The autoflowers that first appeared on the market in the early 2000s didn’t really impress. They weren’t very potent, their aroma was lacking, and their yields were not great either.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds produce plants that flower on their own after 2–4 weeks of growth. Growers don’t need to worry about switching the light schedule to initiate and maintain the flowering phase, like they would if growing feminized photoperiod cannabis.
Who Uses Automatic Cannabis Strains, and Why?
But autoflowers have come a long way since then. Modern autoflowers rival feminized photoperiod strains (and some even surpass them) in terms of potency, yield, and aroma. Yet, they still provide the same great benefits as mentioned above, along with having a reputation for being particularly stable and sturdy.
Optimal humidity for your autoflowers depends on your plant’s age. In the first few weeks, they prefer a more humid environment. Reduce relative humidity to 40–50% when your plants start to flower to reduce the risk of mould.
Autoflowering strains are created by crossbreeding indica or sativa plants with ruderalis. Ruderalis is a wild subtype of cannabis that grows in regions where the summer is very short but features many hours of daylight (e.g. Northern Europe or Siberia). These plants have evolved to not rely on daylight hours to flower, instead flowering according to age.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds combine the genetics of sativa, indica (or hybrids of them) with cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis ruderalis is a variety very few people know about because it is naturally smaller, with smaller buds that produce very little to no THC.
Autoflowering seeds tend to grow more quickly than indica and sativa strains, with some strains ready for harvest in as few as two months.
Pros and Cons of Autoflowering Seeds
For example, you can grow autoflowering plants on your balcony if you live in an apartment block. Heck, these plants can even feel at home inside a small closet !
Whether you are a large-scale commercial grower or a hobbyist, you can benefit from the space economy that autoflowering cannabis varieties provide. Since these plants are small, practically anyone can grow their own cannabis plants.
Older strains of cannabis ruderalis had few desirable qualities, such as an ability to grow very fast. This is because it is native to Siberia, where the growing season is shorter and daylight hours are fewer. As a result, ruderalis outside of its original growing zone adapted to maturing quickly and switching to the flowering stage regardless of how many hours of sunlight it is receiving.
The very name “ruderalis” stems from the Latin word “rudus”, meaning rubble. The subspecies appears in urban settings thriving in broken ground, close to demolished buildings, and in roadside ditches.
Regardless of the schedule, the lighting demands of autoflower strains are easier to meet than those of their photoperiod counterparts.
Autoflower cannabis varieties are queens of speed. This trait is another result of their adaptive prowess. Most autoflowering strains complete the entire growing cycle in the same amount of time that photoperiod strains take to finish flowering alone—around 7–10 weeks. Their speedy life cycle results from a brief vegetative phase and a fast flowering stage.
SIMPLE LIGHTING DEMANDS
What makes autoflowering cannabis different from other types? Well, the key difference resides in the name. Put simply, these strains flower automatically.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Autoflower strains have a host of advantages, but they also carry disadvantages that turn some growers off.
The brevity of autoflowers also appeals to cultivators who grow under pressure. They can support faster turnover for commercial operations, allowing for perpetual harvests indoors.
A schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off occupies the other end of the spectrum. It’s the best option for growers looking to save money, but yields won’t be as impressive.