Plant training to produce higher yields, reduce the incidence of disease and make caring and harvesting the plants easier
Plant training is a technique used by agriculturalists to produce certain results. Often the purpose is for bigger and better yields, but plant training is not limited to this aspect. It involves the physical manipulation of the plant for a purpose. The plant training technique is directly related to that certain purpose. Plants can be propped up, the buds can be pinched, the stems can be twisted or tied to change the shape of the plant, sections of the plant can be cut or pruned, and the plants can be thinned or spread apart. In industrial or in larger garden applications two other training techniques maximize the production of the plant. Horticulture netting can support plants off the ground or a scrog net can be used.
What it is Not?
It does not involve genetically modifying the plant. It has nothing to do with types of fertilizers or improving environmental conditions for the plants such as adding grow lights.
Common Examples of Plant Training Techniques
Look in almost any backyard garden and you can see the tomato cages cradling this very common plant. The support serves many purposes. It holds the leaves up to the light while supporting the delicate stems. But most importantly, it keeps the fruit up off the ground where it may otherwise rot. Often cucumber buds are pinched so that the plant grows bushier, thereby producing more buds and ultimately more fruit.
In the flower garden, the trellis provides support for the climbing flowering plants such as the clematis. The gardener ties or twists the stem around sections of the trellis for a pleasing result.
Pruning of the hedge has several results. It allows the pruner to achieve the desired shape while it promotes the growth of more stems so that the hedge is now thicker. Sometimes pruning is done in order that the fruit can be accessed easier. Routinely apple orchards prune their trees to assist in the harvesting of the fruit.
The tiny seeds of many vegetables such as beans are started in a bed with each plant close to its neighbor. But as the plants expand, it is prudent to spread them apart or thin them so that they have the proper space in which to grow.
Scrog nets and horticulture netting are often used in industrial or larger garden situations. A scrog net is a grid of stiff open weaved wire that is placed just above the young plant. As the plant grows, it pokes through this grid work. From that point, the worker or care taker is able to tie the stem so the plant will grow horizontally. As the plant matures, from the one stem now more branches will develop. And with the more branches, the one plant produces more flowers, fruit and seeds. Note that the production of the buds from the screen level results in a similar height for all of the buds.
If you are growing plants using an artificial light source, the additional benefit is that all of the buds receive the same amount of light. Thus more control of environmental conditions is achieved. This scrog net is easy to build, doesn’t require any special skills from the workers and needs only a minimum of tools. It also has the benefit of a very open hexagonal weave which provides aeration for the plants thus reducing the likelihood of mold production. Serrano pepper, roma & cherry tomato and tamarillo plants produce fruit very well with this method.
Horticulture netting has many pluses as well. It too has an open weave but it is made of polypropylene and is hung vertically. One of the biggest advantages over tying the stem is that with the net since the fruit or flowers just lean on the net for support, the growth of the delicate stem is not constricted at all. Squash, pumpkin, watermelon, and cucumber benefit from using the netting. In addition, the fruit is up off the ground which means less rot and easy harvesting.
A very specialized group of plant training techniques is involved in producing the beautiful and artistic bonsai. Branches are pruned to enhance the plant’s appearance. Stems are held in place by a wire structure to achieve a variety of fantastic shapes. Later the wire is removed, once the bonsai has been trained to remain in that shape. Often it takes years to achieve the desired results.
A renewed interest in plant training techniques has taken place in the cannabis industry. An Internet search of the term results in several top articles about growing these plants. Specifically, the plant can be trained to produce more buds in several ways. One very easy way is to tie the stem of the very young plant so that it grows almost horizontally. From this one stem many more branches grow. In appearance the plant resembles more of a cannabis bush, however when left alone, the plant will produce only one stem per plant. With the addition of a scrog net, the stem can be secured in several places thus allowing the growers to control the height of all the buds, making the use of grow lights more effective for every plant. Pinching the top bud to produce more stems and buds is common as well.
Scientific evidence supports the use of plant training. Studies around the world show that plant training methods produce higher yields while reducing the incidence of disease and as an added bonus often make caring for the plants and harvesting the plants easier for the workers. In industrial applications, the use of scrog nets and horticulture netting is utilized with great results. Since plants are used in a myriad of ways, people have developed many other training methods to enhance their growth.