Autoflowers have been a mainstream way for indoor growers to produce high quality cannabis for quite a few years now. Potency of the best auto varieties is on the same level as the best photoperiod varieties and they are fast to grow as seed to harvest is usually around 11 weeks indoors.
Almost half of Dutch Passion’s seed sales are now autoflower seeds and other seed companies also report that autos have become established alternatives to traditional feminized photoperiod varieties. What are the best ways for indoor growers to get the most from autoflower seeds? How do you get the best potency from them? Read on to find out more.
Potency, THC and cannabis seed genetics.
It sounds obvious, but the choice of auto seed is the crucial first decision you make. If you buy your auto seeds from one of the top-3 auto seedbanks then you can expect top-drawer results. But not all auto seeds are the same. Some can deliver 20% THC results, others may achieve half that. Choose a seed supplier with a long track record in auto breeding and then choose a variety with a solid track record. Some award-winning Dutch Passion auto varieties that have become firm staff favorites include Auto Night Queen, Auto Colorado Cookies, Auto Orange Bud and Auto Cinderella Jack. THC levels on hese varieties can often exceed those found on photoperiod feminized varieties.
Autoflower seeds. Popular with legal growers too.
Dutch Passion have been heavily involved with the legal licensed cannabis producers in countries such as Canada. Many of these producers use autoflower seeds for their crops, and they get high quality results quickly. The popularity of auto growing is the reason that many of the popular new cannabis varieties get converted into both feminized seeds as well as autoflower seeds.
The best indoor light cycle for auto seeds.
Many growers prefer to use a 20-hour light cycle from seed to harvest for indoor growing. This seems to give the best combination of plant growth while allowing a short 4-hour period for the plant to have a break from photosynthesis. However, autoflower seeds are extremely flexible in their ability to adapt. You can grow auto seeds outdoors where they may get less than 12 hours of light per day and they will still do well. And some growers get good results growing under 24-hour light. But for indoor growers in general, 20 hours of daily light seems to do a great job.
Autoflower Root Development
Although it is not often discussed, one of the key requirements for a healthy and potent autoflower is the development of a large rootball. This sustains a large and heavy yielding plant. However, time is short in the life of an autoflower. This limits the time available for the root ball to form. One great way to help an auto is to grow it in a root pouch or airpot container.
These allow excellent levels of root oxygenation which promotes rapid growth below the ground. Whether you are growing in soil or coco fiber, an oxygenated root zone below ground allows extra big harvests above ground. Some commercial autoflower cultivators grow using coco fiber with an air stone at the bottom of the container. This allows turbo charged root growth, though it does complicate the grow room, necessitating the use of an air pump and more frequent feeding.
Autoflowers in hydroponics.
Growing an autoflower in a hydroponics system such as deep-water culture (‘DWC’) offers perhaps the fastest way to grow the largest auto plants. Some Dutch Passion customers using DWC with auto seeds routinely get harvests of over 200g from their plants. But techniques such as DWC also place the highest technical demands on growers. This can include preparing feed solutions once (or even twice) each day with full control of pH and electrical conductivity (‘EC’). Many experienced soil/coco growers have found it too demanding and complicated to grow autos in DWC. But if you can keep the plant in the nutrient ‘sweet spot’, without over/under feeding, then the results can be superior to any other grow technique.
Leaving the autos an extra week or two.
These days many growers like to leave their auto an extra 10-14 days beyond the normal 11-week life cycle. If you are not in a rush to chop the plants at 11 weeks, try leaving them for an extra couple of weeks. Many varieties will continue swelling and will give the grower an extra heavy yield. Not all growers have the time for this, and some prefer to harvest at the earliest opportunity. But many auto growers feel that an extra week or two at the end of harvest is a worthwhile delay for an extra heavy harvest.
LED grow lights for more potent autos.
Choosing potent auto seeds and optimizing the growing environment are the challenges when growing autos. Growers that have an interest in LED light will already know that it is an easy grow room upgrade for anyone interested in taking quality levels up a notch. LED grow lights deliver a superior spectrum to HPS. HPS contains a lot of less useful orange and yellow wavelengths, as well as inherently high levels of heat. A well-built LED grow light uses a spectrum fine-tuned for cannabis growth. Heat levels and heat stress is significantly reduced with LED. The result is that cannabis grown under a quality LED has more cannabinoids and terpenes than cannabis grown under HPS.
That’s the reason that so many of the best legal commercial cannabis growers in places like the USA have invested heavily to upgrade their lighting from HPS to LED. LED light upgrades are the modern way to a fast quality increase. If you are interested in LED, check out Dutch Passion’s sister company LED By Passion (ledbypassion.com). They are EU resellers for some of the best LED brands currently available. Professional cannabis growers can expect to see THC levels increase from around 17% under HPS, to 22-23% with LED when using clones of the same variety. This adds significant value to the harvest for commercial cash croppers. For home growers, it means quality levels enjoy a permanent increase.
UVB, THC and me.UVB is another modern technique to push cannabinoids, THC and potency up to the maximum. UVB is largely missing from indoor grow light technology, though it is present in natural sunlight. Increasing the amount of UVB causes the plant to produce more resin, which increases potency. But UVB is dangerous, it will burn your skin and eyes.
Never look in your grow room when UVB is being used inside. Best results are obtained if UVB is used for 3-4 hours per day for the last 2-3 weeks of bloom. Expect to see THC levels nudged up a few more percentage points. You can buy professional UVB supplemental lights from companies like LED By Passion, or you can buy high-UV Reptile tubes from your pet store.
Blue light treatment.
Towards the end of bloom many growers are using ‘blue light treatment’ to increase terpene levels. This results in a significantly deeper and richer taste/aroma. Blue light treatment is used for the last few days of bloom. At this stage the plants have more-or-less finished the biomass production of buds and resin. By switching the light to strong blue light, the plants photosynthetic focus switches from bud production to terpene production.
Growers with adjustable spectrum LED will find it easy to switch off the red and white LEDs and leave just the blue LEDs on. Some growers that use ceramic metal halide (‘CMH’) lighting find that switching from a red-dominant bulb to a blue dominant bulb a few days before harvest has the same effect. If you want to produce an extra-tasty crop, and if your lighting allows it, try the blue light treatment yourself and boost the flavor of your indoor buds.Growing autoflowers seeds indoors in the cold winter months.Many growers of feminized photoperiod varieties complain that the cold ambient temperatures during winter make it difficult to grow good quality cannabis.
The long 12-hour period of lights-off can allow grow room temperatures to drop too low. This results in slower growth rates and reduced potency. Some growers simply avoid growing during the coldest months to avoid the issue. But plenty of growers simply switch to growing autoflowers seeds during the winter. Autos grow under 20 hours of daily light, so the grow light helps mitigate the cold temperatures and keeps the plants warm.
Autoflowers. Fast, easy and convenient.
Many home growers find autos have become a fast and easy way to grow your own. They are uncomplicated, even first-time growers get great results with autoflower seeds indoors. There are no right or wrong ways to grow autos. They thrive in a wide variety of conditions. And with a little bit of extra care and attention you will find auto seeds can deliver some of the best weed you have ever grown.