Low-Stress Training (LST) is a technique widely used by cannabis cultivators to increase the plant’s yield and potency. This process works by gently bending and manipulating the plant’s structure to optimize exposure to light, thereby stimulating more extensive growth. The approach is categorized as ‘low-stress’ because it is less harmful to the plant, minimizing the risk of injury or stress-related problems. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Low-Stress Training, its benefits, methods, and tips for successful execution in cannabis cultivation.
Principles and Benefits
Principles of Low-Stress Training
The primary principle behind Low-Stress Training (LST) is to alter the plant’s growth patterns without causing significant damage or stress. In a natural environment, a cannabis plant tends to grow vertically, with a central stem (apical dominance) producing the most growth. This growth pattern can limit the amount of light lower branches and buds receive, thus reducing the overall yield.
LST techniques manipulate the plant’s physical structure, breaking its apical dominance and encouraging horizontal growth. This manipulation allows more even light distribution across the plant, promoting an increase in bud development and size across the entire plant instead of just at the top.
Benefits of Low-Stress Training
Implementing Low-Stress Training in cannabis cultivation can provide several benefits:
- Increased Yield: LST allows a more efficient use of light by increasing the plant’s exposure, leading to more bud sites and larger yields.
- Improved Potency: More exposure to light can enhance the production of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, leading to more potent cannabis.
- Better Space Management: LST promotes horizontal growth, making it an excellent choice for growers with limited vertical space.
- Less Stress on Plants: Unlike other training techniques, LST is gentle on plants, reducing the risk of injury or growth interruptions.
Implementation of Low-Stress Training
Initial Training Stage
The process of Low-Stress Training begins when the cannabis plant has at least 3-4 nodes or sets of true leaves. It is initiated by gently bending the main stem downwards and securing it, using soft ties or plant wires, to the rim or side of the container. This action encourages the plant to grow horizontally. Ensure that the bending process is gradual and careful to avoid causing any damage to the plant.
As the cannabis plant continues to grow, keep manipulating its structure to maintain an even canopy. This ongoing training can involve bending and securing new branches that are growing too tall or repositioning stems to ensure all areas of the plant receive sufficient light. Throughout the process, it is essential to regularly check the plant for any signs of stress or damage and adjust the training methods accordingly.
End of Training
LST is continued until the plant enters its flowering stage. Once the flowering process has started, it is generally advised to stop any training to avoid stressing the plant and potentially impacting the bud development.
Tips for Successful Low-Stress Training
Here are a few tips to achieve successful Low-Stress Training:
- Gentle Handling: Always handle the plant gently to prevent any potential damage. If a branch is resistant to bending, try softening the stem with a warm, damp cloth before proceeding.
- Use Suitable Tools: Use soft ties, plant wires, or plastic-coated twist ties for securing the branches. Avoid using anything sharp or abrasive that could injure the plant.
- Regular Maintenance: Regularly inspect and adjust the plant’s positioning to ensure even light exposure and maintain the flat, even canopy.
- Timing: The earlier LST is started, the more effectively the plant can adapt to the changes in growth pattern. However, be sure the plant is mature enough (with at least 3-4 nodes) to handle the training.
Low-Stress Training (LST) is a valuable method in cannabis cultivation, offering a range of benefits from increased yield and potency to better space management. While it requires patience and careful handling, LST can significantly enhance the cultivation experience and the quality of the final product. As with any cultivation technique, thorough research and understanding are key, and this guide serves as a fundamental starting point to implementing LST in your cannabis cultivation journey.