by Seshata on 05/05/2015 | Cultivation

5 things you need to know about autoflowering seeds

Cultivation Autoflowering seeds are a relatively new innovation in the world of cannabis cultivation. Descended from C. ruderalis genetics native to Russia and Central Asia, autoflowering plants do not rely on changes in light cycle to commence flowering; instead, they rely on a different set of triggers, and flower according to age and size.


What is C. ruderalis?

Cannabis ruderalis is a putative third species (or subspecies) of cannabis, and is found in northerly latitudes of the northern hemisphere, particularly in Russia. C. ruderalis is notable for its small stature, low cannabinoid levels, hardiness and cold-resistance—and of course, the tendency to flower regardless of light cycles once a certain age and size has been achieved.

Due to the extreme climate and short growing season of C. ruderalis’ natural habitat, it has evolved to grow, flower and seed in a short period of time, and does not wait until the light levels drop at the end of summer to begin flowering, as at this time frosts will already have begun to set in and temperatures will become unfavourable. Instead, once the plant has produced four or five branches and reached a height of around 50cm, it will begin to flower.

What are commercial autos and super-autos?

Over the last decade or two, breeders have experimented with crossing C. ruderalis genetics with desirable, high-cannabinoid strains to produce commercially-useful autoflowering hybrids. It is possible that certain other autoflowering landraces may also have played a part in developing the first “autos”, such as a plant known as the “Mexican Rudy” in growing circles, which as the name suggests was a ruderalis-type plant found in Mexico. The Mexican Rudy was apparently used to produce LowRyder, one of the first commercial autoflowering strains on the market.

Autoflowering cannabis typically reaches no more than 50cm in height
Autoflowering cannabis typically reaches no more than 50cm in height

The first wave of commercial autos, including LowRyder, are typically very small in stature (usually reaching a maximum of 40cm in height), are low in cannabinoid content, and are somewhat lacking in flavour and potency. However, successive generations of crosses and backcrosses have led to the development of a range of higher-potency strains that are generally known as super-autos. Super-autos are also typically much taller and bushier than standard autos and their ruderalis ancestor, and may reach 90-100cm in height. A good selection of auto and super-auto strains  can be found here.

Autoflowering plants do not need darkness

As autoflowering plants are not dependent on changes in the light cycle to commence flowering, they can successfully be grown using a lighting cycle of anything from 16/8 to 24/0. Many growers cultivate their autos under a 24/0 regime; however, some growers believe that anything over 18/6 is overkill and that electricity costs can be reduced with no reduction in final yield if following this regime.

There is also the possibility that certain hormonal and metabolic processes do occur in darkness, and that allowing your plants to have a “rest” at night-time leads to overall increased health and vigour. However, this is purely anecdotal and there is no empirical evidence to back this up, in the case of autoflowering cannabis at least.

Autos can be grown outdoors year-round

If you are lucky enough to live in a mild to warm climate suitable for outdoor growing, the possibilities for growing autoflowering strains are endless. Taking as little as 8-10 weeks from seed to harvest, it is possible to achieve five harvests or more per year if conditions are favourable year-round—and autoflowers are so hardy that they will grow well as long as conditions remain above freezing. Autos are generally frost-resistant, but permanently-frozen conditions are too much for even the hardiest plant to tolerate.

Super-autos are a lot bigger than regular autos, topping out around 100cm in height
Super-autos are a lot bigger than regular autos, topping out around 100cm in height

However, it is important to remember that autos are not fully stabilised in every case (buying seeds only from reputable outlets reduces the risk here) and may take considerably longer than stated. Despite this, even the autos that take the longest to grow outdoors (eighteen weeks from seed to harvest seems to be the upper limit) they are still favourable when compared to photoperiod-dependent plants outdoors, which may require twenty weeks or more, depending on strain.

Cloning autoflowering seeds is difficult

This has led to the general belief that autoflowering cannabis cannot be cloned, as cuttings taken from a mother plant are forced to follow her “genetic timeline” and flower according to age at the same time that she begins to flower. This logic dictates that the cuttings will not reach a useful size, and yield will be negligible. However, there is a handful of growers that believes otherwise, and that have successfully managed to clone their autos and allow them to continue to grow in vegetative mode until they are almost as large as their mother. Once they reach their maximum size, they begin to flower.

The key requirement if attempting to clone autoflowering plants is to take cuttings from the lower branches only. These lower branches seem to be more hormonally stable than newer growth at the top of the plant. The main terminal stem, known as the apical meristem, is the first part of the plant to receive the signal that it is time to flower, and this information takes time to permeate downwards and signal the lower branches to flower. Thus, there is a brief window of time between the first appearance of sexual characteristics (assuming that regular, non-feminized auto seeds are used) and the permeation of flowering hormones throughout the tissues of the plant. This window may be just a few hours, and it is therefore crucial to watch your plants for pre-flowers and take cuttings as soon as they appear.

Cuttings from autos will flower almost immediately unless stringent guidelines are followed
Cuttings from autos will flower almost immediately unless stringent guidelines are followed

Once cuttings are taken, they should be kept under low-intensity light in moist conditions until they have rooted. Once rooted, they will undergo vegetative growth until they have reached approximately 80% of the mother’s size, and will produce comparable final harvests.

Comment Section

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Paul Pot

Aren't some of the original Afghani strains also auto flowering?
Ruderalis seems to have been bred into everything these days.
Are there any strains that are still pure and have no ruderalis in them?

06/05/2015

Jeff McKellar

Well would they work indoors? How much do they cost? Do they come with grow info? How can I get 'em?

08/05/2015

David Cannafacts

Hi Jeff,
Yes, they would. You can find more info onr our website.
All the best,

David

08/05/2015

DAVID WATSON

It is easy to clone any Auto as callus culture, in vitro. Callus is undifferentiated and does not respond to photoperiod nor does it flower. It is easy to maintain, grow and reproduce in-vitro callus, then root it and shoot it and you have a clone of the original Auto mom.

24/07/2015

Slippery419

Can you explain please . I have a few feminized auto seeds but want to clone them when I can and have heard stories that it's impossible

18/05/2016

Pacan

you're saying that it is anegdotical rumour than in darkness there is some vital processes going in the plant and that there is no need in dark phase.... maybe you should discuss it with this author: https://sensiseeds.com/en/blog/photosynthesis-the-dark-phase/

26/08/2015

pat doyle

comments were made of autoflowering plants,not indica's,sativa's or mixed.

24/10/2017

Ash

This is a misunderstanding of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is composed of "light reactions" and "dark reactions" but they both happen in the light; they are happening concurrently in time as ATP and ADP are cycled by different sets of reactions. It is just that the dark reactions are not directly driven by light, but are using the products of the light reactions to "fix carbon" (from CO2). It is a cycle - all occurring in the chloroplast during exposure to light. Just search for "photosynthesis dark reactions" for a full explanation.

19/04/2018

Khris

Need help! I'm growing auto flower in same room as regular. Af is budding regular in veg for awhile yet. Hear there is a big chance it will seed my crop growing together. Kinda confused without a male and female how does that work?

30/05/2016

Scarlet Palmer

Hello Khris,

Thank you for your comment :) Unfortunately we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Scarlet

31/05/2016

Zoey

Khris, you are fine as long as your autos are feminized. They are great to run while the rest of your tent is in veg. If you flip to flowering, though on your photos, make sure you harvest the autos when they are ready, because all plants will herm if left going after their "finish" time, and that WOULD seed your others. But as long as you cut the autos down when they are ready, you will be fine.

08/06/2016

Kat

I grow my reg and autos in same room. No issues

19/06/2017

mike

will seeds from a harvested autoflower also be a autoflower?

05/06/2016

Avery

They should be, auto flowering is a genetic trait

09/02/2017

James

Or said you can get multiple harvests, how do you initiate that and also how long in between harvests?

20/06/2016

Joe

I'm growing a jack flash #5 indoor
Under led light
I'm wondering if it can have a longer than 60-76 day flowering time ?
How do I know the right time to cut them ?

08/02/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Joe,

Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately, for legal reasons we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Scarlet

09/02/2017

Thebest

Hey can u grow autos in different stages in the same tent?

14/03/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hello Thebest,

Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately, for legal reasons we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Scarlet

P.S. Autoflowering strains are not affected by light cycles the way regular strains are.

14/03/2017

Crunch

Do you really not know the answer to that? Why wouldn't you be able to grow autos in different stages in the same tent? You keep the same light cycle the whole time, which you already know from reading the above article, so again; Do you really even have to ask this question?

24/05/2018

jorge

so can we clone af or not?

08/08/2017

Cliff

Can autos be grown under t5 flourescent lights

15/09/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Cliff,

Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately, for legal reasons we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Scarlet

18/09/2017

pat doyle

There's a guy on youtube that has a channel where he does a vid every week using T5s with auto flower (ak 47 I think).

24/10/2017

william wallace

i bought feminized autoflower northern light seeds and they are budding beutifuly but i am finding seeds in there.not a whole lot but seeds nonetheless.i also have other female plants surrounding my autoflower northern lights,but they are just starting to bud,they are no male plants,so why do i have seeds/

09/10/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Hi William,

Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately, for legal reasons we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.

With best wishes

Scarlet

11/10/2017

Dick

Females can produce male pollen sacks for survival of its species (sensimilla) meaning very little seed, search through the female flowering plant for the male stamin to prevent seeds, it their survival instinct.

01/03/2018

Ralph Higgo

Hermied due to stress, left too long and last ditch attempt to self pollinate. Or dodgy genetics.

17/06/2018

Gaz

Photo seeding an auto would give you 25% auto's - male and female..
William/ your plant must've hemied, seeds probably have that trait too..!

No point in cloning auto's, they won't grow big.. but don't take my word and grow some out., good luck.!
T-5 WILL be good for growing if you keep canopy level and light close to plants ?.
Hey TheBest, I have auto's and photos in same tent - what you want is a perpetual grow- meaning you can have plants at all stages of growth in same place.!

Happy growing guys,
Gaz

02/11/2017

Moshen Nayon

Auto Follower fb

09/03/2018

Crunch

Does ANYONE pay attention to the moderator, Scarlet? The comment section is for COMMENTS, not questions! Apparently no one pays any attention to the actual comments, if they did, they would notice that on no less than 5 occasions the moderator had to state that for Legal Reasons they are NOT ALLOWED to answer questions, and to go to the Forum for any questions. Man, it's simple shit like this that makes me think that our society as a whole is F'd, if people can't follow basic, simple directions, how the hell are we gonna solve difficult problems that affect the entire planet. I think it's time that a global catastrophe just completely wipes out all of humanity, because we've become so stupid and lazy that we can't even be bothered to pay attention to the simplest of tasks.

24/05/2018

Collectingmythoughts

Thank you CRUNCH!!! OMG does ANYONE read anymore?

27/12/2018

Shootingstar

Hey Scarlet,
Maybe you'd like to repeat that just once more for all those people who have their head up their arse! My god how many times do you have to tell someone something?
Scarlet, you do a fantastic job & you are very patient to say the least.???

14/06/2018

Scarlet Palmer

Hi there,

Thanks for the support ;) I have to admit it's way more frustrating to have to tell people that I can't answer their grow and medical questions than it would be to try to tackle every enquiry that comes my way. However, as the largest and most visible European cannabis seed company, we are right on the frontline if it comes to officials deciding that there is going to be action taken against seed businesses.

Amsterdam lost a lot of grow shops a few years ago because they were selling gardening equipment and seeds, and were therefore closed down because it was decided this meant they were encouraging people to break the law by growing cannabis indoors and/or under lights (which is illegal, even here). So it's really important that we stay within guidelines set by our legal advisors, even if this doesn't seem to make sense to people reading the blog.

In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles, and thanks again for reading!

With best wishes,

Scarlet

15/06/2018

Irene

THANK YOU!!!!

30/12/2018

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