Monster cropping is a cloning and/or pruning technique in cannabis cultivation that happens well into flower (or even post-harvest in some cases). It purposefully reverts the plant into a vegetative state. It is partly controversial because it is highly stressful to the plants, and many do not survive. Successful monster crop clones capture the genetic profile and provide a continuous harvest without the need for a mother.
Sounds complicated? It is. Monster cropping may be one of the most technical ways to clone and (re)cultivate cannabis. Many growers struggle to get real returns on the investment it takes. Monster cropped clones generally take weeks longer than their normal counterparts, and as we said, the survival rate isn't great.
But this technique has stuck around because it makes sense in certain circumstances, both for genetic preservation and yield per plant.
The Benefits of Monster Cropping
- Continuous harvest
- Bushier clones
- No need for a mother plant
- Two harvests from a single plant
- Protects valuable strains
- Preserves genetics in a grow room disaster
The Basics of Monster Cropping
A plant may fall out of flower and into vegetative growth through a grow-room accident or a grow tent light leak. This is accidental, and therefore not monster cropping. Monster cropping refers to revegging on purpose. There are several reasons why you'd want to revert a flowering plant back into veg.
First, if you are growing outdoors, you may be able to squeeze in two harvests from the same plant in temperate climates. Second, you may want to preserve the genetics of a desirable plant that you only stumbled on once in flower. Third, you don't have space or resources to maintain a mother.
Monster cropping is the purposeful revegging of a cannabis plant in flower. This is achieved by cutting clones from a flowering plant and/or working with a plant you've already harvested to bring it back to life in a veg cycle. Both are possible with the same plant.
For example, if you have an impressive plant already demonstrating great genetics and big bud production early into flower, how do you capture those genes for the next round? You can take small cuttings from lower branches (these will have smaller buds) and revert them to a veg light cycle. Eventually, they will root to produce quite bigger and bushier plants than the source.
As you have your new clones rooting, your original plant is ready to harvest. You've dried and cured the buds and determine that it is absolutely of superior stock. Instead of pulling it out, why not conduct a second harvest experiment. You may be able to coax the remaining stump to come back to life if placed under an aggressive veg light cycle. Yes, it takes a few weeks to see any changes, but eventually, it could start producing leaves again — signalling the beginnings of revegging. Soon it will revert into a bushier iteration to grow a second (smaller) harvest.
Under most circumstances, monster cropping is combined with lollipopping, topping, or SCROG to help manage the bushier plants. It's best to master these techniques first before working with a monster crop. Remember, this is perhaps the most stressful technique you can use in cannabis cultivation, and not all plants will survive.
How to Monster Cropping for Indoor Growing
- The number one rule to monster cropping is strain selection. Not all strains will respond in the same way. The general rule of thumb is to choose specific plants with fast, vigorous growth.
- Once your original "mother" has transitioned into flower, snip at least ten clones from the lower branches. Prepare whatever cloning accessories you are working with. Clip at a 45-degree angle, and ensure that you take at least 5 (more is better). The more weeks into flower, the more stressful the reveg will be for the clones. Manually remove all the buds from these clippings before rooting them.
- Immediately place the new monster cropped clones on an aggressive veg light cycle. This can mean up to 24 hours a day of light.
- Monster closely, as not all clones will survive. As these clones take root, weed out any stunted and less vigorous individuals. Use a cloning gel for improved success.
- Within a few weeks, new growth will begin but not in familiar patterns. You'll notice strangely rounded, single-finger leaves and wide bushier growth. Some growers have called the growth pattern "sporadic." Eventually, the plant moves away from the atypical round leaves towards normal development.
- Continue in veg until it has flushed out into a big bushy plant. At this stage, you can implement any additional pruning or training techniques, like LST, SCROG, and lollipopping.
- When ready, move your monster cropped clones into flower and proceed as per usual.
- If desired, continue cloning the monster cropped plants in flower, for a never-ending continuous line of genetics.
Monster Cropping Isn't For the Faint of Heart, But Useful in Specific Circumstances
While it wouldn't be a recommended technique for any newbie cultivator, monster cropping can come in handy if you run into issues with your grow already in flower. It may also be a fun technique to experiment with or a useful way to protect the genetics from a surprisingly vigorous strain.
At the very least, both indoor and outdoor growers may want to have this technique in their back pocket for any surprises that appear during flower. If anything holds when growing cannabis, is there is always a surprise.