In the same way that feminised seeds have gradually replaced standard seeds in gardens, because cannabis growers find that growing only high-quality female plants has a lot more advantages, auto-flowering seeds are increasingly preferred by cannabis growers because they offer a host of advantages.
It is clear that auto-flowering varieties are in vogue. Back in 2005, when there was an explosion in the number of feminised seed banks, few of us could imagine that just a few years later we would once again be amazed by the creation of new generations of auto-flowering, feminised varieties. Varieties whose seeds have quickly become highly prized by cannabis growers and all lovers of this marvellous plant, and which have revolutionised the cannabis scene worldwide
Sweet Seeds included its first auto-flowering variety in its feminised seed bank catalogue for the 2009 season. It was christened Speed Devil.
Speed Devil has been one of the most sought after and popular varieties in Sweet Seeds´ catalogue this season, and extremely successful for a new product. Sweet Seeds made sure that the auto-flowering feature was fully stabilised before offering it for sale, and cannabis growers have been able to try it out, and see for themselves that it is 100% auto-flowering, its most prized characteristic. In addition to being an auto-flowering, feminised variety, it also produces abundant resin, a sweet aroma, a potent effect, and an acceptable yield, taking into account its small size and rapid development.
A year after Speed Devil appeared on the scene, Sweet Seeds has pleasantly surprised everyone with the presentation of two new auto-flowering, feminised varieties, Big Devil and Fast Bud. Big Devil is possibly the tallest auto-flowering plant in the market, and Fast Bud is possibly one of the fastest growing of all the auto-flowering plants.
The Big Devil variety was developed by Sweet Seeds breeders in response to a large demand for tall auto-flowering plants. In general, auto-flowering plants today are not usually more than one metre tall, as the majority of projects to improve auto-flowering plants have crossed auto-flowering varieties with commercial, quick-flowering, Indica varieties. However, these plants are not tall enough to meet cannabis growers´ expectations and needs, as they prefer taller auto-flowering plants.
The Big Devil variety grows to well over one metre high, and can even reach two metres if it is grown outdoors, in good soil, and with plentiful sunlight. It has been genetically bred to have a vegetative period of around 25-35 days before starting to flower, growing very quickly after it is two weeks old, and continues to grow upwards at a very fast rate during the first three weeks of flowering. This characteristic feature of Big Devil is due to its Sativa pedigree. The ancestors of this plant were a selection of tall plants chosen from a range of auto-flowering plant varieties which were crossed with AK-47, one of the most famous predominantly Sativa varieties of all times.
It has a sweet aroma, with overtones of skunk and incense, and a high yield of buds and resin. It is the most productive of all the auto-flowering plants in Sweet Seeds´ catalogue, and will be ready to be harvested around nine weeks after the seeds have germinated, irrespective of the height it reaches.
Fast Bud, the other variety bred by Sweet Seeds, is another of the new generation of feminised, auto-flowering plants. It was developed to meet the needs of home-growers who want quick yielding plants. Fast Bud plants start to flower around 21 days after germination, and will be ready for harvesting approximately seven and a half weeks after the seeds have germinated. They have been bred from a selection of very quick-flowering, auto-flowering plants crossed with strains of the Diesel family.
Fast Bud plants are medium-height, auto-flowering plants which reach a height of between 40 to 90 cm. They have a potent effect, and a sweet aroma with exotic overtones thanks to their Diesel pedigree.
Another attractive feature of this variety is its low price, despite being one of the new generation of automatic, feminised seeds. You can buy a packet of three seeds for €19.50, which makes it one of the most economical auto-flowering, feminised plants in the market.
As we remarked at the beginning, auto-flowering varieties offer growers a range of advantages, the main one being that they flower irrespective of the hours of light. The factor that triggers flowering is age, and it usually starts when the plants are about 21 days old. This characteristic enables growers to obtain harvests from outdoor plants out of season. It also means that the plants will flower even when they are subject to light pollution, such as street lights and public lighting, which inhibit flowering in non auto-flowering varieties. This, together with their low height, means that they are ideal for growing on balconies, in small gardens etc. Another obvious advantage is their rapid development and flowering. All of these features go together to make them very quick-growing plants that growers can grow discreetly.
There are some misconceptions about auto-flowering varieties. For example, although the auto-flowering features of the majority of modern auto-flowering varieties have been inherited from Cannabis Rudelaris varieties, which originated in the cold zones of Eastern Europe (Hungary, Southern Siberia, Russia etc) and Central Asia, this does not mean that modern auto-flowering varieties can bear the cold and develop well in European winters. At this time of year there are usually few hours of sunlight, and if the temperature falls below 10ºC the growth of these varieties will be slowed down, and they will yield less flowers. If the temperature drops to nearly 0ºC, their development will be stopped completely, while if the temperature falls below 0ºC it can kill them. The best time of year for growing auto-flowering varieties to ensure they reach their full potential is from spring to autumn, when temperatures are milder. The more hours of sunlight the plants receive, the better the results will be. The best results for plants that are grown indoors under artificial light are achieved with photoperiods of at least 18 hours of light. Many cannabis growers grow these plants indoors with photoperiods of 20 hours of light, and 4 hours of dark for the entire lifecycle of the plants, and achieve excellent results.
Another issue that is important to people who grow these small and rapid varieties is the best size of pot to use. These plants do not produce large root systems, which means they do not need very large pots. After the seeds have been placed inside napkins and germinated, the best thing is to plant them in a 1-litre or smaller pot. This will ensure that the pots are not too damp for too long, as excess damp and lack of oxygen in the soil during the first weeks of plant development can obstruct root development, and cause mineral deficiencies and even fungal infections in root systems, and the base of the stem. Bearing in mind that auto-flowering plants develop very quickly, their final height and yield will be affected if they suffer any problems or stress at any time during their first stages of development.
When the seedlings are about 10 days old, they can be transplanted for the first time to 1-3 litre pots. They should be handled very gently and with great care during transplantation to make sure the roots are not damaged or broken. At this point you can apply beneficial fungi (mycorrhiza, trichoderma, etc) to the root ball, and you can also bury a bit of the stems of seedlings which have grown too high, as after burying they will soon grow new roots. The plants should be transplanted for the last time to 7-11 litre pots at the start of the flowering period.
Tall, auto-flowering plants such as Big Devil can be transplanted to 11-litre or bigger pots at the start of the flowering period.
If good soil is used, the plants will not need to be fertilised during the first 15-20 days, although it is a good idea to add a root stimulant to the water when watering them at the beginning, as it will stimulate strong, healthy root formation. After this period, you can use the same fertilisers and stimulants that you would use for any other cannabis plant. Thoroughly flushing the roots in the fifth-sixth week will help maintain low salt levels in the soil. You can use a growth fertiliser with auto-flowering plants such as Big Devil during the first week of flowering to make sure that the plant has all the nitrogen it needs for its rapid growth during the first weeks of flowering.
Auto-flowering varieties offer us a whole new range of possibilities to experiment with. Many breeders are now experimenting by crossing modern auto-flowering plants with all types of high quality varieties. This leaves us wondering whether, now that feminised plants and auto-flowering plants have appeared on the scene, what shape the next revolution to shake the world of cannabis will take?
Big Devil product information sheet:
THC: 18% CBD: 1.2% CBN: 0.3%
Indoor yield: 400-550gr/m2
Outdoor yield: 40-250gr/plant
Indoor flowering: 6 weeks
Indoor/outdoor harvest: 9 weeks after germination
Fast Bud product information sheet:
THC: 16% CBD: 0.8% CBN: 0.4%
Indoor yield: 400-500gr/m2
Outdoor yield: 20-60gr/plant
Indoor flowering: 5 weeks
Indoor/outdoor harvest: seven and a half weeks after germination