It's getting to that time of the year, and I want make sure we are doing everything we can to get the best buds possible. Lollipopping is a method used to remove excess growth off of your plant. Usually performed two weeks after the turn (turn: switch in a plant's light cycle from vegetative at 18 hours to flower at 12 hours). Lollipopping ensures you get the best, fullest, and most potent buds at the end of the season. Let's go for Quality and Quantity!
Chewy here with my method and reasons for lollipopping. Doing a little background research on what everyone else is doing out there led me to believe there may be some confusion. So grab your scissors and turn up your tunes, depending on how many plants you have, this may take a while.
First we want to identify what we are cutting. Locate the main stock and look for the main branches that come off the main stock. Notice there will be small bud locations starting to form. These are the areas you will want to identify and cut. There is a good chance you will have quite a few branches coming off the main stock and branches coming off those branches. These secondary branches can all go as well at your personal discretion.
The purpose of lollipopping is that the plant is now in production mode, and if your plant has to produce and grow each individual bud location, the quality and overall size of your final buds would be greatly reduced. By removing smaller bud sites, starting from the bottom moving up, we begin to train the plant to send nutrients to the specific areas we leave on the plant--typically the ends of each main branch connecting to the main stock.
This is an example of a small bud site and/or secondary branch. Remove and continue upward on your same branch. I typically will finish a branch then go to the next as not to get lost. It can be a forest in there depending on the strain and size of the plant.
Depending on the size of the plant, I usually will leave 3 to 4 bud sites from the top or end of the branch. As these then continue to grow, they will receive full nutrience from the plant instead of being siphoned off by the smaller sites lower on the branch.
The rule that myself and others like to go by is to remove 1/3 of the plant from the bottom up. I would also advise to seek out and remove all secondary branches from the entire plant, top to bottom. This may seem excessive, but let me tell you why. As the plant grows in this stage, everything will be filling up and closing in. The fullness of your plant will greatly increase, thus light and breathability for large bud sights gets limited, especially toward the center or main stock of your plant. By removing these secondary branches, we allow the proper amount of area and space within the plant, where buds won't rot out or not receive light.
Here is what she looks like after a blind 1/3 lollipop with a light secondary branch removal. In the case of this plant, at this stage I didn't feel it was necessary to remove all secondary branches given the ratio of leaf to steam. In one week or two, we can come back and do another light lollipop as we see fit. Very light after your initial lollipop, it's a delicate balance of keeping the good locations and removing anything excess.
Here' a comparison for you taken from the same tray under the same conditions. Again, it may seem like I'm raping this poor thing, but believe it or not, it's beneficial. The buds' quality and size will match and surpass the amount of smaller unusable nugs you will get without lollipopping. This method is tried and true, just don't get carried away and remember the 1/3 rule, then go from there.
Give it two weeks after "The Turn" for the plant to adjust to its new light cycle.
1/3 rule from the bottom up, and don't get carried away.
Secondary branches--don't be scared, take them off.
Cut at the base with clean cuts.
Increased yield and quality, can't argue with that!
Thanks for tuning in, now go cut those plants!