Many advances have been made in the science of cultivating marijuana plants ever since man has learned of the healing potential of marijuana against human ailments. One such development is the autoflowering plants.
MARIJUANA PLANT LIFE STAGES
Marijuana plants, just like other plants go through four stages of development in their lifetime: seed germination stage, seedling stage, vegetative stage, and flowering stage. Auto-flowering marijuana plants are varieties that automatically proceed from vegetative state to flowering state naturally through the mere passage of time. On the other hand, non-autoflowering strains come to the flowering state from the vegetative state due to changing light cycles, when light is being reduced.
The flowering stage is the last stage and comes after the vegetative state. It is the peak of the growth of cannabis plants. For a non-autoflowering strain, this stage occurs naturally when the light cycle is shortened to about 12 hours of light. But for auto-flowering plants, entering the flowering stage happens naturally.
The flowering stage lasts about 8-11 weeks. It is in this stage, that the plant will also show whether they are male or female. This is the stage when the resinous buds develop. It is the buds that are harvested for its THC or CBD content.
AUTOFLOWERING VS NON-AUTOFLOWERING MARIJUANA PLANTS
Below is a comparison between the autoflowering and non-autoflowering marijuana plant varieties.
HARVEST VOLUME: Auto-flowering plants are smaller than the other Sativa or Indica dominant varieties since they are more related to the Ruderalis family. This is an advantage for the auto-flowering plants since smaller plants mean that you maximize the limited growing space you have. Being short also makes stealth growing possible where a grower may try and grow a single plant without attracting too much attention in a place where marijuana may be illegal or regulated.
HARVEST TIME: Auto-flowering strains also grow faster than non-autoflowering strains. This is due to the Ruderalis genes that are on auto-flowering plants. Some varieties are even reported to be ready for harvest in seven weeks. This could mean a few harvests in one season of planting non-autoflowering plants.
This is also an advantage for outdoor growers in cold climates where the summer days are short and cold that only last about two months, which is just enough time between the seed stage to the flowering stage. Non-autoflowering plants do have fast-growing varieties too so we cannot really say that auto-flowering strains could generally be harvested faster in a shorter period of time.
The smaller size of auto-flowering marijuana plants could be a disadvantage too. Smaller plants yield fewer buds too as there is only enough space on each plant for buds to grow.
CLONING: One of the main disadvantages of autoflowering plants is their inability to be cloned. We may say that is shell be difficult but not really impossible but going through the trouble in enough to dissuade us from trying to clone it. Cloning is the process of taking a stem or branch from a mother plant and making a whole new plant develop from it. Since autoflowering plants mature automatically, the cut part of the plant to be cloned is of the same age as the mother plant and will not result in a seedling as we could find in a non-autoflowering plant.
THC AND CBD CONTENT: Non-autoflowering marijuana strains have different THC and CBD content and it is known that some contain as much as 21 percent of either ingredient. Auto-flowering marijuana plants naturally contain lesser THC than the Sativa or Indica varieties because they are derived from the Ruderalis family of plants.
CULTIVATION EFFICIENCY: Non-autoflowering marijuana plants’ maturing from the vegetative state to the flowering state is triggered by lowering the light cycle from 18 hours to 12 hours. But auto-flowering plants need the same 18-hour light cycles in their flowering stage. This means that lights should run longer on indoor spaces even during the flowering stage, which will result in more electricity consumption in this stage.
Letting the lights run longer would also mean that temperature in your indoor growing area shall rise which will force you to run ventilation or air conditioning harder in order to keep the ideal temperature in your crops. High temperature is detrimental to your crops as marijuana is known to be a very sensitive plant and a hot and moist environment is conducive to the growth of mold in your plants.
There are a number of things that make or break the superiority of the autoflowering marijuana strain compared to non-autoflowering strains and it is up to the grower as to which characteristic is more important to him. Both the autoflowering and non-autoflowering strains naturally have all these advantages and disadvantages that he has to weigh in order to truly decide.
The grower must look at their resources, priorities, and targets in order to home in on their goals and decide whether they want to have autoflowering or non-autoflowering marijuana plants.