Tips For Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Autoflowering cannabis seeds are a new class of cannabis that have only really emerged on the commercial market within the last few years. They have however, been taking the market by storm for their ease of growth and all year round crops.
The following are all tips and general information relating to autoflowering strains, which outline the groundwork for developing a solid base of knowledge.
What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?
Autoflowering cannabis seeds, as the name would suggest, produce plants that flower automatically – without the change in light cycle. Unlike conventional cannabis plants, it is the age, not lighting that determines when autoflowering strains produce their flowers.
The key to creating autoflowering strains is a lesser known variety of cannabis called ruderalis. Ruderalis is found growing in the wilds of the colder regions of the world, such as Russia and China. Unlike sativa and indica, ruderalis does not rely on light to flower, but simply flowers with age. The main drawback of ruderalis is that by itself, it produces low yields of weak marijuana. It was not until recently that breeders used their ingenuity to combine the genetics of ruderalis with sativas and indicas. This produces varieties of cannabis that still retain most of the power and potency you would expect, but with the added bonus of the ruderalis’ autoflowering properties.
How long do autoflowering strains take?
This largely depends on the strain, and will vary accordingly. However, an autoflowering strain will go from germination to harvest in 7-11 weeks.
How much do autoflowering strains yield?
The marijuana yield you can expect from an autoflowering cannabis plant can vary largely depending on the specific strain, as well as the quality of the grow (soil, light, etc). Autoflowering plants tend to average between 150 – 400 grams/m2 of bud. This may not seem like much when compared to more traditional varieties of cannabis, but they do pose one huge advantage, especially to outdoor growers that can offset this. This advantage is the fact that because autoflowering strains flower with age, not light, they are not seasonal dependent, thus an outdoor grower can keep crops in rotation throughout the entire year – meaning harvests can be all year round.
Soil and autoflowering strains
Autoflowering strains prefer light, airy soil with a relatively low level of nutrients. This makes standard shop bought potting soil less ideal than a specialist ‘lighter’ mixes. This isn’t to say you cannot use normal soil, but you will get much better results if you can tailor it to your cannabis.
One option is to make your own soil. A basic recipe that does well with autoflowering strains is as follows:
3 parts peat moss
3 parts compost
2 parts perlite, pre-wet
1 part vermiculite, pre-wet
Nutrition and autoflowering strains
Making sure your autoflowering cannabis strains have enough nutrients is a fairly straight forward process, but it is worth remembering that they do not require as much as conventional strains, so whatever you give them, do it lightly.
To begin with, your seedlings will need nothing but water. Once your cannabis plants have been growing for about 2 weeks, you can start adding in extra growth nutrients, but do so sparingly, slightly increasing the amount each time until they are about 6 weeks old, (then remain constant).
Once your autos have been flowering for about a week, switch over a nutrient feed that has a better suited to flowering. This is done a week into the flowering process because autos will often continue to flesh out for about a week into the flowering process. Supporting this continued growth tends to result in better overall yields.
Once again, bear in mind that autoflowering cannabis strains do not really need the same level of nutrition as their photoperiod counter parts, so you can go easy to begin with until you get a better feel for their requirement. As with all varieties of cannabis, the actual needs can vary quite a bit strain to strain, so don’t be afraid to adjust your feed if your gut is telling you to.
Light and autoflowering strains
Since the lifecycle of an autoflowering strain is not defined by the amount of light it is exposed to, it can be exposed to as much or little light as the grower wants. Indoors, the general healthy amount of light is 18-24 hours a day, with many growers in consensus that 18 hours produces the best results.
In terms of light spectrums (for advanced growers), the same principles that you would use with a standard photoperiod strain apply. Use a 6500k blue light whilst it is growing, and then switch to a 2700k red light once it enters the flowering phase of its life.
The importance of a good start
Autoflowering strains have a very short vegetative stage, giving them a small amount of time to bush out. For this reason, it is very important to give them a good start in life. If you are planning to grow them outdoors, consider starting them indoors under lighting to ensure they are as strong as possible.
Can you take cuttings from an autoflowering strain?
Technically yes, but due to the fact that their flowering cycle is determined by age and not light, you cannot hold them in the vegetative stage the way you could a normal cannabis plant. This makes the practice of cloning autoflowering strains pretty much pointless.
Can autoflowering strains be pruned or subjected to advanced techniques or better yields?
This is another one that has a ‘technically yes’ answer. It is a very fine line to walk, and must be done very early on. One of the main ideologies behind autoflowering strains is to remove a lot of the work from their maintenance, with only the occasional check-up and feed every now and again (consequently making them a powerful tool for the guerrilla grower). If you are looking for strains to use advanced techniques on, then it is probably best to grow normal cannabis strains, as they tend to be more flexible in this regard. You will find that if you try them on autoflowering strains, more times than not, you actually end up with less yield.
Autoflowering strains have a lot going for them, and make a great addition to any grower’s repertoire – especially those growing outdoors, or in countries less friendly to cannabis cultivation. Although they do not really allow for advanced techniques or gigantic yields. The fact that they can act as a “straight out the tin” solution, and offer year round yields gives them a few aces to hold – and hopefully now you have all the info you need to start making the most of your autoflowering seeds.