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pros and cons of autoflowering seeds

The Pros And Cons Of Autoflowering Cannabis Strains

Autoflowering strains are the go-to genetics for beginner growers and those looking for a fast return. But they’re not perfect. Find out what makes them great, and where they run into issues.

A complete guide to the pros and cons of autos.

  • 1. What is autoflowering cannabis?
  • 1.a. Autoflowering vs feminized
  • 2. Pros
  • 2.a. Faster life cycle
  • 2.b. Discreet plants
  • 2.c. Simple lighting demands
  • 2.d. Resilient plants
  • 2.e. No problems with light pollution
  • 2.f. Fewer nutrients needed
  • 2.g. Higher CBD percentage
  • 3. Cons
  • 3.a. Lower yield
  • 3.b. Cost of lighting
  • 3.c. Lower THC content
  • 3.d. Poor-quality clones
  • 3.e. No time for recovery
  • 3.f. Should beginners start with autoflowering cannabis strains?
  • 1. What is autoflowering cannabis?
  • 1.a. Autoflowering vs feminized
  • 2. Pros
  • 2.a. Faster life cycle
  • 2.b. Discreet plants
  • 2.c. Simple lighting demands
  • 2.d. Resilient plants
  • 2.e. No problems with light pollution
  • 2.f. Fewer nutrients needed
  • 2.g. Higher CBD percentage
  • 3. Cons
  • 3.a. Lower yield
  • 3.b. Cost of lighting
  • 3.c. Lower THC content
  • 3.d. Poor-quality clones
  • 3.e. No time for recovery
  • 3.f. Should beginners start with autoflowering cannabis strains?

Modern cannabis growers are spoiled for choice. There are more strains on the market than ever before, and many growers have taken a liking to the new and improved selection of autoflowers.

Autoflowering genetics have a lot to offer. There are varieties high in CBD, high in THC, and those with a nice balance of both. That’s not to mention the incredible diversity in terpene profiles.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Autoflowering strains have a host of advantages, but they also carry disadvantages that turn some growers off.

WHAT IS AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS?

What makes autoflowering cannabis different from other types? Well, the key difference resides in the name. Put simply, these strains flower automatically.

There are two main phases of the cannabis growing cycle: the vegetative phase and the flowering phase. Another type of cannabis—known as photoperiod cannabis—requires a shift in the light cycle to trigger flowering.

Autoflowering strains do away with this inconvenience. They don’t rely on external cues to start producing resinous buds. Instead, they flower after a certain amount of time has passed.

The autoflowering trait didn’t emerge by accident. It occurred as an adaptation to environmental conditions. You’ve probably heard of Cannabis indica and sativa. Well, the autoflowering gene arose in Cannabis ruderalis.

The ruderalis subspecies adapted to the cold and often harsh environments of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. These regions feature a considerably shorter growing season and colder temperatures.

For this reason, ruderalis abandoned the strategy of waiting for the seasons to change to trigger flowering. Instead, the subspecies developed an autoflowering gene to ensure reproduction before the temperature plummets.

Thanks to this adaptation, growers now enjoy the speedy growth of autoflowering genetics!

Cannabis Autoflowering

Cannabis Autoflowering

AUTOFLOWERING VS FEMINIZED

You’ve probably seen the term “feminized” used frequently as you browse the internet for all things cannabis seeds. Both autoflowering and photoperiod strains can be feminized. All it means is that a breeder modified a particular strain to produce only female plants. Technically speaking, the odds of a female emerging are 99.9%—that’s still quite impressive!

Breeders produce feminized seeds through various techniques that are discussed in detail here. Just keep this in mind: pick up a pack of feminized seeds if you want nothing but buds!

Autoflowering strains have a long list of advantages over photoperiod varieties. Their short life cycle attracts growers seeking prompt gratification, and their hardy nature makes them suitable for beginner cultivators and veterans alike.

FASTER LIFE CYCLE

Autoflowering 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.

Growers rarely cultivate pure ruderalis strains outside of breeding operations as these varieties produce very little in regards to yield. However, by breeding successful photoperiod strains with ruderalis genetics, breeders can create autoflowering, and therefore faster, versions of legendary varieties.

For example, Haze genetics are known for their brilliant sativa effects, but their long flowering times can be a turn-off. The merging of Haze and ruderalis genetics means growers now have access to these sativa effects in much less time.

The speed of autoflowers appeals to growers with a penchant for near-instant results. Waiting for a crop to ripen can be teasing at best and excruciating at worst. If you tend to fall on the impatient side, autoflowering strains are the way to go.

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.

Again, most autoflowers will race from seed to harvest in around 7–10 weeks, so growers can time their next wave of seedlings in conjunction with the previous harvest.

Cultivators can also maximise yields by using the sea of green (SOG) technique. This method involves planting numerous autoflowers in close proximity and manipulating them to converge into one large, productive canopy.

Here are a few of the fastest autoflowers around:

Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time:
5–6 weeks

EASY BUD
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
ROYAL COOKIES AUTO
Life Cycle: 8–10 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks

Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time:
5–6 weeks

DISCREET PLANTS

Autoflowering cultivars typically reach a height of between 60–100cm. Their compact size and impressive speed enable clandestine cultivators to set up and dismantle their operation in as little time as possible.

You can easily grow autos on balconies and in hidden locations in your garden. They’re also popular among guerrilla growers—cultivators that grow cannabis in hidden public or wild locations. This method helps to keep crops out of sight and hidden from thieves.

If you’re looking for the stealthiest possible way to grow, give micro-growing a go. The goal here is to keep plants as small as possible while still achieving a reasonable yield. It goes without saying that autoflowering varieties are perfectly suited to this method.

More extreme examples of micro-growing include cultivating tiny plants in modified computer towers, buckets, and boxes. Growers often use low-stress training to keep plants small and under control.

Here are a few of the stealthiest autoflowering strains available:

ROYAL DWARF
Indoors: 40–70cm
Outdoors: 50–90cm
ROYAL BLUEMATIC
Indoors: 60–75cm
Outdoors: 70–100cm
ROYAL CREAMATIC
Indoors: 60–80cm
Outdoors: 80–100cm
ROYAL DWARF ROYAL BLUEMATIC ROYAL CREAMATIC
Indoors: 40–70cm
Outdoors : 50–90cm
Indoors: 60–75cm
Outdoors: 70–100cm
Indoors: 60–80cm
Outdoors: 80–100cm

SIMPLE LIGHTING DEMANDS

Autoflower growers typically elect to use a simple light schedule of 18 hours on and 6 hours off for the entire duration of the life cycle. Such a schedule provides plants with an adequate amount of light while saving on energy.

The simple lighting demands of autoflowering strains serve as another advantage. As we mentioned above, they don’t require a change in light schedule to begin flowering. This trait allows growers to be extremely flexible with lighting.

Growers who don’t mind splashing out on expenditures might choose to run their lights for 24 hours. Some cultivators report more explosive vegetative growth and enhanced yields using this method. Others argue that a 24-hour schedule might deprive plants of their natural resting period.

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.

Regardless of the schedule, the lighting demands of autoflowering strains are easier to meet than those of their photoperiod counterparts.

RESILIENT PLANTS

Autoflowering plants boast strong, sturdy, and resilient genetics. Cannabis ruderalis didn’t survive the throes of northern latitudes by chance. The subspecies is well equipped to deal with extreme temperatures and harsh weather.

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.

The majority of autoflowers can fend for themselves. They laugh in the face of pest infestations and do well to defend against yield-ruining mould.

Their impressive resilience makes them well-suited for novice growers as they’re extremely forgiving of beginner error.

Autoflowering strains boast speedy growth, a compact size, and hardy genetics. Discover their pros and cons here.

The Pros and Cons of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds: A Fast Buds Primer – Part 2

The Pros and Cons of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds: A Fast Buds Primer – Part 2

AuthorRyan

The Pros and Cons of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds: A Fast Buds Primer - Part 2

So you’re not sure whether autoflowering seeds are right for your grow. Everyone’s setup is different, but here are a few pros and cons to help you grow the best weed possible. If you need a quick reminder as to what autoflowering cannabis is, be sure to check out What is Autoflowering Cannabis? A Fast Buds Primer – Part 1.

What are the advantages of autoflowering cannabis?

Flexible growing environment

Each day, regular “photoperiod” strains require precisely twelve hours of light and twelve of darkness to trigger and maintain the flowering stage until harvest. If this doesn’t happen, they can stop growing and live for years, never producing anything. Autoflowers, on the other hand, have a fixed lifespan, shorter than any photoperiod grow. They start flowering at three to four weeks and can go from germination to harvest in just nine weeks.

Since you don’t have to control the light cycle to induce flowering with autoflowers, you don’t have to grow cannabis in an expensive, light-proof box. There’s no need to drape black sheeting over a greenhouse or set light timers to alternate at midnight and midday. With autoflowers, even urban balcony grows fare well despite the high amount of night-time ambient light.

Fast Growing

Autoflowering cannabis grows faster than photoperiod cannabis.

We call them Fast Buds for a reason! Traditional, photoperiod cannabis, can take four months or more to grow. Autoflowering marijuana, on the other hand, can be ready to harvest in as little as eight weeks, but more often nine to eleven. You can harvest four to six times a year as opposed to once or twice.

This ability to harvest more frequently is excellent for outdoor growers who can’t control the lighting their plants receive, but it can also be used by indoor growers to stagger their grows to ensure they’re harvesting once a month or more. Photoperiod plants occupying the same space or grow tent need to mature together. Because the light cycles for flowering and vegging plants are entirely different, developing plants can’t share the same space as those nearing harvest. However, since autoflowering strains don’t need the light cycle to control flowering, it’s possible to house multiple plants at different stages of development in one area. If you germinate a new seed every month, by month three you can be harvesting every thirty days, or three weeks, or whatever schedule works for you.

Resilient to the environment

Cannabis is a notoriously picky plant, and small changes to the environment can make a big difference in the final product. Compared to photoperiod plants, autoflowers are more resilient against diseases and weather, thanks to the industrial hemp genes that evolved for survival in harsh Siberian climates, with short summers. If you live in a mild climate, autoflowers are perfect. G14 is a hardy strain from Fast Buds ideal for those who want a resilient plant to work with.

Stout plants

Cannabis plants are huge. Some sativas can reach four meters in height! That might be great for outdoor growers, but lots of people want to keep things indoors, perhaps away from prying eyes or hot grow tent lights.

What is Autoflowering Cannabis A Fast Buds Primer

The shortest Fast Buds strains are Rhino Ryder, Grapefruit, and Green Crack. These should always max out at less than one meter, though growers can use various techniques to constrain the vertical growth of other varieties.

Discretion

Autoflowering Cannabis is perfect for privately minded growers

We’ve come a long way, but not everyone can grow Cannabis freely in their garden or on their balcony. yet. Until that day comes, discreet growing will remain a priority for many. Short plants, like Fast Buds’, that can grow rapidly in a closet or other private location are a godsend for cannabis enthusiasts who don’t want to draw attention to themselves.

The three short, stout strains mentioned earlier,Rhino Ryder, Grapefruit, and Green Crack, work well for discreet growers, as does G14 , a hardy, resilient strain perfect for novice growers.

What are the disadvantages?

Vulnerable to grower mistakes

Autoflowers may be resistant to various environmental stresses, but they are susceptible to human error. Many growers tie down, cut, or otherwise manipulate the branches of the growing plant to ensure proper size and make sure there are lots of places on the plant body for flowers to grow. Usually, autoflowers tolerate this treatment well. However, if an overeager grower takes these techniques too far, it will damage the plant and subject it to unnecessary stress. People manipulate photoperiod plants like this all the time; if they rough up their young cannabis plant in the process, it’s no big deal because it has months to recover. Since autoflowers come to harvest so quickly, they don’t have time to heal from overzealous poking, prodding, and pruning.

Accelerated growth

Wait, isn’t fast growing good thing? Well, it usually is, but this monstrous growth comes with one important caveat. The accelerated transition from vegetative to flowering stages means that stress caused to autoflowering plants in the first weeks (by intentionally bending, cutting or damaging stems to manipulate growth) can hamper their final production. For the same reason, transplanting autos from indoor to outdoor (or vice versa) is never recommended. It’s always best to keep autos in the same pot from day one.

Stout Plants

For 99% of growers, stout plants are great. But not everyone grows for the same reasons. Some like to control everything to produce the most potent grow possible, others want to keep things discreet, but still, others want to raise marijuana plants worthy of an American state fair. If you’re looking to grow a massive, towering sativa twice the height of yourself, autoflowers might not be the choice for you.

No cloning

After putting so much effort into a grow it’s easy to become attached to your plant. Or, maybe you found the perfect plant for you. In such cases, it’s possible to take a clipping from a photoperiod plant and grow a new one with 100% identical genetics. This is what industrial-scale growers often do, keeping a “clone mother” from which they take cuttings to grow into harvestable plants.

Cloning like this isn’t possible with autoflowering plants. However, Fast Buds’ awarding winning genetics and germination guarantee mean that you’ll always be able to grow the strain that’s right for you.

Is it right for you?

A table listing the pros and cons of autoflowering cannabis

Thousands of growers choose autoflowering plants with these trade-offs in mind. Fast Buds’ customers include privately minded closet growers, as well as commercial growers with massive outdoor operations. If autoflowering cannabis is the right choice for you, take a look at our catalog of strains and enjoy growing faster!

So you’re not sure whether autoflowering seeds are right for your grow. Everyone’s setup is different, but here are a few pros and cons to help you