Autoflowering cannabis strains flower based on their age rather than photoperiod. Click here to learn about the advantages of autoflowering strains. Autoflower strains stand for 50% of the sales made by top seed companies. But they didn't always enjoy such a good reputation. Find out the true story behind autoflowers. Many still hesitate to grow autoflowering plants, but with the newest generation of seeds, there is no need for this restraint! Read on for 10 advantages. Despite autoflowering cannabis seeds getting…
Advantages of autoflowering cannabis plants
Autoflowering cannabis strains flower based on their age rather than photoperiod. Click here to learn about the advantages of autoflowering strains.
Autoflowering cannabis strains are getting a lot of attention. And while they may have been dealt a hard blow with the release of Lowryder, growers are finally realizing their huge potential (despite their small stature).
WHAT ARE AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS PLANTS?
Autoflowering cannabis strains are strains which flower based on age rather than photoperiod. Traditionally, cannabis is a photoperiod plant that begins flowering when they receive less light (usually at the end of summer or beginning of autumn).
The autoflowering trait is unique to cannabis ruderalis, a cannabis variety believed to be native to Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia. Unlike indica or sativa plants, ruderalis varieties flower at a certain age, regardless of how much light they receive.
Ruderalis plants are short and have fast flowering times. Like indicas, they are native to slightly colder environments, making them particularly good at dealing with tough conditions and short, cold summers.
AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS: ALL SMELL, NO PUNCH?
Autoflowering cannabis varieties got a bad reputation when they first hit the market. The first commercially available was Lowryder, which hit the shelves in the early 2000s.
Lowryder was bred by The Joint Doctor. It only grew to about 40cm and flowered in as little as 40 days. While some considered it a breakthrough in cannabis breeding, others labelled it a failure and a substandard strain with low levels of THC and tiny yields.
From this, rumours began to spread through the cannabis grow community that auto strains lacked potency and weren’t worth growing. In fact, the rumours spread like wildfire to a point where autos were readily dismissed as being “all smell, no punch.” However, that isn’t the case.
Autoflowering cannabis varieties have come a long way since the release of the original Lowryder. Thanks to advancements in breeding, many reputable seed banks are now producing great auto varieties that don’t substitute on quality or yield. Today, you can find auto varieties that produce just as well as regular photoperiod strains.
THE BENEFITS OF AUTOFLOWERING VARIETIES
We strongly believe every cannabis grower should experiment with autoflowering varieties at least once, Here are some of the biggest benefits of growing autoflowering cannabis strains:
THEY’RE LIGHTNING FAST
One of the biggest benefits of autoflowering cannabis strains is their fast flowering times.
Photoperiod strains grown indoors can take well over 10 weeks to produce buds, while outdoor photoperiod varieties can take anywhere up to a few months to reach harvest (depending on when they’re planted).
Autoflowering cannabis plants can be ready to harvest in as little as 45-50 days. Unlike regular strain. Thanks to their ruderalis genetics, these plants need very little time to mature, at which point you’ll get your hands on some sweet, sticky buds.
THEY ALLOW FOR MULTIPLE HARVESTS
Thanks to their fast flowering times, autoflowering cannabis strains allow growers to produce more harvest per year than traditional photoperiod strains. This is especially useful for outdoor growers, especially those growing in colder climates with shorter summers.
It is important to note that the individual yield of an autoflowering variety isn’t as high as what you might get from a regular photoperiod strain. This is largely due to the small size of autos. However, keep in mind that growing autos allows you to produce multiple harvest in the same amount of time it would normally take you to raise just one photoperiod strain to full maturity.
THEY’RE EASY TO GROW
Remember, cannabis ruderalis is believed to originate from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and possibly colder parts of North America. Growing in these tougher conditions has made for resilient plants.
Thanks to their genetic background, most autoflowering varieties have inherited the resilient characteristics of the ruderalis species. This means they are very good at dealing with cold conditions, as well as regular garden pests, diseases, and infections.
This makes them ideal for novice growers as well as experienced cultivators living in colder areas and in need of resilient strains that can deal with the local climate.
Autoflowering cannabis varieties are known to be short statured, almost never growing above 1 or 1.2 meters. This makes them ideal for both indoor growers working in with small, confined spaces, as well as outdoor gardeners trying to run a stealthy operation. These days there are some autoflowering strains on the market that may exceed these heights though.
It’s important to note that, due to their small stature, autoflowering strains aren’t capable of producing the same harvests as 2m-tall sativa. However, as we saw before, they have the advantage of allowing for more multiple harvests, which makes up for what they lack in size.
GROW AN AUTO TODAY
Autoflowering strains were hit a hard blow with the release of the original Lowryder. However, there’s no doubt that new autoflowering strains can produce great results both indoors and outdoors, and any grower should give them a try.
Max has been writing about cannabis and psychedelics for several years now. With a strong belief that an open, honest attitude toward drugs and drug policy can improve the lives of many, he seeks to offer insightful and developed opinions on the subject.
The untold story of autoflowering cannabis strains
Today, autoflower cannabis strains are valued and grown by a huge number of home growers as well as professional, licensed legal growers. Autoflower strains have earned their reputation for fast, easy harvests with quality levels on a par with the best photoperiod strains.
Today, autoflower seeds account for around half of all cannabis seeds sold by the top seed companies. But autoflower strains didn’t always enjoy such a good reputation. The earliest auto varieties were medium-potency and medium-yielding at best. So how did autoflowers make the genetic transition to top-shelf performance?
|●||Cannabis ruderalis, the mother of all autoflowers|
|●||The “Mexican Rudy” experiment from The Joint Doctor|
|●||Dutch Passion x The Joint Doctor collaboration|
|●||First generation of feminised autoflower cannabis seeds|
|●||The modern classic autoflowering strains|
|●||Heavy yielding modern autoflowers; a different league to early autos|
|●||Tips and tricks for getting the most from autoflower seeds|
|●||What does the future hold for autoflowers?|
Cannabis ruderalis, the mother of all autoflowers
Alongside cannabis indica and cannabis sativa are the cannabis ruderalis strains. In its natural state ruderalis has very low THC levels. The main asset of ruderalis is the unusual ability to bloom without daylight hours being reduced to 12/12.
By using this ruderalis non-photoperiod dependency feature, it has allowed modern autoflowers to bloom under 20-24 hours of daily light. Of course, some very clever autoflower breeding and genetic control was required to enhance the THC content.
It’s worth adding that many of the early cannabis geneticists were initially sceptical that the limitations of early ruderalis could be overcome. Back in the 1980’s there was excitement and interest in ruderalis. But there were also some serious reservations that the inherently low potency of ruderalis would limit usefulness.
These clips from some seed catalogues at the time shows you the scepticism. It was only due to persistence and innovation from companies like Dutch Passion and the pioneering Joint Doctor that autoflowers ever saw the light of day.
The “Mexican Rudy” experiment from The Joint Doctor
Ruderalis cannabis was a curiosity known to many cannabis breeders, though in the early days of the 70’s and 80’s no-one knew quite how to utilise ruderalis/autoflower genetics for the benefit of the growing community. Improving potency whilst maintaining the fast growth cycle (with no photoperiod dependency) was the ultimate goal.
The Joint Doctor is a Canadian breeder who was a college student in the 1970’s. His friend gave him some seeds believed to have been a cross between some Mexican cannabis and Ruderalis.
It was named Mexican Rudy and bloomed faster than anything he had seen. Mexican Rudy was the first attempt to improve Ruderalis potency whilst retaining the ability to bloom without a reduction in daylight hours.
However, this was just an initial first generation crossing with little resemblance to the high-performance qualities of modern autoflower seeds. Much work still needed to be done and the Joint Doctor’s early breeding efforts would soon see contributions from a large and committed partner.
Dutch Passion x The Joint Doctor collaboration
Dutch Passion have never been strangers to controversial cannabis breeding challenges. In the 1990’s Dutch Passion were the first to introduce feminised weed seeds, despite many saying it was impossible to create them. So when the Joint Doctor showed the early promise of autoflower seeds Dutch Passion were quick to join forces in the early 2000’s.
The Dutch Passion team knew that getting potency levels on a par with quality photo-dependent strains would be a key challenge if autoflower seeds were ever to make a serious contribution to the cannabis community.
But the combination of Dutch Passion’s genetic expertise and experience alongside The Joint Doctor and his innovative early autoflowers would prove to be a recipe for success.
First generation of feminised autoflower cannabis seeds
The first generation feminised autoflower seeds showed a remarkable feature. They could grow from seed to harvest under 20 hours of daily light in around 10-11 weeks. The future potential was there for all to see.
Outdoor growers, even with the shortest of outdoor grow seasons, would now be able to get fast, easy outdoor harvests. Indoor growers could look forward to shaving several weeks off their grow cycles, meaning home growing would get even simpler and faster.
The first auto strains from Dutch Passion were Auto Mazar and Think Different. Early adopters of auto seeds were impressed with the speed and simplicity. Yields also looked surprisingly good. But potency wasn’t quite yet on a par with the best photoperiod strains.
Over the following few years some genetic fine tuning and some clever proprietary breeding techniques allowed autoflower seeds to eventually reach parity with the best photoperiod strains.
The 10 Advantages Of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
D espite autoflowering cannabis seeds getting a lot of attention and good reviews in recent years, many growers still refrain from using this kind of seed. These individuals still have the subpar performance of the first generation of autoflowering cannabis in mind; but in reality, this type of weed has since come a long way, giving growers a real option to consider when they plan their grow.
To decide whether you should try autoflowering seeds for your next run or not, we compiled a list of 10 advantages that might make them a bit more intriguing to you. But first, some information about autoflowering cannabis.
WHAT IS AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS?
A utoflowering strains make use of the cannabis subspecies ruderalis to produce plants that grow and flower independent of the light schedule or photoperiod. This means they flower depending on their age and not on the hours of light and darkness they receive (hence the name). This is due to ruderalis originating in Central Asia, where the light conditions are a bit different.
This makes them especially useful as outdoor crops that you can harvest a lot sooner than photoperiodic plants. Autoflowering cannabis also stays shorter, which makes it more manageable in all kinds of settings. Moreover, it is usually more resilient, which is particularly attractive for beginner growers. Since ruderalis generally has a higher concentration of CBD, autoflowering genetics are valuable for patients seeking symptomatic relief as well.
Now, let’s get more in-depth into the benefits of autoflowering cannabis.
ADVANTAGES OF GROWING AUTOFLOWERING SEEDS
1. HARVEST SOONER
A utoflowers have a significantly shorter life span than photoperiodic strains. Depending on the strain you grow, photoperiodic cannabis can take up to 4 months+ to reach maturity. In contrast, autoflowering cannabis is usually ready for harvest 8–10 weeks after germination of the seed. This means you don’t have to wait as long to enjoy those precious buds. Furthermore, this really comes into play when you consider growing sativa strains. Photoperiodic sativas can sometimes take 5 months to grow or more. If you opt for an autoflowering sativa, the sooner harvest time is really an asset. This is true for both indoor and outdoor grows. Outdoors, the shorter life cycle makes even more of a difference because you can grow several runs instead of one.
2. GET MORE HARVESTS PER SEASON
B uilding on what we just said above, a sooner harvest also means that you can fit more harvests into one season. Under natural conditions, you can only finish one harvest per season. But with autoflowering genetics, you can get multiple harvests, which normally means two harvests per season in most climates. If you grow in climates with short and colder summers, this is of special interest to you. The plants will finish in mid-July instead of September or even late-October.
3. PERPETUAL HARVESTS
A lthough you can’t keep an autoflowering strain as a mother plant to produce clones, they are still very well-suited for perpetual harvests. Flowering independent of the hours of light they receive, you eliminate the need for a mother, as well as a veg and flower room. You can have plants of all growing stages in the same room. For a perpetual harvest, start with some plants, and when they begin to flower, add more plants to the room. Shortly before the first ones are harvested, you plant the next seeds and so on. The number of plants depends on your grow space, of course. This way, you can harvest up to 4–6 times a year!
4. LESS HASSLE, EASIER GROWING
A utoflowering seeds have the robust genetics of ruderalis in them. This makes them a lot easier to grow. Not only do you not have to keep an eye on the light schedule, plants are also more resilient and naturally tolerate colder climates. Ruderalis is used to growing in harsh environments, and this trait is passed down to autoflowering hybrids. They are also resistant to many diseases (more on that later). You will experience less hassle during your grow, which makes them particularly useful for beginner growers who want to try out their skills and master their craft before they move on to more picky strains.
5. MORE MANAGEABLE IN SIZE
A utoflowering strains usually don’t exceed 1–1.2m in height, which is a big advantage for both indoor and outdoor growers. If you grow inside with limited space or restricted height, an autoflowering plant might just be what you want. If you grow outdoors and want a stealthy, well-hidden plantation, you should also look to autoflowering genetics. Their short size makes them suitable for growing in cupboards, on balconies, or in garden beds among other plants as well.
6. MORE SUITABLE FOR STEALTH GROWING
T his goes hand-in-hand with the aforementioned advantage: If you want a well-hidden, stealthy plantation, go for autoflowering strains. Outdoor gardeners especially want to hide their crop from the police, curious neighbours, thieves, etc. With a 2m-tall sativa tree, this will likely end in a disaster, with you getting busted as the worst outcome. A 1m-tall autoflowering plant, however, can be hidden among tomatoes or other plants, even when you grow on your terrace or balcony. Moreover, these characteristics make them very interesting for all the guerrilla growers out there. Overall, one could say that they are very discreet to grow.
7. NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE LIGHT SCHEDULE
T his is perhaps the biggest advantage of autoflowering cannabis and thus deserves its own point. Flowering independent of the light cycle is not only what gives autoflowers their name in the first place, but their most important property. You don’t have to worry about switching your light schedule to 12/12 at the right time to force plants to transition into bloom. Autoflowers will flower with 12, 18, hell, even 24 constant hours of light. Nearly all the advantages we listed above can be ascribed to this one special trait.
8. NO PROBLEMS WITH LIGHT LEAKS/CITY LIGHTS
H ere’s another thing that you have to worry about with photoperiodic strains: light leaks during the dark cycle. This can lead to diminished harvests or longer growing times. This is true for indoor light leaks in a tent, for example, but also for outdoor grows where city lights in the night confuse cannabis nowadays. With autoflowering genetics, you don’t have to worry about such things. Autoflowers can tolerate all forms of light leaks, be it in the grow room or in the city. If you experience problems with light in the dark cycle of flowering, opt for autoflowering strains to sidestep the issue altogether.
9. BETTER RESISTANCE TO WEATHER AND DISEASES
T his plays into the easy-to-grow advantage, but should be emphasised as its own point as well. Autoflowering strains are known for better withstanding colder climates and having a greater resistance against diseases of all kinds. Be it mildew, pests, mould, fungi, or pathogens, if you experience trouble with these things, maybe consider growing an autoflowering strain the next time. You could really save yourself some worry and stress! The plants get toughened up and are more hardy thanks to the ruderalis genetics, which makes them not only ideal for novice growers, but growers of all levels. They also tolerate under/overfeeding better.
10. THEY ONLY GET BETTER
If you, after reading this article, still hesitate to give autoflowering seeds a try, you should know that they are only getting better with each iteration. Some might even argue that they are the future of cannabis growing. While this is up for debate, there will always be regular, feminized, and autoflowering genetics because they all have their advantages and disadvantages, and they all cater to different growers for different reasons. But just look at how autoflowers have developed, from the initial release of Lowryder all the way to the top autoflowering genetics of today! If this rapid innovation isn’t a sign of a brighter cannabis future, we don’t know what is.