Autoflowering strains boast speedy growth, a compact size, and hardy genetics. Discover their pros and cons here. Autoflowering cannabis strains flower based on their age rather than photoperiod. Click here to learn about the advantages of autoflowering strains. If you are new to growing Cannabis, you may have come across the terminology S.O.G and been left wondering what it meant. Thanks to the genetic diversity of Can
The Pros And Cons Of Autoflower 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.
Cannabinoids, terpenes, phytochemicals, organic cultivation
- What is autoflower cannabis?
- Autoflowering vs feminized
- Faster life cycle
- Discreet plants
- Simple lighting demands
- Resilient plants
- No problems with light pollution
- Fewer nutrients needed
- Higher cbd percentage
- Lower yield
- Cost of lighting
- Lower thc content
- Poor-quality clones
- No time for recovery
- Should beginners start with autoflower 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. Autoflower strains have a host of advantages, but they also carry disadvantages that turn some growers off.
WHAT IS AUTOFLOWER 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. Autoflower 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 autoflower gene to ensure reproduction before the temperature plummets.
Thanks to this adaptation, growers now enjoy the speedy growth of autoflowering genetics!
AUTOFLOWERING VS FEMINIZED
You’ve probably seen the term “feminized” used frequently as you browse the internet for all things cannabis seeds. Both autoflower 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!
Autoflower 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
Autoflower 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 autoflowers, 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
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–10 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–6 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–10 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
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 autoflower 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:
Outdoors : 50–90cm
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 autoflower strains are easier to meet than those of their photoperiod counterparts.
Autoflower 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.
NO PROBLEMS WITH LIGHT POLLUTION
Growing autoflowers means you can be a lot more relaxed when it comes to light pollution. In fact, it’s a complete non-issue.
Light pollution has the potential to screw up a photoperiod growing operation completely. Bright street lights can prevent outdoor plants from initiating flowering. Indoor growers also experience this inconvenience. They need to make sure that their photoperiod plants grow in the absence of unnecessary light. A leaky grow tent is all it takes to mess up a light schedule.
Fortunately, autoflowering plants don’t fall prey to this irritating occurrence. They don’t obey the command of external lighting cues—they run on their own time.
FEWER NUTRIENTS NEEDED
Autoflowering strains thrive in less-nutritious soil. Their speedy growth and small stature mean they don’t require much fertiliser.
Autoflowers simply aren’t as hungry as their photoperiod counterparts—another result of their hardy nature. Whereas photoperiod strains require a complex nutritional strategy that changes throughout the growing cycle, autoflowers can make do with the bare minimum.
Advantages of autoflowering cannabis plants
Autoflowering cannabis strains flower based on their age rather than photoperiod. Click here to learn about the advantages of autoflowering strains.
Autoflowering cannabis strains are getting a lot of attention. And while they may have been dealt a hard blow with the release of Lowryder, growers are finally realizing their huge potential (despite their small stature).
WHAT ARE AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS PLANTS?
Autoflowering cannabis strains are strains which flower based on age rather than photoperiod. Traditionally, cannabis is a photoperiod plant that begins flowering when they receive less light (usually at the end of summer or beginning of autumn).
The autoflowering trait is unique to cannabis ruderalis, a cannabis variety believed to be native to Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia. Unlike indica or sativa plants, ruderalis varieties flower at a certain age, regardless of how much light they receive.
Ruderalis plants are short and have fast flowering times. Like indicas, they are native to slightly colder environments, making them particularly good at dealing with tough conditions and short, cold summers.
AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS: ALL SMELL, NO PUNCH?
Autoflowering cannabis varieties got a bad reputation when they first hit the market. The first commercially available was Lowryder, which hit the shelves in the early 2000s.
Lowryder was bred by The Joint Doctor. It only grew to about 40cm and flowered in as little as 40 days. While some considered it a breakthrough in cannabis breeding, others labelled it a failure and a substandard strain with low levels of THC and tiny yields.
From this, rumours began to spread through the cannabis grow community that auto strains lacked potency and weren’t worth growing. In fact, the rumours spread like wildfire to a point where autos were readily dismissed as being “all smell, no punch.” However, that isn’t the case.
Autoflowering cannabis varieties have come a long way since the release of the original Lowryder. Thanks to advancements in breeding, many reputable seed banks are now producing great auto varieties that don’t substitute on quality or yield. Today, you can find auto varieties that produce just as well as regular photoperiod strains.
THE BENEFITS OF AUTOFLOWERING VARIETIES
We strongly believe every cannabis grower should experiment with autoflowering varieties at least once, Here are some of the biggest benefits of growing autoflowering cannabis strains:
THEY’RE LIGHTNING FAST
One of the biggest benefits of autoflowering cannabis strains is their fast flowering times.
Photoperiod strains grown indoors can take well over 10 weeks to produce buds, while outdoor photoperiod varieties can take anywhere up to a few months to reach harvest (depending on when they’re planted).
Autoflowering cannabis plants can be ready to harvest in as little as 45-50 days. Unlike regular strain. Thanks to their ruderalis genetics, these plants need very little time to mature, at which point you’ll get your hands on some sweet, sticky buds.
THEY ALLOW FOR MULTIPLE HARVESTS
Thanks to their fast flowering times, autoflowering cannabis strains allow growers to produce more harvest per year than traditional photoperiod strains. This is especially useful for outdoor growers, especially those growing in colder climates with shorter summers.
It is important to note that the individual yield of an autoflowering variety isn’t as high as what you might get from a regular photoperiod strain. This is largely due to the small size of autos. However, keep in mind that growing autos allows you to produce multiple harvest in the same amount of time it would normally take you to raise just one photoperiod strain to full maturity.
THEY’RE EASY TO GROW
Remember, cannabis ruderalis is believed to originate from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and possibly colder parts of North America. Growing in these tougher conditions has made for resilient plants.
Thanks to their genetic background, most autoflowering varieties have inherited the resilient characteristics of the ruderalis species. This means they are very good at dealing with cold conditions, as well as regular garden pests, diseases, and infections.
This makes them ideal for novice growers as well as experienced cultivators living in colder areas and in need of resilient strains that can deal with the local climate.
Autoflowering cannabis varieties are known to be short statured, almost never growing above 1 or 1.2 meters. This makes them ideal for both indoor growers working in with small, confined spaces, as well as outdoor gardeners trying to run a stealthy operation. These days there are some autoflowering strains on the market that may exceed these heights though.
It’s important to note that, due to their small stature, autoflowering strains aren’t capable of producing the same harvests as 2m-tall sativa. However, as we saw before, they have the advantage of allowing for more multiple harvests, which makes up for what they lack in size.
GROW AN AUTO TODAY
Autoflowering strains were hit a hard blow with the release of the original Lowryder. However, there’s no doubt that new autoflowering strains can produce great results both indoors and outdoors, and any grower should give them a try.
Max has been writing about cannabis and psychedelics for several years now. With a strong belief that an open, honest attitude toward drugs and drug policy can improve the lives of many, he seeks to offer insightful and developed opinions on the subject.
Benefits of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis In a Sea of Green
In this article you will learn about Sea of Green farming, how it is done, the benefits associated and our best 3 recommended strains.
- 1. What is the sea of green?
- 2. The advantages associated
- 3. Which strains are best?
- 4. Top tips on sea of green farming with autos
- 5. In conclusion
If you are new to growing Cannabis, you may have come across the terminology S.O.G and been left wondering what it meant. Thanks to the genetic diversity of Cannabis plants, as growers we are able to adapt our grow spaces, schedules, budget, and level of plant maintenance to specific cultivars that are more practically suited.
Over the years, cannabis cultivators have leveraged this genetic flexibility to develop a host of growing methods that are compatible with different goals. Among them, S.O.G stands as one of the best approaches when growing cannabis in limited space. The technique involves growing many small plants instead of a few larger ones. Overall, this results in increased yield and easier management. But not all cultivars perform equally in this set-up. Thanks to their short stature and rapid growing times, autoflowering varieties are perfectly compatible with this method of growing.
Read on to learn all you need to know about Sea of Green, the benefits associated including our top tips, and why autoflowering cultivars are the best choice, due to their short size and fast flowering traits.
1. What Is the Sea of Green?
This basically refers to the end goal being a room filled from wall to wall, with small-sized uniform Cannabis plants. Purposely grown in small pots with a very short growing period, no training applied, and packed closely together. It may sound like an amateur’s set up who does not know what they are doing, however, there are many benefits associated with this style of growing.
As the name of the technique suggests, the end result takes the form of a literal sea of green plants that fill grow rooms and greenhouses. The use of small pot sizes keeps plants relatively uniform which makes management strategies such as defoliation and pest inspection, and tasks such as harvesting buds, substantially easier.
2. The Advantages Associated
Small pots of 6.5L are commonly used meaning a small amount of growing medium is required. With such a short growing time, roots will settle and expand as much as they can anchoring themselves to the base of the pots.
Nutrients for the vegetative period are only used once or twice, ensuring your nutrient lasts much longer every time you produce a crop. Over multiple grows, the savings on root boosters and grow nutrients will be evident and dependent on the size of your crop, one nutrient bottle may last several cycles.
It is possible to easily fill an entire room wall to wall with flowering plants being as efficient as possible space-wise, however it is necessary to create an aisle to allow access to your canopy. As long as you can access your plants in case of an emergency, this is oftentimes the best way to grow in terms of efficiency.
Some very fast flowering cultivars that flower as quickly as 7-8 weeks allow for a grower to restrict each grow cycle to a total of 8-9 weeks in total. It is easily possible to achieve large scale commercial growth in a very short time of up to 10 weeks including the drying process.
Commercial growers are able to achieve multiple harvests per year, in comparison to long vegetative phases that demand some training and hands-on maintenance. The only work required is to plant clones or seedlings, flower and harvest and rotate.
Plant height is reduced to around 30-50cm meaning it is possible to achieve a very successful SOG set up, in a low space such as a bedroom closet, loft conversion or low ceiling cellar space.
3. Which Strains Are Best?
The goal is to flower your Cannabis plants as fast as possible, using an autoflowering cultivar that is a solid, reliable performer. Anything that takes over 10 weeks may be impractical and increase the number of days between harvesting and rotation. Indica dominant or hybrid cultivars is the ideal choice for Sea of green. Thanks to their ability to stay low and uniform, with very little internodal spacing, these are the most preferred.
When working with most of the polyhybrids available on the market, growers should expect some amount of genetic variability between their plants. However, the growing environment also has a large impact on the phenotype that each plant displays. By providing the same pot size, watering schedule, feeding regimen, and light exposure to each plant, you’ll ensure excellent uniformity that makes growing with the S.O.G method easy, rewarding, and fruitful.
One of the best things about autoflowering strains is that they are created with the fast-paced grower in mind. It is possible to harvest an entire crop in as little as 9 weeks with Gelato Auto, Blackberry Auto, and Wedding Cheesecake Auto.
Beautiful plants, and consistent among the three. I topped all of them and got around 115g off each in 2 gallon pots. Very pleased
Cannabis plants that grow with one main central cola surrounded by thick side branches are a great candidate. The growth structure associated with this variety of strain allows for the uniform, top-heavy green blanket effect once blooming has commenced.
4. Top Tips on Sea of Green Farming with Autos
1. Fast autoflowering strains are much better at reducing the amount of time they can be exposed to an airborne pathogen such as Botrytis. Indica dominant cultivars are often more resistant to plant disease and a better choice for Sea of Green.
2. Find an autoflowering strain that is reliable and does not require much hands-on training, or maintenance. A wise choice for beginner growers and those still learning the ropes.
3. Make sure that you leave plenty of space for an aisle that you can comfortably walk down. In the event that the plants need to be treated, then your ability to easily access and freely work is essential.
4. Avoid letting plants touch the sides of the grow tent or walls of the room. It is very important to keep a consistent airflow around the plants and allowing them to touch moist walls during flower can be hazardous.
5. Using a pump and drip emitters can save a lot of work and physical labor, especially when you are working with rows as large as 35 plants and upwards. Setting a timer to do all the work for 15 minutes a day reduces work and saves you a bad back every time.
5. In Conclusion
There are a number of highlights to why a grower who is harvesting every 12-14 weeks, may want to switch to Sea of Green farming using autoflowering cultivars. The obvious reason is the crop rotation that is possible every 9-10 weeks, and the other is the reduction in electricity use, nutrient use, and plant training.
On the other hand, many growers love nothing more than getting hands-on with their plants and enjoying a good 5-10 week growing phase. Some may argue the amount their plants harvest is worth the extra wait, yet the reality is a room full of buds from wall to wall will always harvest the same amount if using lots of small plants or a few large sized.
We hope you enjoyed this article and have discovered a new, fast, productive and stress-free way to grow. Good luck with your fields of high-grade flower!