Autoflowering cannabis varieties first hit the scene around 5 years ago, but have only really made a big impact in the last two years. Since 2011 we have seen a lot of feedback from pleasantly surprised autoflower growers.
Autoflowering cannabis varieties first hit the scene around 5 years ago, but have only really made a big impact in the last two years. Since 2011 we have seen a lot of feedback from pleasantly surprised autoflower growers. One of the key reasons that autoflowering feminized (or ‘AutoFem’) varieties have been popular with the self sufficient home-grower is down to the speed that they can deliver heavy harvests. AutoFem’s have the ability to flower under 20 hours of daily light and can therefore grow large blooms very quickly and even outgrow traditional varieties. In the last couple of years we have seen our most popular AutoFem’s start to significantly outsell some of our better selling traditional varieties and I am sure other quality seedbanks have seen the same trends with their auto’s. The rise of AutoFem’s has been far faster than anyone predicted. In fact I don’t think even the most enthusiastic AutoFem fans expected results this good after just 5 years of breeding and genetic refinement. The rise and rise of AutoFem’s has surprised both the AutoFem fans as well as the AutoFem critics.
Nowadays many growers will tell you that the quality seedbanks offer AutoFem varieties with potency levels right up there with good quality traditional varieties of cannabis. THC levels of 15%-20% are not at all uncommon from a good AutoFem. Not just that, but the seedbanks have been steadily refining the genetics to produce large yields. A well grown autoflowering plant now looks, smells, tastes and smokes just like a good quality traditional variety. Looking at a good quality AutoFem in 2012 it is hard to believe that there is any Ruderalis genetics left in them, apart from the photogene which allows the plant to bloom under 20 hours of daily light. The days of spindly AutoFem plants producing 10 grams of medium strength bud are long gone.
Dutch Passion recently saw a remarkable Think Different AutoFem which delivered a staggering 271g of dry bud from a single plant grown under just a 400W HPS light in a 6.5 litre pot of coco fibre. The grow can be found on the popular growers from UK420, the grower was Organic Jim, and you can see photo’s of it illustrating this article..
Think Different is a strain with a reputation for surprising the grower, the genetics come from a very special AK47 hybrid of ours which we named AK420. The first public grow of it by LED & AutoFem pioneer Seymour Buds was an epic grow, a massive plant, with a YouTube video and grow diary which received over a hundred thousand views each within a few weeks of the grow finishing.
Organic Jim planted some Dutch Passion AutoFem’s in early 2012, the first few weeks were under a 400W metal halide light before switching to HPS. AutoFems often develop a dominant main cola alongside a dozen (or so) side blooms. In the right conditions each of the side blooms can approach the size of the main cola. Organic Jim used a parabolic reflector and the Think Different developed a number of well proportioned heavy blooms. The blooms got steadily fatter and longer. Normally AutoFem’s are ready to harvest around 10-11 weeks. But on this occasion the plant continued into its 13th week.
These are often referred to as super-auto’s or Amazonian auto’s and deliver XXL yields. They don’t need daily light hours reducing from 20 hours down to 12 hours, they simply need a couple of extra weeks to ripen, and during this time they will continue to add extra layers of bud and resin. We even get some customers saying they would like AutoFem’s to be tuned to finish in 13 weeks as standard. It’s an interesting thought, but the general consensus from AutoFem growers is that the normal 10-11 week life cycle is about right.
AutoFems are increasingly popular with indoor and outdoor growers. Outdoors they allow the grower to crop a decent early-season harvest much faster than is possible with traditional varieties. This is a bonus for those growing in climates with short growing seasons such as northern European, Canadian and even Siberian summers. Indoor growers love AutoFems for the ability to deliver fast 70 day crops in ever-increasing quantities with potency levels that were impossible just a couple of years ago.
A question we get asked all the time is ‘where do AutoFem’s go from here? The answers are not clear even to us since the results are improving each year, and at quite a rate too. 5 years of AutoFem breeding is actually quite a short period of time to a seedbank, and in that time AutoFem’s have improved out of all recognition. But the AutoFem breeding process has not yet reached its limit, far from it actually since we feel there is still a lot more to come from them.
Another question we are often asked is whether AutoFem’s will ever replace traditional varieties. Here we are pretty sure that AutoFem’s will complement, rather than replace, traditional varieties. Traditional varieties have many decades of breeding behind them and the traditional varieties have large established fan bases and numerous repeat growers. Traditional varieties of marijuana will always be with us, we are sure of that. But we are also sure that a lot of people that grow traditional varieties today will be growing AutoFem’s in the future as well.
Work is ongoing to push AutoFem’s into new areas with some exciting projects which will be thrilling if they succeed. The aim will be to offer some novel and inviting benefits to medical and recreational growers. If all goes well you will see exactly what we are thinking about in the next year or two. Results like the ‘Think Different’ you see here would not have been thought possible until very recently. The serious AutoFem seedbanks continue to find ways to further refine the breeding process, meaning that performance levels should continue to improve.
Expect the seedbanks that are active with AutoFem’s to continue to put lots more effort into new varieties, and expect to be surprised by the results. It will be interesting to see what AutoFem’s will be achieving in a couple of years time!