Guide To Autoflowering Cannabis Seeds: How Are They Made? What Are Their Benefits?
One of the most popular types of cannabis seeds are autoflowering seeds, which have a whole host of benefits to offer any seed collector. At a time when there are more cannabis seed options available than ever before, it’s important to understand what you’re making a choice between and deciding exactly what it is you’re looking for.
The main types of seeds you may be familiar with are feminised and autoflowering seeds, both of which are different from standard seeds. Check out our guide on feminised seeds to learn more about their efficiency and yield, and stick with us here to discover what autoflowering means, how these seeds work, and why you might choose them over other options.
If we haven’t answered your questions here, get in touch with our expert team for more information - we’d be happy to help.
What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?
Autoflowering seeds and strains of cannabis are defined by the fact that they will automatically flower, rather than moving from the vegetative state to the flowering state based on a change in light cycle after having reached a certain phase of development.
Typically autoflowering plants will automatically flower after a certain period of time, which varies depending on the strain. This is why you will see seeds come with flowering times, normally in terms of weeks.
In practical terms, this means that their flowering can be better predicted and is much easier to ensure and maintain as it isn’t based on something external being provided - it’s just a matter of time.
The seeds that require the shift in light cycle are known as photoperiod seeds. These need more attention and planning; they thrive from blue light from the sun in later summer and early autumn for energy, and flower after a couple of weeks in the summer from red light.
See our Top 10 autoflowering seeds to learn more about what's on offer.
How are autoflowering cannabis seeds made?
- Breeding over multiple generations of plants
- The creation of hybrids
- A process of trial, error and experimentation
Autoflowering seeds as we know them today have been developed by cannabis growers over many generations of plants, to ensure they include the genetic autoflowering trait from the cannabis ruderalis strain.
Generally, indica and sativa varieties have been mixed with cannabis ruderalis to produce autoflowering strains. Cannabis ruderalis is a Russian and central European strain that adapted to the cold climate and will grow and flower without the photoperiod light cycle. As part of their adaptation, they also have a trait where they are also generally smaller than their photoperiod counterparts, typically reaching up to just two feet.
Whilst autoflowering seeds are now incredibly popular and readily available in a range of varieties, there has been a lot of hard work and dedication over multiple generations of these plants to ensure their availability - the autoflowering trait is actually recessive.
The process of making autoflowering seeds
Cannabis ruderalis grows in the wild in colder climates and as a result, over time, adapted to these conditions to be incredibly resilient to the cold and to a lack of light. This enabled them to develop the ability to ‘auto flower’.
During the 1970s and 1980s in Canada, cannabis growers began to experiment with cannabis ruderalis by crossing it with sativa and indica strains. At first, the results were disappointing and it wasn’t under the 21st century that autoflowering seeds became commercially available - the first being The Lowryder by The Joint Doctor.
The process the Joint Doctor used involved crossing cannabis ruderalis with a variety of different strains and examining the results, creating hybrid plants, until the autoflowering results were achieved. This occurred over 5 or 6 generations of a promising strain that was a cross with Willy's Automatic and produced stable results. Eventually this strain was made to have a greater yield by breeding it over multiple generations with a sativa strain from Brazil.
Today, many growers and of course huge brands, are still experimenting and developing autoflowering strains. Dinafem is an innovative brand for autoflowering seeds with some award-winning varieties.
How do autoflowering cannabis seeds work?
In short, they work a lot more easily than their photoperiod counterparts which will need a lot of light cycle maintenance, such as lighting them for a set period of time (typically for 12 hours), followed by placing them in darkness (typically for 12 hours), and repeating until flowering.
Once germinated in the right conditions, autoflowering strains will automatically flower usually within 10 weeks but it can be quicker - many strains have been developed to flower in 6-8 weeks for example. As they flower after a certain time, they are also generally a certain size which makes flowering easy to predict even for beginners.
The benefits of autoflowering cannabis seeds
You will find that autoflowering seeds are generally more expensive than standard photoperiod seeds. Whether they are worth the extra investment to you will depend on your aims with your collection and the traits that are most important to you.
Here are some of the main benefits of autoflowering seeds and the reasons for choosing them over other types:
Easier to grow (low maintenance)
As autoflowering plants have the very resilient genetics of the ruderalis, they are a lot easier to grow. As stated, you don’t have to manage a light cycle for them to flower, you just have to wait until they have reached a certain point of growth (after a certain amount of time), which changes depending on the strain.
- Harvest sooner (typically 8-10 weeks)
- Produce multiple harvests (typically two a season)
Whilst standard seeds will harvest once per season, you can get two or more out of an autoflowering plant, depending on optimal conditions and strain.
Smaller size (requires less space)
As autoflowering plants are smaller/shorter than their standard counterparts, typically less than 2 feet, they take up less space around you. This is more convenient and opens up the plants to people who have limited space.
Very resilient to weather and disease
Again, the ruderalis genetics mean these seeds benefit from a strong resilience to weather and disease, so you’re less likely to come into trouble with them. In particular they can suit colder temperatures and even thrive in cramped conditions. You won’t need to worry so much about them being harmed by mould or mildew.
For beginners this is a good way to learn as they can generally also cope with being underfed or overfed.
Are there any cons to autoflowering seeds?
All seeds and strains will have their own particular benefits, pros and cons. For autoflowering seeds the main cons are:
- Smaller yields
- Lower THC content
- Poor quality clones
When choosing which seeds you want, take into account your goals and which strains are best suited to these goals. For example, if you want high levels of CBD and low THC, autoflowering options could be ideal. However, if your main aim is a large yield, then feminised seeds may be more appealing to you,
Due to the fact that autoflowering plants harvest quickly and linearly, there also isn’t much time for recovery so you should be extra careful when pruning and cutting to avoid damage.
Can you get autoflowering feminised seeds?
Yes, a lot of autoflowering seeds created by breeding with ruderalis have also been bred to be feminised. This combination creates seeds that are convenient and easy for beginners, whilst also being appealing to advanced seed collectors for their variety and quality.
Do autoflowering plants produce autoflowering seeds?
If an autoflowering plant is fertilised by an autoflowering male plant, then the likelihood is that the seeds produced will also be autoflowering, or have autoflowering traits. If it was fertilised by a female or a hermaphrodite plant then it is harder to predict the outcome.
Essentially, it depends on the genetics of the fertilising plant.
Buy our autoflowering seeds online
At ICE Cannabis Seeds we have an incredible range of autoflowering cannabis seeds ready to buy online - for collection purposes only - from top, high quality brands including Humboldt and Royal Queen Seeds.
Our team is very knowledgeable and are on hand to help if you have any questions or aren’t sure how best to improve your seed collection. Browse our seeds and you can even shop by brand, and contact us to find out more.