There’s still a big misconception that you can’t grow big autos, that their very nature means a small yield.
Though, a decade ago, that may have been true. The research and development of the plant, though, has evolved to the point where you can get an excellent yield from an auto compared with previous years.
There are only a few things you will need to consider before even planting a seed into your medium. The first and foremost is genetics. Then, you need to remember that autoflowers are very finicky plants. So, it would be best if you took care and precautions to grow successfully with an excellent yield.
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The Right Breeder and the Right Genetics
As previously stated, the breeder is the first and foremost thing you need to consider when buying an auto strain. With the legalization of cannabis throughout the world, more and more people are trying their hands at breeding, and this comes with the experimentation with autoflower cannabis.
Some breeders claim great genetics until you plant them, and they start flowering immediately, or they weren’t tested properly, and you get one that didn’t inherit the auto trait. This leads to extreme frustration on the grower’s end.
That is why you hear those of us who have been growing a while. Always look at the breeder. You also want to see if others have rated their plants. This will give you an idea of how those specific autos grow. If they are poor genetics, the people who have bought them will let others know.
Even though I’m an independent grower, and Seedsman pays me to write content for them, this only started because I’d been a customer for so long. I had been using Seedsman to shop other breeders and had received a Blueberry Auto freebie from Seedsman. I planted it alongside another strain and was blown away by the potency, but more importantly, how big it grew. That’s how we got here!
Companies like Seedsman, Humboldt and Fast Buds are great examples of companies with great genetics in autos. When you look at the genetics, you see consistencies in each line.
That is the information you want to start out with, or you could be setting yourself up for failure before you even get started.
Preparing for an Autoflower Grow
Once you have the seeds you want to, now it’s time to prepare. This is the second most important step when it comes to growing autoflowers. I’ll use my preparations as an example.
I have a 4 ft by 8 ft tent and grow in organic, no-till living soil. So, I know that the plant will grow itself, and I need to focus on feeding my soil. Hydro and coco growers need only focus on the plant itself.
I also know that autos don’t feed nearly as heavy as a photoperiod plant would, so I don’t necessarily need to load my soil as heavily with amendments. So, I amend my soil accordingly. This is also the spot where I make sure my soil is loam: not compacted and has ample drainage.
I then focus on my environment.
Depending on the genetics I have selected, I will see the best type of environment it grows in. I will go for a tropical environment with higher heat and humidity if there is none available. Once I have that setup, I then plant cover crops in my pots to help maintain that RH in the tent.
Since they have a soilless media, hydro and coco growers don’t need to worry about cover crops. This is when I will plant my seed into a grow plug. As the seed is sprouting and growing, I let my tent have time to regulate itself, making sure it keeps the temperature and humidity constant. This helps the plant establish its roots once placed into the soil.
Planting and Feeding an Autoflower
Now that you have prepared your grow space, there are some things you must think about before planting that plant into its final home. Autos do not like to be transplanted. You can get away with transplanting with photoperiods since they won’t try to be flowering on their own. It is you who have control over their vegetative cycle.
Autos, however, flower when they feel they have reached maturity. So, many recommend either planting directly into the final home of the plant or planting into a plug, letting it sprout, and then putting it into the soil (though this is technically a transplant, the plant is still very young at this point, that the transition into the new home is virtually seamless).
Depending on your growth style, you will also need to monitor your PH and EC (electrical conductivity) levels. In soil, like mine, it regulates that automatically. But, for hydro and coco-based growers, PH and EC are extremely important.
We, soil folks, like to keep between a PH range of 6.0-7.0. Hydro and coco like to keep between 5.5 and 6.5. Now, the EC is how many nutrients are available for the plant. Unlike a photoperiod, you will want a lower EC since autos don’t need as many nutrients. Many use half of the recommended amount when growing autos, yielding a tremendous amount of flower.
Training Techniques And Light Cycle for an Autoflower
The final things you will need to consider when growing an autoflower plant are light cycle and training techniques.
Some feel they can grow autoflowers on a 24-hour, light cycle. Though this is technically true, almost all plants like to have a dark cycle so that they can rest. Yes, plants need their sleep as well. Others will do a 12/12 light cycle immediately (12 hours on and 12 hours off). This is also a usable light cycle, but, like their photoperiod kin, this can cause early flowering, resulting in lower yields and potency.
Many people have had great success with a light schedule that is 18/6 (18 hours on, 6 hours off) or a 16/8 (16 hours on, 8 hours off) light schedule throughout the whole grow. This allows for more rapid growth during the day and rest at night. It also allows for the most optimal cell growth in the vegetative state, making a larger plant with better bud sites. This ties in exceptionally well with training techniques.
While growing the plant, you want to focus on low-stress training (training that focuses on bending parts of the plant, as opposed to snapping and cutting the plant). Some will top once when they have 3-5 nodes (places where the plant branches out), and there’s really no evidence that that single top will hurt productivity, but it can cause early flowering.
Low-stress training is the best type of training to do for the plant since you aren’t damaging the plant to the point where you will need that extra time to allow the plant to heal. Using trellis nets and tying down branches work well with low-stress training. These two, alone, will help you get a plethora of bud sites and larger growth.
Grow Big Autos Yourself
If you are thinking about growing auto-flowers, these are likely the best techniques to use. It would be best if you remembered that these plants are finicky, wanting to flower when they are ready to. So, they don’t like to be over-stressed or beat up. Follow these few pieces of advice for your next auto grow. But, remember the number one rule, you must do your research with the genetics you want to grow. Other than that, have fun with the plants, and remember to stay lifted.
I’ve listed three autoflower strains I’d recommend that produce some excellent yields:
Strawberry Cheesecake Auto
Seedsman’s Strawberry Cheesecake Auto results from a cross of Strawberry Banana Auto and Cheese Auto. This Indica-dominant wonder grows into medium-sized, robust plants, producing very good harvests of dense and resinous buds with good levels of THC.
The taste produced by the dried buds is quite heavy on the Skunk with some pronounced sweet, fruity/lemon notes. THC production is around 15% while CBD is rated at below 1%, and its effect is initially quite physically relaxing although providing mental stimulation at the same time. Strawberry Cheesecake Auto is perfect for daytime use whether you are relaxing at home or working, it will allow you to complete daily tasks with no impediment while giving a very nice feeling of contentment.
OG Kush Auto
A perfect strain for those looking to cultivate in a smaller space, OG Kush Auto is an indica dominant plant whose maximum height reaches a little over a metre tall.
However, despite its diminutive stature, OG Kush packs a punch, utilizing its Kush lineage to offer a heavy wave of euphoria that can alleviate the stresses of everyday life.
This strain also offers an abundant harvest of thick buds, despite its short stature.
Pink Kush CBD 30:1 Auto
Pink Kush CBD Auto is the result of crossing Pink Kush CBD Auto with Pink Afghan CBD Auto strains. It is 90% Indica, has a short life cycle, and has a CBD: THC ratio of at least 30:1.
The scent and taste resemble pine and damp forest with earthy hints of red fruits. CBD is rated at approximately 17% with just 0.5% THC. Its effect is a soft, light, relaxing body sensation.