How to create an autoflowering cannabis strain
Last updated June 1-2019 Published August 11-2018
Autoflowering cannabis strains have some distinct advantages that make them highly attractive to many growers. These plants are usually compact and often don’t exceed 1 metre in height. This makes them an ideal choice for growers who want to be as stealthy as possible, and those who simply don’t have access to enough space to grow towering plants.
Autoflowering varieties are fast and will flower automatically based on their biological clock instead of photoperiod strains that require a change in the light-dark cycle in order to initiate flowering.
This creates the possibility to crop multiple harvests per year or season.
THE ORIGIN OF AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS
As many smokers, growers, and breeders will know, there are two main subspecies of cannabis: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. However, there exists another subspecies known as Cannabis ruderalis.
Ruderalis is a short, shrubby subspecies that is said to have evolved around the colder and darker environments of Siberia. Long summer days and cold winter nights triggered an adaptation in ruderalis that allows it to flower and therefore reproduce without the need for a specific light style. By the end of the day, the plants needed to find a way to survive.
Cannabis ruderalis strains have been bred with indica and sativa strains in order to create autoflowering hybrids that incorporate the autoflowering characteristic, but can provide larger quantities and better quality bud than growing pure ruderalis alone.
BREEDING AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS STRAINS
So, it’s clear to see that ruderalis genetics are essential to breeding novel autoflowering strains. You could always select an autoflowering strain that exists on the market to begin breeding, or you can create your own if you are looking to harness particular traits. To do so, you will need a good amount of seeds to get your initial plants started.
You are encouraged to obtain regular (non-feminized) autoflowering seeds for breeding purposes. Feminized seeds are sold to growers in order to ensure that only female plants occupy the grow space, eliminating the chances for an invasive male to appear and potentially pollinate nearby females. A large supply of regular seeds, however, will hopefully supply you with a female to male ratio of 1:1.
As your seeds grow into plants and reach the end of the vegetative phase, you will need to pay close attention to the sex of your individual plants. If your main aim is to simply form a large supply of seeds, you can let nature take its course and allow the plants to pollinate themselves.
If you want to start developing your own strain, then more work and dedication is required. Utilizing selective breeding, you can take the plants that display the desired traits and separate them from the others. For example, the plants exhibiting the most potent aromas, speed of growth, or ideal size may be selected.
The chosen plants will then be kept entirely separate from the other plants, and pollination will take place in a controlled environment such as a grow tent or a different room, with great care taken to prevent external, different pollen from entering the breeding space.
The mother and father plant do not need to be the same strain, but if you are planning to continue the line you started with simply use sibling parents and the seeds produced should lead to plants with the desired traits selected. Usually within 3 or 4 generatins the impressive resutls start to show up. It takes time, but its worth it.
BREEDING AUTOFLOWERING WITH PHOTOPERIOD STRAINS
The process of breeding autoflowering strains, as stated above, is relatively easy in its theory. However, if you want to cross traits from a non-autoflowering variety of cannabis with an autoflowering strain, things can get a bit more complicated. If you are already selectively breeding autoflowering strains, you can use your own plants to provide the autoflowering traits.
The autoflowering gene is recessive, meaning that both parent strains must posses the gene for it to be passed on. Therefore, this process isn’t as easy as breeding an autoflowering strain with a photoperiod strain and expecting a strain with autoflowering genes to pop out of the other end. Also, autoflowering genetics are known to be unstable, making stability and consistency a potential issue.
To start the process, purchase an autoflowering strain or select one from the crop you have developed. Next, you will need to select a photoperiod strain, be that an indica, sativa, or hybrid variety. The strain you pick will depend on the desired traits you want your future strain to retain.
In most cases none of the offspring from these two plants will posses autoflowering traits. But don’t worry, that is merely part of this more complex process. The offspring will still carry the autoflowering gene and are capable of passing it on to the next generation.
When you breed the seeds of the offspring together, autoflowering plants will come to be. Only 50% of the offspring will have passed on the gene, so only 25% of the next generation will be autoflowering in nature.
Breeding the plants from the third generation should result in a next generation of plants featuring 100% autoflowering genes. Although this seems like the end of the process, and it can be, this is when the fun starts and the genetic potential usually opens up.
You can continue a similar breeding protocol to really bring out the traits of the first photoperiod strain you started the process with. This is known as backcrossing.
To do this, take the best specimens from your new autoflowering crop, and cross these plants with the original photoperiod variety. Then, repeat the above process until the third generation of 100% autoflowering plants is formed, this time with more of the desirable traits from the photoperiod strain.
If you want to cross traits from a non-autoflowering variety of cannabis with an autoflowering strain, things can get a bit more complicated.
How to produce cannabis seeds
How to produce cannabis seeds
When it comes to cannabis plants, feminized seeds are the most known ones. But do you know what auto and regular means?
1. Photoperiodic Cannabis
Photoperiodism isn’t unique to cannabis plants, many flowering plants sense changes in the length of night and day and use those changes as signals for when to flower.
Photoperiodic cannabis plants are just like that, they basically respond to changes in the light cycle.
As the night becomes longer at the beginning of autumn (in nature) or when you flip to 12/12 in a grow tent, the plant receives more darkness. This causes the plant to realize that its life cycle is coming to an end and they will start to flower (females) or produce pollen (males) in order to reproduce before winter.
Regular Photoperiodic Cannabis
Regular cannabis is photoperiodic cannabis that produces both male and female plants. They are called regular because they are produced the “natural way”: the pollen from the male plant pollinates the female, resulting in seeds.
Back in the day the only way to grow cannabis was with regular seeds, this way you would get half male and half females plants.
There is a big difference between male and female plants, while female grows buds, male plants will only grow pollen sacs.
In nature male cannabis’ pollen sacs will open to release pollen which will pollinate the female flowers, this way producing seeds.
But most growers that grow cannabis commercially or for their own consumption only want buds, allowing males to pollinate buds would ruin their harvest because pollination diminishes yield, so they’re mainly looking for female plants.
Feminized Photoperiodic Cannabis
To completely avoid accidental pollination and other problems related to male plants, feminized seeds were created.
Feminized seeds come from the cross of two female plants, one of them is stressed so it starts producing pollen sacs, which will fertilize the other female.
When you cultivate feminized seeds, the offspring will be only female plants. This takes out a lot of the unnecessary work that you can have when growing males and them not being able to use them.
Ever since the boom of feminized seeds back in 1998, growers have stopped buying regular seeds for quite a bit. Nowadays most seed banks don’t even sell regular seeds anymore.
With so much focus on feminized seeds, we can’t forget that regular seeds are vital for the creation of new strains.
2. Automatic Flowering Cannabis
You must already know that the characteristic that makes autoflowers an auto is they don’t need a different light cycle to enter the flowering stage.
Like their name says, autoflowers start flowering automatically depending on age, and unlike regular and feminized cannabis that need a change in the light cycle to start flowering. Autos don’t need anything else other than time to start producing buds.
But that trait didn’t come out of nowhere, it appeared as an adaptation to the environment.
You’ve probably heard of Cannabis Indica and Sativa…well, the autoflowering gene comes from Cannabis Ruderalis.
The Ruderalis species adapted to the extremely cold and harsh climates of Asia, Europe, and Russia. These regions have shorter warm seasons and colder temperatures.
Because of this, Ruderalis started mutating from a photoperiodic plant to an autoflowering plant, to guarantee its reproduction before the temperatures reached freezing levels.
T hanks to that adaptation, now we have autoflowers that take considerably less time from seed to harvest.
3. How To Make Your Own Seeds
Producing your own seeds is relatively easy if you have what it’s needed but that doesn’t mean the result will be a perfect strain. The good strains or “IBLs” that most seed banks sell are strains that have been developed for years and are far into the third or fourth generation.
IBL or stabilized strain means the offspring will have certain characteristics locked down. When you cross two strains for the first time the offspring can have infinite phenotypes and this is not good for commercializing.
Photoperiodic Regular Seeds
When we talk about cannabis, it’s easy to forget about male plants.
Everybody nowadays is used to the beautiful flowers we all love, but it’s important to remember that male cannabis plants are just as important as the females. Male cannabis plants produce pollen and are an essential element to the production of new cannabis plants.
This pollen is super important in breeding as it allows breeders to create crosses with genetics from different plants and create their own seeds. F or producing seeds all you need is pollen and buds.
Cannabis pollen is no different from regular pollen produced by other plants. It’s a fine powder that usually has a golden yellow color and is excreted from the pollen sac on male plants.
Collecting pollen is simple. You’ll know when its ready to be collected when the pollen sacks are open and you see pollen floating in the air and on the leaves near them.
When this happens, you can gently remove the sacs and store them in a ziplock bag, once you are ready to pollinate just release the pollen onto the buds. Another way is to simply agitate your male plants near the female plants, the pollen will stick to the buds.
Pollen is used in order to pollinate female plants and create seeds. In nature, female plants get pollinated by the wind which carries the male pollen.
Cannabis seeds develop in the buds about 4-6 weeks after pollination, you will see the calyxes start to round up from the seeds being inside them.
P ollinated buds look quite different from regular buds. They usually don’t have as many trichomes and are usually smaller and a lot more swollen.
4 weeks after pollination, you can start checking the buds to see if the seeds are ready for harvest by picking a couple of seeds from the bud.
M ature seeds will have a hard shell and be a dark brown color, they might also have some stripes on the outer shell.
Photoperiodic Feminized Seeds
Normally, a male cannabis plant has to pollinate a female plant to produce seeds. The resulting regular seeds will contain about half male and half female seeds.
The way feminized seeds are produced is the same but instead of collecting the pollen from a male, breeders will stress or spray flowers with colloidal silver, for example. This process forces the female plants to become a hermaphrodite and starts producing pollen sacs.
Hermaphrodite plants are females that are halfway turned into males, this means she has both male (pollen sacs) and female (buds) parts.
By picking out the pollen sacs and using a reverted plant’s pollen to pollinate a female plant, you will have only female genes as there is no “father”, this way you get feminized seeds, meaning the offspring will be 100% female plants.
Feminized and Regular Autoflowering Seeds
• Regular Autoflowering Seeds
Usually, you can find regular and feminized seeds, and this applies to autoflowering seeds also. This means you can find male and female autoflowers, depending on the type of seed you buy (regular = 50% male and 50% female, feminized = 100% female).
Unfortunately the high increase in the production of feminized seeds affected automatic seeds also. Although it’s not common to find regular auto seeds nowadays, they do exist.
For producing regular autoflowering seeds all you need is male pollen and female buds, just like for regular photoperiodic cannabis. The process is basically the same, collect the pollen from the male and spread it on the buds, this will result in regular autoflowering seeds.
• Feminized Autoflowering Seeds
The process of producing feminized autoflowering seeds is almost the same, the only difference is you will need two female autos instead of one male and one female. You will have to make one of your female autos produce pollen, either by stressing her out or spraying with colloidal silver and pollinating the other female. This will result in a 100% female automatic offspring.
4. In Conclusion
Even though it is fairly easy to produce seeds, we recommend having a bit of experience before trying it.
We recommend easy-to-grow strains like Zkittlez Auto to start acquiring experience before going into breeding.
When it comes to cannabis plants, feminized seeds are the most known ones. But do you know what auto and regular means? 1. Photoperiodic Cannabis Photoperiodi