Auto-flowering varieties grow quickly, from seed to weed, in under 90 days. This is due to their amazing ability to flower independently of the light cycle. Because of this special quality, choosing for auto-flowering seeds can make successful growing a lot easier. Moreover, the exceptionally short time between planting and harvesting gives you quick results!
In nature, cannabis plants start flowering when the days get shorter at the end of the summer. Similarly, indoors the flowering process is triggered by reducing the hours of light that the plants are exposed to from 18 to 12 hours per day. With auto-flowering varieties however, it works a bit differently.
After planting your auto-flowering seeds, the plants begin their flowering process ‘automatically’ when they reach a certain height. Unlike other species of cannabis, ruderalis enters the flowering stage based on maturity, rather than its light cycle. It thus enters the flowering stage regardless of daily light duration. Once these plants have grown their first seven side branches the flowering process starts, even if the plants are continued to be kept under (more than) 18 hours of light per day.
Easily and rapidly
Auto-flowering seeds can be very handy. They develop easily and rapidly, and using them removes the hassle of setting up a light scheme. They also are great to grow behind the window. Because they flower uninterrupted if they get exposed to irregular light, light from your house, garden, or street (so-called false light) does not bother them. So, the amount of technique and care needed is a little less than with other plants. This clearly is convenient for beginner growers. But more experienced growers can use these special characteristics to optimize their cultivation schedule during the year as well. Also, auto-flowering plants are short, compact, and grow mostly one big kola with few leaves, making them also very suitable for various indoor growing systems.
Besides sativa and indica there is a lesser-known, third subspecies called Cannabis ruderalis (or C. sativa sativa var. spontanea). Ruderalis is native to the tundras of Russia and Europe. In this stark landscape, above the Arctic Circle, the sun remains visible at midnight in the summer months due the Earth’s axial tilt. Like other Arctic vegetation, Ruderalis has adapted in such a way that it not only survives but indeed thrives in these inhospitable circumstances. It shows to be more than capable to complete its flower cycle in the shortest possible time, under harsh conditions and in continuous light.
Ruderalis is build to do its job under extreme conditions. The climate nor time allow it to grow very tall or develop a lot of flowers. The plants are therefore short and have thin stems with little branching. The foliage is typically open with large leaves. The flowers do not have the levels of THC and CBD that their well-known cousins do either. That is why nobody used them as much until recently.
Ruderalis was brought to Amsterdam in the early 1980s to enhance the breeding programs of cannabis. By retaining the desired features of ruderalis and crossbreeding it with the more palatable, more potent and better-yielding indica and sativa varieties, breeders eventually gave birth to a whole new range of medium-sized, very robust, incredibly quick and amazingly easy-to-grow cannabis cultivars. This is what cannabis geneticists today refer to as auto-flowering varieties.
Cultivators prefer these strains because they exhibit the hardiness of ruderalis plants while still maintaining the medicinal effects of sativa and indica strains. Outdoor growers also favor these plants due to their reduced production time. Auto-flowering plants indeed typically finishing in under three months rather than in six or seven months. The auto-flowering trait is extremely beneficial because it allows for multiple, successive harvests in one outdoor growing season without the use of light deprivation techniques necessary for photo-period strains.
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