Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis se There are important differences between regular, feminized (Photoperiod) and autoflower seeds. Curious to the differences and what to choose? Autoflowering vs Feminized Cannabis – What exactly are the main differences between these two types of cannabis seed? Which one is a better?
Autoflower vs. Feminized vs Regular (Photoperiod): A Easy to Understand Guide
Autoflower, feminized, and photoperiod (regular) are all options you may be confronted with when it comes time to buy cannabis seeds. Autoflowering promises predictable growth, with no need to fuss with light schedules. Feminized seeds promise no wasted space or time sexing out males. Photoperiod (or normal cannabis seeds) are needed for breeding, experimenting and guaranteed rigorous growth.
But is this too much technical cultivation lingo too soon? Every grower has an opinion about what type of seed is best, but it always comes down to growth expectations, space restrictions, and personal opinion.
Here are the basic details on autoflower versus feminized versus old-fashioned, unadulterated normal cannabis seeds. By the end, you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision.
Autoflowering Strains 101
Autoflowering strains of cannabis have genetics that guarantees flowering on a predictable schedule. Regular photoperiod plants need changes in the day/night light schedule to trigger a transition from vegetative into flower. Autoflower, as the name suggests, will launch into flower at the appointed time, no matter what.
A typical auto-flowering strain will be ready to harvest between 60 to 90 days after germination. Conventional photoperiod varieties take a minimum of 90 days but can run upwards of six or seven months, depending on the environment and cultivator preference.
Why are auto-flowering varieties different? They contain ruderalis genetics. This is a third landrace strain, like indica and a sativa. Thanks to comprehensive cannabis breeding programs, most established and popular strains are available in regular and auto-flowering varieties.
Autoflowering is useful for pumping out several harvests in the same time it would take to grow a single conventional variety. They also grow smaller (perfect for small indoor spaces) and are more predictable in growth rate and pattern. As a bonus, you will be able to sex your plants within roughly 21 days and maintain the same light schedule (18:6) for the entire operation.
According to experienced cultivators, it can be nice to grow a few auto-flowering varieties while you veg out the main regular strains. The small size also works well for Sea of Green cultivation.
The problem with autoflower strains? Compared with their regular counterparts, their harvests are smaller, including bud size and quantity. Many people also feel that even the cannabinoid and terpene profiles are not as good as the normal varieties.
Feminized Seeds 101
Feminized seeds are preselected female seeds. They are photoperiod, not autoflowering, which means you’ll use changes in light to trigger the flowering.
The benefit of spending the extra money on feminized seeds is that there is little to no risk of wasting time on sexing males. According to some reports, regular seeds run the risk of producing a male approximately a third of the time.
For small-scale indoor operations, or those legally capped at a strict number of plants, feminized seeds make a lot of sense. Why waste time and resources raising a male when you can start with already-feminized seeds?
Feminized seeds are a human-made creation. Breeders and seed sellers use colloidal silver or other chemicals to inhibit ethylene production in a female plant before it goes to seed. Ethylene is a hormone produced during flower by cannabis plants. The treated plants result in almost 100 percent female seeds.
Feminized seeds are specialized and are therefore more expensive to produce and, for the consumer, more expensive to buy. But, many growers prefer feminized seeds because they make growing that much smoother.
Still, even feminized seeds come with a risk. The chemical retardation of ethylene production also increases the risk of developing a hermaphrodite plant, which can appear far later than a male. As per one forum post, “The way I look at feminized seeds, simply put they are hermaphrodites in disguise. Yes, you are more likely to produce females yet they still carry the herm gene.”
Regular (Photoperiod) Seeds 101
Regular seeds produced the way nature intended them are photoperiod. They will need transitions in light schedule and will grow both male and female plants. Female cannabis plants produce seeds when exposed to pollen produced by male plants. It’s the birds and the bees, cannabis edition.
There is a long-standing tradition among growers to value the vigour, variety, and purity offered by regular seeds. There are notable differences in the quantity between auto-flowering strains and their regular counterparts, but what about regular and feminized differences?
These differences may be more lore than reality. To be sure, using synthetic chemicals or colloidal silver to produce feminized seeds can pose risks to both the plant and the people, but there are methods of executing this safely these days.
To date, there is no real evidence (scientific or cultivator case study) that indicates feminized seeds show any less vigour, yield or resin production than the regular seeds.
Regular seeds are much cheaper than feminized. Many growers, who have space, may want to take the birds and the bees into their own hands to maintain genetics or breed new experiments. Having male plants around, when done correctly, is a valuable endeavour.
What is Best for Cultivators: Autoflower, Feminized or Regular?
What convinces a cultivator to grow auto-flower versus regular, or feminized versus regular? Often it comes down to cultivation experience, the primary goal for the harvest, and time or space constraints.
Small indoor spaces, growing one round at a time, may want to stick with autoflower strains. Larger operations looking to sell their harvests but need to stick to a specific plant count may choose feminized. Finally, those who love a traditional approach and are blessed with lots of space will likely stick with regular photoperiod seeds.
As always, there are as many opinions on the matter as there are people growing weed.
Guide to the Differences Between Autoflower, Feminized (photoperiod) and Regular Seeds
When planning to buy weed seeds, you will notice three specific categories. They are autoflower, feminized (photoperiod), and regular seeds. Each one is different in terms of cultivation and yield size, and some are more popular than others. It is necessary to get familiar with each type to determine which one is best for you.
The difference between autoflowering and feminized seeds
As the name suggests, autoflower seeds are designed to bloom automatically. Meanwhile, feminized seeds only have the genetics to become female plants and flower after receiving more than 12 hours a day of darkness.
Both types will produce a quality yield, but they each have notable characteristics.
Autoflowering vs Feminized (photoperiod)
|Cultivation||Easy||Easy to moderate|
|Plant height||Small to medium||Medium to tall|
|Start flowering||2-4 weeks after planting||When receiving 12/12 light and darkness|
|Average time – seed to harvest||10-16 weeks||12-24 weeks|
|Yield||Low – medium||Medium – high|
Are Autoflower Seeds Less Potent?
Overall, plants from autoflower weed seeds are not less potent than feminized seeds. Originally, autoflower seeds came from the Ruderalis plant. The species of cannabis generally has lower levels of THC, making it less vigorous. So, many growers consider autoflower seeds to be less potent than feminized ones.
Nowadays, it is not always the case. More and more cannabis Ruderalis plants are getting crossbred to create hybrid strains. As a result, you can find autoflower seeds with high amounts of THC. While some strains are still less potent than many feminized seeds, an autoflower plant can still produce a quality harvest.
The difference between feminized and regular seeds
As mentioned before, feminized cannabis seeds are the result of agronomic techniques to get rid of the chance for a male plant. On the other hand, regular seeds are completely natural. They are not genetically engineered and have no chemicals. Regular seeds will produce male and female plants in a crop.
Feminized and regular seeds can be somewhat similar, but they also have different characteristics. Growers usually look at the differences to determine which one is right for them. Traits can include yield size, cultivation, and ability to make new seeds.
Feminized seeds vs regular
|Cultivation||Easy – moderate||Moderate|
|Suitable for cannabis pollen||No||Yes|
|Suitable for cloning||Yes||Yes|
|Yield||Medium – high||Medium|
Are feminized seeds less potent?
Some growers believe that feminized marijuana seeds are more potent. Others think that regular seeds win in this department. Overall, there do not seem to be many differences in potency. Some feminized strains can produce higher levels of THC. However, regular seeds can be more potent, especially when talking about hybrid weed seeds.
If a feminized seed is less effective than a regular one, it could be due to lower-quality genes. A less vigorous regular cannabis plant may also be the result of bad parent genetics. Growers still creating the most potent regular and feminized seeds.
What to choose: Regular, Feminized or Autoflower seeds?
Plenty of growers enjoy autoflower and feminized weed seeds for convenience. Others prefer regular strains for potential new versions or because it is natural. The best one may depend on what you would like from it. Several factors could influence which type you choose. For example, you might want buds with a specific flavor or aroma.
The benefits of an autoflower strain are its shorter lifecycle and more resilient genetics. However, autoflower seeds can have a smaller yield size, and they do not create quality clones. Feminized strains are easier to prune, but this type cannot produce interesting hybrids on their own.
One benefit of regular seeds is that they can result in healthy clones. The downside is that they can be unpredictable. Your yield can get smaller if you cull male plants from the crop. Choosing the best seed type also can depend on the person growing it.
Feminized seeds are great for beginners and growers who have some experience. After all, the cultivation difficulty is on a moderate level. If a person is new to growing cannabis seeds, they do not need to worry about separating males and females. However, growers have to be more mindful of the lighting schedule since the flowering stage is dependent on cycles.
Autoflower weed seeds are a good option for people who are new to the cannabis scene. Cultivation is simple, and the flowering stage depends on age. You do not need to pay as much attention as you would to other types of seeds.
Regular cannabis seeds are likely going to be used by growers who have a more skilled hand. The flowering stage also depends on a light cycle, so you would need to be mindful of how much light and darkness the plant gets. You have to keep an eye on the sex of the plant if you want to prevent unwanted pollination.
Autoflowering vs Feminized Cannabis – Main Differences
Choosing between autoflowering vs feminized seeds is, without a doubt, one of the most important decisions a grower has to face when growing cannabis, whether indoors or outdoors. Nowadays, this botanical discipline offers endless possibilities, making it easier depending on the demands and techniques of each grower, as well as climatology, room and the objective of the grow.
This post is going to address the main differences between autoflowering seeds and feminized strains. There are plenty of things to take into account regarding their morphology and whether the grow takes place outdoors or indoors. This article intends to sort out the doubts that come up when growing strong cannabis plants that grow dense flowers full of resin.
Autoflowering vs Feminized: The Eternal Debate
The first thing worth making clear is that autoflowering and feminized terminologies aren’t fully accurate, although they are popularly among the cannabis community. This is because most autoflowering seeds are actually feminized; therefore it would be more exact to classify them as autoflowering and photoperiod dependent. Their main difference is the light dependence during the different life cycles.
While photoperiod dependent strains require 18 to 12 hours of daily light to start flowering, autoflowering plants can be on the same light schedule throughout their entire life cycle, as they instinctively regulate, moving on to the generative phase, which usually happens around 3-4 weeks after the germination.
Feminized strains were created to avoid male plants within grows; while autoflowering plants are due to the Ruderalis gene and normally aimed at less experienced growers, as they are easier to grow and work with; though less productive than photoperiod ones.
Feminized vs Autoflowering: Grow Differences
Both types of seeds gather numerous differences that make growers choose according to their preferences and possibilities. Hereunder, we are going to explain the main differences that all doubtful growers should know before deciding.
- The main difference is in the flowering period. Autoflowering plants do it automatically; while feminized plants grown indoors require manual light adjustment, going from 18 hours of light to 12.
- Outdoors, feminized strains are weather dependent. The perfect moment to grow them in the northern hemisphere is between March and June. The plants are ready for harvest between September and November.
Other important aspects
- The other main difference is the capacity to grow various crops in the same year. While feminized strains under direct sunlight only have one season; autoflowering strains can produce up to 3-4 crops per year, depending on the variety and climatology of the area.
- Another aspect worth considering is their growth difficulty. Photoperiod dependent strains have a longer life cycle. This requires more experience and basic knowledge in order to sow at the right moment and avoid future crop problems. However, being able to control plants’ development in indoor grows means that if there are any nutritional deficiencies, the vegetative phase can be made longer and the flowering period can be delayed until the situation is restored.
- Feminized strainsproduce larger yields than automatic seeds, whether indoors or outdoors, due to their morphology and physiology.
- It’s worth mentioning that automatic seeds are more resistant towards possible over fertilizations; whereas feminized plants require certain precision when it comes to administering nutrients.
- Due to their fast growth and short life cycle, don’t prune autoflowering plants during their vegetative growth. They won’t have enough time to recover from the stress, like feminized strains would. Automatic strains aren’t suitable for transplantation, feminized plants are.
- Autoflowering plants are the result of crossing sativa or indica strains with a Ruderalis. therefore, they are very vigorous in comparison to feminized plants.
- Autoflowering strains can only grow from a seed while feminized seeds can also grow from cuttings or clones. Therefore, feminized mother plants can be growing for as long as necessary.
Morphological Differences Between Both Varieties
Apart from growth techniques and other characteristics previously mentioned, autoflowering and feminized varieties also hold morphological differences. All of them are easily recognizable, thus its very important to know them well in order to choose accordingly.
- Automatic strains are normally quite short in comparison to photoperiod dependent varieties. Most of them don’t grow past 1 meter. This compact appearance could be a disadvantage to some growers. Although for others (especially those with less experience), it’s an excellent solution. They are easy to work with in reduced spaces. They are also more discreet, therefore ideal for balconies, terraces and guerrilla grows.
- Feminized strains do allow all sorts of pruning techniques to control their height and shape their. Therefore, by extending the vegetative period or seeding earlier, plants will reach a greater size.
- The calyx/leaf ratio is also better in feminized strains. Autos tend to form too many leaves, which makes it harder to harvest the buds. On the other hand, photoperiodic strains vary their appearance depending on whether they have sativa or indica genes. Autoflowering strains’ leaves are similar to Ruderalis, with 5 to 7 wide leaflets.
- Regarding buds,feminized strains (specially indicas) feature greater density and produce more resin around the flowers than autoflowering ones. This means more intense flavors and aromas. Automatic strains normally have lower THC content than photoperiod cultivars due to their Ruderalis genes.
Other differences Between Feminized vs Autoflowering Cannabis Plants
Although we have explained the vast majority of the differences between feminized and autoflowering varieties; there are still certain differences regarding stress exposure. For example, light contamination doesn’t affect autoflowering strains; but photoperiodic plants are very sensitive to inadequate light changes throughout each life cycle.
Feminized strains normally feature more cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes’ content, which guarantee a good quality yield. However, thanks to the constant investigation and development that most seed banks perform; the differences have become a bit less obvious over the years.
A Personal Choice
There are no reasons or arguments to categorically assert that one seed type is better than the other one. By knowing all the advantages, disadvantages, differences and similarities, a grower will have to make a decision based on experience, technique, space and available time to take care of the grow. Take everything into consideration before choosing between feminized and autoflowering seeds.