they take up the middle part. So for 8 colas, you would have 6 of the colas attached to the hoop, and 2 of the colas would be free to grow in the middle.
 
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6: Remove any clips or wires once the plant shape and manifold are fully formed

Remember that any clips or wires you use to hold down your plant are only for temporary bondage.

Pay attention to how tightly and how long they are wrapped around a specific branch or trunk.

Once the manifold and plant structure is formed, you can and should remove your bonds. If left on for too long, your wires can girdle and eventually damage / stunt the plant.

Step 7: You're pretty much finished! Now you mostly just sit back and let main-lining do the rest of the work for you

At this point, you're pretty much done!

Allow plants to continue to grow vegetatively until the tops of the mains have reaches about 6" above the top of the ring (or about 20" from the base of the roots). At this point, switch to the flowering stage and then you just let your plant do her thing!

Unlike most other forms of marijuana training, main-lining is a front-loaded process. Once you've reached Step 7, there's very little you need to do besides keep your plant alive and happy until it's time to harvest.
 

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