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One thing that all cannabis growers share is the desire to grow bigger plants with higher yields, but this is easier said than done. There are a variety of plant training techniques that can be used to alter the way a cannabis plant grows, with the aim being to get bigger buds and more of them.

One such technique is known as bud backbuilding, otherwise known as bud pinching. It’s an ingenious method that allows cannabis plants to produce higher yields without having to put much effort into it.

What is Bud Backbuilding?

Bud backbuilding is a plant training technique used by cannabis growers. Also known as bud pinching, it involves cutting off the tip of a bud, usually the cola or main bud, but this may also involve secondary buds on branches lower down.

The aim here is to cut off the top of the cola, or as some might say, to pinch it off, so that the cannabis plant grows wider instead of taller, and starts focusing more energy on the remaining buds.

How Does Bud Backbuilding Work?

The theory behind bud backbuilding is quite simple. By cutting off a part of the main bud or cola of a cannabis plant, it signals to the plant that it should stop growing in height, but rather focus its energy on expanding in width. How much of an impact it actually makes depends on several things such as: genetics, environment conditions, nutrition, timing, and how you make the cut. 

Interesting to note is that unlike the cannabis plant topping which happens during the vegetative stage of growth, bud backbuilding happens during the flowering stage. The result here is that not only does the plant start expanding in width, but it also allows buds to grow much larger and faster.

The reason why this happens is because the plant senses that the top of it is damaged, and instead of trying to repair it or continue growing upwards, the plant automatically starts focusing its energy on lateral growth and bud development.

What Are the Benefits of Bud Backbuilding?

You might think that cutting off the top bud of your cannabis plant is a bad thing, because after all, the top bud or cola is usually the biggest and most beautiful one.

However, the reality is that there are actually some big benefits to bud backbuilding. Let’s start with one that some people may not have thought of.

Height Control

The fact is that if you are growing cannabis at home, you may only have so much space, especially as far as vertical clearance is concerned. 

If you are growing in a closet, a room, or even a grow tent, chances are that you only have a few feet of space to work with, accounting for the fact that you have grow lights taking up space as well.

The benefit here is that bud backbuilding causes a cannabis plant to effectively stop growing vertically, and instead focus its energy on horizontal growth. This is a benefit for anyone who needs to limit the height of their plants due to space constraints.

Bigger Buds

The main benefit that you’ll get from bud pinching is that the remaining buds end up being much bigger and more numerous. A cannabis plant generally focuses the majority of its energy on vertical growth, and during the flowering phase, a good deal of the energy is used to grow colas.

Well, by cutting a portion of the cola off, you allow the cannabis plant to redistribute that energy into the lower branches and buds. The result is that all of the remaining buds end up being bigger, and ultimately, you end up with a far higher yield than you would have ever imagined.

What Are the Risks of Bud Pinching?

Whether cannabis or otherwise, plants are quite fragile. One of the biggest risks associated with bud pinching is stressing the plant. Any kind of damage you cause the plant, with cutting off the cola certainly qualifying, it needs time to recover.

However, just like with us humans, if the damage is too severe, it might stress the plant out to the point where its growth becomes stunted, or it turns into a hermaphrodite.  Therefore, being gentle and only cutting off small portions, no more than every two weeks, is recommended. 

Cannabis plants also become more susceptible to mold and disease when they are stressed out, so be sure to maintain good airflow and keep the humidity in check. This will help prevent mold from setting in.

The Right Time to do Bud Pinching

Unlike topping which is done during the vegetative stage, bud backbuilding is done during the flowering stage of growth.

Exactly when to start this depends on the growth of your plant, but generally speaking, starting between the third and sixth week of the flowering phase is recommended.

However, don’t pinch your plant within two or three weeks of harvest. Your plant needs time to recover before you harvest it.

How to do Bud Pinching: Step-by-Step

Here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial on how to do bud backbuilding on your cannabis plants.

Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

You’ll need some sharp garden shears as well as a disinfectant to clean the shears.

Step 2: Disinfect the Shears

To prevent mold and bacteria from spreading to the cannabis plant, thoroughly disinfect the shears before use.

Step 3: Make the Cut

Cut off anywhere between 1/16” and 1/2” of the top cola of your plant (start with just the main cola and wait a few days to ensure that your plant recovers). If all goes well, you can repeat this process for the other colas growing on the branches.

Step 4: Repeat the Process

You can repeat this process every two weeks in the same areas as before. You should see the buds growing much larger!

Step 5: Stop Before Harvest

To allow the plant to recover before harvest, stop the bud backbuilding process roughly two weeks before it’s time to harvest.


A simple process like bud backbuilding, if done properly, can end up greatly increasing the size of your cannabis buds while also increasing your overall yield. How much of an impact it actually makes depends on several things such as: genetics, environment conditions, nutrition, timing, and how you make the cut. Always disinfect your shears prior to making any cuts to prevent pathogens, and stop bud backbuilding two weeks before harvest. Good luck!