Autoflowers flower faster when compared with conventional cannabis plants, so why isn’t everybody growing with them? Because the yields are smaller. However this doesn’t have to be the case. Read our guide on how to grow with autoflowers and still achieve big yields!
How to maximise autoflower yields
You may have heard that autoflowers produce small yields, but genetics have come a long way in the last five years, now some autoflowers can even rival photoperiods. And when you take into consideration that they can be grown from seed to harvest in as little 8 – 10 weeks you can see why they have become so popular.
Boosting autoflower yields isn’t difficult if you plan your grow in advance. Here’s some key tips for you that will have you producing high yielding autoflowers in no time!
Since autoflowers are more responsive, it’s best to provide them with their ideal environment. Autoflowers don’t fare very well with the amount of stress that most photoperiod plants endure during their vegetative period. To those who haven’t grown auto-flowering plants before, all of this might sound a little intimidating and confusing.
The keys to growing high yielding autoflowers
Genetics – grow with high yielding autoflowers
It may seem obvious but if you want to produce big autoflower yields then you need to choose the right genetics to start with. Growing one of the top 10 highest yielding autoflower strains will give you the best chance of achieving those monster yields.
The most exciting thing about growing autoflowering strains is the enormous harvest you can get in such a short amount of time. This, however, does come with a caveat; autos don’t give you much time to get plants to harvest. If you’re going to grow autos, you need to plan and set up your grow room beforehand.
Think you’ve got all the steps, right? Not so fast. Each autoflowering strain has specific needs, so it’s essential to cut no corners and give your plants the best possible start in life. Before you go about buying plants and equipment, first determine what you will need for each stage in the life cycle of your plants.
Find out about the many ways to get the best yields from your autoflowering plants. While it is important to provide plenty of light, you should also keep in mind other key factors that will increase your harvest. These include the right medium (one that holds moisture well), container, and good airflow. If using a grow tent or other grow space, give it some planning before setting up.
Wait for the roots to strengthen before transplanting
Every grower knows that all plants are different and react differently to transplanting. It’s impossible to tell when a plant can take it, which is why growing in their final containers is always best. Autoflowering cannabis strains are the fastest-growing plant strains.
One of the simplest ways to increase autoflower yields is to minimize stress or shock, you can do this by transplanting as late as possible. The longer the plants remain in their original containers, the more developed they will become.
The most common mistake when growing autoflowers is to transplant them too early. It’s tempting, as their roots develop quickly, but it’s not the best idea. Autos are hardy plants, and transplanting does not hurt them; however, if you can wait a little longer before transplanting, your plants will benefit from the extra time to build their root system even more.
There’s no rush to transplant and never force a seedling into an unsuitable growing medium. If you are in a hurry, ensure the new container’s mix is the same as that in the original. Before transplanting, the roots must be strong and thick. Use your hands to check the sturdiness of them. To be sure that plants don’t become stressed after transplanting, water the soil deeply from time to time, but don’t overdo it.
Grow in the right environment and right size pot
Every auto-flowering strain is different because they stem from different original plants. They can either have the Indica or Sativa background or have different frame sizes and shapes. However, the type of container you choose plays a major role as well. Some people use containers that are too small. Autoflowers require at least 7-gallon containers, but bigger sizes are preferred for bigger plant sizes to get great yields. Autoflowers love aerated soil that drains very well and pots with drainage holes to prevent root rot.
Optimize your Nutrients
One of the common mistakes beginning and intermediate growers make is giving their auto-flowers more nutrients than they need. Autoflowers are not like photoperiod plants. They have very small, compact root systems and require a different approach to feeding.
Not only does overfeeding harm your plants, but it’s also a waste of your money. Autoflowers require minimal nutrients to grow healthily, so if you calibrate your feedings correctly, you should be able to spot-check your pH level for nutrient deficiencies and realize a higher return on your investment.
If you’re growing auto-flowers, especially those that eat a lot of nutrients like gorilla glue or tangie automatic, you need to feed them heavily. However, if your nutrient schedule calls for 5ml per liter and you are afraid to overfeed, start with 2.5ml or even 1.25ml and then advance up the dosing ratio as needed.
While it’s not a good idea to use nutrients during the beginning stages of growth, you should start as soon as flowering starts. A mild nutrient solution is fine for this stage.
Monitor the PH levels
Whether you grow in soil or a hydro medium, the pH is an important factor to achieve higher yields. Autoflowering cannabis strains can produce little resins and little terpenes, meaning your plants could be sick due to deficiency, although it’s the pH that is wrong. Learn more about how you can correct pH issues in your grow room and get better results.
If you’re growing in soil, make sure the pH ranges within 5.7 to 6.3. If you’re using a hydroponic system, make sure your water supply is well-buffered and stays within a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Autoflowering cannabis strains prefer slightly acidic soils or nutrient supplies, with a moderately higher PH value—such as 6.0-7.0 for most strains or 4.4-6.0 for auto-sensi strains.
It’s important to keep track of your pH levels. Plants rely heavily on the correct pH for essential nutrient uptake. If your levels fall below 5.5, then the plant will struggle to absorb calcium and magnesium, vital for growth and flower production. Low levels of calcium and magnesium, common auto-flower growing problems, will result in weak stems that can snap under their own weight or from external forces such as strong winds.
Fortunately, while there is no way to control the world around your plants, you can control their environment. Moisture and warmth are also essential for healthy growth during this phase. CO2 is also a necessity at this point in grow time because it helps facilitate more delicate flowers and complex terpenes.
More light leads to bigger autoflower yields
To truly get huge autoflower yields grow your plants on at least 18 hours of light, followed by 6 hours of darkness, this light cycle is the best in my experience for maximising yields. By reducing the lighting to 12 hours, you will delay maturity and reduce the volume of your harvest. Cannabis grows in all kinds of environments—small spaces, greenhouses, cold areas, or hydroponic. But, it thrives when it gets more hours of light during the vegetative growth stage.
You don’t need to wait for a certain number of weeks before switching your lights to the flowering cycle. Just start providing 18 hours of light after your seedlings emerge. Plants grow robustly and flower no matter how many leaves they have, as long as they can receive enough light.
With autos, you have more leeway when it comes to lighting, as they still produce good yields even if you use CFLs or fluorescent tubes. However, they like HPS or LED lights the best. A full-spectrum LED light works the best for an auto-flower. If you use the LEDs, go as high as lumens as possible.
Growing auto-flowers outdoors is a great way to achieve the highest yields with minimal effort. When grown outdoors, autos prefer to grow in areas that receive 12 hours of sunlight. If you can give them 16 hours, they’ll grow even bigger buds.
Plant training techniques
Low-Stress Technique (LST)
A lot of growers want to achieve buds full of resinous THC-rich glandular trichomes. However, those who have used traditional HST or High-Stress-Techniques to grow cannabis plants may well run into problems. Therefore, it’s safer to use Low-Stress Techniques or LST that are much more suitable for autoflowering strains.
Using LST training you will really begin to maximise your autoflower yields. With the LST technique, growers bend the plant’s stems so that the plant grows into a much wider shape allowing the plant to absorb much more light. When cannabis plants are subjected to sufficient light, they grow one main massive cola while the rest of the plant produces small budlets (popcorn buds), usually known as popcorn nuggets. One can optimize light penetration, air circulation and control growth for each cola to develop one or more large colas.
Cannabis plants like the feminized auto AK47 take regular training very well. With LST, you straighten/train your cannabis plant in a shorter time than you would have if you used HST techniques. This is important for auto-flowering plants because they don’t need the vegetative period as long as photoperiod plants do. LST makes the growing process easier, along with helping to prevent some yields limiting ailments such as heat stress.
When it comes to growing your cannabis plants into a maximum size, you should aim to give your plants as much light as possible. However, this isn’t easy with many plants, including the main cola (the biggest bud on the plant) and a few under-developed buds on the side of the plant. This is where LST or Lateral Shoot Training comes into play.
Topping and Fimming
Topping and Fimming are also some commonly used cannabis plant training techniques to increase yields. By removing parts of the main stem, you’re forcing side branch (es) to grow at the top because their tip has been removed, also known as “Topping.”. Fimming is another topping technique that removes the top node where the leaf and stem meet instead of cutting off the entire top part.
Growers must keep in mind that training techniques should only be used on healthy plants. It is also helpful to understand the phase of plant growth when training can be most effective. Training can best be executed during veg or early flower. Not only can it give you an edge against your competition, but it will increase yields, reduce plant stress, and save time.
Whether upright or short, all plants benefit from training by being tied or clipped to support. The goal is to get the plant’s stems and branches to grow horizontally because that’s where the flowers form. You can start seeing how your plants will look as they mature at the end of a few weeks.
The highest yielding autoflowers
Open your door to the world of auto-flowers with Auto Glueberry. This sturdy plant produces potent flowers under the intensity of a 400w HPS light bulb. The plants are very robust and grow to medium heights.
The Auto Glueberry is a champion amongst Autofem seeds. A tasteful, aromatic, and powerful plant with a strong effect that will sedate even the most enthusiastic smokers. It is a quick-growing and very productive variety that is strong enough to handle the high light levels of indoor crops, producing 400 gr per m2.
Recommended Retailer: MSNL
The Big Bud is one of the most productive strains in cannabis cultivation. This auto-flowering plant, of Indo-Thai, Mexican, and Afghani influence, was bred using Jack Herer’s original clone to get the best possible characteristics from this strain. A true factory of buds that in 70-80 days will produce up to 450 gr/m2 without needing extras like pruning or elongation. To do this with a total lack of maintenance, you need a LEC 315w lighting system that will place your plants 20 hours a day.
Best auto-flower seeds for huge harvests. Big Bud Auto delivers 25% larger plants with bigger yields than our Original Big Bud. It’s a fast-flowering auto-flowering cannabis strain that grows like an Indica but delivers the taste, aroma, and potency of Sativa. This highly potent 85% Indica/15% Sativa is absolutely loaded with THC and offers a strong psychedelic experience for novice and experienced smokers alike.
Recommended Retailer: Sensi Seeds