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9 Myths Surrounding Autoflowering Cannabis Strains

Autoflowering cannabis strains have changed the way cannabis is grown around the world. However, some growers are skeptical about their quality and the internet is full of myths and rumours arguing, that autoflowers are less potent, hardscrabble, and so on.

In this post we look at some of the biggest myths surrounding autoflowering cannabis strains. For more articles like this, follow the RQS cannabis blog.

MYTH 1: AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS ARE LESS POTENT

This is probably the most common myth circulating among the cannabis community, and we’re glad to say it’s not true.

This rumour most likely generated around the time of the release of the original Lowryder strain. A cross between Northern Lights #2, William’s Wonder, and a ruderalis variety, this is often considered one of the first autoflowering strains to hit the market.

Lowryder is a medicinal strain designed to help relieve symptoms of stress, insomnia, and pain. It was released over 10 years ago, and was originally less potent than some of the other cannabis varieties on the market at that time, producing light cerebral effects, that had a characteristically slow onset.

However, a lot has changed since the days when Lowryder first hit the streets. Today, autoflowering varieties have significant cannabinoid profiles, which can be rich in THC, CBD, and a variety of other compounds just like their feminized counterparts.

MYTH 2: AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS PRODUCE LOW YIELDS

This is another common myth about auto cannabis strains, and again we’re happy to say that it is false.

Much like the previous myth, this one likely originated at the time when Lowryder was first released. Lowryder, as the name suggests, was designed to be a small plant similar to the cannabis equivalent of a bonsai for the discrete grower’s windowsill or balcony. It grew to heights of only about 40cm and hence produced much smaller yields than regular cannabis varieties.

Some other autoflowering cannabis varieties followed suite, also featuring genetics, that left them reaching lower heights and consequently producing less bud than regular plants whose heights could be controlled with light. This is because most autoflowering varieties were traditionally created with stealth and speed in mind.

Today, while some autoflowering varieties still display these traits, others have been expertly bred to produce notable yields of high-quality weed. Thanks to more advanced ways of breeding autoflowers, new varieties can grow just as tall as regular photoperiodic plants and produce similar yields. The main factors that’ll influence this is the genetics of your strain, the strength of your lights, and other factors of your grow environment.

MYTH 3: AUTO STRAINS CAN’T BE TRANSPLANTED

This myth is partially true. Transplanting autoflowering cannabis strains is a little more complicated than repotting regular varieties.

To avoid any complications during their grow cycle, cultivators are generally advised to plant their autoflowering seeds in a container they plan to use through to harvest time. However, it is possible to repot an autoflower, as long as you’re gentle and careful.

The biggest concern when repotting autoflowers is shocking the roots, which consequently stunts the plant’s growth for up to 7 days, which is significant, because most live only between 60-90 days.

However, letting your plants get rootbound can be just as detrimental to their growth. So, if you have an autoflowering plant sitting in a small container, that you think might get rootbound, don’t hesitate about transplanting it.

To minimize the negative effects of transplanting, remember the following tips:

  • Always transplant your plants into the exact same soil or soilless grow medium.
  • Transplant your plants before their dark period and when their soil is dry.
  • Always pre-soak the medium you’re planning to move your plants into.
  • Always ensure your transplanted plants aren’t sitting deeper in the soil than they were before. Transplanting them deeper can cause stem rot, which can further stunt their growth.

MYTH 4: YOU CAN’T TOP AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS

This myth is a hard one to tackle as it divides many autoflower growers.

Some growers swear by topping their autoflowers, arguing that it creates more colas per plant and ultimately increases their yields. Others argue that, with such a short lifetime, the time it takes for plants to recover from topping actually decreases their yields.

Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer to this issue, as we’ve seen it go both ways. Whether or not you should top your autoflowers comes down to the genetics of your plants and your experience as a grower.

If, for example, you’re growing indica-dominant autoflowering plants like some Kush varieties, you probably shouldn’t bother with topping. These plants tend to have only a few internodes and minimal side branching, allowing them to develop big, thick pineapple-like colas.

Some sativa varieties on the other hand, like an autoflowering Amnesia Haze, might respond really well to topping. These plants can easily reach over 150cm and usually respond well to topping, especially during the early stages of vigorous vegetation, allowing for multiple colas and even light dispersion across the top of the plant.

If you want to experiment with topping your autoflowering plants, we suggests trying it out with some of our sativa varieties. You could easily invest in a pack of 3 seeds, leave one to develop without topping, and experiment on the other 2, giving them a top at different stages of the vegetation phase and taking note of the differences.

MYTH 5: RUDERALIS-DOMINANT STRAINS ARE CBD-DOMINANT

This is another extremely common misconception about autoflowering cannabis strains.

It is true, that all autoflowering strains contain ruderalis genetics, as that is what gives them the autoflowering trait. And it is also true, that Cannabis ruderalis varieties generally contain higher concentrations of CBD than THC.

However, just because a strain is ruderalis-dominant, that doesn’t mean it is naturally going to have a CBD-dominant cannabinoid profile. Thanks to advanced breeding techniques, breeders are now able to create strains, that are ruderalis-dominant, yet still contain higher levels of THC than CBD.

At the same time, breeders are also using the naturally CBD-rich traits of traditional ruderalis varieties to create strains with huge medical potential with high concentrations of CBD, like Fast Eddy (10% ruderalis, high in CBD and 9% THC) and Stress Killer (10% ruderalis, high in CBD and 11% THC).

MYTH 6: AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS DON’T FLOWER IN TIME

This is myth is an easy one to debunk.

Obviously, the flowering time of each strain varies. Most autoflowering varieties will be ready for harvest in between 60-90 days. When grown in a natural environment, any quality autoflowering plant will be ready for harvest when it should be.

However, the simple variables of a grow environment change that. A slight change in temperature, nutrient dose, or water availability can have a big effect on the way an autoflowering plant develops. Meanwhile, transplant shock, draught, or shock from topping can obviously have even bigger effects on a plant’s growth cycle.

These factors can easily stunt a plant’s growth by anywhere from 7 to 10 days, which will then push back your harvest. Hence, it is really important to minimize the risk of any of these factors or deal with them quickly and effectively, should they occur.

MYTH 7: AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS NEED 24H LIGHT CYCLES

This myth isn’t entirely true and depends a lot on the individual strain you’re growing.

It is true, that some autoflowering varieties perform better under 24h light settings and you should definitely keep up these conditions if you’re working with one of these strains.

However, it is widely known that photosynthesis works just as effectively in the darkness, and some strains will make that all the more obvious. In fact, the good old 12/12 light regime might even decrease yields and growth in some varieties that prefer longer dark periods.

While it usually isn’t recommended to flower auto strains in less than 16h of light, it ultimately comes down to the individual strain you’re working with and the individual results you’re getting.

MYTH 8: AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS CANNOT BE CLONED

This myth isn’t true. It is possible to clone autoflowering varieties by taking a small branch from a mother and letting it grow under a 24 hour light cycle. However, no one really bothers to do this, as the clones will usually produce lower yields than the mothers. That is why autoflowering seeds are created from previous seeds, not clones.

MYTH 9: AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS BUDS ARE TASTELESS

Some growers are quick to argue that autoflowering cannabis strains are “all smell”, lacking both flavour and effect. This is definitely not true.

Buds from a decent autoflower created by a reputable breeder will have just as many complex aromas and flavours as those from a non-autoflowering variety. It all comes down to the individual strain and the skills behind the breeder who has created them.

At Royal Queen Seeds, we pride ourselves in creating top-shelf autoflowering cannabis varieties that, unless you grew them yourself, you couldn’t tell apart from regular photoperiodic plants.

To see for yourself, visit our store and browse our autoflowering strains today.

A-Pinene

Anti-Inflamatory
Bronchodilator
Aids Memory
Anti-Bacterial Also found in pine needles

Linalool

Anesthetic
Anti-Convulsant
Analgesic
Anti-Anxiety Also found in lavander

Beta-Caryophillene

Anti-Inflamatory
Analgesic
Protects Cells Lining The Digestive Tract Also found in black pepper

Myrcene

Contributes To Sedative Effect Of Strong Indicas
Sleep Aid
Muscle Relaxant Also found in hops

Limonene

Treats Acid Reflux
Anti-Anxiety
Antidepressant Also found in citrus

A-Pinene

Anti-Inflamatory
Bronchodilator
Aids Memory
Anti-Bacterial Also found in pine needles

Linalool

Anesthetic
Anti-Convulsant
Analgesic
Anti-Anxiety Also found in lavander

Beta-Caryophillene

Anti-Inflamatory
Analgesic
Protects Cells Lining The Digestive Tract Also found in black pepper

Myrcene

Contributes To Sedative Effect Of Strong Indicas
Sleep Aid
Muscle Relaxant Also found in hops

Limonene

Treats Acid Reflux
Anti-Anxiety
Antidepressant Also found in citrus

There are countless rumours about autoflowering cannabis varieties. In this post we debunk some of the most common myths about autoflowers.

Question: When to harvest autoflowers?

Are your autoflowers in bloom and filling the grow tent with their delicious aroma? It must be time to finally get harvesting! But, hard though it is, try and slow down and have a little bit of patience; there are a few things you need to do to maximise the potency and quality of your harvest. And the first thing to do is to read our guide to find out all you need to know about when to harvest autoflowers.

What do you need to do before you start to harvest?

  1. Flush before harvesting
  2. Trim large leaves

1. Flush before harvesting your autoflower

The most important thing is to ‘flush’ your autoflowers for at least a week before harvest. This sounds worryingly technical, but all it means is to cease providing your plants with any nutrients and just give it plain water. Doing this ensures that the plants use up all their sugars and proteins they are storing. If you forget to flush your plants, the resulting weed will have an unpleasantly harsh taste. How long you flush your plants before harvest varies according to the growing medium – there is plenty of more detailed advice about this subject online – but one thing is for sure – flushing weed is essential for a smooth smoke, especially if you have fed your plants with non-organic fertilisers.

You can tell that the time is right for flushing by looking at the leaves – if they start to turn yellow at the tips, you’re good to go.

2. Trim large fan leaves

Experienced growers often choose to trim large fan leaves in the period before harvest to allow closer access to all the side branches and their leaves and buds.

Signs that indicate your autoflowers are ready to be harvested

  1. Observe pistils
  2. Yellow leaves
  3. Usage of water
  4. Curving and drying of smaller leaves

1. Observe pistils

Observe the colour and appearance of the pistils. The pistils are the reproductive organs of the female cannabis flowers. Over time, as the buds mature, the pistils change colour. The exact change varies according to the variety of the autoflower, but they typically start as a creamy white and then progressively darken, often ending in a dark brown shade. So, carefully observing the appearance of the pistils of your cannabis flowers as they grow is an inexpensive and reliable way of judging the best time to harvest.

Look at the approximate percentage of pistils that have changed colour. If most of the pistils are white, it is way too soon to harvest, for example. If just over half of the pistils are brown, it is best to wait for a bit longer. If about 75% – 90% are brown, harvest now, the plant is heavy and ripe, and it is the optimal time for a good quality crop. If over 90% of the pistils are brown, harvest immediately as you may have left it too late!

However, other factors can affect the colour of pistils (changes in temperature and humidity), so it is unwise to solely rely on the pistil method to judge the timing of your autoflower harvest, especially if you are a novice grower. If you are the type of grower who likes to handle and touch the growing flowers, this can also affect the colour of the pistils!

The Trichome Method

Trichomes are microscopic hair-like crystals that cover the leaves and buds of your cannabis plant, and also serve as glands for the production of resin. Trichomes act as a defence for the cannabis plant. Their bitter smell and taste ward off animals or insects that may be tempted to eat the leaves. Both producer and protector, trichomes are one of the most essential parts of the cannabis plant and play a significant role in producing the psychoactive effect for which cannabis is famous.

The word ‘trichome’ derives from the Greek word for hair. Trichomes house the compounds that have become synonymous with cannabis – THC, other cannabinoid and terpenes are all manufactured inside terpenes and start to form as the cannabis plant enters the flowering phase. So you can see that close observation of the development of trichomes is a good way of observing the maturity or ripeness of the weed. Trichomes change colour as they start to develop. They can be clear, white, amber or brown and the colour of trichomes is sometimes used by cannabis growers to determine the best time to harvest.

There are three types of trichomes, and each one is bigger than the last:

  1. Bulbous trichomes – these are the smallest and are challenging to see with the naked eye.
  2. Capitate-sessile trichomes – these are slightly larger and cover the cannabis plant profusely.
  3. Capitate-stalked trichomes – the largest and most potent type of trichome. These are the types of trichomes that emerge during flowering and produce the most cannabis compounds. They can be easily identified as they have a long stalk and are clearly visible to the naked eye.

They initially have a transparent, cut glass appearance, which indicates it is far too early to harvest. Over time, this translucent appearance becomes gradually cloudier or more opaque. This is one of the situations where experience pays off, as it can be quite tricky to tell the difference the first time you observe trichomes, which is why we recommend using a combination of methods. And it is also true that the trichomes of autoflowers do not change as dramatically as those of photo-period plants.

If the trichomes have changed to an amber colour, you haven’t necessarily left it too late, but the effect may tend towards more an Indica buzz rather than an active strain.

However, it is a good idea to invest in a magnifying glass so you can carefully observe your plant’s trichomes. A hand-held one if fine, but you may prefer to get a digital microscope -many models are surprisingly affordable. Use a USB charger to connect it to your laptop or tablet and enjoy a fascinating view of the surface of your plant’s leaves and buds. A significant advantage is the fact that you can save digital images taken from one week or day to the next, allowing you to compare the development of the trichomes easily.

Using these two methods will give you a good chance of harvesting at the crucial window when your cannabis plants have their highest levels of THC before it starts to degrade.

2. Yellow leaves

Formerly green leaves turning progressively yellow from the tips downwards suggests the plant is concentrating all its energies on flowering rather than growing and is one of the signs that the time has come to harvest. When you notice the larger fan leaves start to yellow, you can begin the flushing period. However, be wary if you have used nitrogen fertilisers as they can have a delaying effect, and the leaves may not turn yellow until after the optimal period for harvest.

3. Usage of water

When your ladies take up less water, it is a sign that they are no longer growing and are ready for harvest. This is not an exact science, but if you water your plants and notice that the soil remains moist after a couple of days, it could be time to get the shears out.

4. Curving and drying of smaller leaves

Another change that frequently happens at the same time as reduced water intake is the curling up and drying of the smaller leaves that surround the bud, sometimes known as sugar leaves.

If you notice all of these signs happening at roughly the same time, you can be confident that your autoflowers are ready for harvest or could benefit from waiting for a few weeks more.

Exceptions when it comes to harvesting autoflowers

  1. Harvesting an autoflower early
  2. Harvesting an autoflower late

1. Harvesting an autoflower early

Sometimes, you may want to harvest early, and there can be excellent reasons for doing this. If your crop is affected by mould, damaged plants or other pests, it may well be advisable to harvest as soon as your plants start flowering, despite the lower THC content. We don’t advise harvesting early unless you are sure that the trichomes have begun to cover the plants with bulbous heads. Many growers like to test a few early buds, and this is a good idea if you aren’t worried about wastage as it is highly likely that these first flowers will not have had enough time to develop the required THC and cannabinoid for a satisfying smoke.

2. Harvesting an autoflower late

A late harvest often results in an autoflower crop that induces stronger feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, commonly referred to as ‘couch lock’. The crop may well have less THC, but with careful drying, it is certainly possible to achieve a great smoke, and, of course, many people prefer cannabis with higher levels of CBD for medicinal use.

Curious when to harvest your autoflowers? Check this blog and find all the answers to choose the right time for harvesting your autoflower strain. ]]>