With the cannabis industry expanding at an incredible rate, the culture is being exposed to an array of qualities that were previously reserved for die-hard enthusiasts and geneticists. Autoflowering Cannabis strains are just one of those topics.
Here, we’ll touch on the topic of Autoflowering genetics as they relate to cannabis, covering both benefits and drawbacks associated with these unique cannabis variations.
To understand autoflowering as it related to cannabis, it’s important to first understand that cannabis growing is split into two phases of growth. These are the Vegetative Phase and Flowering Phase. The two phases describe the plant’s structural and upward growth as well as root development, and the stage during which flowers develop and become dense repositories of the plant’s chemical and psychoactive substances. In nature, these phases change along with the changing of seasons. In cultivation, the grower is responsible for signaling a change to the plants.
This approach to growing cannabis may be considered inconvenient by some. That is because knowing when to change your grow from the vegetative to the flowering phase is one of the most impactful factors in determining the success of your plants. In short, making the switch too early may result in a smaller yield overall.
Autoflowering strains do away with this manual change completely. The strains simply begin to flower when they’ve reached the appropriate level of maturity.
Born out of necessity, autoflowering emerged as a result of environmental factors in cannabis species Cannabis ruderalis. The unforgiving environments of Eastern Europe, and Central and North Asia were initially the cradle of the genetic mutation we find in the subspecies today. These plants did away with maturity through seasonal change and instead automatically flowered as quickly as possible to mature and procreate before the harsh winters could set in. Thus, Autoflowering cannabis strains were born.
For many growers, these strains provide a preferable alternative to going the traditional route. That said, having such a convenient cannabis grow that can progress between the two stages on its own is not without its drawbacks. We’ll dig into the pros and cons of autoflowering Cannabis below.
There are many reasons why growers might consider autoflowering cannabis strains superior to others.
One of the biggest selling points is that these plants have a shorter lifecycle. This means a faster time to maturity and eventual harvest. By reducing the time from seed to bud, these strains are an exceptional investment for those who want to harvest more cannabis with less time between blooms.
The average autoflowering strain’s lifecycle is eight and a half weeks, combining a brief vegetative phase followed by an accelerated flowering phase.
Due to the accelerated lifecycle of these plants, they spend much less time building their overall structure. The result is a plant that is stunted in stature. For some, this is an ideal means of achieving a discrete grow without having to rely on excessive pruning.
The reduced size of autoflowering cannabis plants also translates to reduced demand for light. Such cultivars can be expected to have a considerably smaller footprint and top out at two to three feet in height. This has the added benefit of lower energy bills for indoor growers.
Keep in mind that these plants are natural survivors that evolved to survive in some of the earth’s harshest environments. The resiliency of Cannabis ruderalis is a great reason to consider growing them in your own commercial or private operation. For the beginner grower, these may also be a good choice as they can take a fair amount of punishment while you learn and still turn out good results.
Autoflowering cultivars are easier on your wallet because they require fewer nutrients to thrive. With fewer nutrients required to sustain the plants, the money saved can be reinvested in other parts of your grow or on anything else.
For those growers who are CBD-conscious, autoflowering strains naturally contain higher levels of CBD.
While the benefits of autoflowering cannabis listed above may paint a picture of truly superior strains, ruderalis is not without its faults. Here are a few of the drawbacks associated with autoflowering cannabis strains that may send your pipe dream up in smoke.
The biggest contention growers may find with autoflowering cannabis will likely be their reduced yield size. One can expect a ruderalis to reliably produce 130g per outdoor plant, on average.
If you treat your grow as if it took place in the land of the midnight sun, chances are your autoflowering setup will potentially cost you more in the long run. Growers who push their ruderalis plants to the max on a 24-hour lighting cycle will realize bigger yields alongside a bigger energy bill.
These cultivars will boast higher levels of CBD when compared with their Indica and Sativa cousins. However, their THC production can fall short when compared in the same way. Some growers will cross a ruderalis with high-THC Indica or Sativa to account for the potential loss in potency.
Another drawback of autoflowering strains, and this is a deal-breaker for some growers, is the fact that clones perform poorly. For that reason, most autoflowering grows will begin with the germination of feminized seeds. It’s a bit more time and effort than some are willing to commit.
You may only get the opportunity to screw up once if it’s a big enough mistake. That is to say, other cannabis cultivars have a longer lifecycle, which gives more room for recovery in the event of neglect, damage, or other environmental impact. Autoflowering cannabis strains do not have a long lifecycle. So, a big enough mistake in your process may mean the death of your plant, even if you do everything else.
Now that you know a bit about autoflowering cannabis, you can make the choice of whether to grow a few strains for yourself. If that’s something you’d like to pursue, purchasing feminized ruderalis seeds will deliver plants that are 99.9 % guaranteed to be female and produce sweet sticky buds.