Autoflowering Cannabis FAQ: 7 Must-Know Facts Autoflowering cannabis varieties have been steadily gaining in popularity over the last five years or so, as improved breeding techniques have If you are new to growing Cannabis, you may have come across the terminology S.O.G and been left wondering what it meant. Thanks to the genetic diversity of Can Learn the pros and cons of autoflowering and feminized seeds from the pros at Atlas Seed.
Autoflowering Cannabis FAQ: 7 Must-Know Facts
Autoflowering cannabis varieties have been steadily gaining in popularity over the last five years or so, as improved breeding techniques have created new and better strains. Now, it is possible to grow abundant, high-potency harvests in as little as nine or ten weeks, from germination to harvest.
Autoflowering seeds are a relatively new innovation in the world of cannabis cultivation. Descended from Cannabis ruderalis genetics native to Russia and Central Asia, autoflowering plants do not rely on changes in light cycle to commence flowering; instead, they rely on a different set of triggers, and flower according to age and size.
1. What is Cannabis ruderalis?
Cannabis ruderalis is a putative third species (or subspecies) of cannabis, and is found in northerly latitudes of the northern hemisphere, particularly in Russia. C. ruderalis is notable for its small stature, low cannabinoid levels, hardiness and cold-resistance — and of course, the tendency to flower regardless of light cycles once a certain age and size has been achieved.
Some botanists classify it as a species in its own right, others that it is a subspecies of Cannabis Indica or Cannabis Sativa. In 2003, chemotaxic and genetic analysis of cannabinoid variation in 157 varieties of cannabis indicated that C. sativa and C. indica were two separate species, and that C. ruderalis is a subspecies of C. sativa. However, even this is disputed. In 2005, new analysis revealed that C. ruderalis may indeed be a species in its own right, and a ‘sister’ species to C. indica and C. sativa.
Due to the extreme climate and short growing season of C. ruderalis’ natural habitat, it has evolved to grow, flower and seed in a short period of time, and does not wait until the light levels drop at the end of summer to begin flowering. At this time frosts will already have begun to set in and temperatures will become unfavourable. Instead, once the plant has produced four or five branches and reached a height of around 50cm, it will begin to flower.
Qualities of the C. ruderalis include:
- Short vegetative periods and short flowering periods
- Not dependent on light/day cycles to begin flowering
- Is hardy and resistant to frost and cold climates
- Always found at 50°N of the equator or even higher latitudes.
2. What are commercial autos and super-autos?
Over the last decade or two, breeders have experimented with crossing C. ruderalis genetics with desirable, high-cannabinoid strains to produce commercially-useful autoflowering hybrids. It is possible that certain other autoflowering landraces may also have played a part in developing the first “autos”, such as a plant known as the “Mexican Rudy”. As the name suggests, this was a ruderalis-type plant found in Mexico. It was used to produce LowRyder, one of the first commercial autoflowering strains on the market.
The first wave of commercial autos, including LowRyder, were typically very small in stature (usually reaching a maximum of 40cm in height), low in cannabinoid content, and somewhat lacking in flavour and potency.
However, successive generations of crosses and backcrosses have led to the development of a range of higher-potency strains that are generally known as super-autos. Super-autos are also typically much taller and bushier than standard autos and their ruderalis ancestor, and may reach 90-100cm in height.
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3. Autoflowering plants do not need darkness
As autoflowering plants are not dependent on changes in the light cycle to commence flowering, they can successfully be grown using a lighting cycle of anything from 16/8 to 24/0. Many growers cultivate their autos under a 24/0 regime; however, some growers believe that anything over 18/6 is overkill and that electricity costs can be reduced with no reduction in final yield.
There is also the possibility that certain hormonal and metabolic processes do occur in darkness, and that allowing your plants to have a “rest” at night-time leads to overall increased health and vigour. However, this is purely anecdotal and there is no empirical evidence to back this up, at least in the case of autoflowering cannabis.
4. Autos can be grown outdoors year-round
If you are lucky enough to live in a mild to warm climate suitable for outdoor growing, the possibilities for growing autoflowering strains are endless. Taking as little as 8-10 weeks from seed to harvest, it is possible to achieve five harvests or more per year if conditions are favourable year-round.
Plus, autoflowers are so hardy that they will grow well as long as conditions remain above freezing. Autos are generally frost-resistant, but permanently-frozen conditions are too much for even the hardiest plant to tolerate.
However, it is important to remember that autos are not fully stabilised in every case (buying seeds only from reputable outlets reduces the risk here) and may take considerably longer than stated. Despite this, even the autos that take the longest to grow outdoors (18 weeks from seed to harvest seems to be the upper limit) are still favourable compared to photoperiod-dependent plants in terms of total grow time.
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5. Can you clone autoflowering plants?
This difficulty in cloning autos has led to the general belief that autoflowering cannabis cannot be cloned, as cuttings taken from a mother plant are forced to follow her “genetic timeline” and flower according to age at the same time that she begins to flower. This logic dictates that the cuttings will not reach a useful size, and yield will be negligible.
However, there are some growers that believe otherwise, and who have successfully managed to clone their autos and allow them to continue to grow in vegetative mode, until they are almost as large as their mother. Once they reach their maximum size, they begin to flower.
The key requirement if attempting to clone autoflowering plants is to take cuttings from the lower branches only. These lower branches seem to be more hormonally stable than newer growth at the top of the plant. The main terminal stem, known as the apical meristem, is the first part of the plant to receive the signal that it is time to flower, and this information takes time to permeate downwards and signal the lower branches to flower.
Thus, there is a brief window of time between the first appearance of sexual characteristics (assuming that regular, non-feminized auto seeds are used) and the permeation of flowering hormones throughout the tissues of the plant. This window may be just a few hours, and it is therefore crucial to watch your plants for pre-flowers and take cuttings as soon as they appear.
Once cuttings are taken, they should be kept under low-intensity light in moist conditions until they have rooted. Once rooted, they will undergo vegetative growth until they have reached approximately 80% of the mother’s size, and will produce comparable final harvests.
6. When do autoflowers flower?
For most plants, including regular cannabis strains, there is a gene that controls photoperiod dependency and response. Obviously, in autoflowering plants, this gene is lacking, meaning the plant does not flower as a response to changes in the circadian rhythm.
Scientists still don’t know exactly which gene is responsible for flowering with autoflowering varieties. However, we do know that in this case, flowering is triggered by age rather than changes in light. Most autoflowers will begin to flower between 6 and 8 weeks after planting.
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7. How long do autoflowers take from seed to harvest?
Given the fact that autoflowering varieties are generally still a new initiative in the world of cannabis genetics, the time between seed and harvest can vary greatly. In general, a good autoflowering variety should be ready to harvest within 10 weeks of planting. With that being said, this is not always the case.
Autoflowering plants have been reported to take up to 18 weeks between seed and harvest. This might be due to instability in the genetics or perhaps an unreliable seed purchased from an unreliable retailer.
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
Benefits of Growing Autoflowering Cannabis In a Sea of Green
In this article you will learn about Sea of Green farming, how it is done, the benefits associated and our best 3 recommended strains.
- 1. What is the sea of green?
- 2. The advantages associated
- 3. Which strains are best?
- 4. Top tips on sea of green farming with autos
- 5. In conclusion
If you are new to growing Cannabis, you may have come across the terminology S.O.G and been left wondering what it meant. Thanks to the genetic diversity of Cannabis plants, as growers we are able to adapt our grow spaces, schedules, budget, and level of plant maintenance to specific cultivars that are more practically suited.
Over the years, cannabis cultivators have leveraged this genetic flexibility to develop a host of growing methods that are compatible with different goals. Among them, S.O.G stands as one of the best approaches when growing cannabis in limited space. The technique involves growing many small plants instead of a few larger ones. Overall, this results in increased yield and easier management. But not all cultivars perform equally in this set-up. Thanks to their short stature and rapid growing times, autoflowering varieties are perfectly compatible with this method of growing.
Read on to learn all you need to know about Sea of Green, the benefits associated including our top tips, and why autoflowering cultivars are the best choice, due to their short size and fast flowering traits.
1. What Is the Sea of Green?
This basically refers to the end goal being a room filled from wall to wall, with small-sized uniform Cannabis plants. Purposely grown in small pots with a very short growing period, no training applied, and packed closely together. It may sound like an amateur’s set up who does not know what they are doing, however, there are many benefits associated with this style of growing.
As the name of the technique suggests, the end result takes the form of a literal sea of green plants that fill grow rooms and greenhouses. The use of small pot sizes keeps plants relatively uniform which makes management strategies such as defoliation and pest inspection, and tasks such as harvesting buds, substantially easier.
2. The Advantages Associated
Small pots of 6.5L are commonly used meaning a small amount of growing medium is required. With such a short growing time, roots will settle and expand as much as they can anchoring themselves to the base of the pots.
Nutrients for the vegetative period are only used once or twice, ensuring your nutrient lasts much longer every time you produce a crop. Over multiple grows, the savings on root boosters and grow nutrients will be evident and dependent on the size of your crop, one nutrient bottle may last several cycles.
It is possible to easily fill an entire room wall to wall with flowering plants being as efficient as possible space-wise, however it is necessary to create an aisle to allow access to your canopy. As long as you can access your plants in case of an emergency, this is oftentimes the best way to grow in terms of efficiency.
Some very fast flowering cultivars that flower as quickly as 7-8 weeks allow for a grower to restrict each grow cycle to a total of 8-9 weeks in total. It is easily possible to achieve large scale commercial growth in a very short time of up to 10 weeks including the drying process.
Commercial growers are able to achieve multiple harvests per year, in comparison to long vegetative phases that demand some training and hands-on maintenance. The only work required is to plant clones or seedlings, flower and harvest and rotate.
Plant height is reduced to around 30-50cm meaning it is possible to achieve a very successful SOG set up, in a low space such as a bedroom closet, loft conversion or low ceiling cellar space.
3. Which Strains Are Best?
The goal is to flower your Cannabis plants as fast as possible, using an autoflowering cultivar that is a solid, reliable performer. Anything that takes over 10 weeks may be impractical and increase the number of days between harvesting and rotation. Indica dominant or hybrid cultivars is the ideal choice for Sea of green. Thanks to their ability to stay low and uniform, with very little internodal spacing, these are the most preferred.
When working with most of the polyhybrids available on the market, growers should expect some amount of genetic variability between their plants. However, the growing environment also has a large impact on the phenotype that each plant displays. By providing the same pot size, watering schedule, feeding regimen, and light exposure to each plant, you’ll ensure excellent uniformity that makes growing with the S.O.G method easy, rewarding, and fruitful.
One of the best things about autoflowering strains is that they are created with the fast-paced grower in mind. It is possible to harvest an entire crop in as little as 9 weeks with Gelato Auto, Blackberry Auto, and Wedding Cheesecake Auto.
Beautiful plants, and consistent among the three. I topped all of them and got around 115g off each in 2 gallon pots. Very pleased
Cannabis plants that grow with one main central cola surrounded by thick side branches are a great candidate. The growth structure associated with this variety of strain allows for the uniform, top-heavy green blanket effect once blooming has commenced.
4. Top Tips on Sea of Green Farming with Autos
1. Fast autoflowering strains are much better at reducing the amount of time they can be exposed to an airborne pathogen such as Botrytis. Indica dominant cultivars are often more resistant to plant disease and a better choice for Sea of Green.
2. Find an autoflowering strain that is reliable and does not require much hands-on training, or maintenance. A wise choice for beginner growers and those still learning the ropes.
3. Make sure that you leave plenty of space for an aisle that you can comfortably walk down. In the event that the plants need to be treated, then your ability to easily access and freely work is essential.
4. Avoid letting plants touch the sides of the grow tent or walls of the room. It is very important to keep a consistent airflow around the plants and allowing them to touch moist walls during flower can be hazardous.
5. Using a pump and drip emitters can save a lot of work and physical labor, especially when you are working with rows as large as 35 plants and upwards. Setting a timer to do all the work for 15 minutes a day reduces work and saves you a bad back every time.
5. In Conclusion
There are a number of highlights to why a grower who is harvesting every 12-14 weeks, may want to switch to Sea of Green farming using autoflowering cultivars. The obvious reason is the crop rotation that is possible every 9-10 weeks, and the other is the reduction in electricity use, nutrient use, and plant training.
On the other hand, many growers love nothing more than getting hands-on with their plants and enjoying a good 5-10 week growing phase. Some may argue the amount their plants harvest is worth the extra wait, yet the reality is a room full of buds from wall to wall will always harvest the same amount if using lots of small plants or a few large sized.
We hope you enjoyed this article and have discovered a new, fast, productive and stress-free way to grow. Good luck with your fields of high-grade flower!
A Growers Guide: The Pros and Cons of Autoflowering and Feminized Seeds
Feminized Autoflowering seeds are becoming a more sought after choice for both small scale recreational and large scale industrial growers for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason they are increasing in popularity is that genetic advancement in the last 5-10 years has finally made them a viable enough option to grow for serious hobbyists or commercial cultivators.
Some of the first autoflowers legacy growers worked with, including low-rider and early girl autoflowering varieties, didn’t perform well enough for these varieties to catch on, and so a generation of growers developed a negative impression of day-neutral varieties. Now that a new generation of hemp and cannabis breeders have brought autoflowering varieties to a market ready standard, it’s up to enterprising cultivators to weigh the benefits of incorporating them into their production model. In this article we will explore some of the pro’s and con’s of autoflowering and feminized seeds so that you can make a decision about what is best for your specific context.