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Autoflower Vs. Photoperiod Strains

Selecting the appropriate strain for cultivation hinges on understanding the disparity between photoperiod and autoflowering varieties. Each type offers its own set of advantages and drawbacks, making the choice contingent upon the grower's circumstances, objectives, and level of expertise.


The primary distinction lies in how flowering is triggered. Photoperiod strains enter the flowering phase in response to alterations in the light cycle. Conversely, these strains remain in the vegetative phase indefinitely under a consistent 18-hour light regimen, transitioning to flowering only when the light cycle diminishes to 12 hours daily. In contrast, autoflowering strains are genetically predisposed to commence flowering after a predetermined duration, irrespective of changes in the light cycle.


AUTOFLOWERS


Advantages:

Autoflowering strains trace their lineage back to Cann Ruderalis, a species native to colder climates. As a result, these plants have evolved to swiftly transition from vegetative growth to flowering, typically maturing within 8-12 weeks. Genetically programmed to initiate flowering after a mere few weeks, they offer a rapid turnaround time that appeals to growers seeking swift seed-to-harvest cycles.

Ruderalis traits also include a diminutive stature, featuring smaller bud sites and leaves. This compact size enables growers to cultivate more plants in limited spaces while maintaining discretion. Moreover, their smaller stature requires less maintenance compared to larger photoperiod strains, as they necessitate fewer pruning sessions and nutrient applications. This low-maintenance quality renders autoflowers an excellent choice for novice growers venturing into cultivation without extensive experience in advanced techniques.


Disadvantages:

However, this reduced size entails lower yields compared to photoperiod strains. The abbreviated vegetative stage limits the plants' growth and development before flowering, resulting in diminished productivity. Additionally, autoflowers may be susceptible to environmental stresses, as they automatically transition to flowering irrespective of their condition, potentially hindering recovery if they encounter adverse conditions.

Furthermore, autoflowers typically exhibit lower cannabinoid content, making them less appealing to growers prioritizing high THC levels. Lastly, their inability to be cloned poses a challenge, as cloned plants would synchronize their flowering stages with the mother plant, leading to stunted growth and diminished yields.



PHOTOPERIOD


Advantages:

Photoperiod strains exhibit a distinctive trait: they transition to the flowering stage only when their light cycle shifts, granting growers precise control over the cultivation process. This control enables cultivators to nurture plants to impressive sizes, yielding substantially higher than autoflower counterparts. Additionally, growers have the flexibility to extend the vegetative stage, allowing for plant recovery in the event of stress before initiating flowering. Photoperiod strains offer a broader spectrum of options compared to autoflowers and generally boast higher THC levels.


Disadvantages:

Although photoperiod strains yield higher, they entail a lengthier harvesting period, rendering them more challenging to cultivate and manage. The seed-to-harvest duration can range from 10 to 16 weeks, which may not suit growers seeking quick turnover. Moreover, their substantial size demands meticulous attention to pruning and shaping, posing a challenge for novices. Additionally, growers must closely monitor the plants to determine the optimal timing for inducing the flowering stage, a task that requires considerable experience to execute effectively.



 

Factors

PHOTOPERIOD

AUTOFLOWERS

GROWING TIME


(seed to harvest)


Longer Grow Time


(12-16 weeks)

Shorter Grow Time


(8-12 weeks)


YIELDS

Higher Yields


(650-700 g/m2)

Lower Yields


(400-600 g/m2)

CANNABINOID LEVEL

Higher THC Levels


(Strains with THC levels as high as 30%)

Lower THC Levels


(Strains with maximum THC levels of 20%)

GROWING DIFFICULTY


Harder to Grow


(Require a change in light cycle to start flower; grow bigger and require pruning and shaping)

Easier to Grow


(Automatically start flower; require lesser nutrients and maintenance)

ADVANTAGES FOR GROWERS

  • Have more control

  • Plants recover easier from any stresses because more time to recover before starting to flower

  • Short grow time for quick turnover

  • Smaller plants are more discrete and manageable indoors

PROS

  • Better yields

  • Higher cannabinoid content

  • More variety of strains and traits

  • Opportunities to clone

  • Easy to grow

  • Quick life cycle

  • Covert size

  • Forgiving to beginner errors

CONS

  • Harder to grow and maintain

  • A longer time from seed to harvest

  • Lower yields

  • Slightly lower potency

  • Easier to overfeed

  • Can’t use high-stress training techniques

  • Cannot clone


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