- Autoflowering cannabis plants can outperform photoperiod strains in certain conditions
- Autoflowers are Day-Neutral (DN) and will begin flowering automatically about three to four weeks after they are planted regardless of the photoperiod
- Ruderalis is the black sheep of the cannabis family and is defined by its Day Neutral flowering characteristic
- Most modern autoflower varieties are descended from the Lowryder strain, one of the first to exhibit stabilized DN flowering
- Ingression is the breeding method that is used to bring desirable traits into a variety while excluding undesirables
- Purchasing feminized seeds from a reputable breeder is always a good investment for autoflowering strains
- Cold stratification is recommended for germinating autoflower seeds, especially due to their northern pedigree
- Autos are in a hurry, so avoid topping autoflowering plants and be careful with transplanting
- Autoflowering cannabis plants perform best with 18-20 hour photoperiods for increased yield and flower development
- Autoflowers offer advantages for both indoor and outdoor growers, with continuous crop momentum and extended harvest periods
Autoflowering cannabis plants have long been underestimated, but they possess the ability to outperform photoperiod strains in specific conditions. While growing autoflowers may require some additional knowledge and techniques, with the right tips and tricks, you can enhance your chances of achieving autoflower glory. In this article, we will delve into the world of autoflowering cannabis plants, exploring their unique characteristics, breeding methods, germination techniques, and the benefits they offer to both indoor and outdoor growers.
Autoflower vs. Photoperiod: Understanding the Difference
Autoflowering cannabis plants are often referred to as Day-Neutral (DN) plants. Unlike photoperiod plants, which rely on a change in the light cycle to initiate flowering, autoflowers will automatically begin flowering approximately three to four weeks after being planted, regardless of the photoperiod. This distinct trait sets them apart from their photoperiod counterparts and opens up a realm of possibilities for cultivators.
1. The Ruderalis Story: The Origin of Autoflowering Traits
Ruderalis, a subspecies of cannabis, plays a significant role in the evolution of autoflowering plants. It developed the Day Neutral flowering characteristic as an adaptation to short growing seasons in higher latitudes. Although wild ruderalis populations typically have low THC content and remained uncultivated until recently, they serve as the foundation for modern autoflower strains.
2. The Legacy of the Lowryder Strain
Many of today’s autoflower varieties can trace their lineage back to the Lowryder strain, which was among the first to exhibit stabilized Day Neutral flowering. While Lowryder may have had a short stature and modest THC production, it also inherited undesirable traits from its wild ancestors. However, through careful breeding and selection processes, autoflower strains have undergone significant improvements over time.
3. Autoflower Breeding: Ingression as the Key
Breeding autoflowers involves a method known as ingression, which aims to introduce desirable traits into a variety while excluding undesirables. This meticulous process can take years, but it has been instrumental in enhancing the quality and performance of autoflower strains. By employing ingression, breeders have been able to develop more resilient, higher-yielding, and potent autoflowers.
4. Feminized Seeds: A Worthy Investment
When it comes to propagating autoflowering plants, using feminized seeds from reputable breeders is highly recommended. Opting for feminized seeds ensures that you won’t waste valuable time and resources on male plants that ultimately need to be discarded. By investing in feminized seeds, you maximize your chances of cultivating a successful autoflower garden.
5. Seed Germination: Unlocking the Potential
To optimize germination ratios, employing cold stratification for autoflower seeds is highly beneficial, especially considering their northern pedigree. Cold stratification mimics winter conditions and promotes more robust and consistent germination. A common method involves germinating the seeds in plugs and transplanting them once they develop their first true leaf set.
6. Auto Seedlings: Nurturing the Future
Autoflowering plants possess a unique characteristic – they will spontaneously start flowering if their root growth is restricted. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid topping autoflowering plants. Instead, consider employing Low Stress Training (LST) techniques to encourage the development of lower branches, resulting in a more balanced and productive plant structure.
7. Autoflower Light Cycle: The Recipe for Success
While autoflowering plants will begin flowering a few weeks after germination, regardless of the light cycle, they perform best under 18-20 hour photoperiods. Daily Light Integral (DLI) plays a crucial role in plant performance, and extended light periods can maximize DLI, ultimately leading to higher yields and improved flower development.
8. Growing Autoflowers Indoors: A Convenient Choice
Autoflowering cannabis plants offer numerous advantages for indoor growers. Due to their compact size, they are easier to maintain in small grow chambers. Additionally, there is no need for lighting timers, simplifying the cultivation process. Moreover, autoflowers provide a continuous crop momentum and are not affected by light pollution during the flowering stage, ensuring consistent growth and harvests.
9. Growing Autoflowers Outdoors: Embracing Nature’s Bounty
Autoflowering plants thrive when grown outdoors, providing several advantages such as successive crops without the need for additional infrastructure. They can be timed to ripen during the peak solar window, maximizing their exposure to sunlight and optimizing bud development. Furthermore, autoflowers extend the harvest period, allowing for multiple bountiful harvests.
10. Root Expansion: A Path to Greater Yields
Allowing unrestricted root expansion is crucial for cultivating larger autoflowering plants. One effective technique involves planting two plants in each pot, which has been shown to increase overall biomass production. However, it is essential to carefully manage feeding schedules, as autoflowers typically do not require heavy feeding.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about autoflowering cannabis plants:
- How long does it take to grow an auto? Most autoflowering plants require approximately 70 to 100 days to mature after seed germination.
- Can you clone autoflowers? Yes, autoflowers can be cloned, but they will continue to flower during the rooting process, potentially resulting in a smaller yield.
- Are autoflowering seeds feminized? Autoflowering seeds can be either regular or feminized, but for home growers, feminized seeds are highly recommended.
- Can autoflowers hermie? Yes, all cannabis populations have the potential to produce hermies or intersex plants. It is crucial to monitor plants during early flowering stages for signs of hermaphroditism.
- Are autoflowering strains potent? Yes, many autoflower strains now boast THC levels well above 20%, offering dense nugs and a complex flavor profile.
- How much do autoflowers yield? Autoflower yields can vary, but most home growers can expect an average yield of 1-4 ounces per plant.
- Can autos be transplanted? Yes, autoflowers can be transplanted, but extra care should be taken as they are more sensitive to transplant shock compared to photoperiod plants.
- Should autoflowers be topped? No, topping autoflowers is not recommended. Instead, Low Stress Training (LST) techniques are more suitable for manipulating the plant’s structure.
- Should autoflowers be pruned? Yes, autoflowers can be lightly pruned to increase airflow and direct energy toward the flower sites that receive the most light.
- Can autoflowers be grown outdoors? Absolutely! Autoflowers thrive in outdoor environments, offering extended harvest periods and continuous crop planning opportunities.
Autoflowering cannabis plants possess remarkable potential and advantages for both indoor and outdoor growers. By understanding their unique characteristics, employing effective breeding methods, mastering germination techniques, and optimizing cultivation practices, you can unlock the full potential of autoflowers and enjoy the benefits they offer. Embrace the world of autoflowers, and you may find yourself reaping abundant rewards from these extraordinary plants.