Autoflower Weed Seeds Explained

Wanting to adventure with autoflowering strains? Here's all you need to know about the whole lifecycle of autoflowering strains and the most important stag How to grow autoflower seeds Cannabis seeds seem to be available in limitless options and it can be confusing when you have to choose. Should you go with feminized seeds? What about autoflower

The Lifecycle of the Autoflowering Cannabis Plant

Growing cannabis isn’t child’s play. You’ll succeed only after mastering the basics, and it’s even more important to familiarize yourself with the lifecycle of the plant.

  • 1. Germination
  • 2. Seedling stage
  • 3. Week 1 to week 3
  • 4. Week 4 to week 6
  • 5. Week 7 to week 9
  • 6. Week 10 to week 11
  • 7. Harvest
  • 8. Drying, trimming, and curing
  • 9. In conclusion

Growing cannabis is an art that requires patience. Only growers that understand the science and lifecycle of the plant will succeed. The rest either fail miserably or simply give up. It’s not uncommon for beginners to fail. And since practice makes a man perfect, keep at it until you finally harvest a big bunch of nugs that remind you of all the hard work.

I promise that it’s all worth it in the end. But first, you must understand how the plant grows. Not only will this help you save time, but you’ll also be able to bounce back even if you face setbacks. So, let’s take a look at the lifecycle of the autoflowering cannabis plant to make it a little easier for you.

Germination

The first step of the plant’s cycle starts with germination. Now that you’ve grabbed your favorite seeds, it’s time to plant them. People use different ways to germinate the seeds, but it’s important to stick to a method that works for you. Ideally, the seeds should be soaked in a glass of water for at least 24 hours. Some growers use a nail file to scratch the seeds gently before soaking them.

This ensures that the seeds soak in more water, but you shouldn’t attempt this if you’re a beginner. The seeds can then be transferred to a wet paper towel and stored in a zip-lock plastic bag. Within 1-2 days, the taproot emerges and the seeds are ready to be planted. Note that many growers simply stick their seeds in the soil, and you can follow the same route if you prefer.

For the most part though, we do recommend sticking with the paper towel method. This method allows for more control, which is what we are always looking for as cultivators. Be sure that the paper towel you use is totally unscented, unbleached, and without any sort of dye – all three of these can cause issues with germination and can even kill the seed.

When using the wet paper towel method, be sure to check the seeds daily to see if there has been any progress. The last thing you want is to leave germinated seeds for multiple days without planting, as this is a true recipe for disaster. Depending on the state of the seed, and the strain, it can take anywhere from 2 to 10 days for the tap root to emerge, but for most seeds, it should take no more than 3 or 4 days especially if you have soaked them to begin with. Remember to always check the pH of the water, and amend it to between 5.5 and 6.5 for the best chance of germination success. The EC or TDS should be low. For germination, the perfect temperature is around 80°F but anywhere within the 70°F – 90°F (21°C – 32°C) range will work just fine.

Seedling Stage

The seeds can be transferred to the soil at this point. It may take another day or two for the seeds to emerge from the soil and break their hull. Be patient and stop messing with the plants. You might be tempted to assist the seedling since it looks so fragile, but it will do fine without you. Also, remember to regulate the pH as it’s very important.

The seedling stage is the most important stage. The plant will take a long time to recover if there’s a mishap at this stage, so be very careful. If growing indoors, hang the lights at least 17-20 inches above the seedling (if using HID lighting, this is less important with LED and CFL panels as they produce much less heat). Reduce the distance as the plant grows bigger. CFLs, LEDs, MH, and HIDs will do as long as the seedlings are comfortable.

Week 1 to Week 3

The seedlings begin with only two true leaves. After a couple of days, a third leaf will appear. The plants don’t need any nutrients on the very first week if you’re growing in soil. For those growing in hydroponic setups, reduce the strength of the nutrients by half to allow the seedlings to adjust to them. You can kill the plants faster by overwatering them. Not a myth; it’s a fact. So, go easy on watering. And, make sure that you supply enough water to keep the soil moist. Moist, not dripping wet or dry. As the process of photosynthesis goes on, new sets of leaves will appear.

The seedlings become a little stronger during week 2. You can now introduce nutrients unless you’re using premade organic potting soil. Again, the nutes should be mild as the plants are still fragile. The distance between the lights and the seedlings should be reduced if the seedlings grow lanky.

By week 3, the seedlings show more leaves popping up. Some autoflowers may display their sex at this stage, but if you’ve planted only feminized seeds, you don’t need to worry at all. If using regular seeds, however, it’s important to distinguish between male and female plants. While female plants show their pistils, the males will produce little pollen sacs. It’s a good idea to remove the males since sensimilla buds are preferred. Nutrients can be used at regular strength now, but be cautious to check the plants for any nutrient burn. The seedlings will suffer a bit with low doses of fertilizer or nutrients, but they don’t recover quickly from an overdose or nutrient burn.

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Week 4 to Week 6

This is the phase that determines how big the plants grow. You can use several training techniques including LST, Topping and FIMing to increase yields. Many growers make the mistake of introducing bloom nutrients as soon as the plant produces a few pistils, but that’s not how you do it.

Note that some plants may still be in the vegetative stage and nutrients must be provided at full strength based on autoflower feeding schedule recommendations. Also, this depends on the type of fertilizer you’re using. For instance, if you’re growing organically, use organic nutrients according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but make sure that it contains more nitrogen. If you’re using a brand that has two parts of Growth and Bloom fertilizers, use only the “Grow” part during week 4. Most brands of fertilizers provide the numbering of N-P-K to make it easy for you.

For example, if you’re using General Hydroponics, only FloraGro and FloraMicro (micronutrients) should be used during this stage. Remember to regulate the pH constantly when using nutrients, but if you’re using something like the pH Perfect from Advanced nutrients, for instance, pH can take a back seat.

All cannabis plants can have different sizes even if they’re the same age. Gorilla Cookies by Grey_Wolf.

Week 5 begins with the plants producing lush leaves with a few buds appearing slowly. Continue with the “Grow” nutrients even at this stage lest you want the plants to stop growing vertically. This is the stage where an explosion of growth occurs and you need to support it with nitrogen. Using more phosphorous or potassium at this point will force the plant to focus more on the buds rather than growing.

Many growers use bloom nutrients as soon as they enter the 5th week because they are satisfied with the growth of the plants. Some plants like Green Crack and Gorilla Glue have the tendency to grow very large, so you might be tempted to use flowering or bloom nutes. However, the yields can reduce significantly if the plant isn’t allowed to grow to its full potential.

As you enter week 6, the appearance of buds is even more apparent. A little defoliation doesn’t hurt now. Defoliation is the process of removing extra leaves to provide more light to the lower parts of the plant. Don’t overdo it, though, because the plant relies on the leaves to receive nutrients. Continue with nutrients meant for the vegetative stage as the plant will shoot up vertically.

Week 7 to Week 9

The plant is all geared up for its flowering stage and bloom nutrients can be used at full strength. The buds will begin to swell and the unmistakable aroma of sweet cannabis will fill up your tent. The pistils will slowly change colors from white to a light brown or red, depending on the strain.

It’s also a good idea to use nutrients to boost buds to improve the quality. Organic soil growers can use dried and powdered banana peels to introduce more potassium to the soil. The vertical growth stops sometime during week 7 but the plant does everything in its power to increase the size of the buds.

As you enter week 8, the leaves start yellowing a bit, but there’s nothing to be alarmed. This is just a natural way of the plant indicating that it’s nearing the end of its cycle. Continue to use flowering nutrients even as you step into week 9. Don’t forget micronutrients that are added right from week 2. Defoliate the plants again if the bottom parts of the plants display small buds.

Week 10 to Week 11

The plant is almost at the end of its lifecycle. Stop using nutrients and use plain water to remove any chemical buildup. This practice is known as flushing, and it’s very important if inorganic nutrients are used. Flushing also ensures that your buds don’t taste or smell like chemicals and improves the quality of smoke dramatically.

By week 11, all the leaves start turning yellow. Most of the pistils turn amber, indicating that it’s almost time to harvest. Admittedly, many seed companies including Fast Buds tell you that the plant will finish its cycle in 8-9 weeks. And yes, they do finish in 9 weeks if you grow in a good growing environment. However, your plants may take a little bit longer depending on the growing conditions you provide.

I received one seed of this variety as a gift and I can say that this is an excellent quality as always. I think it will be a great product)

Harvest

You can harvest the plants now by chopping them all one by one. Use sharp sterilized scissors to prevent infecting the buds. Don’t forget to use gloves, especially if you’re harvesting buds of the Gorilla Glue as they are notorious for oozing resin all over.

You have a couple of options when it comes to harvesting, and it all really depends on the size of your plants and the environmental conditions at play. If you have grown plants that are smaller than about 1 meter tall and live in temperate conditions then you can probably get away with cutting the plant at the base of the main stem and just hanging the entire thing. On the other hand, if you have grown massive beasts and live in hot, humid conditions then you probably want to break the plant down branch by branch and hang them all separately to dry.

DRYING, TRIMMING, AND CURING

This is the last stage where the buds are dried, trimmed, and then stored in mason jars. The first decision you have to make is whether you want to wet or dry trim the weed. In almost all circumstances we suggest dry trimming, with wet trimming only being suggested when the ambient temps and humidity is high and you are unable to control the drying environment. There’s a bunch of ways to control the temps and humidity, from AC units and dehumidifiers (or humidifiers depending on the conditions) to heaters, and even your regular oscillating fans.

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You want the drying period to be in the goldilocks zone – not too fast and not too slow. The ideal timing is strain-specific to a certain extent and is also dependent on the denseness of the bud, but anywhere between 7 to 14 days is great. To achieve this you want the temps to be anywhere in the range of 60-70°F (that’s 15-22°C) with a relative humidity of 55-65%. If after 2 to 3 days of drying you are not seeing much of a change in the moisture levels in the buds then you need to reassess your setup, as the buds are going to be in dire risk of developing mold issues.

Once they are all nice and dry it’s time to trim. But hold up there cowboy, the last thing you want to do is dive in headfirst with that old sh**ty pair of scissors that have been hanging around your kitchen drawers for the last decade. Trimming is a tedious and annoying job, so do yourself a favor and grab a pair of dedicated trimming scissors to catch all the falling keif. The first time we used a proper trim tray we almost fell off our trimming seat when we realized just how much keif we had been wasting trimming without one.

Curing comes at the last stage, but it’s the most important one if you want top-quality buds. Do not skip this process because all your hard work will be for naught if you skip this one. Again, environmental control is paramount to the success of the curing period. We cure weed to allow the terpene profile to fully maturate and for the capture chlorophyll to dissipate.

For this process to properly take place we need to keep temps around 70°F (22°C) with a humidity level of 60-65%. Place the weed into your resealable glass mason jars, and remember to not overfill them. You want the jars to be no more than around ¾ full so the buds have space and air to breathe. Last but not least, wait for at least 2 weeks to cure the buds even if you’re tempted to smoke them immediately. Doing so will reduce the harshness of the flower and your lungs will certainly thank you for it!

Not all strains will have fully cured in two weeks though, with some flowers taking up to 6 months to finish the maturation period. For the first 10 to 14 days you want to burp each jar once or twice a day to allow the remaining moisture to escape, and then twice a week for the rest of the cure. Can you smoke those buds as soon as they have dried? Of course, you can, but if you really want to get the best out of all of your hard work then be as patient as possible and let the curing process work its magic. It’s quite surprising how much difference just leaving the buds to cure can make to the end of smoke.

In Conclusion

The lifecycle of autoflowering cannabis plants is basically the same as photoperiods. There are a couple of differences in how fast they develop and how they grow but most cannabis growers with a couple of grow cycles under the belt can definitely grow autos without any problem at all.

If you’ve grown autoflowers before feel free to share your experience with fellow growers by leaving a comment in the comment section below!

How to grow autoflower seeds

Cannabis seeds seem to be available in limitless options and it can be confusing when you have to choose. Should you go with feminized seeds? What about autoflower seeds?

Growing autoflowers can significantly speed up harvest time while delivering an ample yield of marijuana. Here are some autoflower pros and cons along with some growing tips to help you decide if this type of seed is right for your cannabis garden.

Planting autoflower seeds can significantly speed up harvest time while delivering an ample yield of marijuana. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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What are autoflowers?

As the name implies, autoflowers automatically shift to the flowering period without intervention. Whereas the flowering of photoperiod plants is dependent on cycles of light and dark, autoflowers zip through this growth stage according to their age. Autoflowering cannabis seeds may mature in as little as seven or eight weeks from seed to harvest depending on the strain .

There are a staggering 200+ autoflowering strains on the market for you to peruse. Some popular strains include Cream Caramel Auto, Afghan Kush Ryder, and Autoflowering Blueberry.

How long does it take to grow autoflower?

The timing of autoflowering plants depends on their size and classification. On one end of the spectrum, there are dwarf varieties, which are short in stature and are often ready to harvest within 10 weeks. In contrast, there are super autos, which grow taller (more than 6 feet high in some cases) and may not mature for more than 100 days. But in all cases, the time frame for growing autoflowering cannabis is shorter than for photoperiod strains and represents one of the seeds’ most desirable distinctions.

Pros and cons of growing autoflowers

Autoflowering cannabis offers an array of benefits, including the highest possible yield in the shortest conceivable time.

Here are four of the top reasons to grow autoflowering cannabis:

  • Fast: The transition between the vegetative growth phase and the flowering stage can happen in as few as seven weeks.
  • Simple: One autoflowering plant can produce hundreds of seeds, simplifying the germination process and eliminating the need to purchase more seeds.
  • Flexible: Autoflowering seeds flourish in a variety of climates and environments. Even cities make hospitable environments for autoflowering cannabis seeds because artificial lighting doesn’t negatively affect them.
  • Prolific: Growing autoflowering plants outdoors can mean multiple harvests in one season, giving you plentiful weed to enjoy now or perhaps dry, cure, and store for future use.
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The disadvantages of growing autoflowering cannabis are more debatable, with some people claiming the harvest is lower quality. Others are concerned with the quality of the seeds before harvest and the possibility of purchasing those that do not in fact autoflower. Finally, some dwarf strains may produce disappointing yields, sometimes as little as half an ounce per plant.

How much do autoflower plants yield?

Just as harvest timing depends on the size and classification of autoflower plants, so does the amount of cannabis they yield. Regular plants tend to yield between 10 and 50 grams per plant, while the next level up, the super auto, can produce yields between 100 and 200 grams per plant. The abundant yield of a super autoflower can be a double-edged sword if you are working within the confines of a small space. So, use small spaces for regular autos whose yields are more manageable, and reserve larger spaces for those impressive super autos.

Do autoflowers need nutrients?

Like any other living plant, autoflowers do require nutrients, but administering them is a delicate balance. Going overboard on fertilizer can have adverse effects on cannabis seeds, just as feeding the wrong kind of nutrients can. Be sure to choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for autoflowering strains and then micro-dose rather than pouring on liberally. Lightly fertilized soil is optimal for autoflowering seeds and as long as you’re nourishing the plants with supplements such as vitamin B, enzymes, and fungi.

In addition, autoflowers need at least 15 to 18 hours of sunlight or LED light each day to thrive.

How to grow autoflowering plants

Now that you know the basics of autoflowers, let’s explore each step in the growing process. The following guide covers a typical 10-week growth cycle and highlights milestones for each week.

Week 1

Germination: This initial stage occurs within three days, sometimes as soon as 24 hours. Choose a light potting soil mix or blend your own with peat moss, compost, moistened perlite, and moistened vermiculture, along with nitrogen-rich tablets containing other essential nutrients — plus a dose of good fungi. The ideal planting environment for your cannabis seeds has 70 percent to 90 percent humidity and is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the soil into pots and poke 15-millimeter holes in the soil. Plant a seed in each hole, cover with soil, and watch for a seedling to emerge in the next several days.

Plant a seed in each hole, cover with soil, and watch for a seedling to emerge in the next several days. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Week 2

Photosynthesis: Add more nutrients to your late-stage seedlings. Since you are growing autoflowers and not regular seeds, use only half the usual dose indicated on the package.

Week 3

Vegetation: Change up the environmental conditions with low-stress training. Reduce the humidity to 50 percent, lower the temperature to 68 degrees, and feed twice per week.

The plants should be about six inches tall at this point.

During the vegetation stage, the plants should be about six inches tall at this point. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Week 4

Late Vegetation: In this second vegetative phase, drop the humidity to 45 percent and keep the temperature stable at around 68 degrees. Water with half a liter every day and keep feeding twice weekly.

You may see some tiny pre-flowers crop up at this time.

Week 5

Flowering: Sticky, resinous buds will make their first appearance during week five, giving you a preview of the bounty to come. Keep the humidity consistent at 45 percent but increase the temperature to about 71 degrees. Increase the water to a full liter each day and add supplement tablets twice a week. Look for those containing phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

The plants should be at least a foot tall now.

During the flowering stage, sticky, resinous buds will make their first appearance during week five. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Week 6

Late Flowering: Don’t be surprised to see a flower forming in every bud after two weeks into the flowering stage. Drop the humidity to 40 percent and reduce the temperature back to 68 degrees. Water with 1.5 liters and feed the plants three times a week.

After this week, you’re in the home stretch of raising autoflowering plants to maturity.

Week 7

Maintenance: It’s crucial to stop harmful intruders such as mold and spider mites, so check your cannabis plants daily and keep the humidity low at 40 percent. Maintain the watering and feeding schedule established in week six.

Your patience and care will pay off soon — harvest time is in the near future.

Weeks 8 and 9

Defoliation: Stop feeding the plants. Instead, flush them with a flood of water and then defoliate with a pair of shears . Defoliation helps the plants absorb more light while limiting the risk of damaging mold.

At the end of this two-week period, the eagerly anticipated harvest time will begin.

Week 10

Harvest: Milky white trichomes and red-brown pistils on the buds indicate they are ready for harvest. Drying and curing comes next, then you can finally sit back and enjoy the sweet fruits of your labor.

Milky white trichomes and red-brown pistils on the buds indicate they are ready for harvest. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps