The low stress training method gently controls the plant shape as opposed to high stress training that aggressively manipulates the plant. The latter method can be significantly stressful to the plant.
Overview of the Benefits of Low Stress Training
* Multiple growth sites, called colas, are created on each branch instead of just one
* LST allows for a larger yield using the same initial setup as an untrained crop
* Height, shape and size of the plants can be controlled by the grower
The Disadvantages of High Stress Training
This method causes undo stress on the plants. It involves cutting off the upper leaves – a practice known as topping. It is done in order to give lower leaves access to more light.
However, the result of high stress training can cause the development of smaller branches which produce small popcorn buds, not the big colas that growers want.
What’s worse, serious stress can turn the plant male (https://www.marijuana-seeds.nl/blog/how-to-avoid-stress-in-marijuana-plants), causing the plant to stop producing the desired buds at all.
A cannabis plant, like any plant, can even die if it suffers too much stress.
Advantages of Low Stress Training
LST if done correctly should cause no stress to the cannabis plants. It involves no cutting or other invasive procedures.
Instead, this method requires growers to gently bend the upper branches of the plant downward and away from its center. The branches are then tied with a soft material in a position that allows the resto of the plant to receive more light.
This spreading of the branches allows all buds to receive the most light possible, encouraging new growth in the crux of the stems. Lower buds receive the same amount of light as the buds on the main branch, resulting in additional and more even growth throughout the entire plant. A higher yield is the result.
Furthermore, there is no danger of stressing the plant to the point where it stops producing colas or of killing the plant because of severe cutting.
The Real Secret to a Higher Yield by Using the LST Technique on Cannabis Plants
The secret behind LST is not just the increased sunlight to the lower branches. Instead, LST causes a chemical reaction in the plant that results in the production of additional growth, colas and buds.
This is how it works:
When a branch of the plant is gently bent and tied down, the plant interprets this as a lost shoot. To compensate for its perceived loss, the plant produces chemicals that cause the production of more grow sites with additional colas, which ultimately grow more buds. This gives the grower an overall larger yield from the same number of plants.
Some growers cut the tops of the plants in addition to using LST. However, this is not true low stress training and the plants can become severely stressed from this practice, stop producing and die.
Step by Step Instructions on How to Do LST
 Allow the plant to grow naturally until there are 3 to 4 sets of leaves. Growers who are experienced in the LST technique sometimes wait until there are 5 or 6 sets. Inexperienced growers are better learning this technique while the main step is still supple. Every precaution should be taken not to break the main stem.
 Choose the material to use to tie the stem in the sideways position. The material must be soft so that it doesn’t cut into the stem. Some growers use hooks. Pipe cleaners are a good choice because although they contain wire, they do not cut into the stem and they can be adjusted as needed easily at a later date.
 Decide which direction you will bend the stem and how the tie you have chosen will be placed.
 Locate the top set of leaves and the second set of leaves from the top. You will place your first tie between these sets of leaves. Tie or pin down the stem off to the side so that it is lower than the other branches.
 Wait before taking any other LST steps. Within a day or so, you will see the section that you pinned begin to turn back up toward the light. It will continue to grow but will not block out the light from the rest of the plant.
 Eventually you will see new branches forming and growing from the lower parts of the main stem.
 As new sets of leaves develop, tie them down around the edge of the pot as you did in step 4. Eventually, there will be no more room to tie down stems.
 At this point, gently bend the stem horizontally around the inside edge of the plant’s pot. Use hooks or soft ties to keep the stem in place.
 Repeat this process as necessary. You will have a plant that looks more like a bush than one that has not been trained. Furthermore, there will be more tops than on untrained plants.
 Watch for the plant to flower. Around this time, you will adjust the lighting time to the 12/12 lighting cycle that encourages the creation of the buds that growers want.
[Bonus Step] Some growers use a trick that causes the plant to release all of its THC resin into the buds. Just before harvest time, the grower turns off the growing lights for two full days. When the plant receives no light at all, it triggers the release of all its THC into the buds. These buds will then be covered with crystals, giving the grower a quality harvest.
What is the SCROG Method and Is It LST?
SCROG is another training method used by dispensaries. This technique uses a SCROG setup screen for training the plants. With this method, parts of the plant are pulled through the SCROG screen.
Although the plant spread out as in the LST method outlined above, the tops of the plants are cut off in the SCROG method. Therefore, SCROG is technically not low stress training.
Why LST the Best Method for Auto-Flowering Cannabis Plants
Auto-flowering cannabis has a defined time to mature. Standard cannabis plants may mature at various rates, depending on light and other weed growing conditions. This is not the case with auto-flowering cannabis.
Since auto-flowering cannabis matures within just two or three months (https://www.marijuana-seeds.nl/auto-flowering), it cannot tolerate having its top leaves cut, or topped. Any plant that has suffered a cut needs time to recover from such a drastic change. However, auto-flowering plant simply does not have enough time to recover because it matures at a certain age with no deviation.
Therefore, LST is the best method for producing a bountiful harvest when growing auto-flowering cannabis. Just what growers are looking for.
Give the LST method a try. The first time it may seem intimidating but with practice it will become second nature. Your plants will be less stressed and your harvest will be increased. It’s a win-win method for growing cannabis.