The Pros and Cons of Choosing Autoflowering Marijuana Seeds
Marijuana growers today have more options than ever before for seeds. There are more strains as well as options like autoflowering seeds that can be high in THC, CBD, or both, may have certain flavors or other characteristics that growers are looking for, can grow faster than other strains, and a lot more. However, though they are the perfect option for many growers, they do have their downsides. Those who are considering an autoflowering strain will want to learn more about what the pros and cons are before their purchase so they can ensure they pick out not only the right strain but the right type of seed to meet their needs while growing.
What Does Autoflowering Mean?
Most cannabis plants are photoperiod, which means they require changes in their lighting to move into the next stage of growth. Marijuana has two stages of growth – vegetative and flowering. During the vegetative stage, photoperiod plants will grow prolifically even with the lights on for 24 hours a day. However, they won’t move onto the flowering stage, which is where the buds are created, unless the lighting switches to 12 hours on and 12 hours completely off. If the lighting isn’t changed, the plants simply won’t start producing buds.
Autoflowering cannabis plants aren’t a type of photoperiod plant. They don’t require lighting changes to know when it’s time to move from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage. They simply do it automatically. While photoperiod cannabis plants include both indica and Sativa species, autoflowering plants fall under the ruderalis species. This species is adapted to cold and harsh environments like those in Eastern Europe and Russia. They have a shorter growing season and colder temperatures, so there’s no time to wait for the seasons to change. As a result, the ruderalis species adapted to autoflower instead, ensuring the plant is able to grow buds and create seeds before it gets too cold.
Autoflowering Versus Feminized Versus Regular Seeds
Along with autoflowering seeds, there are regular seeds and feminized seeds. Regular seeds are indica or Sativa strains, or a combination, and are not treated in any way. This means they can produce both male and female plants. They are generally the least expensive seeds to purchase, but there is a risk of a lot of male plants growing that will need to be disposed of.
Feminized seeds are those that have been treated to minimize the potential for male plants. In fact, with feminized seeds, there is a 99.9% chance that the plants will turn out to be female. Today’s feminized seeds also minimize the potential for hermaphrodite plants, so growers can plant with the knowledge that all of the seeds will be female plants that produce buds.
When picking out autoflowering seeds, growers will notice that most of them are feminized. This is by design, as the feminized seeds will produce only female plants and the autoflowering seeds will produce buds faster. A combination of autoflowering and feminized means all the plants that are grown will be female and will produce buds in a matter of weeks.
Pros for Autoflowering Seeds
When it comes to marijuana seeds, autoflowering provides tons of benefits for most growers. They’re faster, hardy, and they can be feminized so they only produce female plants and there’s no potential for the plants to go to seeds. They’re great for both beginners and those who have experience growing cannabis, so anyone can choose autoflowering seeds for their next crop. Read more about each of the major pros for autoflowering seeds to see why they are enjoyed by many growers today.
1. Ready to Harvest Faster
Autoflowering equals fast. To adapt to the harsh environments they were grown in, they needed to be able to go from germination to buds in just weeks; otherwise, it would become too cold and they wouldn’t be able to produce seeds. In the time it takes for photoperiod plants to just go through the flowering stage, around seven to 10 weeks, the autoflowering plants can go from germination to harvest.
One thing to note is that pure ruderalis strains, because of the speed at which they grow, often have a low yield. However, today’s autoflowering seeds have been bred with other strains, so they now have a much higher yield. Due to successful breeding, legendary marijuana strains can now be autoflowering, so it’s possible to get higher yields, better tasking cannabis, and more on a faster schedule.
With the fast speed of autoflowering marijuana strains, growers can get nearly instant results. Instead of waiting months for the plants to grow, then start to flower, and finally be ready for harvest, autoflowering allows growers to plant seeds and harvest the buds in as little as seven weeks. They can then start the next batch of seeds, continuously producing plants so they can get more harvests out of a single season than they would get with other strains.
2. Can be Grown Discreetly
Growing discreetly is a concern for many growers. Even where it’s legal to grow, they’re not going to want everyone to know that they’re growing marijuana. However, autoflowering plants are compact, which means they can be grown out of sight easier. Most autoflowering strains such as Auto Zkittlez or Auto Purple Kush typically grow to around 24 to 40 inches in height. They’re perfect for growing amongst taller plants to keep them hidden and grow easily indoors, without taking up as much space as larger strains.
It’s also possible to get into micro-growing when using autoflowering strains. Micro-growing is a way of cultivating marijuana plants that are modified to grow in tiny spaces, including in smaller pots, buckets, boxes, and more. Low-stress training can help keep the plants as small as possible. Though micro-growing does mean a smaller yield, since the plants are much smaller, the speed of autoflowering plants means it’s possible to start new plants quickly and have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
3. Lighting Demands are Simple
With photoperiod plants, it’s crucial to know how much light to use and when to switch the light cycle to encourage a transition to the flowering stage. Autoflowering strains, since they don’t rely on the changing of lights to move to the flowering stage, don’t have this requirement. Many growers will simply use a standard light schedule, such as 18 hours on and 6 hours off, from the time the seed is planted until they harvest.
In some cases, growers will even opt to run the lights 24 hours a day in a grow room to get an enhanced yield. Those worried about the plant not being as healthy because of too much light might choose 12 hours on and 12 hours off instead, but the yield may not be as large. Still, with the size of the plants and the speed of the harvest, a lower yield isn’t as bad because more plants can fit in the same space and the plants are ready to harvest faster, so new ones can be started.
4. Plants are Resilient
Autoflowering plants, due to the way they survived and evolved, tend to be very resilient. They needed to be resilient to deal with harsh environments where they naturally grow. In areas where autoflowering plants evolved, they could be found thriving near demolished buildings, along the side of the road, and even in cracks in the road. They can grow just about anywhere and can thrive in areas where other strains might have a difficult time growing.
On top of this, autoflowering varieties tend to be more resilient against pest infestations, mold, and other dangers that naturally plague marijuana plants. They also bounce back well from mistakes that are made while they’re growing, which makes them perfect for beginners. If a mistake is made, it isn’t as likely to kill the whole plant or significantly decrease the potential yield. Beginners often prefer this as they can experiment and learn more about the process of growing marijuana without worry.
5. Light Pollution Isn’t a Problem
As mentioned, the amount of light that an autoflowering plant receives doesn’t really matter – the plants will continue to grow even if they don’t get a period of darkness and will flower regardless of how much light they receive. This means that they’re not going to be impacted by light pollution, either. Photoperiod plants require complete darkness for a certain amount of time each day; otherwise, they will not flower. This means that if there is any light leaking into the room, like from below a door or from streetlights outside, the crop may not flower at all. With autoflowering strains, light pollution is not a problem at all. They don’t use external lighting cues to get to the next stage, so it doesn’t matter if there is a little bit of light leaking into the room during the dark hours.
6. Can be Less Expensive
Autoflowering seeds tend to be more expensive compared to regular or feminized seeds, but the extra expense stops there. Depending on how the plants are grown, the overall cost to grow the Auto Sour Diesel or Auto Gelato plants can be much less compared to other types of seeds. Since they grow fast, autoflowering plants don’t require as much fertilizer. They don’t require the complex nutrients that most marijuana plants require, either, so it’s possible to spend far less and still have a healthy plant.
On top of this, the soil mixture for autoflowering plants can be much less involved to create since they can grow with just basic nutrients accessible in the soil. To make good soil for autoflowering plants, growers can mix peat moss, compost, perlite, and vermiculite in the appropriate quantities, then go ahead and plant their seeds.
7. Tend to Have More CBD
Those who are growing marijuana for medical purposes may want to look for strains that are high in CBD. This doesn’t necessarily mean the strain will be low in THC, just that it will have higher medicinal properties compared to low-CBD strains. Autoflowering plants tend to have higher CBD concentrations compared to photoperiod plants. This can impact the feeling that someone gets when they consume the marijuana as well as help with many different medical conditions. Today, CBD levels have been increased in many of the top strains that are available because of autoflowering plants, so those who prefer a high CBD level can find exactly what they need.
Cons for Autoflowering Seeds
Though there are tons of benefits associated with autoflowering seeds, it is important to understand that there are some downsides as well. Those who are considering autoflowering seeds will want to make sure they pick out strains that are perfect for them. This means understanding the cons of autoflowering seeds and determining if the benefits outweigh the cons or if they might want to choose something different because the cons are going to make it an unrealistic option for what they need.
1. Smaller Harvests
Photoperiod plants can spend a long time in the vegetative stage, so they end up becoming very large before they start to flower. This can lead to a huge yield per plant. Autoflowering plants, on the other hand, do not stay in the vegetative stage as long, don’t grow as big, and won’t have the same size harvest. Since most autoflowering varieties don’t get more than about 40 inches tall and their canopies don’t produce as many flowers, growers will get a smaller yield per plant for autoflowering varieties than they might have if they used a photoperiod plant. Autoflowering varieties simply don’t have the time available to grow larger and produce more buds per plant.
Those who want to have a huge harvest will want to stick with regular or feminized seeds. Some growers will prefer a larger harvest so they only have to grow one set of plants per season or so they don’t have to worry about growing as many plants at one time. They can try out longer times during the vegetative stage to create larger plants and get much larger harvests out of each plant, though they do give up some of the benefits of autoflowering seeds if they do this.
2. Lighting Can be More Expensive
Though it’s possible to save money on nutrients and other things the plants need, the cost of lighting can be a lot higher for autoflowering plants, depending on the options chosen by the grower. Some growers don’t mind and will have the lights on 24 hours a day for the autoflowering plants. This can help encourage more growth per plant, as there is no downtime for the plant to rest. Other growers who may be concerned about the cost of growing plants, however, may want to minimize the amount of light the plants receive.
Growers can save money by having the lights on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. This is the minimum amount of light that autoflowering strains will need to grow. However, this will mean smaller yields for the grower, since the plants grow larger the more light they receive. Growers will need to determine if they would like to save money on lighting and get smaller harvests or spend a little more to get a much larger harvest.
3. THC Content Can be Lower
The THC content determines the effect that cannabis will have when it’s consumed. Strains that are low in THC like Auto CBD Cheese will not have as much effect on someone compared to those that have a much higher THC content, such as Auto Gorilla Glue When growers are looking for something that has a high THC content, many may avoid autoflowering plants because they are known for a low amount of THC per bud. However, that isn’t true for all strains today.
Original autoflowering strains were known for having lower THC levels. When they were first available to most growers, they did have lower THC levels, which is what caused this reputation amongst growers. However, there are new strains available that don’t have this issue. New strains have been bred to have higher THC levels, so there’s no longer a worry about the level being too low if a grower does decide to try autoflowering seeds. Still, growers need to learn about the strains available so they can choose one that is higher in THC if that’s something that is a concern to them.
4. Not Good for Cloning
Cloning is one way of producing plants that are exactly like the mother plant. This is a great way to pass on genetics. Once a grower finds a strain that has all of the characteristics they’re looking for, they can clone the plant and create new ones. This also helps speed up the growth, as the plants aren’t starting from a seed. However, while this does work well for photoperiod plants, it’s not going to work well for autoflowering plants. They simply grow too fast for cloning to be a good option for them.
Clones are created by cutting a piece off a plant and planting that in a new pot of soil. It will grow roots, then start growing just like the mother plant. Since it is an exact copy of the mother plant, it’s already ahead in the growth stages. Clones made from autoflowering plants can end up creating buds and being ready for harvest in just five to six weeks. While this might seem great, it does usually mean a much lower yield, smaller buds, and other problems that wouldn’t have occurred if it had more time to grow.
5. Grow Too Fast to Recover
Autoflowering plants are resilient, but the rapid growth does mean that they can be risky to experiment with. Since they grow so fast, there isn’t much room for errors, as they may not have time to fully recover before the end of their life. Photoperiod plants, however, can recover more easily since it does take a lot longer for them to grow.
When a plant is pruned or trained and a mistake is made, the plant needs time to recover. Without time to recover, the plant may not produce at all or may just produce a limited amount of buds. Photoperiod plants take longer to grow, so they are more forgiving of errors. If they prune too much of the plant off, they can simply keep the lighting the same so the plant remains in the vegetative stage longer. It will be a lot longer before they can harvest, but the plant will have the time it needs to fully recover and grow further.
Autoflowering plants, on the other hand, aren’t really easy to train. If the grower cuts too much off the plant or damages a bud, that’s going to lead to a smaller harvest because there isn’t enough time for the plant to regrow. Growers should be more careful if they prune or train an autoflowering plant, or simply leave it be to avoid the potential for any damage.
Growers, whether it’s their first time growing marijuana or they’ve been doing it for years, can benefit from trying out autoflowering plants. It is crucial to understand the pros and cons before beginning, so the grower knows what to expect from their plants as they grow. Due to the rapid growth and the potential for harvest in a matter of weeks, most growers will want to at least try out autoflowering plants to see if it’s a good option for them. They may find they enjoy the rapid growth so they can get more harvests per year or they like the ease of growing plants that don’t require a detailed fertilizer or light plant to get the most out of them.
If you’re looking for the perfect seeds to try, check out the autoflowering varieties of your favorite strains. They may meet all of your needs and could allow you to get the harvest you want in a much shorter amount of time, leaving you plenty of time to try out different i49 strains that you might enjoy.