Breeding Autoflowers: A Simple and Effective Guide

Cannabis plant grow in indoor farm

If you’re anything like me and you’re looking to enjoy non-stop smokes month after month while you save money, then breeding autoflowers might be the right answer to that claim.

Yes, if you take your regular seeds outdoors, we both know you can get that mammoth one-kilo yield, but hey, do you really want to wait 8-9 months before that happens? Also, that means dealing with pests, diseases, nibbling predators, and harsh weather.

Bulk-buying seeds and planting them indoors on a schedule to ensure you harvest every month could also work. However, take my word for it, your wallet is not going to be happy about it.

That said, we can surely agree breeding autos is a winning strategy for regular smokers. For me, I like to give them 4-6 weeks indoors under lights to maximize the autoflower’s vegetative growth and then take them outside.

These plants are quite resistant, so as long as your nighttime temps don’t drop below 10°C these hardy ladies will quickly put in crops.

Pros and Cons of Breeding Autoflowers

As with everything, there are pros and cons. Cannabis growers once discarded autoflowers for having higher CBD concentrations, not exactly what underground smokers were after.

Now, with all the alternative medicine hype, you could say autos are claiming back the spotlight.

Anyways, let’s first see the pros and cons of growing and breeding autoflowers.

Pros of Breeding Autoflowers

Fast Harvests

While you can wait 8-9 months for your outdoor photoperiods to drop their sauce, autos typically take 8-9 weeks to flower.

Stealthy Crops

Auto strains are short and compact plants due to their ruderalis genetics. They usually grow somewhere between 30 cm and 120 cm. Therefore, they’re easier to hide among other crops and perfect for small growing spaces like closets or cabinets.

No Need for Light Cycle Changes

And this last one is one of the main reasons rookie growers love autoflowers. When you’re a beginner, keeping track of autoflower nutrients, water, ventilation, and light cycles sounds intimidating.

Auto strains just flower when they reach their maturity age, regardless of how many light hours they’re getting.

Cons of Breeding Autoflowers

Low Yields

As we made clear above, these are short plants, so don’t expect to get massive yields from them. Though you can usually improve autoflower yields with some simple adjustments to your grow setup.

Maximize Light Exposure

These must stay under increased light exposure throughout the flowering to maximize photosynthesis and energy production.

Lower THC Content

As I said, these were originally discarded for their low THC content. With autoflowers, you probably won’t get the same THC concentration you’d get from an indica or sativa dominant strain.

However, don’t feel like autoflowers are not worth the hassle because of lower yields and THC content. Just remember crossbreeding experimentation is never off the table. Actually, breeders have managed to grow decent yielder autos with decent THC levels.

Steps to Breeding Autoflowers

Alright, without further ado, let me share with you the process I personally use when breeding autoflowers.

breeding autoflowers

Choose your Strain

Experiment a little and find a strain you like in terms of yield, time to harvest, and enjoyment of smoke. If you can, either try more than 3 of each type or at least follow others’ grow histories of the same strain and evaluate if they seem reasonably standard.

Germinate and Sex Them

Buy yourself 20 unfeminised cannabis seeds. Germinate, grow, and sex your marijuana plants in 13 cm pots.

Separate Males

Around day 28 (or as soon as sex shows), separate males into a separate room.

Any space will do: they can cope with a sunny windowsill (if that’s safe for you) or, better still, in a small tent under 2 x 45-watt CFLs for around two weeks. In week 5, choose 3 of the strongest, smelliest males and kill the rest.

After a week, I eradicate two and keep only the best-looking male. You read horror stories about accidental pollination, but touch wood, with a bit of thought (washing hands, not going straight from males to females, etc.) I’ve had no problems keeping my main room pollen-free while my “dads” grew in a small video cabinet in the garage.

Bring Ladies and Males Together

Around weeks 5-6, it’s time for the love action. Now, strictly speaking, if you want to develop a special strain, you would only want to pollinate one branch of a selection of plants (all carefully numbered). That way, when harvest comes, you would be able to cross-reference the seeds from the plant with the highest THC, biggest yield, etc.

But let’s face it, if you just want to collect several seeds for your personal use, this isn’t necessary and is likely to increase the risk of accidental pollination to the rest of the mother plant.

Simply pick your favorite two girls and make your criteria for “favorite” what you will. Obviously, you won’t be able to evaluate yield or smoke at this early stage in the game. Still, you may simply like the look of one plant more than the others (unscientific but often successful), or you may use pointers such as the size of the plant, given the shortness of many autos.

Bring the two lucky ladies into the male room, and rest the male between the pots. Occasionally, I give in to the urge to sing them some Barry White, but the choice of music is up to you.

Kill the Male

Leave for around 4 days until you see some of the pistils turning brown, then kill the male. Don’t be tempted to keep him for any reason. At this point, the male is like your toxic ex. There’s absolutely no further use for him.

Spray the mums well with 1 teaspoon of washing-up liquid to a liter of water twice over two days to ensure you wash away any lingering pollen. You can then take them back to the main chamber

Let the Seeds Mature

The seeds will take around 4-5 weeks to develop. It’s important to let the seeds mature properly on the plant and then to “prove” in a safe and dry atmosphere afterward for 2-3 months.

Ideally, you need your seeds to be the distinctive tiger-striped brown for the best rates of germination.

Voilá, by sacrificing two of ten females, you will easily collect 400-600 viable seeds, which should keep you going for a while.

And that’s how I keep myself well-stashed month after month. So if you’re thinking about giving it a go, let me recommend one of the most reliable seed banks out there.

Happy growing!

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