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 Autoflowering strains boast speedy growth, a compact size, and hardy genetics. Discover their pros and cons here.
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!
The Pros And Cons Of Autoflower Cannabis Strains
Autoflowering strains are the go-to genetics for beginner growers and those looking for a fast return. But they’re not perfect. Find out what makes them great, and where they run into issues.
Cannabinoids, terpenes, phytochemicals, organic cultivation
- What is autoflower cannabis?
- Autoflowering vs feminized
- Faster life cycle
- Discreet plants
- Simple lighting demands
- Resilient plants
- No problems with light pollution
- Fewer nutrients needed
- Higher cbd percentage
- Lower yield
- Cost of lighting
- Lower thc content
- Poor-quality clones
- No time for recovery
- Should beginners start with autoflower cannabis strains?
Modern cannabis growers are spoiled for choice. There are more strains on the market than ever before, and many growers have taken a liking to the new and improved selection of autoflowers.
Autoflowering genetics have a lot to offer. There are varieties high in CBD, high in THC, and those with a nice balance of both. That’s not to mention the incredible diversity in terpene profiles.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Autoflower strains have a host of advantages, but they also carry disadvantages that turn some growers off.
WHAT IS AUTOFLOWER CANNABIS?
What makes autoflowering cannabis different from other types? Well, the key difference resides in the name. Put simply, these strains flower automatically.
There are two main phases of the cannabis growing cycle: the vegetative phase and the flowering phase. Another type of cannabis—known as photoperiod cannabis—requires a shift in the light cycle to trigger flowering. Autoflower strains do away with this inconvenience. They don’t rely on external cues to start producing resinous buds. Instead, they flower after a certain amount of time has passed.
The autoflowering trait didn’t emerge by accident. It occurred as an adaptation to environmental conditions. You’ve probably heard of Cannabis indica and sativa. Well, the autoflowering gene arose in Cannabis ruderalis.
The ruderalis subspecies adapted to the cold and often harsh environments of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. These regions feature a considerably shorter growing season and colder temperatures. 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.
Thanks to this adaptation, growers now enjoy the speedy growth of autoflowering genetics!
AUTOFLOWERING VS FEMINIZED
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!
Autoflower strains have a long list of advantages over photoperiod varieties. Their short life cycle attracts growers seeking prompt gratification, and their hardy nature makes them suitable for beginner cultivators and veterans alike.
FASTER LIFE CYCLE
Autoflower cannabis varieties are queens of speed. This trait is another result of their adaptive prowess. Most autoflowering strains complete the entire growing cycle in the same amount of time that photoperiod strains take to finish flowering alone—around 7–10 weeks. Their speedy life cycle results from a brief vegetative phase and a fast flowering stage.
Growers rarely cultivate pure ruderalis strains outside of breeding operations as these varieties produce very little in regards to yield. However, by breeding successful photoperiod strains with ruderalis genetics, breeders can create autoflowers, and therefore faster, versions of legendary varieties. For example, Haze genetics are known for their brilliant sativa effects, but their long flowering times can be a turn-off. The merging of Haze and ruderalis genetics means growers now have access to these sativa effects in much less time.
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.
The brevity of autoflowers also appeals to cultivators who grow under pressure. They can support faster turnover for commercial operations, allowing for perpetual harvests indoors.
Again, most autoflowers will race from seed to harvest in around 7–10 weeks, so growers can time their next wave of seedlings in conjunction with the previous harvest.
Cultivators can also maximise yields by using the sea of green (SOG) technique. This method involves planting numerous autoflowers in close proximity and manipulating them to converge into one large, productive canopy.
Here are a few of the fastest autoflowers around:
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–6 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–10 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–6 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–9 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
Life Cycle: 8–10 weeks
Flowering Time: 5–7 weeks
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.
You can easily grow autos on balconies and in hidden locations in your garden. They’re also popular among guerrilla growers—cultivators that grow cannabis in hidden public or wild locations. This method helps to keep crops out of sight and hidden from thieves.
If you’re looking for the stealthiest possible way to grow, give micro-growing a go. The goal here is to keep plants as small as possible while still achieving a reasonable yield. It goes without saying that autoflower varieties are perfectly suited to this method.
More extreme examples of micro-growing include cultivating tiny plants in modified computer towers, buckets, and boxes. Growers often use low-stress training to keep plants small and under control.
Here are a few of the stealthiest autoflowering strains available:
Outdoors : 50–90cm
SIMPLE LIGHTING DEMANDS
Autoflower growers typically elect to use a simple light schedule of 18 hours on and 6 hours off for the entire duration of the life cycle. Such a schedule provides plants with an adequate amount of light while saving on energy.
The simple lighting demands of autoflowering strains serve as another advantage. As we mentioned above, they don’t require a change in light schedule to begin flowering. This trait allows growers to be extremely flexible with lighting.
Growers who don’t mind splashing out on expenditures might choose to run their lights for 24 hours. Some cultivators report more explosive vegetative growth and enhanced yields using this method. Others argue that a 24-hour schedule might deprive plants of their natural resting period. A schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off occupies the other end of the spectrum. It’s the best option for growers looking to save money, but yields won’t be as impressive.
Regardless of the schedule, the lighting demands of autoflower strains are easier to meet than those of their photoperiod counterparts.
Autoflower plants boast strong, sturdy, and resilient genetics. Cannabis ruderalis didn’t survive the throes of northern latitudes by chance. The subspecies is well equipped to deal with extreme temperatures and harsh weather.
The very name “ruderalis” stems from the Latin word “rudus”, meaning rubble. The subspecies appears in urban settings thriving in broken ground, close to demolished buildings, and in roadside ditches. The majority of autoflowers can fend for themselves. They laugh in the face of pest infestations and do well to defend against yield-ruining mould.
Their impressive resilience makes them well-suited for novice growers as they’re extremely forgiving of beginner error.
NO PROBLEMS WITH LIGHT POLLUTION
Growing autoflowers means you can be a lot more relaxed when it comes to light pollution. In fact, it’s a complete non-issue.
Light pollution has the potential to screw up a photoperiod growing operation completely. Bright street lights can prevent outdoor plants from initiating flowering. Indoor growers also experience this inconvenience. They need to make sure that their photoperiod plants grow in the absence of unnecessary light. A leaky grow tent is all it takes to mess up a light schedule.
Fortunately, autoflowering plants don’t fall prey to this irritating occurrence. They don’t obey the command of external lighting cues—they run on their own time.
FEWER NUTRIENTS NEEDED
Autoflowering strains thrive in less-nutritious soil. Their speedy growth and small stature mean they don’t require much fertiliser.
Autoflowers simply aren’t as hungry as their photoperiod counterparts—another result of their hardy nature. Whereas photoperiod strains require a complex nutritional strategy that changes throughout the growing cycle, autoflowers can make do with the bare minimum.