How to Defoliate Hemp Plants
If you’re looking to improve the quality and size of your hemp plants, then defoliation may be the method for you. Defoliation is the process of removing a plant’s leaves, and while it can be controversial, many growers believe in its ability to boost yields.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to defoliate hemp plants safely and effectively. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of this controversial growing method.
When to Defoliate Hemp Plants
The best time to defoliate hemp plants is during the vegetative stage. During this stage, the plant is growing rapidly and can recover quickly from stressors.
Growers with more experience may choose to defoliate during the flowering stage, but this is riskier, and you should only attempt this if you’re confident in your skills. If the plants become stunted during flowering, it may impact their yield.
Should You Defoliate Your Hemp Plants?
There are a few things you’ll want to look out for before you start the defoliation process. First, you’ll want to make sure your plant is big enough. If it’s too small, then it won’t be able to handle the stress of having its leaves removed.
Consider the genetics of your hemp plants. If you are growing tall Sativa plants with thin leaflets, you may not need to defoliate them, as the lengthy internodal spacing and slender leaves will allow sunlight to penetrate deep into the canopy. Typically, short, bushy Indica plants with broad fan leaves are better candidates for defoliation.
If you’re growing hemp outdoors, you’ll also want to check the weather forecast. If it’s hot and sunny, you’ll want to wait until the weather cools down a bit. This is because defoliation can make your plant more susceptible to heat stress.
Finally, consider if you have enough time and resources to defoliate your plants. If you are operating a large-scale hemp farm, it can require a lot of labor to defoliate the plants. While this practice may help to boost yields, it probably isn’t feasible for larger hemp farms.
Starting Low and Slow
When you’re ready to start defoliating, it’s important to go slow at first. It can be easy to get caught up in the process and remove too many leaves, which can damage your plants.
A good rule of thumb is to start by removing no more than 10% of the leaves. Once you’ve done this, you can assess how your plant responds and decide whether to remove more leaves.
The bottom half of your plant is usually the best place to start, as this is where the leaves are typically larger.
What to Remove
When you’re removing leaves, you’ll want to focus on the ones that are yellow, brown, or otherwise unhealthy. You can also remove fan leaves, which are the large leaves that grow from the nodes. These leaves usually block light from reaching the buds, so removing the ones covering bud sites may improve flower growth.
If you have any inverted leaves, which are leaves that grow pointing inwards, you should also consider removing these. Inverted leaves are more likely to trap moisture, which can lead to mold and inadequate sunlight and airflow.
Once you’ve removed the leaves, you’ll want to dispose of them properly. You can do this by composting them, which allows you to recycle the nutrients back into your soil; however, it is best to dispose of leaves that are infected with pests or diseases.
Benefits of Defoliation
There are many potential benefits of defoliating hemp plants. One of the most noteworthy is that it can improve light penetration. This is because removing leaves allows more sunlight to reach the buds, resulting in bigger yields and higher-quality flowers.
The Bottom Line
Defoliation is a controversial growing method, but many hemp farmers believe in its ability to improve yields. If you’re considering how to defoliate hemp plants, be sure to do it during the vegetative stage and start low and slow.
Do you think defoliation is a useful practice? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.