Making your autoflower seed of your favorite strain is the dream of many marijuana cultivators. The next generation seed will have many favorable aspects of the ruderalis plant such as a fast growth cycle. What is the point of autoflower breeding? Is it possible to cross an autoflower strain with a photoperiod strain? We will answer these questions by delving into the characteristics of autoflower plants and the aspects of autoflower breeding.
Brief Autoflower Overview
Nearly every autoflowering strains grow faster than regular indica or Sativa strains. In just 10 weeks, your auto seeds will become a flowering plant that produces high building buds. This is half the time it takes for an average cannabis seed to grow into a mature plant.
Another desirable trait of auto plants is their compact size. Most plants will barely grow more than 1.2 meters in height. Their sizes make them suitable for modest grow gardens, which allow for discreet cultivation of your marijuana stash.
Photoperiod or regular cannabis plants can only end their vegetative phase when their lighting schedule changes from 16 – 18 hours of daylight to only 12 hours. If they are to go through the 16 – 18 hours light schedule from the flowering phase, they will go through a secondary vegetative cycle. This cycle should be avoided as it can affect a plant’s yield.
As the name suggests, automatic plants can enter the flowering stage of their life cycles even without any change with the light schedule they are going through. The trait allows the plants to receive 16 – 18 hours of daylight with less risk of a secondary vegetative phase.
These traits are due to the genetics of ruderalis cannabis strains. Ruderalis plants have evolved to withstand a hostile environment.
Breeding Marijuana Strains
Breeding marijuana plants to create new strains is possible through selective crossbreeding. The goal of the process is to produce a stable offspring that has the desirable trait you want from either of the two parents.
Take note that you will not immediately get an offspring with the traits you are looking for after breeding two different marijuana strains. The first generation of hybrid plants will have a varying degree of characteristics from their parents. You may have an offspring that has the aroma and effects of the father while another has more of the mother’s side.
The best way to produce a hybrid with specific characteristics you want involves backcrossing. This involves finding an offspring with most of the target traits and breed it with the parent strain that has a characteristic you want. The idea here is to manipulate the specific characteristics you want on an offspring and removing the traits you want to be left out.
As you can see, breeding marijuana strains can take a significant amount of time and effort. This is due to the process of growing multiple offspring plants to find one with most of the traits you want to work into the next generation. Attempting to create a new strain by growing a few offspring seeds is not feasible.
Autoflower Breeding and Photoperiod Plants
The breeding process is simple if you are crossing two marijuana strains with similar traits. When it comes to autoflower plants, attempting to create a stable generation can be very difficult. This is due to the recessive ruderalis genetics of automatic plants and the dominant genetics of photoperiod strains.
The recessive genetics makes it hard for the offspring of both an autoflower and photoperiod plant to obtain the automatic traits. Because of photoperiod’s dominant genetics, most of the offspring plants will have photoperiod characteristics.
While the first generation of plants may only show the traits of their photoperiod parents, it still has the ruderalis genetics within them. Backcrossing the plant that has even the slightest trace of ruderalis characteristics with its autoflower strain parent can yield better results. Some of the second generations of marijuana plants may show its ruderalis traits such as a compact height.
Continue backcrossing healthy generations of hybrids with the autoflower strain to make the ruderalis genetics become dominant. After several generations, you should see an offspring with both the autoflower and photoperiod traits that you are aiming for.
Pointers in Breeding Autoflower Plants
The key to creating a stable generation of autoflower plants with photoperiod traits is the plant’s health. You want to make sure your automatic plants have a sufficient supply of proper nutrition that will help them with the growth development and seed production. This also includes providing your plants the proper lighting on specific stages of their growth cycle if you are cultivating them indoors.
It is also important to have the seed-producing plants in an isolated area that is closed off from your bud producing plants. Pollens can easily reach any female plant and replace your buds with seeds. This may seem like an ideal scenario when it comes to breeding automatic and photoperiod strains. However, a single plant can generate around 10 seeds or more. This is enough for most garden setup.
By now, you know the process and efforts that come with breeding marijuana plants. You are also now familiar with why creating new autoflower strains is hard. Fortunately, the process is not impossible and you should see progress in your experimentation within several generations.
The effort takes to make new strains to enrich people’s lives are worth it. Take it from Melissa Etheridge, a cancer patient that found refuge in marijuana than painkillers. She said, “I decide to take the natural approach by smoking weed instead of taking prescription drugs.”