Introduction to Autoflowering Strains
Autoflowering strains offer amazing outcomes in little time, often spewing from seed to harvest in as little as 8 weeks. Beginners and advanced growers both will often have a fun and easy time raising such varieties. Below we list some of the pros and cons of autoflowering strains, outlining both the strengths and weaknesses.
Automatically start making buds just a few weeks after sprouting – This is why they’re known as auto-flowering strains. Customary strains were usually grown indoors so they require to be manually forced to start producing flowers (buds) by altering light periods to give long nights and also called photoperiod strains.
Autoflowering plants stay a manageable size – Most of the auto-flowering strains stay under hip height and do not grow into huge monsters that suddenly take over a closet or become taller than your fence. While some auto-flowering strains can get pretty big and any of the strains with the tendency to grow extra-large are typically labeled by the breeder.
Ready to harvest in 3 months or less – Normally autoflowering strain take 3-5 months from seed to harvest on average, as typically, they are ready to reap in 3 months or even less from when they initially sprout. Usually, a lot of growers prefer a quicker harvest.
Can be grown outdoors in most climates – Traditional outdoor marijuana plants must be planted in the Spring, and need at least 4-5 months of warm-but-not-too-wet weather before Fall. This set of specifications makes it daunting to grow outdoors in a lot of climate changes. But as long as your weather gets warm, sunny for at a minimum of three months at a time, you should be able to grow the plant outside. This is perfect for growers who would like to grow during a short but sunny summer, during warm winter months, or to get an early outdoor harvest.
Lighting demands are simple – With photoperiod plants, it’s crucial to know how much light to use and when to switch the light cycle to encourage a transition to the flowering stage. Autoflowering strains, since they don’t rely on the changing of lights to move to the flowering stage, don’t have this requirement. Many growers will simply use a standard light schedule, such as 18 hours on and 6 hours off, from the time the seed is planted until they harvest. In some cases, growers will even opt to run the lights 24 hours a day in a grow room to get an enhanced yield. Those worried about the plant not being as healthy because of too much light might choose 12 hours on and 12 hours off instead, but the yield may not be as large. Still, with the size of the plants and the speed of the harvest, a lower yield isn’t as bad because more plants can fit in the same space and the plants are ready to harvest faster, so new ones can be started.
Feminized autoflowering seeds always make buds – When it comes to auto-flowering strains you typically don’t require to worry about sex that is male or female flowers. In fact, you would specifically need to seek out seeds that will produce male flowers as just about all auto-flowering seeds available online are feminized. If you purchase feminized auto-flowering seeds, you are basically assured to get a female plant, which means that every plant will generate buds and you don’t have to worry about male plants, seeds, or pollination.
Faster life cycle – The first and foremost benefit of auto-flowering seeds is their ability to flower and grow faster. The time taken by the auto-flowering strains to grow entirely is almost the same as the flowering time taken by many photoperiod strains. Typically, auto-flowering strains take up to seven to ten weeks to grow. That unique trait enables growers to breed any photoperiod strain with the strains of ruderalis genetics to achieve the desired variety quickly. For instance, haze genetics are known for their exceptional Sativa effects but take a longer time to grow, which may let down many growers, especially the newbies. By combining the ruderalis and haze genetics, you can achieve the high Sativa effects within a short duration.
Can be grown discreetly – Growing discreetly is a concern for many growers. Even where it’s legal to grow, they’re not going to want everyone to know that they’re growing marijuana. However, autoflowering plants are compact, which means they can be grown out of sight easier. Most autoflowering strains such as Auto Zkittlez or Auto Purple Kush typically grow to around 24 to 40 inches in height. They’re perfect for growing amongst taller plants to keep them hidden and grow easily indoors, without taking up as much space as larger strains.
It’s also possible to get into micro-growing when using autoflowering strains. Micro-growing is a way of cultivating marijuana plants that are modified to grow in tiny spaces, including in smaller pots, buckets, boxes, and more. Low-stress training can help keep the plants as small as possible. Though micro-growing does mean a smaller yield, since the plants are much smaller, the speed of autoflowering plants means it’s possible to start new plants quickly and have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
Higher CBD percentage – Autoflowers usually offer a higher percentage of CBD (cannabidiol) compared to other photoperiod strains. That said, some people prefer higher THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels in cannabis, while others prefer high CBD percentage cannabis or a strain that strikes the perfect balance between the THC and CBD levels. However, cannabis with a higher CBD percentage tends to offer several benefits. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD, present in cannabis, creates a pleasant effect when consumed without making the user ‘high’. Cannabis with higher CBD levels offers astonishing medical benefits. Cultivators can benefit from this trait of the auto-flowering seeds, especially in the states where marijuana is legal only for medicinal purposes. It is possible to boost the CBD levels of many legendary varieties by breeding them with the cannabis ruderalis genetics.
Ready to harvest faster – Autoflowering equals fast. To adapt to the harsh environments they were grown in, they needed to be able to go from germination to buds in just weeks; otherwise, it would become too cold and they wouldn’t be able to produce seeds. In the time it takes for photoperiod plants to just go through the flowering stage, around seven to 10 weeks, the autoflowering plants can go from germination to harvest.With the fast speed of autoflowering marijuana strains, growers can get nearly instant results. Instead of waiting months for the plants to grow, then start to flower, and finally be ready for harvest, autoflowering allows growers to plant seeds and harvest the buds in as little as seven weeks. They can then start the next batch of seeds, continuously producing plants so they can get more harvests out of a single season than they would get with other strains.
Plants are can be more resilient – Autoflowering plants, due to the way they survived and evolved, tend to be very resilient. They needed to be resilient to deal with harsh environments where they naturally grow. In areas where autoflowering plants evolved, they could be found thriving near demolished buildings, along the side of the road, and even in cracks in the road. They can grow just about anywhere and can thrive in areas where other strains might have a difficult time growing.
On top of this, autoflowering varieties tend to be more resilient against pest infestations, mold, and other dangers that naturally plague marijuana plants. They also bounce back well from mistakes that are made while they’re growing, which makes them perfect for beginners. If a mistake is made, it isn’t as likely to kill the whole plant or significantly decrease the potential yield. Beginners often prefer this as they can experiment and learn more about the process of growing marijuana without worry.
Light pollution isn’t a problem – As mentioned, the amount of light that an autoflowering plant receives doesn’t really matter – the plants will continue to grow even if they don’t get a period of darkness and will flower regardless of how much light they receive. This means that they’re not going to be impacted by light pollution, either. Photoperiod plants require complete darkness for a certain amount of time each day; otherwise, they will not flower. This means that if there is any light leaking into the room, like from below a door or from streetlights outside, the crop may not flower at all. With autoflowering strains, light pollution is not a problem at all. They don’t use external lighting cues to get to the next stage, so it doesn’t matter if there is a little bit of light leaking into the room during the dark hours.
Can be less expensive – Autoflowering seeds tend to be more expensive compared to regular or feminized seeds, but the extra expense stops there. Depending on how the plants are grown, the overall cost to grow the Auto Sour Diesel or Auto Gelato plants can be much less compared to other types of seeds. Since they grow fast, autoflowering plants don’t require as much fertilizer. They don’t require the complex nutrients that most marijuana plants require, either, so it’s possible to spend far less and still have a healthy plant.
On top of this, the soil mixture for autoflowering plants can be much less involved to create since they can grow with just basic nutrients accessible in the soil. To make good soil for autoflowering plants, growers can mix peat moss, compost, perlite, and vermiculite in the appropriate quantities, then go ahead and plant their seeds.
Less control – Many legacy or traditional growers like to be able to control the moment their cannabis initiates its flowering cycle. With autoflowering cannabis, the only way you can control the timing of planting is by when you start the seed. This could cause problems for certain cultivators in scenarios where they are facing stacking operational variables that throw off the timing of their available labor, equipment, infrastructure, and agricultural inputs.
Sensitive to shock – Autoflowering plants are known to have a delicate or particular establishment period when they are beginning their race. Therefore they do not take kindly to becoming root bound or any kind of transplant shock. If mishandled during this phase, one’s yields can be decimated. Plants may end up getting only 6-8 inches tall if they trigger into flowering earlier from becoming rootbound or being mishandled during the transplant step.
Smaller harvests – Photoperiod plants can spend a long time in the vegetative stage, so they end up becoming very large before they start to flower. This can lead to a huge yield per plant. Autoflowering plants, on the other hand, do not stay in the vegetative stage as long, don’t grow as big, and won’t have the same size harvest. Since most autoflowering varieties don’t get more than about 40 inches tall and their canopies don’t produce as many flowers, growers will get a smaller yield per plant for autoflowering varieties than they might have if they used a photoperiod plant. Autoflowering varieties simply don’t have the time available to grow larger and produce more buds per plant.
Those who want to have a huge harvest will want to stick with regular or feminized seeds. Some growers will prefer a larger harvest so they only have to grow one set of plants per season or so they don’t have to worry about growing as many plants at one time. They can try out longer times during the vegetative stage to create larger plants and get much larger harvests out of each plant, though they do give up some of the benefits of autoflowering seeds if they do this.
Lower sale value – Thus far, because autoflowering cannabis cannot compete with photoperiod plants terpene and cannabinoid levels, it has a harder time winning awe inspiring “bag appeal” reviews from brokers, distributors, and dispensary buyers in the finished flower market. Therefore it can be harder to sell autoflowering cannabis in a flooded market, and it goes without saying that it doesn’t command as high a price for finished flower as a premium photoperiod plant does.
Lighting can be more expensive – Though it’s possible to save money on nutrients and other things the plants need, the cost of lighting can be a lot higher for autoflowering plants, depending on the options chosen by the grower. Some growers don’t mind and will have the lights on 24 hours a day for the autoflowering plants. This can help encourage more growth per plant, as there is no downtime for the plant to rest. Other growers who may be concerned about the cost of growing plants, however, may want to minimize the amount of light the plants receive.
Growers can save money by having the lights on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. This is the minimum amount of light that autoflowering strains will need to grow. However, this will mean smaller yields for the grower, since the plants grow larger the more light they receive. Growers will need to determine if they would like to save money on lighting and get smaller harvests or spend a little more to get a much larger harvest.
THC content can be lower – The THC content determines the effect that cannabis will have when it’s consumed. Strains that are low in THC like Auto CBD Cheese will not have as much effect on someone compared to those that have a much higher THC content, such as Auto Gorilla Glue When growers are looking for something that has a high THC content, many may avoid autoflowering plants because they are known for a low amount of THC per bud. However, that isn’t true for all strains today.
Original autoflowering strains were known for having lower THC levels. When they were first available to most growers, they did have lower THC levels, which is what caused this reputation amongst growers. However, there are new strains available that don’t have this issue. New strains have been bred to have higher THC levels, so there’s no longer a worry about the level being too low if a grower does decide to try autoflowering seeds. Still, growers need to learn about the strains available so they can choose one that is higher in THC if that’s something that is a concern to them.
Not good for cloning – Cloning is one way of producing plants that are exactly like the mother plant. This is a great way to pass on genetics. Once a grower finds a strain that has all of the characteristics they’re looking for, they can clone the plant and create new ones. This also helps speed up the growth, as the plants aren’t starting from a seed. However, while this does work well for photoperiod plants, it’s not going to work well for autoflowering plants. They simply grow too fast for cloning to be a good option for them.
Clones are created by cutting a piece off a plant and planting that in a new pot of soil. It will grow roots, then start growing just like the mother plant. Since it is an exact copy of the mother plant, it’s already ahead in the growth stages. Clones made from autoflowering plants can end up creating buds and being ready for harvest in just five to six weeks. While this might seem great, it does usually mean a much lower yield, smaller buds, and other problems that wouldn’t have occurred if it had more time to grow.
Grow too fast to recover – Autoflowering plants are resilient, but the rapid growth does mean that they can be risky to experiment with. Since they grow so fast, there isn’t much room for errors, as they may not have time to fully recover before the end of their life. Photoperiod plants, however, can recover more easily since it does take a lot longer for them to grow.
When a plant is pruned or trained and a mistake is made, the plant needs time to recover. Without time to recover, the plant may not produce at all or may just produce a limited amount of buds. Photoperiod plants take longer to grow, so they are more forgiving of errors. If they prune too much of the plant off, they can simply keep the lighting the same so the plant remains in the vegetative stage longer. It will be a lot longer before they can harvest, but the plant will have the time it needs to fully recover and grow further.
Autoflowering plants, on the other hand, aren’t really easy to train. If the grower cuts too much off the plant or damages a bud, that’s going to lead to a smaller harvest because there isn’t enough time for the plant to regrow. Growers should be more careful if they prune or train an autoflowering plant, or simply leave it be to avoid the potential for any damage.
Growers, whether it’s their first time growing marijuana or they’ve been doing it for years, can benefit from trying out autoflowering plants. It is crucial to understand the pros and cons before beginning, so the grower knows what to expect from their plants as they grow. Due to the rapid growth and the potential for harvest in a matter of weeks, most growers will want to at least try out autoflowering plants to see if it’s a good option for them. They may find they enjoy the rapid growth so they can get more harvests per year or they like the ease of growing plants that don’t require a detailed fertilizer or light plant to get the most out of them.