Photoperiod cannabis plants are the traditional type of cannabis. Their flowering phase is triggered by changes in the light cycle. In nature, this corresponds to the shorter days of late summer and early fall. When growing indoors, the grower triggers this artificially with a light timer.
Light Dependent: Photoperiod plants require specific light schedules – generally, 16-20 hours of light per day during the vegetative stage, and 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to initiate flowering.
Longer Growing Cycle: They typically have a longer grow cycle, allowing for more time to recover from stress and training techniques.
Higher Yields: Given the longer growing period and ability to recover and grow, they often produce higher yields.
What are Autoflowering Cannabis Plants?
Autoflowering cannabis strains are relatively new and are gaining popularity for their unique growing characteristics. These plants automatically switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage with age, regardless of the light cycle. Once they’re germinated, they’re on their own biological timer – a race to the finish.
Light Independent: Autoflowering plants don’t require changes in the light cycle to start flowering. They can flower under almost any light schedule, often thriving on 18 hours of light throughout their lifecycle.
Shorter Growing Cycle: They usually have a significantly shorter grow cycle, often ready for harvest in as little as 10 weeks from seed.
Resilient and Compact: These plants are usually smaller and more resilient, making them ideal for discreet growing or limited spaces.
Comparing Photoperiod and Autoflowering Cannabis
Growing Environment and Control:
Photoperiod plants offer more control to the grower. You can keep them in the vegetative stage as long as you want by manipulating light schedules.
Autoflowering plants are more ‘set and forget,’ ideal for beginners or those who prefer a low-maintenance approach.
Yield and Size:
Photoperiod plants generally yield more, given their size, their ability to be trained and longer growing time.
Autoflowering plants are smaller, but their quick turnaround can mean multiple harvests in the time it takes for one photoperiod cycle.
Potency and Quality:
The potency and quality can vary significantly between both types, though advances in breeding have led to high-quality autoflowering strains, making them competitive with photoperiod strains.
Training and Pruning:
Photoperiod plants are better suited for training techniques like topping and pruning, as they have more time to recover. Training can lead to significantly increased yields.
Autoflowering plants, due to their quick life cycle, are less tolerant of stress from extensive training. We don’t usually do training on autoflowering cannabis plants.
Which One Should You Choose?
Your choice between photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis plants depends on several factors:
Desired Yield: If you’re aiming for a larger yield, photoperiod plants are preferable.
Space and Environment: Limited space or less control over growing conditions might make autoflowering plants a better choice.
Growing Cycle Preference: For quicker harvests, go with autoflowering; for a more controlled and involved cultivation process, choose photoperiod.
Both photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis plants have their unique advantages and challenges. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision about which type of cannabis plant best suits your needs and growing conditions.
Always remember to comply with local laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation.