Are you looking for a simple, cost-effective way of always having an ample stash of marijuana on hand? Autoflowering seeds could be just what you need. These quick maturing strains offer growers a speedy harvest due to their short growth cycles. In addition, autoflowering strains are easy to grow, don’t require much care, and don’t take up much space.
Best of all, their growth is not regulated by light energy, unlike photoperiod strains. Instead, the autoflowering cannabis plant’s lifeline is controlled simply by time, determined from each strain’s genetic make-up. There is no need to switch light cycles with autoflowers, just bring on the light!
Taking advantage of their short life cycle, usually between 90 – 120 days, growers can easily set up a schedule for a steady supply of autoflowering plants in different life stages. From there, it is easy to create a perpetual harvest every three to four weeks. Imagine the pleasure of having fresh buds harvested every month or so.
What are Autoflowering Plants?
The fast-growing Cannabis ruderalis genetics, known as autoflowering plants, grow wild in many parts of the world. Known for their ability to withstand harsh conditions, ruderalis plants naturally adapt to their environment, progressing through their short lifespan rapidly.
In recent years, cannabis plant breeders discovered the concept of crossing ruderalis plants with photoperiod strains. This mix enables growers to produce higher cannabinoid and terpene profiles found in photoperiod plants in a shorter time span. While autoflowering cannabis strains typically are much smaller in size, their fast growth period allows for a quick turnaround in production.
Whereas photoperiod genetics can take twelve to sixteen weeks or longer to mature, autoflowers complete their life cycle in a third of the time. Marijuana growers wanting to capitalize on perpetual harvests in a fraction of time are turning to autoflowering strains to achieve a constant flower supply.
Easy to Grow Autoflowers
These hardy plants grow quickly with minimal care. Actually, they prefer little attention as their genetic make-up has a built-in time clock already in place. Unlike photoperiod strains, autoflowering plant growth does not depend on hours of light, so there is no need to switch the light schedule to induce flowering. Leaving the lights on for 18 – 24 hours during all growth cycles encourages the plants to flourish.
It is advised to start autoflowering seedlings in their final pot to reduce transplant shock during vegetative growth. Too much stress on autoflowering plants at any phase in their growth cycle negatively impacts their outcome. Usually, germination occurs within a few days, after which a short, robust veg stage progresses within three to four weeks.
As the autoflowering plants shoot up during the early flowering stage, low-stress training techniques offer support for the small plants. Be aware, however, that topping, FIMing, or drastic pruning at any time during growth stages can adversely stress the plants.
Additionally, nutrient requirements for autoflowering strains are substantially less compared to hungry photoperiod plants. In fact, due to their short lifespan, autoflowers planted in a living soil may not need supplementation until later in the flowering stage as the pre-charged products naturally feed the plants through early vegetative stages. When feeding auto’s, cut recommended nutrient recipes by one-half to one-third to prevent overload and burning.
Setting Up a Schedule for Perpetual Harvests
Due to autoflower’s built-in time clock, it is easy to establish a timetable to create a continuous supply of bodacious bud. Setting up a calendar where seed plantings are staggered every four to six weeks generates a steady flow from germination to harvest time. When the first round of auto’s hit the flowering period, it’s time to pop more seeds.
As the first set of autoflowers near their harvest date, planting another round of seeds finalizes the perpetual cycle. A continued rotation of planting seeds and harvesting will soon provide a perpetual grow with an abundant array of fresh buds as long as the process continues.
Breaking the schedule down into two or three segments depends on the number of plants that will fit in the grow space. But since there is no light dependency when flipping to flower, auto’s in different stages can be grown together. This is particularly favourable for cannabis growers with limited space in a grow tent.
Another option for growers is to plant autoflowers alongside photoperiod strains in the vegging grow room. By the time the light-dependent marijuana plants need to be flipped into flowering time, the fast-growing autoflowers are ready to harvest.
The Pros and Cons of Growing Autoflowering Strains
To put it simply, growing autoflowering plants can save a lot of time and money. Compared with high costs and maintenance associated with set-ups for photoperiod plants, autoflowers have an economic advantage due to their ease of growing and their small stature.
As mentioned above, they require fewer nutrients and less labour involved with scrog training techniques. Also, growers save a bundle by taking away the costs associated with transplanting, such as additional pots, soil, or other mediums, not to mention the time spent to up-pot the plants.
Furthermore, due to their small stature, more plants can be placed in a grow space, creating a massive canopy in sea of green environments. As with photoperiod strains, each autoflowering cultivar exhibits its unique growth physique, but its size is comparably smaller than a light-dependent marijuana plant.
Another benefit to growing autoflowers is it’s a great way to experience a particular strain in a short time without a lot of investment. You see, many of the autoflowering cannabis seeds available on the market today are a mix of popular photoperiod cultivars crossed with the fast-growing ruderalis genetics. Growing autoflowering seeds offers marijuana growers a taste of a particular strain without the long wait from photoperiod genetics.
However, one of the best attributes to growing autoflowers is the ease of creating a never-ending supply of fresh flower. These easy-to-grow, short lifecycle varieties make it simple for beginner growers to achieve perpetual harvests within a few weeks’ time.
Since autoflowers do not require a light change to switch into the flowering phase, they grow well under abundant light. However, one disadvantage to growing these little plants is that electricity costs are higher since grow lights need to be on the plants for 18 – 24 hours. While a six-hour change may not seem like much compared to switching to a 12 -hour light cycle for photoperiod strains, today’s rising electrical costs may cut into a grower’s budget.
Another drawback is their size. Compared to massively large light-sensitive sativa and indica strains, autoflowering plants’ growth is much smaller. Whereas marijuana growers often boast of harvesting several pounds of flower off photoperiod strains, autoflowers typically only produce a few ounces. However, as more growers are experimenting with different growing methods for autoflowering plants, some claim higher yields can be achieved.
One other downside has to do with the inability to take clones from an autoflowering plant to reproduce the genetic lineage. Because of their time-sensitive inherited make-up, clones taken from a mother plant will progress on the exact timetable. By the time a clone begins to root, the plant’s internal clock is almost two weeks into vegetative growth. The young plant cannot grow big enough in a short time interval to flourish in the flowering stage. Autoflowering plants only grow well from new seeds.