By Lisa Kush |
While the basics of cannabis cultivation are relatively simple, it is a subject that isn’t without its complexities. Primarily due to the way in which there are subtle yet important differences that separate pretty much every strain of cannabis across the board, when it comes to ideal growing conditions, suitable methods and so on.
What’s more, the type of seed you work with from the start will also make a big difference. One example being autoflowering cannabis seeds, which have become increasingly popular over recent years among amateurs and commercial farmers alike.
What Is Autoflowering Cannabis?
If you’re not entirely familiar with the concept, autoflowering cannabis strains are engineered to flower automatically, rather than having to wait to respond to specific light cycles. What this basically means is that after a short period of vegetation, usually no more than a month, the flowering period starts automatically.
Autoflowering cannabis strains were made possible by incorporating the genetics of cannabis ruderalis – an alternative cannabis subspecies that doesn’t have nearly the same potency or popularity as sativa or indica.
The Advantages of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
In terms of why is that so many people select autoflowering cannabis strains above standard varieties, it mostly comes down to speed and simplicity. When growing indoors, the most immediate benefit is the way in which it is possible for autoflowering cannabis strains to reach full maturity in no more than three months. You don’t have to be nearly as careful in terms of lighting cycles, making them much faster and easier to grow for beginners in particular.
Outdoors, there’s no need to worry about natural lighting cycles or hours of sunlight, as the plants are already pre-programmed to begin flowering exactly when they are ready to. On top of this, autoflowering cannabis strains produce plants that are significantly smaller and more compact than standard cannabis plants, which is great for keeping them discreet and maximising yields in smaller growing spaces.
Of course, there will always be those who argue that such benefits are outweighed by the fact that autoflowering strains never quite replicate the generous yields of larger plants. Nevertheless, the fact that you are able to bring more plants to full maturity in a shorter period of time means that this slight drawback is somewhat augmented.
Caring for Autoflowering Cannabis Strains
If you have made the decision to go ahead and cultivate an autoflowering cannabis strain at home, there are certain things you’ll need to know to get the job done right. As mentioned, there are subtle yet important differences in effective cultivation techniques from one cannabis strain/type to the next, so it’s a good idea to research yours specifically, before getting started.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few tips to serve as a good starting point:
- Train Your Plants
Low-stress training (LST) can be started very early with autoflowering cannabis strains, given the way in which their vegetative growth stage is so short. To encourage a more even canopy, it is recommended to note when three nodes have developed before topping your plants. In terms of pruning, this should be done extremely frugally and for no more than seven days into the flowering period.
- Growing Conditions
Try to remember that just because you can take things easy when it comes to light cycles does not mean that the same can be said for the growing conditions. This is particularly important to bear in mind when growing outdoors, as with autoflowering cannabis strains it is common for home growers to get started as early as March or as late as September. Which is perfectly fine if you’ve got the weather conditions to suit, but remember that harsh weather at all ends of the scale can still do a number on autoflowering cannabis strains.
- Frugal Feeding
Given that they spend a very limited amount of time in the vegetative stage and produce comparatively small plants, it stands to reason that autoflowering strains do not need heavy handed feeding. Always remember that more nutrients does not mean faster growth and better results in general. Depending on the exact strain you are growing and how you are growing it, there will be a precise level of nitrogen and other key nutrients required throughout each life cycle stage. Grab yourself a guide online and follow it to the letter.
- Stagger Harvesting
When working with smaller plants like these, you want to ensure that you get the maximum possible return on your investment. Which means that while with larger plants you may remove lower buds to focus energy on those at the top, you will probably want to keep them with your small plants. Given the way in which these buds at lower positions will firm-up somewhat more slowly than those at the top, it’s a good idea to stagger your harvesting accordingly – rather than just doing it all at once.
- Start the Next Cycle
Last up, if you are looking to produce as much cannabis as possible using the same autoflowering strains, it’s worth getting started on your next batch before you have finished with your current batch. If growing from seed, you can get started with the initial germinating process just before your current plants are ready for harvesting. Or if growing from clones, there’s always the option of something of a standard cultivation cycle, where at all times you have plants on-hand at different growth stages. The key benefit of autoflowering strains being that you don’t have to be particularly worried about lighting in general – just as long as there’s enough of it.
As already mentioned, autoflowering cannabis strains come highly recommended for anyone looking to get started growing cannabis at home for the first time. They tend to be significantly more forgiving than most comparable strains and guarantee the fastest, easiest results possible.
Of course, the quality of the cannabis you produce will always be a direct reflection of the quality of the equipment you use, not to mention the extent to which you invest yourself in the process. In addition, it’s also critically important to ensure that you only ever pick up autoflowering seeds from leading brands with proven commitment to quality above all else.
On the whole, autoflowering cannabis in general represents a great introduction to home growing – especially if you are looking to keep things as discrete as possible.