Many people grow cannabis because they are passionate about it, but there comes a time when you have to consider whether it’s worth all the effort. Autoflowers have become famous over the years, but some wonder if autoflowers are worth it. If you’re one of those, this article will help clear your doubts.
1. Grows fast
If you’re absolutely unaware of autoflowers, just know that it’s a species of cannabis that doesn’t rely on seasons to grow and flower. They flower automatically once they grow for a specific period of time. Meaning they flower based on the age of the plant, rather than waiting for seasonal changes. Hence the name “Auto”. They are fast, and yield good amounts of cannabis – something you need to consider even if you’re a commercial grower.
But, first off, before deciding if something is worth the effort, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages. This will help you figure things out and make a decision. Note that this comparison is between photoperiod or regular cannabis plants and autoflowers. Thus, if you’re already growing traditional cannabis varieties now, this comparison will help you understand if you can start growing autos as well.
Autoflowers are as rapid as you can expect. Most autos complete their entire cycle including vegetative and flowering stage in a matter of 10-11 weeks. It simply cannot get faster than this. Many growers love growing cannabis plants, but not many have the patience to wait for plants that take about 5 months or 20 weeks to harvest buds. If you’re one of those growers, autos are tailored for you.
You’ve probably seen the term “feminized” used frequently as you browse the internet for all things cannabis seeds. Both autoflower and photoperiod strains can be feminized. All it means is that a breeder modified a particular strain to produce only female plants. Technically speaking, the odds of a female emerging are 99.9%—that’s still quite impressive!
Breeders produce feminized seeds through various techniques that are discussed in detail here. Just keep this in mind: pick up a pack of feminized seeds if you want nothing but buds!
AUTOFLOWERING VS FEMINIZED
Autoflowering cultivars typically reach a height of between 60–100cm. Their compact size and impressive speed enable clandestine cultivators to set up and dismantle their operation in as little time as possible.
The speed of autoflowers appeals to growers with a penchant for near-instant results. Waiting for a crop to ripen can be teasing at best and excruciating at worst. If you tend to fall on the impatient side, autoflowering strains are the way to go.
For this reason, ruderalis abandoned the strategy of waiting for the seasons to change to trigger flowering. Instead, the subspecies developed an autoflower gene to ensure reproduction before the temperature plummets.
A small group of enthusiasts experimented with crossing cannabis sativa with its little known Russian cousin, cannabis ruderalis. Having had to adapt to short summers, these plants grew smaller than standard cannabis, and contain low THC levels. More importantly, they begin to flower upon maturity rather than the light cycle.
Lets be honest. If you asked ten years ago: “are autoflowers worth growing?” my answer would be conflicted.
15 years ago things began to change – and radically.
And yet … there were some disadvantages.
Firstly, a little history. For thousands of years, cannabis has been a photoperiod plant. This means that it uses a photoreceptor protein, such as phytochrome or cryptochrome to sense seasonal changes in night length. Once days lengthen to above 12 hours, these chemicals induce the process of flowering. No matter when you plant a cannabis seed outdoors, it will continue to grow until the nights shorten. And of course indoor grow rooms exploit this fact by choosing for how many weeks cannabis is kept in growth and when to flip to flower.
Spin back time by 15 years and autoflowers got a lot of bad press. The general consensus of most cannabis growers was that autoflowers were a fad, not worth the time, money and effort. The world of weed has changed a lot since then, so we ask “are autoflowers worth growing”.