You may have heard of autoflowering cannabis, or cannabis seeds that start flowering almost immediately after being sprouted, regardless of the amount of hours of light it receives. This type of cannabis comes from hybridizing cannabis ruderalis with cannabis sativa or cannabis indica. Autoflowering cannabis can be harvested after about 70 days of life, compared to non-autoflowering strains that typically need anywhere from 90 to 110 days to finish.
This, of course, sounds amazing, but there’s a catch — the plants are incredibly small and don’t yield very much. Autoflower strains also have a much lower potency, ranging from 8-15% THC. Though, due to the rugged lineage of cannabis ruderalis, autoflower strains can grow just about anywhere. And while one plant might not yield much, a big batch of plants could conceivably produce a decent crop. Plus, with a plant that doesn’t rely on a seasonal change in daylight to start flowering, you could possibly grow multiple crops per growing season in the same outdoor spot.
Autoflower seeds are available from a multitude of online seed retailers, one need only do a quick search to find one. At this point, all the most popular strains have been hybridized into an autoflower variety.
You can find feminized Wedding Cake Autoflower seeds, Gelato Autoflower seeds, you name the strain and someone is probably selling an autoflower version of it. Keep in mind, historically the autoflower versions are never quite the same as the real deal, they usually lack the potency and overall terpene profile of the original.
Are All Autoflower Seeds Feminized?
While feminized seeds are extremely common, and make up the majority of the autoflower market, regular autoflower seeds do exist, and even the male cannabis plants autoflower too. Having feminized seeds is a great option for large scale production as it takes out the labor involved in removing the male plants and helps ensure a seedless crop. Feminized seeds are more expensive, but provide the convenience of not having to sex the plants. In a small indoor grow, where there is only room for a few plants, having to grow plants out for two to four weeks before knowing if they are male can be a real hassle. Not to mention a waste of time and supplies.
Some growers and breeders claim that plants grown from feminized seeds are more prone to hermaphrodite than non-feminized seeds. While this is true of some feminized varieties, it really depends on how stable the parent genetics used to produce the feminized seeds are. Not all feminized seeds are made the same, so it's best to get seeds from reputable retailers.
Future of Autoflower Seeds
Recent advancements in breeding have greatly improved the yields, flavors and potency of autoflower strains. This can be seen at events like the Autoflower World Cup in Spain where the best breeders and growers bring their latest and greatest autoflower strains to compete against each other. The winning sativa from 2022 was called Gorilla Punch Auto and hit a potency of 26% THC, far higher than the typical autoflower varieties. Most, if not all, contestant strains are produced from feminized seeds. Seeds from the cup winners are all available in feminized form.
In Washington, Walden Farms is developing autoflower strains suitable for large-scale outdoor production.
This farm relies on large batches of feminized seeds for maximum production and minimizing labor cost. When properly bred and grown, autoflowers can actually provide a means of maximizing profitability for farms in certain areas and climates.
As breeders continue to push the threshold of what we thought was possible with autoflower genetics, expect to see new autoflower strains that rival non-auto varieties. And rest assured, these varieties will be available as feminized seeds. But this doesn’t mean that all autoflowers seeds are feminized, just that it's a whole lot cooler when they are.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are Autoflower Seeds Easy to Grow?
Autoflowers are bred from a very rugged species of cannabis called cannabis ruderalis, which evolved in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, so they will grow pretty easily in your backyard or basement.
How Long Do Autoflowers Take From Seed to Flower?
Most autoflower strains take only 90 days from start to finish.
How Much Do Autoflower Plants Yield?
Typically not much. Anywhere from an eighth to a half ounce can be expected per plant. Newer autoflower genetics are being developed that yield more.