Plants naturally go through different stages in life and that does not include marijuana plants. Marijuana plants start out as seeds that germinate when ideal conditions are met for germination. After germination, these seeds grow into seedlings which are tiny plants that have main stems and some small leaves that are enough for its survival.
The third stage is the vegetative stage in which the plant reaches full maturity until it arrives at the last stage, the flowering stage, where the plant is ready to produce flowers and seeds. For regular cannabis varieties, the transition from vegetative state to the flowering state requires the simultaneous fulfillment of two factors, age, and shortening of the light cycle.
Regular cannabis plants go through the vegetative state onto the flowering stage by having their light cycles shortened from 18 hours to 12 hours after 3 to 16 weeks from germination depending on the marijuana plant variety. This shortening of the light-cycle every 24 hours will make the plant enter the flowering stage.
Auto-flowering marijuana seeds as the name imply a transition from the vegetative state to the flowering stage by age alone even without the reduction of the light cycle. Even if the light remains on for 18 hours a day or every 24 hours, the auto-flowering marijuana plant will reach flowering stage.
Auto-flower marijuana plants are related to the ruderalis family of cannabis or marijuana. Cannabis ruderalis was first studied and described by Russian botanist D. E. Janischewsky in 1924 in Southern Siberia. The term ruderalis is derived from a Latin word meaning rubble, lump, or rough piece of bronze. Cannabis Ruderalis is traditionally used in Russian and Mongolian folk medicine, especially for uses in treating depression. In addition to this, due to the typically higher concentration of cannabidiol or CBD, ruderalis plants are valuable for patients looking to treat anxiety, epilepsy, sclerosis, loss of appetite and as a cancer treatment.
QUICK HARVEST TIME: Auto-flowering marijuana plants are known to grow fast which could mean that your seed could reach the flowering stage in 50-75 days or two and a half months. That is about four harvests in a year if all goes well in your crop.
BETTER YIELDS: Auto-flowering marijuana plants do not require a light cycle change and may remain in an 18-hour light cycle per day. This is advantageous because keeping the plants in an 18-hour light cycle will make them absorb more light leading to better yields.
THRIVES WELL IN HYDROPONICS: Auto-flowering marijuana thrives in light airy soil but will thrive also in hydroponic systems and other materials such as rockwool, coco coir, deep water culture (DWC), aeroponics, super soil, etc.
SMALL FOOTPRINT: Auto-flowering marijuana plants are usually small and are very good for growers with limited growing space. They usually grow only about 10 inches to 2.5 feet tall but quality wise, they do not have any disadvantages against regular marijuana strains.
FEMINIZABLE: Auto-flowering seeds may also be feminized as regular strains of cannabis.
AUTO-FLOWER PLANT DISADVANTAGES
SMALLER PLANTS: We’ve mentioned having a small footprint as desirable but this could be seen as an advantage too. Smaller auto-flowering plants yield fewer buds because there is only enough space on each plant for buds to grow. Being small would mean a lot less yield per square meter of crop.
LONGER LIGHT CYCLES: This means that lights should run longer on indoor spaces even during the flowering stage, thus pushing the electricity consumption in this stage up to 50 percent more.
Running electricity for longer hours would also mean that indoor temperatures are also raised. This is to be countered with more ventilation or watering perhaps which will cost you more on your electricity bill. This problem could be magnified if you are in cultivating in a hot climate. Needing to run lights for longer periods of time will also expose you to the risk of having power failures just when you needed lights the most.
LOWER POTENCY: Regular marijuana strains have different THC and CBD potencies and it is known that some contain as much as 21 percent of either ingredient. But since the auto-flowering marijuana plants are derived from the Ruderalis family of plants, they naturally contain lesser THC than the Sativa or Indica varieties even after breeding that made hybrids between the Ruderalis and other marijuana plants possible.
This will pose a challenge as many marijuana users use marijuana for recreational purposes to achieve the signature ‘high’ that could only be the result of marijuana.
ONE POT RULE: Cannabis Ruderalis is reported to be more fragile than most marijuana plants. Therefore, it is discouraged that seedlings are transferred to a larger pot in order to grow into the vegetative stage.
Transferring plants to bigger pots often subject the plant to what is called as root trauma or root damage. The roots of seedlings are very thin and fragile that the tiniest pressure will pull them off. This process sometimes exposes the plants to diseases and bugs. These will affect the auto-flowering plants more than any other plant.
Due to this, you will need to have your seed grow in a big pot from the beginning in order to accommodate future growth. This will be a problem in space management as seedlings often require very small pots and occupy very small spaces but having to plant a seed in a big pot from the beginning would truly be challenging especially for indoor growers.
Auto-flower seeds do pose some benefits and limitations and the sole decision rests on the grower whether he will opt to grow auto-flowering marijuana seeds or not. There are many factors that growers would naturally consider such as yield, harvest time and others.