After a good while growing only photoperiod-dependent strains, the chance of testing this auto flowering genetic line even before it reached the market got me all excited about that cheerful thought of a super-fast cannabis growing operation.
With all the jars almost empty, the 8-week mark from germination to harvest, gained a much greater relevance. So, back to auto flowering mode without any second thoughts in my 80 x 80 x 160 cm grow closet, along with 400W High Pressure Sodium to play the role of the Sun. Winds blowing with 2 small Sunon fans, one of them hitting the top of the plants and the other one striking the HPS bulb.
Air renovation with a 125 mm RVK extractor and a good quality soil mix from my local grow shop. This time I decided to follow my philosophy of using as much soil as possible. I tend to consider that the most bags of soil you bring home for your grow operation, the bigger will have to be the glass jars to store the dried flowers.
Along the years I realised that with all the same grow parameters, including number of plants, if I use 150 litres of soil, I harvest about 25% more when comparing to using 100 litres instead. So, 18 litres pots (26 x 26 cm) for 9 plants and no space left between them is my special recipe for this auto flowering version of one of the most powerful and famous American lines, coming from the San Francisco Bay: Gelato (Sunset Sherbet x Girl Scout Cookies “Thin Mint”).
One of the most appreciated exponents of the Cookies family, featuring excellent aroma and high production of THC. The Sweet Seeds® breeders performed a meticulous work in order to introduce the auto flowering genes in Sweet Gelato Auto®, using a Killer Kush Auto® (SWS56) genetic line which was itself developed with OG Kush genetics. I was lucky enough to get 10 freebies and, as I always do, I used the 10 seeds although I only wanted to grow 9 plants, in case one of them does not sprout or shows problems in the first few days. And this time, for the first time over the past 4 years, I did not have a germination rate of 100%. I did the right thing in throwing that extra seed to the paper towel because one of the seeds never sprouted. But I had what I was looking for: 9 super healthy plants, showing tons of vigour since the first days of life.
Starting with small 300 ml pots and CFL lights, after 12 days they were transplanted to the final 18-litre pots and placed under the 400w HPS light system. A team composed of one electronic ballast and my old Diamond reflector, ensured a distribution of lumens very close to perfection. The 9 plants kept growing with remarkable vigour, developing between 4 and 6 side branches before flowering started.
With a continuous 20/4 light cycle, flowering started between day 24 and day 29 from germination. Pistil production is outstanding from the first day of flowering, leaving it as clear as water: buds will be the size of half kilo cucumbers, with smaller buds on the side branches but yet with a good calibre and density .At day 33 from germination all the plants were flowering and showing a very similar height, allowing for an homogeneous canopy.
Something that is often hard to get with auto flowering strains, given the common phenotypical variations. Once again, a majestic work from the Sweet Seeds® breeders allowing for exceptional stability. With a very healthy green tone, the leaves told me that they were still quite happy with the nutrients they took out of the soil mix. My Sweet Gelato Auto® plants kept stretching until day 38 from germination.
When they stopped stretching, I knew they would start focusing all their energy in the final development and maturation of the flowers and that was when my set of nutrients entered in the equation, although only for mere 7 days. First watering with fertilizer was at day 38, with 3 ml of a flowering fertilizer and 4 ml of a flower booster (all per litre of water). Then, 7 days later at day 45, I repeated the dose. Then, 4 days later, at day 49, I flushed the soil with 15 litres of water per plant, to make sure that any accumulated salts from the fertilizers were dumped off.
At this point my expectations were that harvest could be performed in about 10 to 12 days. The flowers kept swelling and the number of white pistils dropped day after day. Copious amounts of resin covered the calyxes and all the small leaves surrounding the flowers.
I have never seen such frosty nugs and that was the biggest surprise growing this strain, confirming that the most recent generations of autoflowing strains have exactly the same potential to produce exceptional plants as any photoperiod-dependent strain. Observing the inner parts of the flowers with my Canon MP-E 65 mm specialized 5:1 Macro lenses was a true delight.
The big-sized trichomes allowed for an extra entertaining experience and also a lot of beautiful extreme macro photographs. But how about the aromas? Well, that was the second-best part of the experience of growing Sweet Gelato Auto®. Rubbing your fingers in the flowers to break some resin glands and release the terpenes will award you with a delightful sweet and fruity aroma with a strong Kush presence, including earthy and woody tones leaning to dried fruit (hazelnuts) and soft touches of mint and citrus.
A teaser to what would be the final smells and aromas of the dried and cured flowers. But harvest was still a bit far away and when nobody expected, a final obstacle occurred…About 3 days after the flush, with the soil still half moist, the climate broadcasts were not favourable at all, with an upcoming week of heavy rains and high humidity. This was at day 52, exactly one week before the weekend when I was expecting to harvest.
The way I solved this imminent problem could hardly be a solution with photoperiod-dependent plants without running a lot of risks, so my decision of going back to autos was a blessing. As auto flowering plants flower regardless of the light cycle they are subjected to, it was clear that going 24/0 all the way until harvest would not contribute to any sort of stress to the plants that could turn into undesired late-flowering male flowers.
So, I did it. As High-Pressure Sodium lighting tends to raise temperature and lower humidity, keeping the light on 24 hours per day assured that the external environment had second to none effects inside the grow closet. Like this, the temperature remained stable at between 23 ºC and 26 ºC and the humidity never went above 55%, while outside the closet it reached to levels of about 80% to 90%. With this, I drastically reduced the chances of getting mold or botrytis in the flowers and, as they were very big and dense, the buds were in great danger of getting affected by this recurring problem in cannabis growing. One more advantage among the very well-known long list of other bonuses of growing modern auto flowering hybrids as this fabulous strain from the Sweet Seeds® genetic collection.
From Friday the 11th of January, till Sunday the 13th, all the 9 plants were harvested. The catalog shows a 56 day (8 week) expected period between germination and harvest. I harvested between day 59 and day 62, which is very close to the data showed in the catalog, while it is also true that I tend to harvest a bit after the ideal point of maturation, as I enjoy the extra relaxing effects of a slightly over mature dankness.
The yield was of over 35 grams per plant, a total of exactly 318 grams plus 6 grams of dry hash, extracted dry with an electric tumbler coupled with a 95μ mesh. I was totally happy with the final results of above 0,8 grams per watt, especially due to the short time frame of exactly two months from germination to harvest.The crunchy flowers dried for 12 days and cured for 3 weeks. At this point the organoleptic qualities were showing all their splendour and the effects, at their best.
A well-balanced feeling, between relaxation and mental awareness that hits you strong, with its THC contents of between 18% and 23%. Sweet Gelato Auto® is very good for motivation and creativity, but also adequate to turn tedious tasks into ultra-entertaining events. And, after all this, the munchies take care of the situation, leading you to beat the heat with the gelato of your choice.
Written and Published By Tommy L.Gomez In Weed World Magazine Issue 142