Whether you are a cannabis entrepreneur, an experienced or a beginner grower, you might have crossed paths with autoflowering cannabis seeds. Autoflowering means that these plants will automatically grow flowers, so it’s a great thing, right? Well, it depends on the size of your growing room, your experience as a grower, and your final goals.
In this article, we will go over the main pros and cons of choosing autoflowering strains over photoperiod ones so you can make the best decision for your harvest.
What is Autoflowering Cannabis
Autoflowering cannabis, also known as day-neutral cannabis, are strains that will automatically switch from the vegetative to the flowering stage without shifting the light schedule. Although the origin of these strains is highly debated, many believe that autoflowering seeds have genetics connected to Cannabis ruderalis, a native species from Russia.
Because the ruderalis species is highly resilient, it adapted to the harsh climate, but it had low THC levels. Breeders then started to combine ruderalis with the widely known strains for higher THC levels, and that’s when autoflowering cannabis became popular.
Should You Buy Autoflowering or Photoperiod Seeds
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, this choice depends a lot on your experience as a grower and your goals for the harvest. If you are just starting your indoor growing, autoflowering can be a great choice, but if you have a business that needs stable genetics and high yields, perhaps not.
Photoperiod cannabis are the strains with a longer vegetative period that will only start producing buds when you change the timing in the grow lights. Each of these options brings different benefits and disadvantages, so let’s weigh in the pros and cons of autoflowering versus photoperiod together.
Main Benefits of Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds
Shorter Harvesting Time
Most autoflowering seeds out there start flowering fast and can be ready for harvest within 9 to 12 weeks after seedling. It’s a lot faster when compared to photoperiod, which can take 24 or even 32 weeks to harvest. With this shorter growing period, you can have multiple simultaneous varieties, which is great if you love the growing process and having all types of strains.
Autoflowering plants are smaller when compared to most photoperiod strains, which can be a great asset if you have limited space or need to be discrete with your neighbors and surroundings. Although growing marijuana is legal in many states, not every neighborhood is weed-friendly, and growers can have a lot of headache. With smaller plants, you can start growing cannabis inside a closet, a small growth tent, on a balcony, or even in that spot in your garden next to the tomatoes.
Can Be Grown Indoors or Outdoors
Because of their genetics, autoflowering plants are sturdy and can adapt to different types and amounts of light, whether natural or artificial. If you live in a place where the Summer is short, you will have enough time to leverage the sunlight with perhaps a few crops. And
if you plan to grow these plants indoors with artificial light, they will adapt quickly and not be as finicky as photoperiod if you have light pollution or small portions of light entering your grow room.
Great for Beginners
Because of its short time span, autoflowering cannabis seeds can be great for beginners who want to see results quicker and fast-track their learning process. The setup for growing is easier, and the plants are more robust. Also, autoflowering can be a bit easier without the need for thorough light control, and the faster process will provide you with quicker rewards.
Disadvantages of Autoflowering Seeds
Genetics Can Be Hard
When talking about autoflowering strains, genetics can sometimes be a wild card, especially when compared to growing from clones. Maintaining steady genetics is harder because autoflower will always come from a seed. Seeds from the same strain bought from the same vendor can have all sorts of different characteristics. If you find the perfect
autoflowering strain, it can be a lifetime before you find the same attributes in a plant again.
Smaller Yields and Lower THC Levels
Because the autoflowering seeds will start producing buds faster than the photoperiod, they spend less time in the vegetative period. This process makes the plants smaller, which consequently will have a smaller yield. Experienced auto growers use techniques to increase yields, but those are not comparable to a yield with a high-quality photoperiod clone. In addition to that, the THC levels are generally lower in autoflowering strains since its genetics date to species with little of this cannabinoid.
No Room for Mistakes or Cloning
A shorter life cycle means that is also little to no room for errors in the process. Once you notice a deficiency in the plant or realize you made a mistake, it’s probably too late. Because the plants can take up to a week to receive nutrients, changes in the soil, or pH, you have to act fast and try to catch up. Also, the fast-track process leaves no room for cloning because there isn’t enough vegetative stage for the clone to grow into its own plant. Once your crop is finished, you must start from seed again and pray to get similar genetics.
Verdict: Autoflowering is Great for Home Growers but Not a Fit for Businesses
At this point, you may have already made up your mind about going or not with autoflowering cannabis seeds, but the pros and cons are strong. Beginner home growers can benefit immensely from its simplicity and fast-track life cycle. This accelerated process can even help the learning process and help you understand better how to grow cannabis effectively. If your harvest is only for your consumption, you will not be harmed by the smaller yields if that means a faster and easier process.
However, if you are a cannabis business owner or an entrepreneur, the cons are too heavy to deal with. Smaller yields can mean smaller profits, and lower THC levels can cause your product to be harder to sell. If you want to be seen as a reliable vendor to cannabis stores and dispensaries, you must have steady genetics in your buds, and autoflowers simply cannot provide that. You should rely on a dependable source of cannabis clones for your business’s sake.
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