Definition - What does Apical Bud mean?
An apical bud is the biggest, tallest, most prominent bud on a cannabis plant. In addition to apical buds, there are axillary buds, adventitious buds, and terminal buds on marijuana plants.
Cannabis plants are apically dominant, meaning they grow vertically, and tend to produce one flower at the very top that is larger than all the others, called an apical bud, or cola.
While there are other colas on the plant, this will be the most potent in terms of THC content. However, modern growing techniques can be used to change this.
Hydrolife explains Apical Bud
In an apically dominant plant, growth tends to be vertical. For instance, left on its own, a cannabis plant would grow primarily upward, with little horizontal development. A single large cola, or flower, would form at the very top of the plant, called an apical bud. While there would be other colas on the plant, this would be the largest and most potent.
Obviously, cannabis production would be better served if plants were not so apically dominant. Modern indoor growing methods have been developed that encourage plants to form multiple, high-quality colas/buds across their branches, rather than a single, highly potent apical bud.
Some of the growing methods used to combat “single cola dominance” include SCROG, or screen of green, as well as topping, where the top of the plant is physically cut away to encourage horizontal development and the growth of larger buds along branches. Light stress training is also used to eliminate single cola dominance.
Note that some strains cannot be economically encouraged to produce more than one large, highly potent cola. In these instances, the sea of green (SOG) method is used to grow multiple shorter plants with a single central cola rather than attempting to force the plant to develop horizontally. Finally, some growers prefer to focus on apical bud development even with strains where topping works well.