Looking for a convenient and affordable way to ensure a consistent supply of marijuana? Look no further than autoflowering seeds. These strains offer quick maturation and a speedy harvest due to their short growth cycles. Moreover, autoflowering strains are low-maintenance, easy to cultivate, and require minimal space.
Unlike photoperiod strains, autoflowering plants are not regulated by light energy. Instead, their growth is determined by their genetic makeup and the passage of time. You don't need to manipulate light cycles with autoflowers; simply provide them with continuous light.
Leveraging their short life cycle, typically lasting between 90 and 120 days, growers can easily establish a schedule for a steady supply of autoflowering plants at different stages of growth. This allows for a perpetual harvest every three to four weeks, providing the pleasure of freshly harvested buds on a monthly basis.
What are Autoflowering Plants?
Autoflowering plants are derived from the fast-growing Cannabis ruderalis genetics, which thrive in various parts of the world. These plants are known for their resilience and ability to adapt to harsh conditions, progressing rapidly through their short lifespan.
In recent years, breeders have successfully crossed ruderalis plants with photoperiod strains, resulting in autoflowering varieties that offer higher cannabinoid and terpene profiles in a shorter time frame. Although autoflowering cannabis plants tend to be smaller in size, their accelerated growth enables quick and efficient production.
Easy to Grow Autoflowers
Autoflowers are particularly attractive to marijuana growers seeking perpetual harvests in a fraction of the time required by photoperiod genetics. These hardy plants require minimal care, as their genetic makeup already includes an internal time clock. Unlike photoperiod strains, autoflowering plants do not rely on specific light hours for flowering. Providing them with 18 to 24 hours of light throughout all growth stages promotes optimal growth.
It is advisable to start autoflowering seedlings in their final pots to minimize transplant shock during the vegetative phase. Excessive stress at any point in the growth cycle can have negative consequences for autoflowering plants. Germination typically occurs within a few days, followed by a short and robust vegetative stage lasting three to four weeks.
During the early flowering stage, low-stress training techniques can provide support for the small autoflowering plants. However, it's important to avoid topping, FIMing, or drastic pruning, as these actions can stress the plants.
Compared to nutrient-hungry photoperiod plants, autoflowering strains have substantially lower nutrient requirements. Due to their short lifespan, autoflowers grown in living soil may not require supplementation until later in the flowering stage, as pre-charged products naturally nourish the plants during the early vegetative stages. When feeding autoflowers, it's recommended to reduce the recommended nutrient recipes by half to prevent overload and burning.
Setting Up a Schedule for Perpetual Harvests
Creating a schedule for perpetual harvests with autoflowers is straightforward due to their inherent time clock. By staggering seed plantings every four to six weeks, growers can establish a continuous supply from germination to harvest. When the first batch of autoflowers enters the flowering period, it's time to germinate more seeds.
As the first set of autoflowers nears their harvest date, planting another round of seeds ensures an ongoing cycle. By maintaining a rotation of seed planting and harvesting, growers can establish a perpetual growth system that consistently yields an abundant supply of fresh buds.
The schedule can be divided into two or three segments, depending on the available grow space. Since autoflowers are not dependent on light cycles for flowering, plants in different growth stages can be cultivated together. This is particularly advantageous for growers with limited space in a grow tent.
Growers have another option at their disposal - cultivating autoflowering strains alongside photoperiod strains in the vegging grow room. This strategic approach allows for a seamless transition when the light-dependent marijuana plants need to be flipped into the flowering stage, as the fast-growing autoflowers are already prepared for harvest.
Pros of Growing Autoflowering Strains
In terms of time and cost savings, autoflowering plants offer a clear advantage. Compared to the expenses and maintenance associated with photoperiod setups, autoflowers are more economically viable due to their ease of cultivation and compact size.
As mentioned earlier, they require fewer nutrients and less labor-intensive training techniques like scrogging. Additionally, growers can save significantly by eliminating costs related to transplanting, such as extra pots, soil, or other mediums, not to mention the time invested in up-potting the plants.
Moreover, due to their compact stature, more autoflowering plants can be accommodated in a grow space, leading to the creation of a dense canopy in sea of green environments. Although each autoflowering cultivar exhibits unique growth characteristics, they generally remain smaller in size compared to their light-dependent counterparts.
Another advantage of growing autoflowers is the ability to experience specific strains in a short time frame without extensive investment. Many autoflowering cannabis seeds available today are hybrids derived from popular photoperiod strains crossed with fast-growing ruderalis genetics. Cultivating autoflowering seeds enables marijuana growers to sample particular strains without enduring the lengthy waiting period associated with photoperiod genetics.
Furthermore, one of the most appealing aspects of growing autoflowers is the convenience of maintaining a continuous supply of fresh flowers. These easy-to-grow varieties, with their short life cycle, enable even novice growers to achieve perpetual harvests within a matter of weeks.
Cons of Growing Autoflowering Strains
While autoflowers thrive under extended light exposure and do not require a change in lighting to enter the flowering phase, one drawback is the increased electricity costs associated with keeping grow lights on for 18-24 hours. Although a six-hour difference may seem insignificant compared to the 12-hour light cycle for photoperiod strains, escalating electrical expenses can impact a grower's budget.
Another disadvantage is the size of autoflowering plants. In contrast to the significantly larger light-sensitive sativa and indica strains, autoflowers tend to have a smaller growth profile. While marijuana growers often boast of harvesting several pounds of flower from photoperiod strains, autoflowers typically yield only a few ounces. However, some growers experimenting with different cultivation methods for autoflowers claim that higher yields can be achieved.
Additionally, the inability to clone autoflowering plants and replicate their genetic lineage is another drawback. Due to their time-sensitive genetic makeup, clones derived from autoflowers will follow the exact same timeline. By the time a cloned plant establishes its roots, it is already approximately two weeks into vegetative growth. This limited timeframe impedes the plant's ability to grow sufficiently for optimal flowering. Therefore, autoflowers can only be effectively grown from new seeds.