Why auto-flowering cannabis seeds are the best choice for both beginner and professional growers

Published Sep 17, 2019 12:01 p.m. ET
iStock / Toltemara

Grabbing a pack of cannabis seeds seems like a fairly straightforward purchase until you start browsing through the database of your local seed bank. It’s incredible how many options you can come across on a journey towards selecting the perfect type of seeds to suit your needs. Most consumers and growers prefer more affordable options, but this is one of those times where the difference isn’t worth the few pennies that you might save.

The most expensive type of cannabis seeds on the market today consist of feminized seeds, and while most people know that feminized options offer a valuable benefit, autoflowering seeds are equipped in an entirely unique way. Here you will find out what autoflowering seeds are, how they are made, and some of their least known benefits that make them the ideal choice for both beginner and professional cultivators.

What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?

Autoflowering cannabis seeds will sprout into a plant that will automatically adjust from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage with absolutely no changes to the lighting schedule. This makes them much more appealing to growers who are looking for a foolproof seed that requires the least work to get going and to fully mature. Autoflowering seeds will generally be ready to harvest in as little as 60 days after they are germinated and planted, which makes for a speedy harvest, and more time to grow additional product when necessary.

How are autoflowering seeds made?

Autoflowering cannabis seeds are made by breeding hand-picked strains specifically for qualities that include hardiness and rate of growth. The majority of the DNA used in the making of autoflowering seeds is taken from strains that are grown in the northern hemisphere, and as a result, they require a much shorter growing period and cooler temperatures, which makes them easier to care for

The benefits of autoflowering growth stages

The autoflowering grow cycle differs from any other cannabis plant due to its quick finish which takes shorter stages and fewer adjustments for both lighting and nutrients. There are 3 different stages in the lifecycle of an autoflowering cannabis plant.

Stage 1 - Post Germination (8-12 weeks)

The first stage in an autoflowering grow cycle lasts approximately 8-12 weeks. This is how long it takes the cannabis plant to fully establish itself before entering into the vegetative stage. Autoflowering plants should not be transplanted after this part of the cycle. Once the seeds are cracked open and plant life begins, it is necessary to provide sufficient lighting. While autoflowering cannabis strains can live on a bare minimum of only 5-7 hours of daylight per day, it is recommended to provide at least 18 hours. Some growers swear by 24 hours a day of light, so if you don’t have a timer, then don’t worry too much. You will just want to place your light fixture several inches further from the plant’s foliage to be sure nothing gets burned.

Stage 2 - The vegetative Stage (10-14 weeks)

This next stage of an autoflowering seeds grow cycle is more accelerated than their more traditional counterparts. Autoflowering plants will exit this stage within 30 days and begin blooming. Autoflowering plants will stretch out the most during this stage with most strains growing at least an inch or more per day. To see the most effective results and speed this process up, each plant should be grown in its own 10 liter to 20 liter pot and should be kept at a temperature of 25° C, with a high humidity level of around 60%-70%. In the vegetative stage, fertilizers and nutrients are essential. Adding nutrients along with constant adjustments of your lighting to avoid burning while the plant is skyrocketing in size, are the two most significant requirement changes during this phase of the cycle. Expect massive growth and leave plenty of room at least 10 inches between the plant’s foliage and any bulbs.

Stage 3 – Flowering (12- 20 weeks)

Autoflowering marijuana plants will take 45-60 days from when the first pistils and hair start to develop, to when the budflowers will be ready for harvest. The optimal temperature for autoflowering cannabis to flourish at this stage is 25 °C, with a humidity of 45%-55%. Lighting schedules will not need to be adjusted at all and will maintain the same as when you began. Fertilizer can be provided up until the last two weeks before harvest, which is when a flushing should occur to ensure the bud is safe for ingestion once harvested.

The benefits of autoflowering cannabis seeds

  1. Rapid Growth rate
    Autoflowering strains can cut as much of half of the expected grow time necessary when compared to their alternatives.

  2. Compact Plants
    Growers who only have a small space in which to grow will benefit significantly from an autoflowering strain. Since their overall life cycle is shorter, they do not usually end up as tall. The average autoflowering plant will reach a maximum of 1.5 feet tall.

  3. Strong Genetics
    Autoflowering cannabis seeds are made by breeding handpicked strains specifically for qualities that include hardiness. The majority of DNA used in the making of autoflowering plants is from those grown in the northern hemisphere that have a much shorter growing period and much cooler temperatures, making them easy to care for.

  4. Early Harvest
    Autoflowering plants have a life cycle that lasts only a couple of months, making them perfect for those wanting to pull off multiple yields each year with minimal effort and time.

  5. No need to adjust lighting schedules
    Autoflowering plants can get by on as little as 5 hours of daylight but prefer 18+ hours and can even do well in full 24 hours a day. This makes them useful for those who don’t want to keep track of an ever-changing light schedule.
    The only real drawbacks of using autoflowering seeds come from a lower than average THC content, and slightly higher price than regular cannabis seeds. Luckily, in this case, the benefits far outweigh the risks, and the additional few dollars will help to give you peace of mind knowing that your marijuana plants will lead a long, healthy, and thriving life while producing plenty of bud flowers for you to enjoy.

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