Autoflower or feminized? That depends on your experience level, grow goals, and local legislation.
Few think about it, but inside those seeds is a millennia of genetic selection. It’s that tiny pip that harbors the potent accumulation of adaptations that mutated while living in different corners of the globe. And once they flower, they have the power to do everything, from heal the sickest among us, enhance the ingenuity of the most creative, and enlighten the most culturally oppressed around the globe. So it’s a significant little seed. And that makes it important to pick the right one for your home grow.
There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye when it comes to the most beloved seed. And if you want to try your hand at cultivating, we get you started on proper seed selection. We think feminized are better, but let’s consider the reasons why you might choose autoflower.
What Are the Advantages of Autoflower Seeds?
Also known as automatic strains, autoflower seeds are easy to grow and a great option for beginner growers. They stem from a hardy species known as cannabis ruderalis, a strain thought to have originated in Eastern Europe. It evolved in a part of the world with short summers, cold nights, and less available light. One distinctive feature of ruderalis is that it grows based on time rather than by light cycles or seasonal changes.
Breeders pounced upon this unique ability. By merging the genetics of autoflower varieties with indica and sativa strains, they are able to obtain the best of both worlds — hybrids that are sufficiently potent, but flower by time rather than light cycle. These plants flower regardless of how many hours of light received. This makes autoflower very appealing to novice growers as it eliminates one significant grow factor.
Autoflowers are fast-growing, vigorous strains that will typically begin to flower after only 20 days. They tend to finish quite quickly at an average of 10 weeks, while some take as little as 7 weeks from seed to harvest.
One further advantage is that autoflowering plants are small and more compact. This is a feature of the ruderalis genetics and is something that appeals to growers with little available space.
What Are The Disadvantages of Autoflower Seeds?
The principle disadvantage of autoflowering strains is that these plants tend to produce lower cannabinoid quantities when compared to standard indica or sativa strains. For those chasing high THC or CBD-rich strains, autoflower seeds may not be the best option.
While the ability of autos to flower regardless of light cycle may be considered advantageous in most cases, there are some who consider it a hindrance. The reason being that autos require more light exposure throughout the flowering process. And of course, with increased lighting, comes the associated extra costs of electricity.
3 Reasons to Choose Feminized Seeds
One: Guaranteed Crop of Potent Buds
When it comes to enjoying the medicated effects of cannabis, we have the females to thank for it. It’s the female cannabis plants that actually produce those flowers rich in the medicinal properties we’ve come to know and love — the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Feminized seeds are those that carry only female genetics, thus guaranteeing a crop of the potent female variety.
Two: More Bountiful Harvest
If cannabis is pollinated naturally, then male or female plants can result. By the law of averages, you’ll have a 50 percent chance of growing a female plant, while males are usually discarded. For this reason alone, feminized seeds are a superior option. No business can thrive if they have to throw away 50 percent of their produce! Without the burden of having to discard 50 percent of your crop, everyone from the casual grower to the business owner can streamline their operation.
Three: No Wasting of Resources or Grow Space
In addition to final yields, there is also the issue of grow space. If 50 percent of your crop consists of male plants, they’ll take up 50 percent of the grow space and consume 50 percent of the electricity costs. Additional inefficiencies manifest when you consider that the grower must monitor and care for plants that won’t express their sex until the vegetative state.
What Are The Disadvantages of Feminized Seeds?
There are none to speak of really. Their higher cost is more than offset by the guarantee of a female crop. However, feminized seeds are not appropriate if your aim is to produce seeds.
Should You Use Autoflower or Feminized Seeds?
Many beginners ask this question. Ultimately it depends on your level of experience. Autoflower seeds are the easiest to work with. They will generally produce a bountiful crop with less care and attention when compared to feminized seeds. With the reduced light cycle requirements, autoflower seeds are a favorable option for those with very limited experience, time, and understanding of cannabis cultivation. In addition, with a quick grow cycle, many growers can produce up to 2 harvests during the summer season.
Finally, there are the legalities. In some jurisdictions the law only permits cultivation of plants that are below a certain height. As autos usually reach heights of between 30-60cm, they can be a favorable option for those cultivating under such restrictions.
Feminized plants, on the other hand, are generally for the more experienced growers. These produce a larger crop and are the more attractive option for potent high yields. For those running larger grow operations, these plants can be cloned, trained, topped and scrogged where autos can’t.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be aware of your skill level and time. If you’re not exactly a green thumb and you have minimal time, autflowers may be best. Look into your local regulations, speak to your budtender, and only do what makes you comfortable.