(Experienced Growers Only) Controversial Defoliation Increases Marijuana Yelds

 I have not tried this technique, so I can neither recommend this but I also can not condone it. I must however say, the person who wrote this, Keef Treez is an expert and would have nothing to gain by misleading us. So, I believe what he is telling us must be true. I will be adding my own comments in this color throughout this article. Tom

by Keef Treez “The Defoliator”

Defoliation is an extreme marijuana growth technique. It’s not to be done lightly. Nor is this recommended for beginners. Tom

In fact, the topic of defoliation is one of the most controversial subjects in the marijuana growing field. People on both sides defend their position vehemently.

I’m on the side that believe there is absolutely nothing stressful about defoliation or bending branches. Honestly, there is no way to achieve nearly a pound of buds from a 2-3 foot tall plant indoors, except using defoliation. I, however, believe it is stressful, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. But you can’t bend a branch without causing some stress. Tom

Opponents often have arguments like, “PLANTS NEED THOSE LEAVES! If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be there.” Man has manipulated flowering plants for hundreds of years to produce more flowers, that’s a fact. Manipulation is a good thing. Tom

Or my all-time favorite, “I have a friend who used to grow, and he insists that will hurt the plant.”

Yet the saddest part of all is how so few people are willing to look at the evidence.

In some ways, I almost would prefer the rest of the growing world keep up their ill-advised lollipopping, removing growing tips, and other low-yield techniques. The defoliation technique has been loudly condemned by “experienced” growers for decades. Nevertheless, I am determined to educate other growers about defoliating and let them see the results for themselves.

So let me start by giving you some picture proof that defoliation works (make sure you scroll down to see all of them!).

You see, I’ve been defoliating intensively for 30 years. I am now training plants to be 32″ tall and 32″ round and yielding 250-400 grams under 400 watt lamp.  Keep in mind this technique will require vegetating almost twice as long as normal. Tom

Nebula Haze from GrowWeedEasy.com: Yes, that’s right, he said 8-14 OUNCES of
buds of marijuana harvested off each short, easy-to-manage 32″ tall plant, using
just a regular 400 watt HID grow light.

Here are two of my beauties (the one on the right needs a good plucking)

The effects of defoliation

 Another thing to keep in mind, the flowering room is the same as the vegetating room. You can not move your plants after this is set up. I can’t figure out what happened to the middle plant. Notice how thick the main stems are. It takes extra time in veg. to get them that thick and sturdy. Tom

How-To Tutorial: The Controversial Technique of Defoliation

Despite all the evidence (I’ve posted hundreds of pictures and shown dozens of growers in person), there is still somehow so much skepticism about defoliation techniques. Growers, especially new growers, often just say variations of, “It’s common sense, how could removing any part of the plant cause you to get higher yields?” New growers should never try this method, only experts or experimenters that have the space. Tom

I recently attended an advanced seminar with a prominent fellow grower and got roundly booed when attempting to describe the defoliation technique, even with pictures showing dramatic benefits. If the student has failed to learn, than the teacher has failed to teach. It just may be, that his “attempt to describe the defoliation technique” Just wasn’t clear enough. If you don’t keep an open mind though, you will never be an expert grower. The people who booed were small minded. Tom

Unlike many other growers, I believe what’s most important is studying how the plant actually grows, instead of assuming she grows how we think she should grow. Real experimentation and unbiased observers are the only way growers are going to learn how to get the best yields for the amount of time, money, and effort. Any grower worth their salt has studied how plants grow, not just marijuana. There are many techniques that work very well, but as he said experiment.  Tom

And it’s true that some types of defoliation are brutal to the plants (such as when misguided growers removing all the leaves off extremely young marijuana plants), but other types of defoliation are actually hugely beneficial to increasing yields (I’ll be showing you exactly what to do shortly).

And defoliation is beneficial for more than just marijuana, it also has been proven to increase yields for certain other types of crops. For example, it’s well-known that cowpeas experience significant increases in yields when up to 50% of their leaves are defoliated during their flowering stage… (source)

This marijuana girl is 32″ tall (the dimensions of this girl are 32″x32″x32″ to be exact). She was intensely defoliated throughout her life.
The marijuana plant was defoliated extensively

And it’s true that the real beauty of defoliation is difficult to translate in pictures and verbally. The plant above is beautiful. Too bad he doesn’t tell us what variety he’s growing. I’m sure that would make a big difference. Not all varieties will react the same using the same techniques. Tom

But I will do my best to give you everything you need to start producing your own huge yields with marijuana defoliation.

But First, Let Me Show You About Increased Bud Production With Defoliation During the Flowering Stage I don’t know why we are starting in the flowering stage first. Seems backwards to me. Tom

Before plucking

Before defoliation pic 1


Immediately After Plucking

The same marijuana girl after some intense pluckin

This amount of plucking seems reasonable, but only after two weeks have passed first, in the flowering room. Tom

Just 4 days later, look at the incredible bud growth I have tried this and did not get the same results. Only four days later and he got this amount of bud growth. Umm  Are there three plants in that room or six? They sure are crowded close together. What happened to 32″ by 32″ by 32″ ? I sure do not see that here. Tom

Just 4 days after being plucked, look at the incredible bud growth

Only 4 Days After That (after another defoliation session) I do see larger buds but I don’t see any less leaves. This is suppose to be just 8 day after the first picture and after defoliating twice. You be the judge, but…. Tom

Just 8 days after first session, and after another plucking, check out the fattening bud growth

Are you beginning to see the power of defoliation? I wish I could believe what I see. Tom

I have tried defoliation in the flowering stage and didn’t get those results as shown above. So, I’m just saying…. maybe the variety?  Tom

How Early Do You Start Defoliating?

I first started defoliating in desperation after many years of SOG, which I feel has proven to be too much work for inconsistent yields. After much experimentation, I’ve found my yields have been more consistent when training a single plant to use this space instead of 4 or 9 or 25 SOG clones.

Never mind the fact that in many states, patients are limited to just a handful of plants, removing SoG as a viable option.

Most growers who are curious about this do not want to perform defoliation on small plants. They consider the practice in veg to be too radical. And I 100% agree that totally stripping your seedlings of all leaves will be devastating to their growth.

And the honest truth is that defoliation isn’t for everyone. Beginners are often already dealing with the drawbacks to their choice of method or media, and defoliation can be disastrous to any but the healthiest of plants.

Because of this, I sometimes hesitate to throw defoliation into the mix of challenges for beginning growers and I strongly advise any growers to experiment with defoliation (or with any extreme growth control method) in the vegetative stage only where there is nothing at stake.

That being said, I believe the only reason you should allow a marijuana plant to leaf out completely is in an outdoor situation where you want as large a plant as possible. In that case you can save deleafing for mid to late summer after full-stretch and branching.

The way I practice this method (growing indoors) leaves never get a chance to age. No leaves are allowed more than about two weeks existence. I start at the top in order to remove the shading. Removing lower leaf contributes nothing to the strategy of exposing usually shaded out mid and lower growth to premium light. I still remove older shabby leaves to keep it all tidy. No leaves are allowed any more than about two weeks existence ? Hmm…  Tom 

And this is where defoliation gets controversial. Many growers feel that controlling their plant in any way during the vegetative stage will significantly reduce yields. And I understand how it can seem that way, especially to new growers, before you’ve gone through the entire life cycle of the marijuana plant a few times. If you are looking for a great yield, you must control the plant in the vegetating stage, incorporating one or more growing techniques. Tom

Experiments show, again and again, that large plants with intensively prepared structure during extended Veg cycle yield far more than untrained, smaller, force-flowered individuals.  I completely agree. Tom

Nebula Haze from GrowWeedEasy.com: I’ve also found this to be the case.
Small marijuana plants that are forced to flower when extremely young are
can be fun as an experiment, but produce pitiful yields. Investing more time
in the vegetative stage to gain girth, while controlling the shape and growth
of the plant, has dramatically increased yields for me. 
I’m sure it has, as it should! Tom

The truth is, that with marijuana, the real ‘secret sauce’ to getting enormous yields is when you’ve perfectly prepared your plants for the flowering stage. As any grower knows, once you’re deep into flowering, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about huge, out-of-control plants except hold on, pray for the best, and do better next time. There is nothing you can do in the flowering stage to increase yields, other than fertilizer. The training must take place while the plant is still vegetating. I agree. Tom

I DO NOT lollipop and advice strongly against it. I use defoliation to skillfully and artfully prepare plants during the vegetative stage, so that lollipopping becomes completely unnecessary. I am on a mission to refocus growing technique to never remove ANY productive growth. I believe only leaves should be removed. This does not rule out, Fimming or LST or Supercroping. These methods can be used with defoliation, as no productive growth is removed using these techniques. Tom

Ultimately, the defoliation technique is a huge tool in the grower’s toolbox that allows you to dominate the Vegetative stage. Then it can be used in the Flowering stage to maximize yields. I still don’t buy into defoliating in the flowering stage except for removing shading fan leaves in the last two weeks of flowering. Tom

Defoliation is the Big Secret to High-Yield, Compact Marijuana Plants 

My style involves intensive defoliation along with the twist and train method (a version of supercropping) using a basic net for support. He must be getting large yields or he wouldn’t need a net for support, the buds do get heavy in the last two weeks. I use a tomato or peony cage to support my plants along with bamboo stakes. Tom

I only top once, if at all, at the 5th or 6th node(approximately) depending on the height and structure of a given clone. I also deleaf them at this time. The only plants that get more topping than that are because they had clones taken from them. I don’t usually keep dedicated mothers, instead, I just clone the clones and cycle everything through. He’s a little contradicting himself here. Topping is removing productive growth, but in the long run it will produce even more productive growth by doing so. This is a good thing. Tom

Here is a close-up of a veg clone getting it’s second stripping.


Young Marijuana plant before being defoliated


Young Marijuana plant after being defoliated

Too bad he doesn’t explain this better how he strips the leaves, where and why. I find this area of explanation, lacking . More explaining is needed for a complete understanding of this method. You must study the two pictures very very carefully to see what he has done. Tom

To get the best results, you should start defoliation in the vegetative stage. Leaf removal in bud is beneficial after stretch but most important to yields is management and the creation of a more compact plant with more budding sites in a given size.

Stripping and bending takes practice but you must do it to get practice. By starting in veg you risk no bud. Veg plants are replaceable so experiment and be ready to devote a little more time to prepare them.

I’d describe my stripping as “aggressive.” Once your plant is trained to deal with defoliation, it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, after years of experience, I’ve become very familiar with how these plants grow and always know what my outcome will be. I don’t understand; “Once your plant is trained to deal with defoliation” Tom

But defoliation doesn’t end in the vegetative stage. I also continue to pull the fan leaves off of my flowering plants to expose the buds.

As far as when and how often, I don’t get too scientific about it.

Usually if things look leafy, meaning that you see more leaf than budsites when viewing the crop, it may be time for another deleafing. It usually takes a week to 10 days for a plant to releaf to the point that there are 2-4 new leaves that have flattened and greened enough to deleaf again. Unfortunately he is contradicting himself again. Earlier he said he defoliated every four days in flower, now he is saying it takes a week to ten days to releaf to be able to deleaf again. Tom

This repeated releafing process allows that lower growth to benefit from the maturing of the immediate leaf mass.

Leaf removal stimulates lower and mid bud growth by exposing those normally shaded out areas to premium light. Of course those new to the technique should start slow, but if you start too slow you won’t remove enough leaf to see the best result.

You basically want to prevent any ‘shade’ from happening.

Here’s an example of how I deleaf a girl who is 2 weeks into 12-12 (flowering)

Marijuana girl 2 weeks into flowering, about to be defoliated

Marijuana girl 2 weeks into flowering, right after being extensively defoliated

Notice how, you can now see light all the way through the plant. This is a good thing for light, as opposed to seeing nothing but leaves in the before pic. All I can say here is “Oh my God ! Is he serious ? That much leaf is cut off ? That looks way too radical to me. The plant in the picture doesn’t look to me that it has flowered for two weeks. I would have expected to see a little more bud growth showing. Tom

Wait, did you say you wanted to see what kind of buds I get at the BOTTOM of the plant?

You get extensive bottom growth on defoliated plants

Extensive bottom growth on marijuana plant that has been defoliated

This is on the morning of harvest. While some are obsessed with top growth I like well developed bottoms. Tops are a given. If bottoms are this well developed the tops are certainly getting their share of light. Some guys like tops, some like bottoms. I like my girls to be equally well developed. Those bottom buds do look really nice but it’s hard to believe that we are seeing the whole story here. Tom

Ready to Get Started?

You can start easy and try to save leaves but what happens when you see the results like all the mid growth exploding with the new exposure. It would serve logic that if you remove a little and there is good results than remove more and on and on until you get comfortable with stripping down these girls.

I recommend you start deleafing as soon as your plants start looking ‘bushy’ at all. Start with removing the fans from all the branches and watch the results. Then remove progressively more. Don’t remove any branches or sites if you want to commit to this method.

The idea is shade removal, NOT budsite removal. Allow them to releaf for a week or so and remove again when they look leafy.

This girl is 32″sq. and under 30″ tall. She was thoroughly plucked continuously through her 11 week flowering cycle as well as during veg. No shortage of branches or buds, all of them chunky and exposed. I ended up harvesting 12 ounces off her. Marijuana plants do not get like this on their own. Stripping in veg and throughout bud is the only way to get results like this. 
Defoliation is the only way to grow marijuana plants this 'flat'

This is a beautiful plant, and I can’t argue with his results. I do believe but I’m not positive that the vegetating room and the flowering room are the same. Meaning once you get to a certain stage you can not move the plant. wish we knew what variety he’s growing.   Tom

Answer to the 3 Most Common Questions About Marijuana Defoliation

1.) Which Fan Leaves Can Be Plucked?

Never damage the tiny shoots butted up next to your fan leaves, as they can form into new colasAll of them.

That was the short answer.  This was the short answer but I never could find the long answer and I think that is needed here so we can understand this better. Tom

I remove everything that is easily pinched off with the thumbnail and forefinger. I keep a little bit of a cutting tool for a thumbnail specifically for that purpose.

I don’t try to get in super close to the buds once they get sticky unless it is just intolerably crowded. Any leaf that is attached by enough of a peristem to be plucked easily is fair game.

Bud leaves are attached deeper in the bud cluster and are difficult to remove by hand. I do not yank or pull down on the leaf. I snip it off with the thumbnail. Don’t sweat the stubs that are left, they dry out and fall off. Best not to try to cut so close to the plant, especially in mold prone climates.

2.) Can Defoliation Be Used with Any Growing Medium?

Yes. Medium is not a factor. Go with what you like.

Defoliation works great for marijuana grown in soil, coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, DWC, bubbleponics, and any other growing medium that marijuana grows in. It is very obvious to me he is using some sort of hydroponics or bubbleponics. Those kind of yields usually are not possible using other mediums. Tom

3.) I’ve Never Defoliated and Now I’m Several Weeks into Flowering with Tall, BUSHY Out-of-Control Plants… Can I Still Start Defoliating? I sure wouldn’t. You are way to late, the best you can do at this point is to supercrop to make an even canopy. Tom

If you’ve never defoliated before, go conservative to start, even if your plants look healthy.

Do it moderately at first and a little more daily. Pluck fan leaves to prevent branches from growing taller. During the flowering stage, you’ll be able to see the increase in bud production.
So there you have it, a basic introduction to defoliation for huge yields. It’s about time defoliation went mainstream!

One last word: Keef Treez is an “expert” grower with lots of experience. He has apparently perfected this method of growing and gets fantastic results. I have never tried this method starting in the vegetating stage and I believe you must if you hope to achieve his results. Keef’s methods must work or he would not have taken the time to educate us on this method. He would have nothing to gain by misleading us. I BELIEVE what he has to say, I just wish the explanation was clearer. I know plants, and I can see that this method is difficult to explain so everybody can understand. A good reason to leave this up to the experts or the adventurous.  Tom


About the Author:

Keef Treez “The Defoliator” has run several threads on ICMag.com, Overgrow, and CannabisWorld which continue to be very popular and controversial even years after they were created, receiving millions of hits. He is located in a beautiful high country area where he legally provides as a caregiver.

View his thread about defoliation on ICMag.com: http://www.icmag.com/ic/showthread.php?t=174163

Wanna “steal” this article?

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Learn the Basics to Growing Marijuana here: http://growweedeasy.com/the-basics-of-growing-marijuana

View this marijuana defoliation tutorial in its entirety: http://growweedeasy.com/marijuana-defoliation-tutorial

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Happy growing !


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