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Normal cannabis seeds begin flowering based on the ratio of light and dark hours they receive, an indication that the seasons are changing. Autoflowering cannabis seeds begin to flower automatically, no seasonal indicator necessary.
Most autoflowering seeds produce smaller plants, usually two feet tall or less. Autoflowering plants can be expected to flower at three weeks of growth. The whole plant will in its flowering stage by 10 weeks. Harvest typically comes within 13 weeks.
Efficiency is the greatest advantage of autoflowering cannabis seeds. They will go into the flowering stage even with constant sunlight 24 hours a day. Standard cannabis plants that require clear changes in light in order to flower will not grow as fast as autoflower plants. One great advantage of this is that more than one harvest can be produced in a single season, even outdoors and in city environments.
Most autoflower cannabis strains are created by crossbreeding either an indica or sativa with the ruderalis. Many botanists consider cannabis ruderalis to be either a separate species or a subspecies of cannabis. Its origins are Asia and central and eastern Europe, specifically areas with short growing seasons or extreme climates. The ruderalis flowering cycle is informed by its maturity as opposed to periods of light. As such, crossbreeding indica or sativa with ruderalis creates an autoflowering seed.
Ruderalis on its own has very little THC, not enough to get high from smoking it. However, when it is combined with standard indicas and sativas to produce autflower seeds, the resulting marijuana with THC concentrations in the low 20s percentage-wise.
The popularity of feminized cannabis seeds comes from its extremely high-yielding crops of all female flowers. When growing standard cannabis, if a grower does not identify and get rid of male plants early on, they will fertilize the females. This will lower the harvest by causing the female plants to use their energy to produce seeds instead of all their energy going toward growing buds.
The ideal cannabis plant for those concerned with harvest sized is called the sensimilla cannabis plant, or a non-fertilized female. These plants produce the most hearty flowers possible.
Feminized seeds have evolved over time. Early on, they were fairly unreliable, so spending the extra money wasn’t usually worth it. The reason for this stems from how they were produced. A female plant had to be stressed into becoming a hermaphrodite plant that would self-pollinate as well as pollinate nearby plants. The seeds that came from this process were then considered to be feminized because they came from female plants alone. Unfortunately, many resulting seeds ended up being hermaphrodites themselves with the ability to fertilize itself and other plants.
Now feminized seeds can be developed through a few methods that are much more reliable. One is natural. Many female cannabis strains produce a few male flowers at the end of their flowering stage. This is a sign that the buds are ready for harvest. By harvesting the pollen from these few male flowers (it’s not much pollen, but it works well nonetheless), feminized seeds can be produced. Technology has also found ways to induce male flowers in female plants as well using Silver Nitrate, Silver Thiosulfate, and Gibberellic Acid.