Auto Flowering Marijuana VS Regular Cannabis Strains

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Many advances have been made in the science of cultivating marijuana plants. From the advances in the techniques down to the genetic makeup of auto flowering marijuana plants, cannabis breeds have been made to naturally grow faster, more potent, and more resilient than ever before even without the use of chemicals.

But despite having all these advanced techniques and new breeds, the ultimate decision on which breed to plant and what cultivation method to use solely rest on the grower and his decision may depend on a number of factors. 

WHAT ARE AUTO-FLOWERING MARIJUANA PLANTS?

Marijuana plants, just like other plants go through four stages of development in their lifetime: seed germination stage, seedling stage, vegetative stage, and flowering stage. 

Seed germination stage is when the seeds are planted and grows a basic system such as roots to collect nutrients from the soil and other parts in order to push itself above the soil that will develop into stems, leaves, and flowers later on. The seedling stage is when the plant becomes a literal small plant. 

The vegetative stage is when the plant achieves some form of maturity. When the plant is in its vegetative state, it needs to be transferred to a bigger pot as its roots and even its leaves are rapidly growing in this stage.  A mature cannabis plant will usually have 5-7 blades on each leaf. This stage lasts for about 3-16 weeks and requires a light cycle of 18 hours on a 24-hour day. 

The plant enters the flowering stage when it develops sex organs for male and female plants in the form of flowers. Male plants produce pollen from pollen sacs that get scattered by air or insects and are received by the female flower in order to produce a bud that turns into a seed later on. 

Auto-flowering marijuana plants are varieties that automatically proceed from vegetative state to flowering state naturally through the mere passage of time. On the other hand, regular strains come to the flowering state from the vegetative state due to changing light cycles, when light is being reduced. 

The flowering stage is the final stage of the growth of cannabis plants. For a regular strain, this stage occurs naturally when the light cycle is shortened to about 12 hours of light. But for auto-flowering plants, this is no longer required. This stage lasts about 8-11 weeks. This is the stage when the resinous buds develop. It is the buds that are harvested for its THC or CBD content. In this stage, the plant will also show whether they are male or female. 

This is observable in outdoor-grown marijuana crops which are mostly harvested in later months of the year towards winter when the daylight is shorter especially in the northern regions. Indoor plants are made to enter the flowering stage from the vegetative stage by adjusting the light cycle from 18 hours to 12 hours per 24 hours. 

Below is a brief comparison between the auto-flowering and regular cannabis strains. 

QUICK COMPARISON 

HARVEST TIME: Auto-flowering strains grow faster than regular strains. This is due to the Ruderalis genes that are on auto-flowering plants. Some varieties are even reported to be ready for harvest in seven weeks. This could mean a few harvests in one season of planting regular plants. This is also an advantage for outdoor growers in cold climates where the summer days are short and cold that only lasts about two months, which is just enough time between the seed stage to the flowering stage

Regular plants do have fast-growing varieties too so we cannot really say that auto-flowering strains are better in this department. 

YIELD: Auto-flowering plants that are genetically related to the Ruderalis family are smaller than the other Sativa or Indica dominant varieties. This is an advantage for the auto-flowering plants since smaller plants mean that you could have more plants in your limited indoor or greenhouse growing space. Being short also makes stealth growing possible where a grower may try and grow a single plant out of sight of the law where marijuana is illegal. 

But the smaller size of auto-flowering marijuana plants could be a disadvantage too. Smaller plants yield fewer buds too as there is only enough space on each plant for buds to grow. So in this comparison, there may be a tie between the two since smaller yields per plant could be made up for by having more plants in your growing area. 

OPERATIONAL COST: Regular marijuana plants’ maturing from the vegetative state to the flowering stage is triggered by lowering the light cycle from 18 hours to 12 hours. But auto-flowering plants need the same 18-hour light cycles in their flowering stage. This means that lights should run longer on indoor spaces even during the flowering stage, thus pushing the electricity consumption in this stage. The regular strains clearly have an advantage here.

POTENCY: Regular marijuana strains have different THC and CBD potencies and it is known that some contain as much as 21 percent of either ingredient. But since the auto-flowering marijuana plants are derived from the Ruderalis family of plants, they naturally contain lesser THC than the Sativa or Indica varieties even after breeding that made hybrids between the Ruderalis and other marijuana plants possible. Regular strains easily win this comparison unless they breed a high THC breed of auto-flowering marijuana strains. 

QUALITY CONCERNS: Auto-flowering marijuana plants are known to require some plant growth regulators or PRGs in order to regulate its development. PRGs come as naturally-derived or chemically-derived. Chemically-derived PRGs are known to be carcinogenic but the naturally-derived ones are neutral and harmless according to the US-EPA. 

CONCLUSION

In the end, it is up to the grower to choose what parameter matter to him the most in order for him to clearly choose which between the auto-flowering or regular strains he wished to cultivate. Naturally, people will have their own criteria of judging other than our own which will make them ultimately decide later on.

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