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The Difference Between Autoflowering & Photoperiod Cannabis

Big Buds Magazine

Autoflowering crops are unusual however fantastic creatures. When routinely flowering cannabis first confirmed up on the scene 20 years ago, it was hempy, leafy and low efficiency. But throughout the final 10 years, breeders of autoflowering strains have upped their recreation, creating cannabis variants as excessive yielding and as strong as the precursor photoperiod strains they derive from.

Rising autoflowering hashish is vastly totally different to rising common photoperiod strains. Listed here are the basics you’ll have to know earlier than embarking on such a grow:

  • Autoflowering hashish was created by cannabis breeding pioneers who inserted ruderalis genetics into photoperiod cannabis.
  • You possibly can solely purchase autoflowering cannabis seeds, not autoflowering clones, which can all grow out to be females.
  • Autoflowering crops don’t need 12-hour photoperiod triggering to start out bloom part. Somewhat, they’ll start bloom part mechanically two to four weeks after germination, no matter what number of hours of light they’re getting.
  • They don’t want 12 hours of sunshine per day in bloom part. Somewhat, they need 18 to 20 hours.
  • Most autoflowering hashish strains are prepared for harvest not more than 10 to 14 weeks after germination.
  • Some autoflowering strains end 15 to 40 % quicker than their photoperiod precursor.
  • Autoflowering strains are likely to grow 15 to 45 % shorter in peak than their photoperiod precursors.
  • Of the various hashish seed corporations retailing autoflowering strains, only a fraction of the strains bought are reliable, potent, high yielding and attractive enough to develop.

Over a period of about 5 years, I’ve grown a total 21 autoflowering strains from 5 totally different breeders (and in some instances, I additionally grew their genetic photoperiod precursors) in indoor and outside gardens. I’m lucky to have an in depth working relationship with the pioneering autoflowering research workforce at Dutch Ardour, the seed company that helped convey autoflowering cannabis to the mainstream market 20 years in the past. After much experimentation and debate with autoflowering specialists, I really feel I’ve finally gained mastery of autoflower cultivation, so now I’m sharing that information with you.

Breeding Autoflowering Seeds And Clones

For some growers, it’s harder to make useful mother crops, clones or seeds from autoflower crops than it is from photoperiod cannabis. Breeding is additional deterred by the truth that all autoflowering crops grown from dependable business seed inventory will develop out female. I’ve by no means had a male autoflowering plant, although I’ve had a number of hermaphrodites.

If trying to clone an autoflowering plant, you’ll doubtless discover the chopping gained’t revert again to veg part as would a clone from a photoperiod chopping. A chopping from a 35-day-old autoflower plant is supposed to be ready 80 days after germination, which means the slicing will only have another 45 days left of life. The clone will proceed flowering, however its stature, efficiency and yield might be lacking.

I attempted to make autoflowering seeds by pollinating autoflowering crops with pollen from photoperiod crops and from hermaphrodite autoflowering crops. Sadly, once you cross photoperiod or hermie pollen with an autoflowering female, you get seeds with a wide variety of genotypes and phenotypes. Some develop out to photoperiod, whereas others are tiny dwarfs or hermaphrodites. Some crops by no means flower, even once I put them on a photoperiod bloom-phase mild cycle, whereas others flowered too early and their buds by no means developed resin glands.

The offspring of newbie autoflowering breeding experiments are usually not true autoflowering crops, though they could carry the recessive gene for the autoflowering trait. You’ll must be a skilled skilled and do at the very least half a dozen generations of breeding to have even a hope of making reliably autoflowering strains.

The bottom line? Until you’re keen on breeding hashish and have the time, experience and grow-op infrastructure to do it proper, it’s quite a bit easier to buy autoflower seeds.

Topping And Coaching Autoflowering Cannabis

When cultivating photoperiod hashish, reduce off the primary stalk apical meristem and topmost leaf sets of aspect branches to restrict plant peak, create denser morphology, improve mild penetration all through the canopy, and improve number of colas the plant places out. You may also prime some strains of autoflowering hashish to realize shorter, bushier, higher-yielding crops.

Topping is particularly useful for crops rising in enclosures with restricted vertical area, but slows down flowering onset and bud maturation by week two. Also, some autoflowering strains don’t react properly to topping and may develop hermaphrodite flowers or buds that never mature.

Typically, autoflowering strains grow out to have one essential cola that towers a number of inches above the substantial colas under it. Crops with this pure, untopped morphology can produce heavy yields. Autoflower crops not often grow greater than three or 4 ft excessive, and the towering most important cola gained’t be too near the grow lights in most grow ops. So, except in instances where I’ve had autoflowering phenotypes which might be racing skyward and I worry they’ll get too tall, there’s not often any need for topping autoflowering crops.

Autoflowering growers can get larger yields and shorter crops with low stress coaching, a cultivation fashion that includes gently bending, restraining and guiding aspect branches so that crops unfold out horizontally relatively than vertically.

Reliability Of Autoflowering Cannabis Phenotypes

Many autoflowering strains supply an excessive amount of phenotypic variety, together with variations in peak, leaf measurement and form, flowering onset time, scent and yield. One plant I grew completed at four ft high, while another of the identical strain finished at two ft high. Solely the most effective autoflowering breeders make strains with dependable phenotype consistency.

Dutch Ardour plant scientist Eddy Janssen explains the nuances of autoflowering phenotypes:

“The consistency of phenotypic expression depends on the number of breeding generations used by the breeder, along with the stability of the genetics. Only the breeders who operate with the highest standards and are willing to spend years creating an autoflowering strain produce a strain line with tight control over the range of appearance, height, cannabinoids and terpenoids.”

Nevertheless, breeders don’t have complete management over phenotype improvement. Crops interact with their setting, altering gene expression and phenotypic traits. And as with photoperiod crops, Mom Nature typically introduces random genetic modifications that can slightly lower the consistency of otherwise perfected autoflowering strains.

A part of the issue for a lot of autoflower strains lies in the complexity of the autoflower breeding course of. Will the seeds have been bred over many generations, or will they be launched after the briefest of breeding cycles? Has the seed provider been round for some time, or is it a newcomer? You need to know the solutions to those questions earlier than you commit to buying these seeds.

For a lot of breeders, autoflowering seeds are a well-liked selection because growers love the velocity and convenience of rising from autos. Some seed corporations try to get a slice of the autoflowering revenue pie, however they merely don’t have the talent required to supply quality seeds.

In many ways, creating secure, high-quality autoflower varieties is the hardest check of a breeder’s talent, method and understanding. It’s also a check of their integrity. Promoting autoflower seeds is one factor, but ensuring the grower will get persistently great outcomes out of your strains is a lot more troublesome to do.

Season Period And Autoflowering Sativa Strains

Autoflowering cannabis finishes quicker than comparable photoperiod strains, and is often dominant in indica or Kush genetics, that are naturally inclined toward brief seasons. Many autoflowering seed breeders declare their strains might be ready for harvest seven to eight weeks after germination, however in my experience with growing 21 autoflowering strains, the standard pattern of progress and seasonal period is as follows:

  • The crops develop for two to 3 weeks at 18 to 20 hours of sunshine before they mechanically begin pre-flowering. No 12-hour mild cycle required.
  • Strong early flowers turning into peak bloom buds are visible at three to four weeks after germination.
  • Bloom part lasts a further five to 9 weeks after early flowers appear.
  • The common germination-to-harvest time for autoflowering strains is 10 weeks, which continues to be quicker than most photoperiod strains.

Dutch Ardour’s Janssen provides us the following insight into crop period estimates for autoflowering marijuana:

“Some autoflowering breeders are too optimistic in their claims that an auto will really be ready in the times they state, especially with autoflowering strains with significant sativa inputs. The autoflowering industry is full of breeders who haven’t fully come to grips with the complexities of breeding. They don’t do enough testing to see how their seeds perform. They tell you their strain will be ready to harvest in eight weeks because that’s what you want to hear, not because it’s accurate.

“One of our strongest Dutch Passion sativa autoflowers is called Think Big. It includes very high-quality sativa genetics. Our strain description specifies 13 to 14 weeks from germination to harvest. Some growers are deterred by that length of time, but in the case of a pure sativa, the wait is worth it, and if it was a photoperiod sativa, it could be 13 to 14 weeks just in bloom phase.”

So, what advice about one of the best time to reap does Janssen have for autoflowering growers?

“When resin glands are falling apart, the buds are ripe or overripe and it’s time to cut. I know growers who chop around 70 to 80 days no matter what, so they can get in more crop cycles per year. Many commercial croppers like to chop them at 73 days, which allows them five crop cycles a year. But many growers who are in less of a rush are happy to keep growing their plants until the resin glands are at their peak. That could be 120 days or longer from germination in some cases.

“Our research shows that autoflowering plants left alive longer than the breeder’s lifespan estimates often maintain fresh resin glands longer than photoperiod plants would, with more resins and bud structure developing. You can see chunky, rock-hard buds on our autoflowering plants that look like they were dipped in honey — that’s how much resin is on them.”

Electricity Costs, Develop Lights And Autoflowering Cannabis

Autoflowering hashish thrives on 18 to 20 hours of light per day from begin to finish, whereas photoperiod crops only require 18 to 20 hours of sunshine per day for develop part, and 12 hours per day for bloom part.

How does this work when it comes to electricity consumption and price of grow lights?

Once I grew an autoflower Jack Herer and its precursor photoperiod Jack Herer at the similar time but in several rooms, the autoflower was prepared in 100 days and required 2,000 complete hours of light. In distinction, the photoperiod Jack Herer acquired 18 hours of light per day for 39 days earlier than I flipped it into flowering part, which lasted 69 days at 12 hours of light per day. The photoperiod Jack Herer only wanted 1,530 hours of sunshine compared to 2,000 for the autoflowering model.

Normally, you’ll use more electricity and wear out HID grow-light bulbs quicker whenever you develop autoflowering. It’s value noting that the autoflowering Jack Herer yield averaged 43 grams fewer of dried buds per plant than the photoperiod Jack Herer crops, yet the efficiency and taste of the autoflows have been as spectacular as the photoperiod Jack.

“Autoflowering cannabis folds most of its grow phase into bloom phase; both occur at the same time,” explains Janssen. “Photoperiod plants have only 12 hours of light per day to run photosynthesis and make cannabinoids and terpenoids. Autoflowers have more hours of light per day to create potency. Lab tests show that some autoflower strains are significantly more potent than photoperiod strains of the same basic category.”

Outside Autoflowering Cannabis

Cultivators of outside cannabis might feel discouraged from growing autoflowering crops because their crops gained’t see many hours of light per day, especially not direct sunlight. And yet I’ve efficiently grown autoflowering strains outside. Even in peak summer time, these strains acquired not more than eight hours of direct sun per day, and much fewer hours as summer time waned. Nevertheless, they still produced large, potent buds, dealt with inclement weather, drought, pests and illnesses with enviable resilience, have been brief in peak (which is nice for stealth), and yields ranged from sufficient to spectacular.

Since you’re freed from having to offer 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness per day and removing male crops, autoflowering crops grown outside in guerrilla-style distant places are a sensible investment for making certain probably giant, hassle-free harvests.

The Greatest Autoflowering Strains?

Having been breeding business cannabis seeds and promoting them internationally because the 1980s, Dutch Passion’s founder is fortunate to have additionally labored with the Joint Doctor.

“Dutch Passion is the earliest major marketer of autoflower seeds,” Janssen says. “The autoflowering concept was created in the early 2000s, and we were glad to link up with the primary inventor of autoflowering cannabis, the Joint Doctor. The Joint Doctor started it all with a strain he called Mexican Rudy, short for ruderalis.” Janssen describes this pressure as a dwarf that flowered sooner than any cannabis he’d ever seen. Whereas not notably potent or tasty, Mexican Rudy was a quick grower that was prepared to harvest weeks earlier than some other strain.

The Joint Doctor crossed Mexican Rudy with basic Northern Lights to supply photoperiod seeds that flowered and completed early. Joint Physician additionally did ruderalis-infused backcrosses with the famous William’s Marvel pressure. Throughout these experiments, Joint Doctor created bizarre crops that stayed small and flowered early, regardless of how much mild they have been provided with. Crossing male crops of this autoflowering experiment with the legendary photoperiod pressure William’s Marvel resulted in the pressure Willy’s Automated, which turned the inspiration for the famed early autoflowering strain ultimately generally known as Lowryder. Next, crossing Lowryder with a Brazilian sativa for a number of generations resulted in Lowryder 2, which was potent and heavy yielding. Then came Continual Ryder, Diesel Ryder and Straightforward Ryder.

The group’s breeding experiments centered around inserted ruderalis traits into Dutch Ardour’s photoperiod lineup to create immediately’s award-winning autoflower strains. They’ve also innovated many new forms of cannabis strains, together with variants with excessive CBD, and Frisian Duck, a stealth strain that doesn’t resemble hashish in any respect. Dutch Passion’s autoflowering and photoperiod strains have also gained quite a few Excessive Occasions Cannabis Cup awards.

In fact, I still grow photoperiod strains, but autoflowering is a neater, faster-finishing class of cannabis, and through the use of a special feed program specific for autoflowering hashish, I’ve gotten superb yields of ultra-potent buds. I’m grateful to Joint Doctor, Dutch Passion, and all the opposite breeders who make reliable autoflowering strains. In the event you’re yet to attempt growing autoflowering strains, what’s the holdup?