The term monster cropping seems to be quite a new technique and as the name suggests, enhances the growth of your plants. It is important to not get confused with a different high stress technique named super cropping as there are some subtle differences.
What Is Monster Cropping?
Monster Cropping is process that involves taking clones of a cannabis plant which is already flowering. The plants will be growing under a 12/12 cycle indoors and at the stage of producing pre-flowers. Now you may think that it is stressful to the plants. This is after all a late stage to be pruning, however the way in which the cuttings respond are worth it, if performed correctly.
Once the clones that were originally growing under a 12/12 light cycle are placed under 18/6, the plants will use their energy to produce root cells. Where this technique varies from traditional cloning is at this stage the clones will need to vegetate again. This is commonly referred to as reverting the plants or re-vegging.
What Does Reverting Mean?
During the life cycle of a cannabis plants there are different stages that will signify what amount of light the plants receive. This ultimately dictates a response of growth hormones and auxin. When a cannabis plant receives 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness, it will stay in a state of vegetation. Once the length of darkness is increased to 12 hours of more the plant will go to flower.
You could re-veg a plant after harvesting. For those who have gone through this long winded process you will already understand it can take up to 4 weeks before the plants are back to growing symmetrical leaves that have at least 3 blades each.
Reverting a plant back to a vegetative state takes time and patience. You will watch the plant throw out one leaf at a time as it begins to grow new foliage before reverting to normal growth.
When Is The Best Time To Perform Monster Cropping?
The time to take clones should be within the first 2-3 weeks of the flowering stage. Many growers will avoid removing any solid branching on their plants, especially during the flowering period. However, it is during this time frame where you can select the most established cuttings, that have thick hardwood characteristics.
Don’t forget to account for the 4 weeks it takes to revert the plants back to a vegetative state and then grow out again. This will ensure you do not rush the process.
The Pros and Cons
The main benefit of monster cropping is that cuttings grow with a noticeable vigour. The trunk of the rooted clones will also be very well established and able to absorb higher amounts of nutrient solution. As a result of removing the lower branches, the plants the clones were originally taken from will focus their energy on the remaining top canopy.
The main con of monster cropping is the time frame it takes to revert a plant from 12/12 to 18/6. When growing with clones, the whole point in the first place is to remove the need to start from seedling and save time. By purposely waiting until the flowering period has commenced you have no choice but to wait for the plants to stop flowering and begin growing new shoots all over again.
If you have the time to revert plants back to a vegetative state and then spend the time to regrow foliage, this technique works well. On the other hand, if the aim of the game is turnaround time and crop rotation, then monster cropping is the last thing you will be thinking about.
Does It Work With Autos?
Cloning autoflowering varieties of cannabis is not possible due to the way they grow. Automatics are not photoperiod reliant, so will spend approximately 3 weeks in veg mode and then will flower for the following 7-9 weeks, dependant on strain and environment.
The benefit of autos is how they can produce abundant harvests throughout the year. Also they can flower under 18 hours or even as little as 6 hours of light. This is one of the reasons why autoflowering varieties have soared in popularity in Southern Europe and South America.
Attempting to monster crop or even take clones off an autoflowering cannabis plant is pointless. The only time to remove foliage from an auto is when pruning.
A Step By Step Guide
In order to successfully perform monster cropping, you will need:
- A propagator
- Rooting cubes
- Growth hormones
- A sterile scalpel or sharp pair of scissors
- A grow light with the timer set to 18/6
- Plenty of patience!
Select a strong female plant that is in flower. You will only want to remove the lowest branches and the ones that are most established.
Top Tip: Removing the upper branches can cause serious stress to the plants. Lower is always better when monster cropping.
Once you have cut the clones, dip into growth hormone and insert into a coco jiffy or rockwool cube.
Top Tip: Coco Jiffys, rockwool cubes or even aeroponic bubblers will increase the survival rate of the clones.
Keep the clones inside the propagator and cover the top to keep the humidity high. This will force the cuttings to root quickly.
Top Tip: Aim for a humidity level above 80% during the first 7 days of cloning.
Check the roots on the clones every 3 days to see the progress. The clones will usually root quite fast especially the more mature cuttings.
Top Tip: Also check for signs of mold and make sure the humidity is just right.
Once you have roots, remove the clones from the propagator and allow them to harden off. This basically means let them get used to the fresh air and toughen up.
Top Tip: The clones will not require much hardening at this point in comparison to the traditional cloning method.
Over the next 4 weeks, you will see the plant grow one leaf at a time, until it is ready to grow 3 fingers per leaf and so on, until the original growth pattern is restored.
Top Tip: Be patient and wait for the plant to grow at its own speed.
Once the plants grow back to normal, you should have a very bushy and thick canopy that has a hard main stem. When you choose to flower the plants after this point is up to you.
Top Tip: This is a good time to use other plant training techniques in order to maximise yields even further.
The Risk to Reward Factor…
Monster cropping does have its advantages, however the risk factor is high to the potential reward when using this technique. Reverting a cannabis plant from flower back to a vegetative state is no quick process, meaning this technique should be performed by those who have plenty of time on their hands and have years of experience with both vegging and flowering plants.
From all of the other types of plant training and ways to enhance production, monster cropping is not the best choice for beginner growers or for those who are not familiar with L.S.T, super cropping, fimming, topping and pruning. Many would even argue it is impractical and a waste of time.