Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis se Many growers use both autoflower seeds as well as photoperiod feminised seeds. But which is best for your particular needs? Read the pros and cons of each There are important differences between regular, feminized (Photoperiod) and autoflower seeds. Curious to the differences and what to choose?
Autoflower vs. Feminized vs Regular (Photoperiod): A Easy to Understand Guide
Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis seeds) are needed for breeding, experimenting and guaranteed rigorous growth.
But is this too much technical cultivation lingo too soon? Every grower has an opinion about what type of seed is best, but it always comes down to growth expectations, space restrictions, and personal opinion.
Here are the basic details on autoflower versus feminized versus old-fashioned, unadulterated normal cannabis seeds. By the end, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision.
Autoflowering Strains 101
Autoflowering strains of cannabis have genetics that guarantees flowering on a predictable schedule. Regular photoperiod plants need changes in the day/night light schedule to trigger a transition from vegetative into flower. Autoflower, as the name suggests, will launch into flower at the appointed time, no matter what.
A typical auto-flowering strain will be ready to harvest between 60 to 90 days after germination. Conventional photoperiod varieties take a minimum of 90 days but can run upwards of six or seven months, depending on the environment and cultivator preference.
Why are auto-flowering varieties different? They contain ruderalis genetics. This is a third landrace strain, like indica and a sativa. Thanks to comprehensive cannabis breeding programs, most established and popular strains are available in regular and auto-flowering varieties.
Autoflowering is useful for pumping out several harvests in the same time it would take to grow a single conventional variety. They also grow smaller (perfect for small indoor spaces) and are more predictable in growth rate and pattern. As a bonus, you will be able to sex your plants within roughly 21 days and maintain the same light schedule (18:6) for the entire operation.
According to experienced cultivators, it can be nice to grow a few auto-flowering varieties while you veg out the main regular strains. The small size also works well for Sea of Green cultivation.
The problem with autoflower strains? Compared with their regular counterparts, their harvests are smaller, including bud size and quantity. Many people also feel that even the cannabinoid and terpene profiles are not as good as the normal varieties.
Feminized Seeds 101
Feminized seeds are preselected female seeds. They are photoperiod, not autoflowering, which means you’ll use changes in light to trigger the flowering.
The benefit of spending the extra money on feminized seeds is that there is little to no risk of wasting time on sexing males. According to some reports, regular seeds run the risk of producing a male approximately a third of the time.
For small-scale indoor operations, or those legally capped at a strict number of plants, feminized seeds make a lot of sense. Why waste time and resources raising a male when you can start with already-feminized seeds?
Feminized seeds are a human-made creation. Breeders and seed sellers use colloidal silver or other chemicals to inhibit ethylene production in a female plant before it goes to seed. Ethylene is a hormone produced during flower by cannabis plants. The treated plants result in almost 100 percent female seeds.
Feminized seeds are specialized and are therefore more expensive to produce and, for the consumer, more expensive to buy. But, many growers prefer feminized seeds because they make growing that much smoother.
Still, even feminized seeds come with a risk. The chemical retardation of ethylene production also increases the risk of developing a hermaphrodite plant, which can appear far later than a male. As per one forum post, “The way I look at feminized seeds, simply put they are hermaphrodites in disguise. Yes, you are more likely to produce females yet they still carry the herm gene.”
Regular (Photoperiod) Seeds 101
Regular seeds produced the way nature intended them are photoperiod. They will need transitions in light schedule and will grow both male and female plants. Female cannabis plants produce seeds when exposed to pollen produced by male plants. It’s the birds and the bees, cannabis edition.
There is a long-standing tradition among growers to value the vigour, variety, and purity offered by regular seeds. There are notable differences in the quantity between auto-flowering strains and their regular counterparts, but what about regular and feminized differences?
These differences may be more lore than reality. To be sure, using synthetic chemicals or colloidal silver to produce feminized seeds can pose risks to both the plant and the people, but there are methods of executing this safely these days.
To date, there is no real evidence (scientific or cultivator case study) that indicates feminized seeds show any less vigour, yield or resin production than the regular seeds.
Regular seeds are much cheaper than feminized. Many growers, who have space, may want to take the birds and the bees into their own hands to maintain genetics or breed new experiments. Having male plants around, when done correctly, is a valuable endeavour.
What is Best for Cultivators: Autoflower, Feminized or Regular?
What convinces a cultivator to grow auto-flower versus regular, or feminized versus regular? Often it comes down to cultivation experience, the primary goal for the harvest, and time or space constraints.
Small indoor spaces, growing one round at a time, may want to stick with autoflower strains. Larger operations looking to sell their harvests but need to stick to a specific plant count may choose feminized. Finally, those who love a traditional approach and are blessed with lots of space will likely stick with regular photoperiod seeds.
As always, there are as many opinions on the matter as there are people growing weed.
Autoflower vs feminised cannabis seeds explained
Cannabis genetics have changed drastically in the last decade. The home grower now has a wider and perhaps more confusing choice of cannabis seeds than ever before. But the differences between autoflower and feminised cannabis seeds are not that complicated. We will explain all you need to know about the way auto and fem seeds grow, the advantages and disadvantages for each and how you can select the right type of cannabis seeds for your grow.
|●||Autoflower vs feminised vs regular seeds differences|
|●||How were autoflower seeds created in the first place?|
|●||Topping and training autoflower vs feminised cannabis|
|●||Do autoflowers always finish faster than photoperiod strains?|
|●||Autoflower vs feminised cannabis seeds outdoor growing|
|●||Autoflower vs feminised cannabis plants yield|
|●||Differences in bud quality for feminised vs autoflower strains|
|●||Still wondering which type of cannabis seeds are best for you?|
Autoflower vs feminised vs regular seeds differences
Some growers mistakenly feel that autoflower seeds produce less potent weed than plants grown from feminised seeds. This may have been true in the early days of auto seeds, but not any more. Autoflowering cannabis seeds produce buds with the same quality levels as photoperiod feminised seeds. Auto Cinderella Jack has THC levels independently verified at over 25%. Many photoperiod feminised cannabis seeds don’t reach such high potency levels!
Autoflower seeds are the seed of choice for those that want fast, convenient and easy harvests. They typically grow indoors from seed to harvest in around 10-11 weeks under 20 hours of daily light. Outdoors, they take a little longer, around 100 days. Autoflowers start to bloom automatically around 5-6 weeks after germination. The grower doesn’t need to change the light cycle, it happens ‘automatically’.
Autoflower seeds are easy to grow and often stay short, squat and bushy. Due to the short auto life cycle you might not be able to get quite the same yields as a feminised seed variety which has enjoyed a long period of vegetative growth. But yields from the best autoflower seeds can be several hundred grams per plant from well grown indoor autos.
Photoperiod feminised cannabis seeds grow vegetatively under 18 hours (or more) of daily light. They produce leaves, roots and branches but no buds until daily light hours are reduced to 12. Feminised seeds are preferred by growers that enjoy traditional genetics with the ability to be manipulated via the photo dependency. SCROG growers can utilise long veg grow periods of 2 months or more to fully fill a SCROG screen. Outdoors, they can produce several Kilograms of dry buds from a long grow over 5-6 months.
Regular cannabis seeds give rise to approximately equal numbers of male and female offspring. These are the cannabis seeds of choice for old school growers that prefer the process of identifying and separating males from females. These days, regular cannabis seeds account for just 2-3% of seed sales. But they are used by those breeding cannabis plants or producing cannabis seeds. Note that the grower can take cuttings easily from plants grown from feminised seeds or regular seeds. But taking cuttings from autoflower plants isn’t as easy, since the plant has a fixed life cycle.
|Autoflower seeds||Feminised seeds||Regular seeds|
|Ease of growing||Easy||Moderate||Expert (males need to be removed to prevent pollination and seeding of your crop).|
|Plant height||Typically short/medium around 1 metre tall.||Adaptable depending on length of veg growth. Can reach 3-4m outdoors.||Adaptable depending on length of veg growth. Can reach 3-4m outdoors.|
|Flowering start||Often ~ 5-6 weeks after germination.||Requires 12/12 light conditions indoors and less than 13.5-14 hours of daily light outdoors.||Requires 12/12 light conditions indoors and less than 13.5-14 hours of daily light outdoors.|
|Seed-to-harvest time||Typically 10-11 weeks.||Depends on length of veg and flower time of the genetics.||Depends on length of veg and flower time of the genetics.|
|Yield||Up to a few hundred grams per plant in optimised conditions.||Up to and above a Kg per plant in optimised conditions.||Up to and above a Kg per plant in optimised conditions.|
Key things to know before growing autoflower cannabis seeds.
● If you want to grow a cannabis crop in the shortest possible time frame, then autoflower seeds are the best option. Strains such as Auto Blueberry and Auto Blackberry Kush can be ready in as little as 8-9 weeks after germination.
● Autoflower seeds perform well in both indoor and outdoor locations. Outdoors, many growers can get 2 or even 3 successive crops in the same year
● Autoflower seeds are easy to grow in a wide range of grow conditions/systems. Soil, coco fibre or hydroponics all produce great, fast results.
● Depending on the genetics you choose you can grow autoflower seeds that will produce harvests rich in THC, CBD or both! You can even grow Auto CBG-Force autoflower seeds which will produce CBG rich harvests or Auto CBD-Victory which will produce buds rich in CBDV.
● Many growers don’t bother repeatedly repotting their autoflower plants into increasingly large containers (note that keeping an autoflower longer than 2 – 2.5 weeks in a small pot will have a negative effect on the size and eventual yield). Instead, they often grow their autos in their ‘final’ containers to minimise time lost due to transplanting. This allows growers to achieve the highest possible yield.
● Many growers find that autoflowering cannabis seeds are the easiest and fastest way to grow cannabis. You don’t even need to worry about changing the light cycle! Less experienced (or first time) growers often prefer the simplicity and convenience of autoflower seeds.
How were autoflower seeds created in the first place?
Dutch Passion worked very closely with the Joint Doctor in the earliest days of autoflower breeding. The Joint Doctor is a Canadian breeder who played a large role in the first generation/early autoflower seeds.
Some of this work was based on a mythical Mexican strain (Mexican Rudy) which, whilst small and with only medium potency, allowed the first real autoflower work to get started. These were the first cannabis strains which were not dependent on the photoperiod (the number of daily light hours) to initiate bloom.
Initially, many cannabis seed companies were sceptical and couldn’t see the potential of autoflower genetics. Dutch Passion were able to combine and rework some of these first generation autoflowering genetics with some exceptional results.
After a few years of continuous improvements, autoflower yields and potency were on a par with indoor photoperiod feminised seeds. Initially some growers were reluctant and unconvinced by the early autoflower seeds. But once growers saw the top-shelf results that could be achieved with refined, high performance modern autoflower seeds that all changed.
Many modern cannabis seed growers prefer a rapid seed-to-harvest time. In this respect, the fastest autoflower seeds simply can’t be beaten!
Why do autoflower seeds produce so many phenotypes?
In the early days of autoflower seeds, some cannabis seed banks had a reputation for ‘scatter-gun’ autoflower seed genetics which would produce an excessively wide array of phenotypes.
Some would be miniature plants that would barely reach 10cm tall whereas the next auto would reach a metre. The challenge for premium cannabis seed suppliers was to take the autoflower genetics and fine-tune them further so they could be a viable option for serious growers.
This requires a great deal of genetic and breeding know-how. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to breeding and supplying the finest quality autoflower seeds.
Dutch Passion have some of the best genetics and most experienced geneticists in the business, so a great deal of focussed experience allowed them to push autoflower genetics to their limit.
Today, the best autoflower seeds produce consistently great results with little variations between the resulting plants if conditions are optimised. But it’s worth adding that there are still plenty of low quality autoflower seed suppliers out there. Buy your autoflower seeds from a supplier you can trust with a solid track record for auto breeding. A few autoflower cannabis cups is a sure sign that your supplier is committed and professional about their breeding.
|Understanding cannabis phenotypes, genotypes and chemotypes|
Topping and training autoflower vs feminised cannabis
Many growers like to train and manipulate their cannabis plants. This can be done to try to increase yield, or perhaps to create a shorter/bushier plant which is easier to cultivate in confined spaces.
When growing feminised cannabis seeds you have plenty of scope for topping and training your plants. You can define a long period of veg growth if you want to repeatedly top your plant (remove the growing tip) in order to produce a bushier plant which will require less vertical growth space. SCROG growers love long veg periods to fill the screen.
But autoflower seeds are less suited to these situations. When growing autoflowering cannabis seeds it is the genetics, not you, which defines when veg ends and bloom starts. Furthermore, autoflowers grow with a limited life cycle, they simply don’t have the time to recover from repeated topping.
However, both autos and feminised strains won’t mind low stress training, such as having branches tied down in order to improve light penetration to lower branches etc.
|Top 5 cannabis strains to grow in small spaces|
Do autoflowers always finish faster than photoperiod strains?
Not necessarily. Some fast photoperiod feminised strains such as Bubba Island Kush can be ready in as little as 7 weeks of bloom. Combine that with a brief period of veg growth and you could grow Bubba Island Kush from seed to harvest in around 10-11 weeks. Orange Bud is another fast (7-8 week bloom) feminised seed.
In contrast, some ‘super’ autos, such as Auto Ultimate can require up to 12-15 weeks to grow indoors from seed to harvest under 20 hours of daily light. Auto Glueberry OG is another similar autoflower seed.
A fast blooming feminised strain can indeed be faster to grow than some of the slower super autos. But it is important to add that the yields from slower growing autoflowers such as Auto Ultimate and Auto Glueberry OG can be spectacular, with 500g+ harvests (from a single plant) quite possible with hydroponic grows under optimised conditions.
|Top 5 fast growing cannabis seeds|
It’s worth noting that some autoflower seed suppliers tend to be overly optimistic about the seed-to-harvest times. Remember to base your harvest point on the factors that matter to you. Some people prefer the high from late harvested cannabis, others prefer to smoke/vape early harvested cannabis. One of the advantages of growing your own cannabis is that you decide the genetics and precisely how they are grown and when they are harvested.
You can assess the colours of the trichome resin glands, general bud appearance and pistil (hair) colour to help define your perfect harvest point for your favourite cannabis seeds.
|Best ways to harvest, dry and cure cannabis|
Autoflower vs feminised cannabis seeds outdoor growing
Autoflower seeds grow from seed to harvest outdoors in around 100 days, depending on conditions, latitude etc. That’s a little slower than indoors, where autos can enjoy 20 hours of daily light without cold night temperatures.
That speed of growth means that even Scandinavian outdoor autoflower growers can achieve two successive outdoor crops each summer. Mediterranean growers may be able to manage three successive outdoor auto crops each summer although the yield-per-plant may not be quite as high as that from longer growing photoperiod outdoor strains.
|Scandinavian autoflower growing, 2 crops in one season!|
Outdoor feminised cannabis seeds such as the cannabis cup winning photoperiod Frisian Dew seeds will typically grow outdoors over a 5-6 month period.
That’s a much longer timescale than an auto, so you can expect larger plants (perhaps 3-4m tall and almost as wide) and heavier yields. For some growers that’s a better combination.
However, if your climate has a short growing season you may prefer to consider autoflowering seeds which are generally ready to harvest earlier, nearer the middle of summer while the weather is still warm and sunny.
|Autoflower vs feminised outdoor cannabis growing|
Autoflower vs feminised cannabis plants yield
Modern, high performance autoflower seeds can deliver some incredible yields. Especially under optimised conditions with high intensity LED lighting. Many of Dutch Passion’s repeat autoflower seed customers routinely achieve several hundred grams per grow, especially when using hydroponic systems. The largest yield ever seen by Dutch Passion was a 1Kg harvest of dry buds from Auto Ultimate.
|Auto Ultimate 1Kg harvest by ‘The King’|
But the yields from the best feminised cannabis seeds can also be spectacular, especially when individual plants are given long periods of veg growth and grown in e.g. SCROG conditions by an experienced grower with quality genetics and powerful LED lights.
Serious growers know that they can get heavy yields from either autoflower seeds or feminised seeds. The choice between the types of cannabis seed is often made on the basis of factors other than yield.
|16 x Frisian Dew plants grow into huge plants in a Belgian greenhouse|
Differences in bud quality for feminised vs autoflower strains
The early first generation autos simply didn’t achieve the same cannabinoid content and terpene profiles that a modern high quality autoflower seed can produce. But both yield and quality levels have significantly improved since then, so long as you are buying seeds from a proven supplier!
The Dutch Passion list of Extremely High THC seeds is an exclusive collection of the best cannabis seeds which can produce up to 25% THC in ideal conditions. Included in this list are Auto Orange Bud, Auto Lemon Kix and Auto Cinderella Jack. Some of the best autoflower seeds produce even stronger buds than many photoperiod strains!
It is important to stress that many of the autoflower seeds being sold online will not meet the same high standards as the very best autoflower seeds which have won cannabis cups. The quality levels between the best and the worst autoflower seeds is still very large.
Be sure to research your choice of cannabis seeds very carefully and choose a supplier you can fully trust with a long track record behind them.
Still wondering which type of cannabis seeds are best for you?
Most growers find their preferred genetics are in the form of autoflower seeds or photoperiod feminised seeds. Lots of growers enjoy growing both types of seed. Very few modern growers use regular cannabis seeds. Autoflower seeds offer extra levels of speed and simplicity which appeals to huge numbers of both indoor and outdoor growers.
But feminised seeds have an equally popular appeal. The fact that you can control the length of veg growth gives some growers the control they need for their particular grow system/style.
You can also keep mother plants of your preferred feminised strains and take as many cuttings as you wish – this is impossible with plants grown from autoflower seeds. Quality levels from the best auto and fem seeds can reach the same very high standards with THC levels well above 20%.
Of course, other factors may also be very important to you. You may prefer your buds to have certain aroma/flavour profiles, or perhaps you enjoy buds with plenty of colour in them. Maybe you need a certain amount of CBD in your buds, or perhaps other cannabinoids too? Your array of cannabis seed choices may vary further depending on whether you want to grow indoors or outdoors.
If all this sounds confusing, you may wish to check out the Dutch Passion Seed Finder which asks you a few simple questions about your grow and recommends the best cannabis seeds for your situation. Buy the best cannabis seeds you can and enjoy your next grow!
Guide to the Differences Between Autoflower, Feminized (photoperiod) and Regular Seeds
When planning to buy weed seeds, you will notice three specific categories. They are autoflower, feminized (photoperiod), and regular seeds. Each one is different in terms of cultivation and yield size, and some are more popular than others. It is necessary to get familiar with each type to determine which one is best for you.
The difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds
As the name suggests, autoflower seeds are designed to bloom automatically. Meanwhile, feminized seeds only have the genetics to become female plants and flower after receiving more than 12 hours a day of darkness.
Both types will produce a quality yield, but they each have notable characteristics.
Autoflowering vs Feminized (photoperiod)
|Cultivation||Easy||Easy to moderate|
|Plant height||Small to medium||Medium to tall|
|Start flowering||2-4 weeks after planting||When receiving 12/12 light and darkness|
|Average time – seed to harvest||10-16 weeks||12-24 weeks|
|Yield||Low – medium||Medium – high|
Are Autoflower Seeds Less Potent?
Overall, plants from autoflower weed seeds are not less potent than feminized seeds. Originally, autoflower seeds came from the Ruderalis plant. The species of cannabis generally has lower levels of THC, making it less vigorous. So, many growers consider autoflower seeds to be less potent than feminized ones.
Nowadays, it is not always the case. More and more cannabis Ruderalis plants are getting crossbred to create hybrid strains. As a result, you can find autoflower seeds with high amounts of THC. While some strains are still less potent than many feminized seeds, an autoflower plant can still produce a quality harvest.
The difference between feminized and regular seeds
As mentioned before, feminized cannabis seeds are the result of agronomic techniques to get rid of the chance for a male plant. On the other hand, regular seeds are completely natural. They are not genetically engineered and have no chemicals. Regular seeds will produce male and female plants in a crop.
Feminized and regular seeds can be somewhat similar, but they also have different characteristics. Growers usually look at the differences to determine which one is right for them. Traits can include yield size, cultivation, and ability to make new seeds.
Feminized seeds vs regular
|Cultivation||Easy – moderate||Moderate|
|Suitable for cannabis pollen||No||Yes|
|Suitable for cloning||Yes||Yes|
|Yield||Medium – high||Medium|
Are feminized seeds less potent?
Some growers believe that feminized marijuana seeds are more potent. Others think that regular seeds win in this department. Overall, there do not seem to be many differences in potency. Some feminized strains can produce higher levels of THC. However, regular seeds can be more potent, especially when talking about hybrid weed seeds.
If a feminized seed is less effective than a regular one, it could be due to lower-quality genes. A less vigorous regular cannabis plant may also be the result of bad parent genetics. Growers still creating the most potent regular and feminized seeds.
What to choose: Regular, Feminized or Autoflower seeds?
Plenty of growers enjoy autoflower and feminized weed seeds for convenience. Others prefer regular strains for potential new versions or because it is natural. The best one may depend on what you would like from it. Several factors could influence which type you choose. For example, you might want buds with a specific flavor or aroma.
The benefits of an autoflower strain are its shorter lifecycle and more resilient genetics. However, autoflower seeds can have a smaller yield size, and they do not create quality clones. Feminized strains are easier to prune, but this type cannot produce interesting hybrids on their own.
One benefit of regular seeds is that they can result in healthy clones. The downside is that they can be unpredictable. Your yield can get smaller if you cull male plants from the crop. Choosing the best seed type also can depend on the person growing it.
Feminized seeds are great for beginners and growers who have some experience. After all, the cultivation difficulty is on a moderate level. If a person is new to growing cannabis seeds, they do not need to worry about separating males and females. However, growers have to be more mindful of the lighting schedule since the flowering stage is dependent on cycles.
Autoflower weed seeds are a good option for people who are new to the cannabis scene. Cultivation is simple, and the flowering stage depends on age. You do not need to pay as much attention as you would to other types of seeds.
Regular cannabis seeds are likely going to be used by growers who have a more skilled hand. The flowering stage also depends on a light cycle, so you would need to be mindful of how much light and darkness the plant gets. You have to keep an eye on the sex of the plant if you want to prevent unwanted pollination.