The term “autoflowing” hemp appears a lot in the hemp and cannabis industry and for those not in the know, it's a little confusing.
After all, don't all hemp plants flower automatically and, if not, what makes these strains different from the rest?
If you're confused by this term and its use, take a look at this guide.
What is Autoflowering Hemp?
An autoflowering hemp plant is one that will flower based on age, and not its exposure to light and dark cycles.
Many plants sense changes in the day/night period, a process known as photoperiodism (“photoperiod plants”).
They contain a photoreceptor protein that detects changes in the length of light and dark to know when it's time to flower.
These changes essentially tell the flower when it's Spring/Summer, etc.,
An autoflowering plant will undergo these changes regardless of the day or night cycle.
They switch from a vegetative growth to the flowering stage based purely on the age of the plant—the length of time it has been in the ground.
Where Does Autoflowering Hemp Come From?
The origins of autoflowering hemp and cannabis are highly debated, but it's believed that the first autoflowering strains were bred from Ruderalis cannabis, along with other cannabis varieties.
Pros of Autoflowering Hemp
Autoflowering hemp strains go from seed to flower very quickly, but they can still produce high-quality buds with high levels of CBD. It makes them a great choice for producing a rapid turnover of premium hemp flowers.
More importantly, it allows outdoor growers to produce multiple crops per year, which wouldn't be possible with photoperiod plants.
Autoflowering hemp plants can also be kept in the same environment and don't need to be moved into different areas to cater for the different vegetative growth and flowering stages.
Cons of Autoflowering Hemp
Although autoflowering hemp produces high-quality flowers for the most part, there are those who insist otherwise and argue that photoperiod crops will always produce the best plants.
This might be true to an extent, but it's quite a big trade-off considering how much more hemp an autoflowering grower can produce over the course of the year.
It has also been argued that the yield is far too low from autoflowering hemp plants, although that is much less of a problem than it was, as strains have improved considerably over the last couple of years.
Indoor vs Outdoor
Some growers consider the use of autoflowering strains to be redundant for indoor use, as farmers can simulate the light/dark cycles needed to trigger flower growth.
They may benefit more from photoperiod plants and the higher yield and quality provided, as there are fewer benefits from autoflowering strains.
It's a different story with outdoor growth, though, and a hemp farmer can get a much higher annual yield by using an autoflowering hemp varietal.
What is the Difference Between Autoflowering and Feminized?
A feminized seed is one that has been modified to ensure it produces a female plant (it's not a guarantee, but the ratio of male seeds is extremely low).
Both autoflowering plants and photoperiod plants can be modified in this manner, so you can get feminized autoflowering strains.
Such a strain will allow you to increase your yield and will make it easier to grow under sub-optimal conditions, as you don't need to worry about producing an abundance of male plants or relying on seasonal changes to trigger flower growth.