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SOG & ScrOG – Cannabis Training Techniques For Heavier Yields

  • 1. Plant health comes first
  • 1.1. SOG
  • 1.2. SCROG
  • 2. SCROG or SOG?
  • 3. Efficient use of space
  • 4. Strain selection
  • 5. Consider the pot
  • 6. Topping & trimming
  • 7. In the end, it’s all good

PLANT HEALTH COMES FIRST

Any training technique combined with any growing method or substrate in the first place requires happy and thriving plants. Incorporating best practice plant care means vigorous and healthy plants at each stage of growth. There are a number of growing techniques that can be used to maximise space efficiency during growth and to increase harvests. However, no technique will help if plants aren’t vibrantly full of life to begin with.

Maintaining healthy plants means the grow environment must be ideal for cannabis growth. This includes grow medium and pot size, light type and strength, water pH, nutrients and feeding schedules, temperature and humidity. Once each of these factors is dialled in, healthy plants are yours to do with as you please. And then there are a number of low-stress training (LST) techniques used to increase yields.

LST is particularly advantageous when growing indoors domestically, where there is often not a lot of space. Artificial light has poor penetration and the strength of light reduces with the inverse square of the distance from the canopy. LST methods maximise yield per square metre by making efficient use of the lighting.

Two popular methods of low-stress training that increase yield are sea of green (SOG) and screen of green (ScrOG). Each technique is used very successfully to maximise yield per square metre. Autocorrect might hate them, but cannabis plants love SOG and ScrOG.

Sea of green is a cannabis manipulation technique that utilises many small plants in small pots for every square metre of space. The advantage of growing with this method is plants spend less time in vegetation, while still producing as many bud sites per volume of space. With SOG grows, buds are ready sooner, which can result in an extra crop per year.

SCROG

Screen of green is a plant training method with the same goals as SOG—to increase the yield per square metre at harvest time as much as possible. Larger pots are used to accommodate larger root zones for larger plants. Many flower sights are encouraged by bending and holding new growth horizontally. Even light distribution over a literal screen of green fills an entire grow room with fewer plants that have an abundance of homogeneously sized flowers.

SCROG OR SOG?

SOG: Plants with few lateral branches are encouraged to grow a single predominant cola. Plants don’t require training and require little attention besides regular plant upkeep. Less time is spent per week training—as you would with larger plants—for similar end results.

ScrOG: This entails a mesh screen with large enough apertures through which to feed cannabis leaves and branches. This can be made from commercial fencing wire or a plastic trellis, or made from wire or string and fixed to a frame. The purpose of the screen is to continually tuck under new growth into a flat sheet. What would have been undeveloped lateral branches with barely developed buds become healthy, stout branches with plenty of light exposure and their own dense flowers.

EFFICIENT USE OF SPACE

SOG and ScrOG are ideal for growers with space restrictions, as minimal height is required and every square centimetre of floor area gets used efficiently. There is no need for as much grow space volume as there would be for an untrained plant to get just as heavy a yield. SOG produces large individual buds with no popcorn or poorly formed flowers due to lack of light.

Typically, the SOG technique encourages apical dominance to strengthen and enlarge the main flower cluster. The ScrOG method, however, discourages apical dominance to promote many similarly sized flower clusters.

STRAIN SELECTION

Strain selection plays its part for efficient use of space.

SOG: Cultivars that tend to naturally produce a dominant central cola with minimal lateral branching are often used. Indicas and indica-dominant hybrids have this feature as part of their morphology. Once plants are of a certain height, usually 20–30cm tall, the 12-12 flip to the bloom cycle is made. Plants develop almost entirely as a single cola with lateral branches being reduced to single buds. Some individuals will initiate the entire grow starting from 12-12 so that only small plants develop.

ScrOG: Cultivars that naturally produce lots of bud sites take well to this technique. Sativas or sativa-dominant strains that have a lot of nodes have this feature as part of their morphology. These normally tall and branchy strains, whose lower buds may not develop fully if left to grow untrained, get light exposure to all the bud sites, which encourages larger bud growth. It isn’t absolutely necessary to grow sativas this way, as indicas respond just as well.

CONSIDER THE POT

Using the right pots for your SOG or ScrOG garden is super important to ensure the health of your plants and the best possible yields. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll never want to grow using pots of less than 3–4 litres, but keep reading for a more detailed look at what pots to use for SOG and SCROG.

SOG: Remember, when using SOG, you’ll be growing between 9–12 plants per m². For best results, you’ll need to make sure each one of these plants has enough soil to develop a healthy root system, and keep the plant from toppling over once it grows.

When growing 9–12 plants per m², you’ll be restricted to using pots with a diameter of between 20–30cm, which typically have a capacity of 7–11 litres. Using pots of this size is fine, but keep in mind that you’ll only be able to veg your clones for about 8 weeks without them becoming rootbound and stressed from the lack of space. If you want to keep your plants vegging for longer, you’ll need to invest in larger pots.

Some growers raise up to 25 plants per m² using SOG. When doing so, they cut down the time their plants veg, meaning they’ll harvest quicker. For such a high plant density, however, you’ll have to use smaller pots of about 5 litres.

SCROG: When growing with the ScrOG method, you have a bit more flexibility regarding the number of plants you choose to grow. If you plan to grow a single plant per m², you’ll need to use a pot of at least 20l. If you want to cut down the time it takes for you to harvest, you could grow 4 plants per m², with each plant growing in a 10l pot.

With ScrOG, there is really no firm rule on how many plants you can grow per m². It really depends on your goals, budget, and the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to each harvest. Remember, no matter what grow technique you use, you’ll always want to give your plants as much room to grow as possible.

TOPPING & TRIMMING

SOG: More vigorous varieties or branchy cultivars like sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, whose lateral branching may crowd the space too much, have their lower branches removed to encourage a thicker, more developed main bud and to increase light penetration into the whole grow. This also promotes healthy air circulation around the complete plant and the top of the growing medium.

ScrOG: Plants are topped early to promote branch growth, ready for training in several directions to fill the whole screen. Growth is encouraged above the screen only, and any vegetation below the screen is trimmed away as it will receive minimal light. This way, a plenum is developed below the screen to ensure air circulation encompasses the whole plant and the grow medium surface.

In both instances, transpiration from leaf surfaces and evaporation from the medium will always play their important roles in plant health.

IN THE END, IT’S ALL GOOD

Both of these low-stress training techniques have proven to be very successful for the domestic and commercial cannabis grower. They each have their advantages and make the most of the grow space on offer. Experimenting with both of these techniques will let you decide which one best suits your style.

Royal Queen Seeds produces some of europe’s best cannabis seeds, ensuring hobby growers everywhere have access to the finest marijuana strains around.

Royal Queen Seeds produces some of europe’s best cannabis seeds, ensuring hobby growers everywhere have access to the finest marijuana strains around.

Before we can switch our attention to the flowering or bloom phase, we have to make sure that we have raised large, healthy ladies during as short a growth or 'veg' period as possible

Sea of Green (SoG) Tutorial

What is “Sea of Green” (SoG)?

“Sea of green” is the idea of growing many small cannabis plants instead of just a few bigger plants. The advantage is that you can get to harvest more quickly because each plant doesn’t have to get nearly as large to support the same total number of bud sites. If each plant only needs to get half as big, it takes much less time to harvest!

“SoG” (Sea of Green) refers to growing a “sea” of many marijuana plants, then putting them into the flowering stage when they’re still small.

Since each plant doesn’t get very big before the switch, the time to harvest time comes a few weeks earlier. However, since there are so many plants and bud sites, you get the same yield as you would from bigger plants.

These five auto-flowering plants started at the same time in this DWC setup. Without any training or special time schedules, they grew into this at harvest!

You often don’t need to do much plant training in an SoG setup, so you spend less time each week that would have gone into training if you wanted to achieve similar results with a bigger plant.

Note: To add another confusing term into the mix, ScrOG (Screen of Green) is something completely different, and involves using a screen to grow a flat canopy of buds. A lot of names for common cannabis growing techniques don’t necessarily seem all that well thought out 😉

Pros of Sea of Green

  • Great yields
  • Not much effort spent training
  • Fast time to harvest
  • Option to grow many different strains at once

Cons of Sea of Green

  • More time-consuming to take care of more plants. Watering and accessing plants in the back can be tough!
  • Not a good choice for growers with plant limits
  • Plants are often crammed together, which increases your chance of mold or mildew if humidity isn’t under control, if there’s poor air circulation, or if plants get too leafy.
  • Some plants might grow dramatically different from the others (for example, being much taller or shorter), which can be a pain when you have a lot of plants to work with and you’re trying to keep everything as even as possible. If you’re growing more than one strain, this can be an even bigger problem.

The setup in the picture above produced a fantastic amount of high-grade weed! However, the setup in the picture below produced even more in much less time!

These plants were in the vegetative stage for about half as long as the plants in the previous picture, AND they had significantly higher yields!

How to Make Your Own Sea of Green

For this grow style, growers usually switch to the flowering stage when plants are around 4-6 weeks old. Plants switched sooner than 4 weeks may not have enough time to get the most out of an SoG setup. Adding an extra week or two of veg, so each plant gets bigger can make a pretty big difference in yields too, so it’s about finding that balance between getting to harvest as quickly as possible versus harvesting a lot of bud.

Many growers also “top” their seedlings by removing the tips of seedlings when they have about 4-6 pairs of leaves. Topping can increase the number of buds sites, but if you have enough plants, you will have enough bud sites. It’s often easier to grow fewer plants, so for a grower with time concerns, you can get a lot of the benefits of Sea of Green with fewer plants by simply topping your seedlings and giving them an extra few days or a week in the vegetative stage.

For SoG, wait to switch to 12/12 until plants are this size or bigger (note: young plants like this can and will double or triple in height after the switch to 12/12).

After the switch to 12/12, plants start stretching and getting bigger.

Here you can really see the SoG in action after all the plants start making buds. Even though each plant didn’t get very big, there are many, many bud sites! They completely fill the entire space!

Another Example of Sea of Green

Here’s an example of SoG in action during the vegetative stage using those eight seedlings. Notice how quickly the whole space got filled up since there were so many plants. It went from empty to completely filled in about four weeks. By the last picture, all eight plants are already flowering. Each of those plants will be able to support a fat main cola in this setup, and it took less time than if the grower had tried to fill that space with just one plant.

Thanks to GIVE_ME_ATTENTION for making this moving gif of an SoG in action!

When using SoG, it’s up to you to decide how many plants and how big you let them get before you switch to the flowering stage.

Some growers flip to flowering when plants are just a few weeks old and a few inches high. Other growers may wait a bit longer to achieve bigger plants. If in doubt, I recommend waiting an extra week for the best result 🙂

Another example of a small SoG setup

Flowering was initiated right after the above picture. Here are those same plants a little over a month later, after they’ve started making buds.

Notice how much taller the plants are at this stage. In an SoG setup, make sure you don’t underestimate how much your plants will stretch after being switched to the flowering stage! Sativa strains and very young plants that switch to flowering are well-known for stretching a lot!

SoG is how you achieve plants that look like the one below at harvest (why was this plant defoliated?)

SoG setups are sometimes popular with those growing many auto-flowering strains since these strains cannot be trained with most of the traditional plant training methods.

In some parts of the world, SoG isn’t as popular as other training techniques because growers have legal limits on how many cannabis plants they can have at any one time. SoG uses a lot of small plants instead of training fewer big plants to fit your space so, if you have plant limits, this is not the best use of your space.

But for those who can grow as many cannabis plants as they want, SoG may be a fast choice to get an even canopy and a lot of buds with very little plant training!

This tutorial shows you how you can use the practice of growing many small plants to increase your yields and get to harvest more quickly!