Posted on July 11 2023
Their faces crinkle up in confusion and disgust, like a foul odor is blown into their face instead of a recommendation, “But I wanted to grow regular plants, not autoflowers…”
That’s a common reaction that we hear from new growers with small cultivation spaces - typically 2’x4’ or smaller. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, there’s still a nasty rumor that floats around online that photoperiod plants are superior in every way - that is if you want big, potent results then supposedly you do not want to grow autos. 🙄
So let’s clear a few things up about this common misconception… That may have been true 5-10 years ago, but it’s old (dis)information in today’s world. Autoflowers are one of the best choices that a home grower can make these days. This fact is twice as true for new growers just starting their journey.
SPEED OF GROWTH:
Photoperiod plants take longer to grow - even with a clone they take significantly longer than it takes to grow an auto from seed to harvest. Photos take anywhere from 14-18+ weeks - with an average of about 16 weeks - often longer… Some can even take 16+ weeks of just FLOWERING time! Compare that to as little as 6-12 weeks for the majority of autos - with an average of 9 weeks from start to finish.
So if you have good conditions outside, even though the amount of sunlight changes throughout this time - you can grow 2+ runs of autoflowers outdoors in the same time you only get one run in with photoperiod plants since they depend on the light changing to send them into flowering in August. As for indoor cultivators, you can get many - many more harvests with autoflowers versus photoperiods every year: 4-7 versus <3-4.
Plus, if you make a mistake and kill a plant or get a crappy phenotype then you waste significantly less time with autos.
And that is probably the most valuable situation for new growers who need to get lots of practice ASAP... The more harvests you get to run, the quicker you’ll develop the skills you need to grow ideal sticky flowers every time.
HARDIER WITH LESS:
Autoflowers are resilient to lots of the common stresses and often need less interdiction than photoperiod plants do in order to be successful. It’s got a wider “acceptable tolerance” to its conditions than photos. They’re survivors!
For one thing, they endure colder temperatures as ruderalis genetics come from Siberia and they even tolerate higher temperatures without dying as easily. They also don’t need a perfectly dialed in humidity either - just keep it lower in mid-late flowering to prevent mold concerns. A little light leaking during “night time” for photos can cause them to produce male flowers and self-seed but not autos - most just shrug it off!
Better, you don’t need to spend a lot on feeding them nutrients as many of these plants prefer a “less is more” philosophy where a little often goes a long way. The same is true about light as well - because autoflowers generally like 18+ hours of light in a day while flowering versus photos which only get 12 hours of light to flower. This means when calculating your Daily Light Integral or DLI (a formula to give a number rating to how much light your plant gets during a length of time), you don’t need as much light because you’re running your light for 50+% longer... So big happy plants for less power!
It’s not to say that all autos won’t want heavier feedings or more light power as they get larger, but compared to many photos they just simply don’t need as much to produce excellent results… We’ve had growers report hitting 5+ ounces per plant after turning their LEDs down to be under 60W of power - over 2.5 grams per Watt! ...But if you can give them more, they can often take it and really put out big numbers!
In the early days of autoflower sales, the genetics were admittedly not the best. Potency was low, yield was only alright… But now? With modern breeders pushing plants further or getting excellent males to cross from famous photoperiod strains, the potency can be shocking!
Our own team here has had dried buds testing over 30% TAC with high terpene content - a real headbanger! It’s not unusual to see cultivators hit 4-8oz yields on average in soil - often higher - and there have been extreme cases where autoflower growers have hit over 1.5 pounds in yield in a hydroponic setup. They’ve improved so much in terms of producing consistent high quality buds that even many storefronts, who always need to worry about $/gram situations, have started to grow them.
There’s radical terpene profiles, classic skunk or candy odors, tranquilizing in-da-couch strains that make you eat a jar of peanut butter with your fingers and face-rippers that’ll make you suddenly afraid of the government… or bigfoot… Government Bigfoot!
Skilled, professional breeders have made crosses of pretty much every classic that people love such as Blue Dream or Wedding Cake or Durban Poison and there’s even highly medical offerings that have CBD or even CBG as the dominant expression - sometimes even a mix for people that like 1:1 or 1:2 ratios. You can browse a seed bank such as The Autoflower Store to see some of the options available these days
Whatever photos can do, autos can do too!
For anxious, 👀 ahem, shy growers - you might stick with autoflowers simply because they’re stealthier. There’s genotypes that can be done in 6 weeks and strains bred to be short bushes or even not-so-stinky during cultivation (but comes through in curing).
For those who can only have limited space, don’t worry because you can still do a perpetual harvest with autos in a space 2’x4’ or larger - starting new seeds every 30 days means you can be harvesting about once a month! New flavors come into rotation regularly and stay fresh while you use it before a new batch finishes.
Better, you aren’t sitting down to “trim jail” with 2+ pounds of buds to go through at a time every 4 months. Instead, with a perpetual autoflower harvest, you trim about a half pound every month - meaning a similar yield but spaced apart so you don’t need to dedicate 12+ hours to trimming like a zombie to get it done and jarred up before it overdries.
Autoflowers, quite simply, do not get enough love for what incredible offerings they bring to the table. Even beyond small home grows, they are fantastic for larger cultivators of photoperiods as you can grow a “bonus round” between crops outdoors or sometimes even indoors. Stores that just got their greenlight to grow can get a harvest in ASAP - selling their harvests several months earlier.
Give ‘em a try and if you have issues at all, then we just might know some people who can help guide you in the right direction.
Written by Kyle Hamilton