In the following text, we describe the basic features of autoflowering cannabis. Please scroll down for the list of in-depth articles about this type of weed.
Modern autoflowering cannabis strains are direct descendants of Cannabis ruderalis. And ruderalis is a small, fast-flowering subspecies of hemp that grows naturally in Northern Europe and Siberia.
For a weed grower, the most important feature of both ruderalis and autoflowers is their ability to start flowering automatically.
When and Why Does Cannabis Start to Flower?
Photoperiod plants—people often call them feminized though it’s not quite correct—are short-day plants. It means that they track the duration of days and nights and only enter the flowering stage when days and nights are more or less of equal length.
If you give them more than 14-15 light hours per day, they will never start to flower.
Autoflowering cannabis, on the other hand, starts to produce flowers after 2-3-4-5 weeks from sprouts. It is a neutral-day plant, meaning that it’s not sensitive to how many hours of light it receives daily.
Why is it Important?
Outdoors, you can grow an autoflower plant in any season (provided that it’s warm enough and sunny). You can sow your seeds in April and harvest buds in June (in Northern hemisphere).
In contrast, photoperiod varieties always finish in fall. It doesn’t matter when you planted them. Let’s visualize this with the following table:
|Autoflowering Cannabis||Photoperiod Cannabis|
Indoors, you can induce the flowering of photoperiod strains by switching your timer to 12/12 (12h of light and 12h of darkness). Autoflowers will perform with any light schedule.
|Light Schedule||Autoflowering Cannabis||Photoperiod Cannabis|
How Long Do Autoflowers Take?
Autoflower time from seed to harvest varies from strain to strain and from phenotype to phenotype. The fastest of them can finish in two months. 10 to 12 weeks is a more realistic timeframe for most of them.
The speed may also depend on the light schedule. The longer the day (e.g. 24/0), the longer the life cycle (at least for some of the strains). Adverse growing conditions may delay the onset of flowering and hence the harvest. The same goes for high-stress training techniques.
Many varieties react to the size of the pots. They start to flower as soon as there’s no more space left for the root system to grow. Conversely, in bigger pots or outdoors, the same strain would keep growing for a couple of more weeks and only then begin flowering.
The same genetics usually takes a week longer to mature outdoors compared to indoors.
|Shorter Life Cycle Factors||Longer Life Cycle Factors|
Yield and Potency of Autoflowering Cannabis
For obvious reasons, the question of quality of autoflowers is the most important one. Autos are fast, okay, but aren’t they bad because of that?
Rest assured: modern autoflowers are everything a grower and a smoker expect from a top-shelf weed strain. They are vigorous, high-yielding, and potent. Not exactly on par with the best photoperiod strains of today, but certainly better than many old-school varieties.
Autoflowering cannabis is a great invention. Many people who couldn’t grow their own bud before now have this opportunity for the first time. And those growers who have been cultivating photoperiod strains successfully can also give autos a try. Their unique feature of automatic flowering offers a lot of flexibility in terms of setting up your grow and timing your harvest.