I’ve been growing weed since the 90s and In the early days finding the right seeds was an issue.
But, over the past decade progress in understanding the genetic properties of cannabis has improved ten fold.
Growers now have a much wider choice in the selection of premium cannabis seeds that correspond with the genomes that they choose to cultivate.
However, it can still be confusing to those who are just getting started.
One of those basic options involves determining whether you will select auto-flowering or feminized seeds to establish your grow-out operation.
Below, we will outline everything you need to know regarding the way both of these seed types grow, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how you can select the type of cannabis seeds that will suit your needs best.
What Are Autoflower Seeds?
Most growers who are seriously involved in the process are now becoming interested in newly emerging Autoflowering strains of cannabis that possess a genetic profile that makes plants easier to grow and produce a faster yield of mature flowers.
Autoflower seeds are composed of a combination of the Ruderalis, Sativa, and Indica genetics, which produce easier to grow plants that bloom within the time frame of 8 to 10 weeks.
One of the additional advantages of using auto-flowering seeds is that you have various options.
These include high THC seeds, high CBD seeds, and seeds that strike the perfect balance between the two.
That being said, however, auto-flowering seeds also have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
On the upside, plants generated from auto-flowering seeds offer a more discreet option for cultivation.
This is because they tend to be shorter and bushier, rather than achieving the typical heights of cannabis plants that would make them far more conspicuous.
Plants grown from autoflower seeds are often referred to as ‘dwarfs’ because of this characteristic, allowing urban growers to grow them on their balconies or at hidden locations within their gardens.
The faster turnaround in growing speed and the compact size of the cannabis cultivated from autoflowering seeds also helps clandestine growers to set up and dismantle their growing operations more quickly and easily.
If you happen to be in search of plants with a more substantial CBD influence, auto-flowering plants generally deliver a higher percentage of Cannabidiol when compared to other photoperiod strains.
On the downside, the compact size and faster growth rate of auto-flower plants come with the drawback of providing a smaller harvest than standard cannabis plants.
This means that they have far fewer bud sites when compared to larger photoperiod plants.
While some traditional photoperiod Sativa plants may grow to be the size of a small tree, the maximum height of the auto-flowering plants is only up to 1 meter, which results in fewer buds from their canopies.
Also, the short flowering span of the auto-flowering strains restricts the number of buds the plant can grow.
As a result, auto-flowering seeds may not be the best choice for growers in search of an abundant harvest.
What are Feminized Seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds have been genetically engineered to produce only female plants, and they generally have a virtually 100% probability of doing so.
This advancement in cannabis growing has made growing cannabis much more predictable and far more economical.
Feminized seeds also tend to be designed to render photoperiod plants.
Until recently, growing cannabis from seed generally included that it had a significant possibility of becoming a male plant rather than a flower-bearing female plant.
This meant that potentially you only had a little over a 50% chance that the plants you brought to harvest would end up producing the fat, sticky buds rich in THC that are so desirable to cannabis connoisseurs around the globe.
Unfortunately, male plants will only produce seed pods and, if they stick around in your crop long enough, they will end up pollinating your female plants, which will dramatically reduce the yields of sinsemilla flowers.
The creation of feminized cannabis seeds in the 1990s revolutionized the world of cannabis cultivation to create growing environments that were comprised only of plants that would eventually become female.
Feminized seeds also produce photoperiod strains, which means that they are light-cycle dependent.
Feminized plants also tend to have a higher amount of cannabinoid compounds, and strains can be more easily bred to deliver maximum potency and aroma.
There is also no need for guesswork or the inconvenience of constantly checking the sex of developing plants as they grow so that potentially male plants can be identified and discarded before they have a chance to pollinate.
Autoflowering VS Feminized Cannabis Comparison
The length of time in the growth cycle of any given plant is a critical factor for those involved in cannabis cultivation to consider.
Those who are looking for multiple harvests on a year-round basis generally select autoflowering seeds.
These bloom automatically and usually go from seed to harvest in a cycle that usually lasts between 8 and 12 weeks.
On the other hand, feminized seeds only begin flowering after they begin receiving 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness every 24-hour period, and usually take 12 to 20 weeks to go from a seed-stage to a provide a full harvest of mature flowers.
Growers cultivating feminized seeds outdoors will either have to adjust their lighting schedule or wait until autumn, when the days begin to shorten significantly, to ensure that their plants receive the right amount of light to flower.
However, plants generated from autoflowering cannabis seeds are much easier to grow and offer an attractive option for those who are looking for a more straightforward, less involved growing process.
The difference between the ultimate yield of mature flowers that can be produced from either feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds can be significant.
Plants that grow from auto flower seeds have a much shorter life cycle, so it logically follows they produce far less mature flowers in the same growing space as a feminized plant.
It may be true that a few auto-flower strains may end up being more productive than some photoperiod strains.
However, when working within the same genetic lineage, the auto-flower version always ends up yielding a lesser weight of mature flowers per square meter of growing space than the photoperiod-based strain.
Conversely, photoperiod strains can be grown out for as long as it suits a grower’s individual needs regarding seed type.
This allows them to grow their plants into virtual giants when compared to auto-flower sourced plants.
While this difference may be somewhat limited when growing indoors, photoperiod plants grown outdoors can produce a harvest of several pounds of bigger buds from every plant grown.
As many growers have discovered, growing fewer but bigger plants is also much more productive if you live in a state where there are legal limits as to the number of plants that an individual is allowed to cultivate.
As previously mentioned, feminized seeds that are properly cultivated outdoors can become virtual trees providing over a pound or two of large, sticky, premium-quality buds.
The resulting potency that is achieved generally attains the maximum potency of the strain that has been cultivated.
However, when auto-flowering seeds first became available over 10 years ago, they were generally considered less potent by cannabis aficionados.
Largely due to the fact that the auto flower genome was originally sourced from the Ruderalis species of cannabis, which in known to contain very low levels of THC.
This obsolete perception was most likely generated around the time that the first Lowryder strain was released.
It was a cross between Northern Lights #2, William’s Wonder, and a variety of Ruderalis. It is generally considered to be one of the first auto-flowering strains to be introduced to the marketplace.
Nonetheless, during the past decade, certain strains of Ruderalis have been crossbred with other extremely high THC strains, which now produce auto-flowering strains that are as potent as their feminized counterparts.
Regular Is Out Genetics Are In
The fact of the matter is that very few modern cannabis growers continue to use regular seeds anymore.
Most of them prefer to apply the genetics of their selected strain(s) in the form of either auto-flower or feminized photoperiod seeds.
Wrapping Up Autoflower Seeds VS Feminized Seeds
In the final analysis, auto-flower seeds provide those with a basic knowledge of cannabis cultivation with an additional speed and simplicity that appeals to many growers, especially those who prefer to grow indoors.
On the other hand, feminized seeds have an equal appeal that is all their own.
Most importantly, the fact that growers can control the length of vegetative growth provides them with an additional level of control in accommodating the style of their individual grow-out system.
One of the most valuable features of using photoperiod seeds is keeping mother plants of your preferred feminized strains and taking as many cuttings as you need to propagate additional clones.
This is impossible to do with plants that are grown from auto flower seeds.
That being said, the quality levels from the best strains of both feminized and autoflower cannabis seeds can reach the same levels of THC, often at levels well above 20%.