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Removing Sun Leaves During Flower... Opinion?


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#1 vender

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 01:48 PM

OK I have been all over the net and it seems about %60 say dont touch the leaves and the other %40 say remove them. Everything I have read regarding remove them has been backed with some kind of science. They claim the plant doesnt actually use them to flower. They are saying it uses the smaller leaves that come out with the flower. And the people who say dont are just saying stuff like "they have them for a reason....".

Sun leaves "they" say are just using up nitrogen and not putting it back into the flower...

Anyway I am going to try removing them for the first time. Call me crazy. I swore I was not going to do anymore gimmicks. But thats the only way I learn. Also a friend who knows his sheit swears he gets %20 more.

Any thoughts?

I thought I would keep a little log here. 4 weeks into flowering, leaves are %10 covered in trics. Removed about %90 of sun leaves. LOTS more light. Growing hydro SCROG. 600w HPS in 2'x2'x6' box. temps 80. RH 48%.

#2 Bisharoo

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 02:27 PM

I hope it works GREAT for you Vendor!!:thumbsu: Sounds excellent!!

#3 boroboro

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 02:28 PM

There is a long, active thread on another forum about this, with lots of discussion over the past month or so. Some before-and-after photos on that thread make it look quite interesting.

From the introductory post of that thread: (https://www.icmag.co...ad.php?t=174163)

This subject is bound to raise a lot of disagreement. Please relate experience and photos.

Lets start by defining "defoliation" in the context of this technique. The term has negative connotations as Cannabis has been the target of defoliation by the Feds using Paraquat chemical defoliants. This is not what this is about.

This technique is about leaf removal by hand. It is employed to relieve shading in crowded conditions. It is a substitute to the popular technique of removing lower branches.

Defoliation encourages branching in vegging plants in the same way as nipping the leader. The benefit of this technique is that the leader is retained to continue to create branches. It also shortens nodal length creating a more compact specimen.

This is how the following plants are capable of yielding as much as 12 oz. in an allotted space measuring 32" cubed.

Leaves are removed starting in veg stage when they are about 6" tall with a couple of sets of fans. Leaves are removed again every 2-3 weeks or whenever things get a little shady.

3 decades of experience with this technique reveal that bud growth benefits more from light exposure than whether the corresponding fan leaf is present.

The idea with this method is to not remove any bud sites like in the aforementioned technique of lower branch removal. Bud sites produce bud. Do not remove. This method allows light to penetrate to all bud sites, not just the top buds.

This technique should not be done on plants that have not been prepared by defoliation from the beginning.


Observers will be shocked at the nakedness of a fully plucked skeleton of a barely flowering shrub. They will be even more shocked at the results after a few weeks. These results will debunk any insistence that big shading leaves are necessary for good bud production. Besides are we producing buds or leaf.


I've been removing lots of leaves in my current flowering crop, but not as many as the guy above advocates. Still, I removed 2 gallons worth from 6 plants last week, and the plants barely noticed. They're 3 weeks into flower, and continued to grow flower size as if I hadn't removed anything. I was convinced to try this by a few factors:

  • My plants are far too bushy and leafy -- the leaves are clearly getting in the way of each other and of the lower buds.
  • That thread above has some pretty cool before-and-after photos
  • The argument "plants need the nutrients stored in the leaves" doesn't work for us indoor growers, IMHO. The plant gets lots of nutrients through the roots, hopefully you aren't starving your plants so much that they need the stored nutes in the leaves.
I didn't remove nearly as many leaves as recommended by the thread above. Now that I see that the plants haven't reacted negatively, though, I'll probably remove some more. For instance, do I really need the large leaves at the top of the plant in the photo below? If you look at it from above the large fan leaves are completely blocking light in at least a 18 inch circle. That light would definitely hit another part of the plant if I remove these leaves, so the light wouldn't be wasted.
Posted Image

I just convinced myself there, off to get the scissors...

#4 Guest_Wayne_*

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 02:55 PM

Appears to make sense especially with artificial lighting. Any point to this with a sun cycle grow?

#5 boroboro

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 03:02 PM

Appears to make sense especially with artificial lighting. Any point to this with a sun cycle grow?


Well that's a heck of an interesting point -- I hadn't thought about it. Outdoors in a setting with sun all day, the plant will get light from lots of different angles, reducing the shading effect of all the fan leaves. No one in the thread I mentioned above is doing this outside.

#6 vender

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 03:34 PM

Also I noticed that the leaves I removed had trics on them, a good amount. IDK would the trics go to the bud now that the leaves are gone??

#7 G3LLO

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 04:08 PM

I am glad this was brought up I was wondering this myself last night.... I can't wait to hear what more people have to say!

#8 The Mayor

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 04:30 PM

How often do you plan on clipping leaves? Or in other words, how much healing time if any will you give the plant after each trim?

#9 kenzie1051

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 01:07 PM

I read that very same icmag a while back thread and was shocked!!! i started removing my fan leafes that were blocking lower bud sites on day 1 of flowering my sog and the then the bud sites below that are now recieving all the new light are turning into there own branches.

i read something on that post one guy rips all his fans leaves at weeks 3 and 6 into flowering. that makes sense cause the bottoms wont branch out cause there done stretching. all that happens now is all your buds have the most light when there about to really start packing it on.

it makes perfect sense when you consider that all the activity from the fan leaf you ripped off is now transferred onto the foliage of the budsites and the buds that are receiving that extra light.

i'm trying it on most if not all of my plants this time around and im pretty convinced that removal of fan leaves just leads to more bud sites in veg and more and fuller and denser buds in flower.

just my 2 copper coins. maybe ill grab some photos of a few plants ive been ripping leaves from and show you how removing the large fan leafs makes the lower bud site branch out.
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#10 affordablemimeds

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 02:46 PM

it makes perfect sense when you consider that all the activity from the fan leaf you ripped off is now transferred onto the foliage of the budsites and the buds that are receiving that extra light.

Or the leaf you just cut off was full grown, wont use any energy and will feed the rest of the plant. Best way to have big fat nuggs is to have big fat happy plants.

#11 wingdings

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 12:44 AM

I could see this method helping if someone begins the flushing process late for whatever reason. Less stored nutrient for the plant to have to use up. Just thinkin out loud.

#12 boroboro

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:06 AM

Yeah, it might vary also by the type of plant, growing style, and lighting.  Previous grows haven't had plants as leafy and bushy as my current grow.  I'm taking off about 10 leaves every other day per plant this week, just to expose the budsites.  There are tons of leaves left.  I never could have removed that many leaves previously -- the plants just didn't have that many.

Also, my current plants' growth was stunted for a week or so in mid-veg, due to a PH problem.  That may have caused them to be shorter, bushier, and apparently leafier.

Can something in the growing cycle cause the plant to produce too many leaves, more than are helpful?



#13 BDR

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 08:27 AM

Cannabis takes some careful pruning during it's entire growth cycle... From veg to the end of flower you should be constantly assessing your plants needs... When the plant is in to it's 2nd or 3rd week of flowering you should remove most unneeded fan leafs and other non budding structure that blocks light from getting to your growing little nug's.. Look at your nug's see all those little sugar leaves tucked up into your buds.. Those are what directly use light to provide energy to those swelling bud's.. Some strains don't mind if they are stripped bare from the buds down, I find it's a happy medium that suits most the best, leave a few sun/fan leafs intermixed down the plant as long as they don't block usable light from your bud's.... Your plant will still utilize some fan/sun leafs to proses some CO2... but not much.. By the end of flower most plant's should be pretty sparse with leaf structure... really only bud's and a few strangling leafs hanging in there.. As a grower turn over a few crops they will usually figure out pruning.. Just use common sense.. Think twice cut once... if you mess up, learn from your mistakes.. Oh yeah.. if you aren't already, keep a grow journal for every grow you do and take lot's of notes... Those notes can come in handy when you review them in the future as well keep you on schedule during the grow.. Peace, Love, and Big Bud's

P.S. Outdoor or indoor the concept is the same... pruning is still needed and will be almost the same as indoor you still need to open up those bud's to some light.. The sun definitely has more canopy penetration than any light fixture and does a pretty good job, but still need to cut some..
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#14 THC-Farmer

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:38 AM

I'm sorry but I COMPLETELY disagree with the general concensus on this topic. It just doesn't make any sense at all!

I do not recommend removing ANY fan leaves during ANY phase of the plants growth.

Doing so only inhibits the plants growth. This is scientific fact... Not my opinion.

Plants use different types of chlorophyll in the leaves to process photo-active light along with the nutrients and fluid absorbed through the roots to produce cellular growth. No where else on the plant are the different types of chlorophyll required to complete this process present. They can only be found in the leaves. The chlorophyll inside the stalks and calyxs are merely the cellular "building blocks" if you will. They can be considered the "structural cells". These cells make up the majority of the plants structure but do little (basically nothing) to aid in energy production and cellular growth. These cells are the cells created by the different types of chlorophyll cells in the leaves and the nutrients absorbed through the roots.

The leaves can basically be considered the "stomach" of a plant. They process the light and food to create growth. No where else on the plant does this happen. If you remove the plants ability to carry out this process, in any amount, it will inhibit the plants growth. This can easily be proved by removing ALL of the leaves from the plant. The coinciding result of this is death.

The calyxs and stalks of the plant do not process photo-active light energy. Only the leaves carry out that process. So ensuring that the "buds" get more light does absolutely nothing. That's kind of like saying, if you rip off all the leaves on a Rose bush but leave the flowers on it, the flowers will get bigger because they get more light... It simply doesn't make sense and is technically biologically impossible. Cannabis is merely an annual flower. The calyxs (flowers, buds) require the leaves and roots to create the food for the cellular growth to take place.

Also, as a plant grows, the leaves and root system grow together in unison. They support eachother in a required methodology to continue growing. If you remove any amount of the leaves the plants growth will slow as it becomes "aware" that food production has become unbalanced. What happens is simple, it grows more leaves to compensate and catch up to the root system. This reaction however, halts all the other growth as the plant focuses it's energy to create more leaves so it can regain it's ability to sustain itsself and resume normal growth. Obviously how severe this process affects the plants overall growth depends solely on how much leaf matter is removed.

I'm sorry but pruning healthy leaves off your plant just doesn't seem like a good idea when you look at the science of how a plant functions... Not to mention there is absolutely zero SCIENTIFIC evidence that removing leaves to expose "bud sites" to more light increases thier size or wieght. All the current scientific information suggests exactly the opposite...
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#15 amish4ganja

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 07:33 PM

I'm sorry but I COMPLETELY disagree with the general concensus on this topic. It just doesn't make any sense at all!

I do not recommend removing ANY fan leaves during ANY phase of the plants growth.

Doing so only inhibits the plants growth. This is scientific fact... Not my opinion.

Plants use different types of chlorophyll in the leaves to process photo-active light along with the nutrients and fluid absorbed through the roots to produce cellular growth. No where else on the plant are the different types of chlorophyll required to complete this process present. They can only be found in the leaves. The chlorophyll inside the stalks and calyxs are merely the cellular "building blocks" if you will. They can be considered the "structural cells". These cells make up the majority of the plants structure but do little (basically nothing) to aid in energy production and cellular growth. These cells are the cells created by the different types of chlorophyll cells in the leaves and the nutrients absorbed through the roots.

The leaves can basically be considered the "stomach" of a plant. They process the light and food to create growth. No where else on the plant does this happen. If you remove the plants ability to carry out this process, in any amount, it will inhibit the plants growth. This can easily be proved by removing ALL of the leaves from the plant. The coinciding result of this is death.

The calyxs and stalks of the plant do not process photo-active light energy. Only the leaves carry out that process. So ensuring that the "buds" get more light does absolutely nothing. That's kind of like saying, if you rip off all the leaves on a Rose bush but leave the flowers on it, the flowers will get bigger because they get more light... It simply doesn't make sense and is technically biologically impossible. Cannabis is merely an annual flower. The calyxs (flowers, buds) require the leaves and roots to create the food for the cellular growth to take place.

Also, as a plant grows, the leaves and root system grow together in unison. They support eachother in a required methodology to continue growing. If you remove any amount of the leaves the plants growth will slow as it becomes "aware" that food production has become unbalanced. What happens is simple, it grows more leaves to compensate and catch up to the root system. This reaction however, halts all the other growth as the plant focuses it's energy to create more leaves so it can regain it's ability to sustain itsself and resume normal growth. Obviously how severe this process affects the plants overall growth depends solely on how much leaf matter is removed.

I'm sorry but pruning healthy leaves off your plant just doesn't seem like a good idea when you look at the science of how a plant functions... Not to mention there is absolutely zero SCIENTIFIC evidence that removing leaves to expose "bud sites" to more light increases thier size or wieght. All the current scientific information suggests exactly the opposite...


I have noticed that the buds that get less light have just as much, or more, resin production as the buds in full light. It appears to me that light has no direct correlation to resin production. I do not radically trim leaves, but I do thin them out. I start taking more the closer I get to harvest.

#16 rockinlespaul

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 11:08 PM

I start taking more the closer I get to harvest.


Unless those leaf's are dead or dying, that is probably the worst time to remove them.

#17 wolfgama

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 06:34 AM

Those big leaves are part of the plant, they will yellow and fall or you can pull them off. You all need to leave the plant alone! Stressing with taking the leaves will not alter the buds potency or quality. It's in the genetics and I have had wonderful buzzes with just the little buds at the bottom~ Think NATURE and pretend your a plant. Your a baby and it needs its milk for a while, and that would be Nitrogen and a little Pot Ash, as it matures it eats more~! Just like a teenager and it shows its sex and is getting pumped for a male. Sounds like the sex addicts in our prime of life~ Then the phospherous and Potassium comes into play. It is like steak and you always want more~ Then when she is getting "old" and knows she is almost done for trim the large leaves then right before harvest. Use a lot of molassas and 0-0-22 Duece from Humboldt County at the last two weeks. (she knows she is going to the nursing home~ No other nutrients, she will go crazy and stretch out her buds and saliva (trichomes) to find a man~ LOL alas she is done. In dirt that is about 6 months if you are fair with the time. Other wise I am a bubbleponics person and get results in 4 months. But this summer time is for dirt & mother nature. Don't forget to leach your plants every two weeks, it will keep the salts out, I use straight rain water for everything. Ph is good in rain for dirt, however hydro you need to lower the ph in rain water as they like it down to 5.5 I love my Happy Frog from Foxfarm for dirt.
Peace and love and just Imagine~

#18 bigERN

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 12:10 PM

THC Farmer - Buds have quite a bit of leaf mass immediately surrounding them. If they didn't then you wouldn't have to trim your buds.
What research has demonstrated with well carried out experiments that removing fan leaves from a cannabis plant inhibits growth?
My own personal experience tells me quite the opposite however, its all about balance and understanding your plant.
There is a right time and a wrong time to remove fan leaves. Plants respond differently to certain approaches.

I like to avoid using the words "scientific" and "fact" loosely unless I have research references.
I'm not saying you are wrong, but if I'm supposed to believe you and you want me to believe you then it would only make sense to help a brother out with that info you read.

Wherever there is green in a plant there is chlorophyll, wherever there is chlorophyll there is photosynthetic activity.
Chlorophyll is not a building block so to speak since it isn't a structurally significant molecule. The function of chlorophyll is to absorb light energy and to use that energy to donate electrons split off of H2O into photosystems I and II in order to use the electron transport chain to generate ATP energy for the production of glucose from CO2.

Its all about increasing light exposure and directing the energy of your plant to where it needs to be.
The removal of fan leaves can encourage branching and help a plant have better air circulation.
If those fan leaves are covering many budding sites and branches, take it off.
If it isn't shading anything, leave it be.

balance balance balance, know your plants.

Anybody that says that cannabis doesn't benefit from pruning apparently has never tried it.

#19 vender

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 12:22 PM

Well all I can say is that I will prune from now on. At least with this strain White Castle it seems to like being pruned. I have noticed that all the buds are benefiting from me removing the shade leaves. Shoot I have even removed some sugar leaves and have not seen anything negative. All the lower buds are growing into nice sized buds and at only 5 weeks. I will post some photos.

#20 affordablemimeds

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 12:57 PM

Is there any plant that is grown outside where they do this. I cant think of any. People dont pull your leaves if you're new. learn to grow first before trying all the other things you read. My past experienced is when I pulled the leaves off of two plants out of 10 they slowed in growth all over, height, width and Weight. people pull leaves inside because they dont have enough light to start with, so they try to fix this by pulling leaves. With enough light my bottom buds are as hard and potant as the nuggs on top. And as far as all of you who do it, why dont you post pictures of your grow. Not just a little bud close up either, a nice picture of your entire grow.




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