Auto-flowering plants

The discreet evolution of Auto-flowering cannabis plants is a recent occurrence, one that is in mode at present especially with Spanish growers. There is no doubt there are applications for a plant that does not depend on light hours. However like the recent fad of feminized seeds, there are certain restraints and draw backs placed on environment of these seeds where theory does not match the practical aspects.

Auto-flowering in Cannabis is a trait that would be classified as recessive in a normal population, but can be bred into a strain through selective breeding. This aspect makes it similar to regular bred seed and different from feminized seed which is chemical induced! Not all strains will respond the same even if they have the auto-flowering trait bred into them, so it is always good to review other grower’s diaries of their experiences before buying your auto-flowering strain seed. Many forums exist nowadays to review strains before you buy so no need to trust only the company you are looking to buy from…

The major application for auto-flowering is to return a crop from seed to finished flower in a similar time to a clone 6-10 weeks(depending upon them being sativa or indica ) in countries where the light levels are not conducive for normal regular strains of cannabis…like Russia, Canada, Norway .

In today’s market of Auto-flowering seed we can distinguish them into 3 categories based on flowering time and plant dimensions.

  1. Varieties that ripen in around 60 days and that have an average height of 30-60cm and yield between 25-30 grams per plant.

  2. Varieties that ripen in 70-80 days and that have an average height between 50-130cm and yield between 50-100 grams per plant.

  3. Varieties that ripen in 120 days and have an average height of 1-2meters and yield over 100 grams per plant. (Very few exist of this category at present).

While Auto-flowering plants are totally indifferent to the photoperiod, and do not need forced darkening to ripen the yields and dimensions of the plant are not always as satisfactory as regular seed, if compared.

The advantages for using Auto-flowering plants in an outdoor crop are

  1. Possibility to grow in places constantly illuminated or disturbed by street lighting or other strong light sources in the night hours.

  2. The possibility of doing multiple crops in a season since beginning in early spring would allow for 3 crops before late Autumn/Winter arrives.

  3. Auto-flowering strains like Variety 2(70-80days) can be easily camouflaged due to their reduced dimensions.

  4. The possibility to grow in geographical zones with particularly short summer cycles.

The advantages for using Auto-Flowering plants in an indoor crop are

  1. Giving more hours light from germination onwards of an Auto-flowering plant will increase the production and increase the yield of up to 25% more than a clone at 12/12, if done well.

  2. Auto-flowering plants seem to be quite resilient to disease and pests and show healthy vitality as they grow.

  3. From seed to flower is equivalent to a clone from a good indica mother like Skunk.

  4. Their contained height makes them better suited for those low lying or limited height rooms.

  5. With experienced hydroponic growers the results have been reliable and better than expectations of yield.

  6. Without the need to specific grow tents or special equipment to achieve complete darkness, the Auto-flowering plant can attain mature, compact and ripened flowers.

  7. No need to keep mother plants for cloning as the seed is equally as fast!

The disadvantages of Auto-flowering plants are

  1. Uniformity and stability issues are still common due to their short history in the breeding world. (Of course with more experience and time the improvements will be able to deal with many of these issues).

  2. The sensitivity of these plants to growing parameters and the type of grower can cause many teething problems and loss in yields initially.

  3. The vegetative growth is extremely short and it cannot be manipulated like in a clone. Therefore it is imperative for the grower to pay a lot of attention to attaining a good root development in the initial 20 days of the plant`s life as flowering onsets after day 20-25!

  4. Commercial reasons at present seem to make only feminized automatic versions available to the grower. This factor rules out people who do not wish to use feminized treated plants and therefore miss out of the automatic experience.

  5. many people`s first experience with auto-flowering plants still do not match potency and yields of non auto-flowering plants.

  6. Very limited success with cloning of auto-flowering plants.

  7. Very limited selection of varieties available on the market, most of the strains are just simple copies or crosses of the few automatic varieties created several years ago.

I have been watching the development of certain automatic strains and their breeding regimes the past 10 years. The breeding methods are different to regular breeding as it is done in populations rather than selected individuals. However, when it is done correctly it can have fine results. I saw excellent results from outdoor crops in Russia this year courtesy of Grass-o-Matic Seed Company.

The only thing that does bother me at this stage is the sensitivity of these plants to become a commercial viability? Time and care with producing the progeny seed for the market will determine if this fad is to become a permanent resident in cannabis seed. I believe it will! The fact does remain that the breeding work for crop seed is time consuming and since mothers and father plants cannot be considered it is an ongoing refining process and will improve from generation to generation if done well.

Like all seed producing outfits, when it comes to making feminized seed or auto-flowering feminized or auto-flowering seed it must be timed well and all applications consistently administered in correct dosages…this will lead to well made seed. If any part of the process is compromised it will result in the progeny seed going to the consumer and causing more problems than it will be worth. So the key to having a good experience with these types of seed strains will be to buy a reliable well made seed from a company who stands behind their work. This is probably something to look for first as there are so many versions offered it can be like buying a lottery ticket.

Doing a quick search on the internet it reveals there are even specific websites dedicated to auto-flowering plants only. So there is enough work to review if you wish to join in and try this for yourself.

Considering it is a legitimate trait that occurs naturally in the plant it therefore can be manipulated and adapted to create some very useful geographic applications. Cannabis as a medicine in countries previously never known as self –cultivating or warm enough to complete a full cycle, may now be considered part of the growing Cannabis family!


From: Dolce Vita Magazine 38