With an auto-flowering strain, you’ll have the option to harvest your plant 2-3 months from seed, and it’s not unusual to harvest an ounce or two off each plant. Under powerful grow lights and with some room to grow, auto-flowering plants can produce 5-6 ounces per plant or even more! Although there are “quick flowering” photoperiod strains, they are rarely ready to harvest in less than 3 months from seed, which means you can usually get a quicker harvest with autos.
Auto-flowering plants have some unique qualities: Ready to harvest 2-3 months from seed – quickest time to harvest of any strain of cannabis (though there are some auto-flowering strains that have been bred to take longer and get bigger, most are ready to harvest in 3 months or less) Autos don’t need special light periods – “Regular” (photoperiod) plants need 12 hours of darkness each day in order to make buds, while autos will make buds and be ready to harvest no matter what light schedule they receive. This can be helpful if you can’t avoid light leaks, or if you want to keep your lights on all the time (for example if you need your lights on to keep plants warm) Tend to be higher in CBD – Many auto-flowering strains have 1% CBD levels or higher. This can make buds more relaxing with more of an anti-anxiety effect, while reducing some of the inner “racing” mental effects some people get from cannabis. This means that auto-flowering strains can be a good choice for medical marijuana patients, or those who’d like to get extra relaxed from their buds. However, these days there are also some very high THC, low CBD auto-flowering strains which provide more of a psychedelic “in your head” experience, especially those that have been hybridized with Sativa and Haze strains. Need your full attention – Auto-flowering strains are generally pretty easy to grow, but you’re on a strict time schedule. During the first 6 weeks, it’s incredibly important you pay close attention to your plants and react quickly to any problems. If an auto-flowering plant runs into major problems during the first part of its life, you may end up with tiny plants and tiny yields because an auto-flowering plant stops growing bigger after about 6 weeks.
However, when nurtured through the first few weeks, these strains can produce surprisingly high yields in a short amount of time. Very important to pick a good breeder – the ancestor of all auto-flowering strains was a type of wild hemp which had tiny buds and very low levels of THC. As a result, the original auto-flowering strains were generally poor yielding and far less potent than photoperiod plants. Luckily, we now have dedicated breeders who put a lot of focus on breeding auto-flowering strains (Mephisto Genetics, Sweet Seeds, Nirvana, Dinafem & Dutch Passion are some of the best known auto breeders, though lately there are many new ones appearing on the scene). As a result, there are newer auto strains that have been carefully bred for many generations to be just as potent as their photoperiod counterparts. When you choose a good strain you’ll be very happy with your results. Yet because there are poor genes out there, it’s important to choose a trustworthy breeder as unscrupulous breeders may sell seeds that that end up making tiny buds with little potency! Here are 3 recommended auto-flowering strains for beginners (and connoisseurs!) Quickest Time to Harvest – Auto Lemon OG Haze by Nirvana – Nirvana is known for producing stabilized strains where you always get exactly what they tell you to expect. Their Auto Lemon OG Haze strain is the result of 5 generations of careful breeding. The resulting buds have a creative, energetic effect that also comes with a body “buzz” and is ready to harvest as soon as 2 months from seed, though giving the plant an extra week or two before harvesting can dramatically increase your yields. This strain produces dense chunky buds that look beautiful and have a pleasant fruity/citrus scent. Auto Lemon OG Haze buds become covered in trichomes. “Strong” Auto-Flowering Strain – Black Jack Auto by Sweet Seeds. This strain had some of the strongest effects of all the auto-flowering strains I’ve grown so far. One was 7.5/10 in potency, but the other felt even stronger. Both had an immediate nose-tingling head effect, and then longer lasting pleasant mental and body effects. The smell was pungent and skunky yet had sweet notes. This strain seemed to do better with somewhat lower levels of light, so it would be perfect to tuck one of these plants in the back or to the side of your main grow. An example of a Black Jack Auto just before harvest at 75 days old. Medical Strain (Very Relaxing) – Blue AutoMazar by Dutch Passion – One of the highest yielding autos (and Dutch Passion specializes in high-yielding autos!), this strain carries a “cheesy” smell from its Blue Cheese ancestors. The buds don’t really smell as much like cannabis as something else that’s kind of funky. That can make this a good choice for a “stealth” strain since it doesn’t have as much of the traditional skunky “weed smell” that can give away a grow. Buds are ready to harvest in a little under 3 months from seed and its effects are some of the most relaxing buds I’ve tried with any strain, photoperiod or auto. I believe this would be a great medical or anti-anxiety strain. In order to get the best results with growing cannabis, you need to pay regular attention to your plants. Maybe you don’t have a lot of time, and you just want to do the “bare minimum” and still get to harvest. Although I highly encourage you to take great care of your plants, if this sounds like you, you may get the best results by choosing a hardy strain that’s been specifically bred to be easy to grow and can roll with the punches.
Although they’re generally hardy, in some ways auto-flowering strains can be tough for a beginner because they don’t leave a lot of time for mistakes. If you mess up in the first 3-6 weeks, you can sometimes end up with a tiny plant and small yields at harvest and unfortunately there’s really nothing you can do about it at that point. On the flip side, a photoperiod plant gives you as much time as you need to dial in your grow and make mistakes because it won’t start making buds until you “tell” it to. That gives you time to conduct experiments and/or really see what a plant can do! They don’t say cannabis grows like a weed for nothing! With a photoperiod plant you can bring it to the brink of death and back, then continue on with your grow without much consequence. For that reason, I highly recommend sticking with photoperiod (“regular”) strains if you’re specifically looking for a strain that’s particularly easy to grow and can bounce back from problems. Low Odor – Northern Light is a hardy, potent strain that tends to have less of a smell than other strains, which can be helpful for stealth reasons. This strain is a classic that has won many awards for its effects.
Northern Light plants tend to stay short, bounce back easily from problems, and are relatively quick to harvest. It’s one of the first strains I ever grew, and lived through a lot (heat, overwatering, dropping a light on it….).