How To Get The Biggest Yields With Autoflowering Cannabis
Autoflowers have finally earned the respect they deserve. More importantly, they have earned a place in your grow room. With our guide to achieving maximum yields, you will crop the biggest harvest possible from your autoflowers!
TAKING AUTOFLOWERING CANNABIS YIELDS TO THE LIMIT
Autoflowers grow blazingly fast and don’t rely on light hours to enter bloom. As they make growing weed a lot more convenient, autoflowering strains have become very popular as more high-quality strains appear on the market.
There are several things growers can do to encourage bigger yields from their autoflowers.
1. START AUTOFLOWERS IN THEIR FINAL CONTAINERS
Autoflowering cannabis will race from seedling to stash in a quick 60–90 days. When autos are stressed too much or their growth is otherwise slowed, they will still bloom at the same time, and your yields will suffer.
To max out yield, you should sow seeds directly into their final containers. Alternatively, you can germinate them using the paper towel method (or whatever your preferred germination method may be) and then put them straight into large pots. A healthy root zone must be fostered early.
2. USE BIGGER POTS
The bigger the pot, the more the roots will develop and the bigger your plant will be. If you constrain it in a pot that’s too small, your plant’s development and production will be reduced. It is recommended that you use 15–20-litre pots to maximise results without overwhelming your plants. A pot that is too big will be a waste of substrate and fertiliser.
3. CONSIDER POT MATERIAL
A healthy and strong root system means healthy plants with great yields. Consider “smart pots”, like the RQS fabric pot, to give you an advantage in this domain. With their ability to prevent plants from becoming root bound, fabric pots are better for overall development.
In addition, fabric pots make it nearly impossible to overwater your cannabis as they facilitate excellent drainage.
4. USE AN AIRY GROWING MEDIUM
Autoflowers grow fast and vigorously, and have only a limited time to do so. Because of that, you want to support their growth in every way possible. A loose and airy growing medium makes it easier for your autoflowers to develop a strong root system.
If the substrate is too compact, you can make it suitable for autoflowers by adding some perlite and coco coir. See our article here for more tips on the best soil for your autoflowers.
5. ADD A ROOT STIMULANT
Another way to support root development is by adding a root stimulant. One good way to do this is by introducing beneficial fungi into your growing medium. Mycorrhizal fungi increase nutrient and water uptake, protect plants from disease, and generally encourage an optimal growing environment.
Easy Roots – Mycorrhiza Mix
6. START SEEDLINGS INDOORS
Whether you are planning an indoor or an outdoor grow, make sure to start your seedlings indoors.
As you and your plants are on the clock from day one, you want to ensure your seedlings root well. A cool white CFL, appropriate LED, or even a sunny windowsill are adequate. Just make sure vegetative growth goes smoothly; ready or not, your autoflowers will bloom on schedule.
7. SUPPORT PLANT STRUCTURE
Staking or plant support of some kind may be needed to keep your plants upright and their buds healthy.
There are several ways you can go about this. Bamboo stakes and strings, trellis netting, or tomato plant cages can all be used to help a plant carry its heavy load. If you want more tips, see this article on five ways to support heavy buds.
8. OPT FOR 18 HOURS OF LIGHT
Opinions differ on whether keeping plants under a constant 24-hour light cycle is beneficial. 18/6 is still the most common, and will save you money on energy.
Indeed, you could potentially grow them with less light, but we are aiming for a huge harvest, so you’ll want to provide them with as many lumens as possible. More light, more buds. Easy.
When grown outdoors, your autoflowers will thrive in the fine summer weather. Sunlight for 18 hours is not essential because Mother Nature’s grow lamp is infinitely more powerful than any artificial bulb.
9. USE REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER
Your water may be fluoridated or chlorinated, or may contain other impurities that hinder healthy microbial growth in the soil. In short, if your domestic water is unsuitable for drinking, it won’t do good for your cannabis plants either. You can solve this by using reverse osmosis water.
Simply spoken, reverse osmosis is a filtration process that results in pure, ultra-filtered water. With this, you are in total control of the mineral profile of your water. This can benefit the growth of your plants and your yield.
10. DIAL IN NUTRIENTS AND PH
Autoflowers are usually smaller, so they drink and eat less compared to large photoperiod plants. If you’re using ordinary cannabis nutrients, a good idea is to start out with 50% or even 25% of the recommended dose.
Soil growers are advised to use lightly fertilised soil for autoflowering cannabis. Heavily fertilised soils will burn these babies. Aside from supplements like enzymes, vitamin B, and beneficial fungi, autoflowers don’t really require large doses of base nutrients during their short vegetative stage. Heck, with good-quality soil, your plants may do just fine without additional nutes all the way to harvest.
If you must add nutrients to the soil early on, do so sparingly. Generally, bloom nutrients and boosters are all that’s needed during their life cycle. Even in flowering, low to medium doses of nutrients will suffice. Over-fertilising plants is a common yield-thwarting mistake autoflower growers often make.
Easy Combo Booster Pack
If the pH is off, your plants can’t uptake nutrients even if they are present. The correct pH for your water when growing in soil is 6.0–7.0. With a few drops of pH up or down products, you can adjust your water to the correct pH window.
11. PRIORITISE CLIMATE CONTROL
Seedlings and young plants prefer a more humid environment, while flowering plants require significantly less humidity to avoid mould and rot.
At times, just a simple standing fan or leaving a window open is all that’s needed to create an optimal growing environment. If that doesn’t cut it, look into solutions such as a heater or air conditioner for your grow room.
12. USE CO₂
It is scientifically proven that plants use CO₂ as fuel for photosynthesis, and with more CO₂ in your grow space, there should be a noticeable difference in growth rate and size.
The thing is, it only makes sense to provide your plants with CO₂ if all the other conditions in your grow room are already optimal. If there are issues with temperature, humidity, water, or nutrients, address these first before looking into a more elaborate (and expensive) CO₂ system.
13. TRAIN YOUR PLANTS
Low-stress training (LST) is a non-destructive training technique that even beginners can use. As the name implies, it is a minimally invasive technique that doesn’t involve any major damage to plants.
All you do is carefully bend and tie down the stem and branches to encourage lateral growth. This way, more bud sites are exposed to your grow light, resulting in fatter nugs and bigger harvests.
If you’re an expert grower and not afraid to put a knife to your plants, you can see whether topping will work for you. Just ensure that everything else is under control before looking into these more-involved plant training techniques.
14. USE SEA OF GREEN (SOG)
The sea of green, or SOG, method involves growing many small plants in close proximity to max out space and yields. This is especially effective in otherwise small grow-ops, and there is no better candidate than autoflowering strains. Their fast growth and short stature essentially do everything for you. Plus, no pruning or excessive handling is needed.
15. USE PROGRESSIVE HARVESTING
It normally happens that the flowers at the top of the canopy mature faster than those at the bottom. Simply clip off the individual buds that are ready, and wait for the rest to ripen. Wait 1–2 weeks between each harvest and watch for signs that they’re ready to pick. Most autoflowering plants only require two cycles of progressive harvesting, but larger plants may need more.
16. DOCUMENT, REFINE, AND REPEAT
Nobody is born a master cannabis grower. To become an expert, you want to pay attention and carefully record each process used in your grow. Only this way will you notice which techniques render the best yields.
Something can always go wrong when growing cannabis. The key to high yields is swiftly and smartly identifying problems as they occur. As you refine your processes, the health and yields of your plants will improve over time.
THE TOP 5 HIGHEST YIELDING RQS AUTOFLOWERING STRAINS 2020
Perhaps more important than any other factor listed above, genetics have a huge influence on a given strain’s production potential. So, before we conclude our guide on achieving maximum yields with autoflowers, here is a list of the highest-yielding autoflowers from Royal Queen Seeds.
1. NORTHERN LIGHT AUTOMATIC
Northern Light is a legendary cannabis strain that derives from Afghan indica genetics. First bred in the 1970s US, and coming to Europe in the 80s, this indica is still a favourite among many cannabis lovers. The autoflowering variant Northern Light Automatic shines with all the goodies of the “big one”, without compromising on flavour and effect. Moreover, she is one of the highest-yielding autoflowers out there with a whopping 550g/m² indoors. She pleases with a sweet, earthy pine flavour and a cerebral effect that is happy and uplifting.
Autoflowering cannabis has come of age now both potent and productive. With our simple 10 step guide, your next autoflowering marijuana harvest will be huge.
What’s the highest-yielding autoflowering strain?
Auto-flowering strains are kind of like the “houseplant” version of weed. I’m a big fan of autoflowering cannabis strains for first-time growers, but also for anyone who wants to achieve a lot of potent buds in a short amount of time with a lot of flexibility. Auto-flowering strain options today are enormous, and there is an autoflowering strain that will satisfy almost any grower’s needs.
Autoflowering plants produce great yields when you choose the right strains
Note: Other strains of cannabis are “photoperiod” strains. Photoperiod strains require special light periods to make buds (“photo” refers to light; photoperiod stands for “light period”). Photoperiod cannabis strains only make buds if they get 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness every day. Buds can dry up and die if you unintentionally expose photoperiod plants to light during their dark period. No grower wants that!
An autoflowering plant can feel more simple to grow than a traditional/photoperiod strain of cannabis because they automatically start making buds (hence the name) after about 3 weeks. They don’t need special light schedules or any input from you whatsoever. With autoflowering plants, you basically just plant a seed and wait. Keep your plant alive and healthy with plenty of light and you’ll harvest buds in 2-3 months.
Grow an autoflowering strain to harvesting buds in 2-3 months!
Autoflowering cannabis strains come with a lot of benefits for home growers:
- Quicker Harvest – 2-3 months from seed to harvest compared to 3-5 months on average for photoperiod strains. Autoflowering strains give you buds sooner with less of a time commitment.
- Check on Plants Whenever – Flowering photoperiod strains need a daily 12-hour dark period and even a small light leak can cause buds to dry up and die. That means no checking on your photoperiod plants during their “night”. Having plants off-limits for 12 hours a day can be surprisingly annoying if you have a busy or erratic schedule. Autoflowering plants don’t care about light periods so you can check on them at any time. Much more convenient.
- Plants Stay Small – It’s easy to accidentally produce enormous photoperiod plants (I had to bend over one of my first plants because it hit the top of my closet), while most autoflowering strains stay relatively small due to the short growing period. That makes auto-flowering strains a great choice for growers who prefer a small or easy-to-hide garden.
- Flexibility – Photoperiod plants must be grown in “batches” to ensure all plants make buds at the same time. That’s about 3 harvests a year if you never take time off between grows. You could run out for many months at a time if you have to close down the garden due to moving, going on a long trip, taking a break between grows, etc. Many home growers prefer a steady supply of buds as opposed to getting just a few big harvests a year. You can plant an autoflowering seed whenever you want and always be just 2 months from harvest. Plant an autoflowering seed every week and you’ll soon be harvesting a plant every week. You don’t need to worry about timing your grow so every plant makes buds at the same time. Even if you do grow autoflowering plants in batches, you’ll still be harvesting about every other month instead of just a few times a year.
- Excellent Yields – Despite the short time to harvest, quality autoflowering strains get comparable yields to photoperiod plants of the same size. That’s because they receive up to twice as many hours of light a day while buds are forming. Get big yields, only faster.
But what’s the best autoflowering strain? Which yields the most bud for the least amount of time or effort? And yields are important, but what about potency and bud quality?
Autoflowering Strains with Above Average Yields
- Alaskan Purple Auto by Seedsman – Buds don’t always turn purple (cold nights can help bring out the color) but no matter the color of the buds, the potency and yields are great.
- Amnesia Auto by MSNL – I’ve harvested several of these plants and was pleased with the results every time. Plants can get big but respond well to training. Buds produce strong cerebral effects, and yields were good-to-great.
- Black Jack Auto by Sweet Seeds – These plants responded well to plant training and produced nice yields. I really enjoyed the strong yet unique bud effects of this strain. It reminded me of a sativa/haze with more of a body stone.
- Bloody Skunk Auto by Sweet Seeds – Impressive purple bud color on most plants, great yields, lovely effects, and an overall easy strain to grow.
- Blue Critical Auto by Dinafem – This plant naturally grew wide and bushy with excellent yields and bud quality.
- Cinderella Jack Auto by Dutch Passion – Good yields with dense buds that look nice, but this strain was especially a winner in the potency department. The buds ended up being a fan-favorite due to the strong mental and physical effects.
- Pineapple Express Auto by G13 Labs – An extremely popular autoflowering strain. Plants stay short, are quick-to-harvest even for an auto, and the sparkle-encrusted buds smell like heaven.
- Pink Kush CBD 30:1 by Seedsman – Medicinal strain with under 0.5% THC, beautiful purple buds, quick-to-harvest, tends to stay short.
- THC Bomb Auto by Bomb Seeds – I’ve grown 5 different plants of this strain over multiple grows in different setups, and every one came out marvellous. Easy to grow, great yields, beautiful sparkly buds, and potent effects. Highly recommended!
- Ultimate Auto by Dutch Passion – Average potency buds, but the best yields of any auto-flowering plant I’ve ever grown. Always yields twice as much as the next plant in the tent. However, plants can get big so watch the height! A great choice for someone who wants classic bud effects that aren’t too overwhelming.
- White Widow Max Auto by MSNL – The plants grew big but with a good bushy structure (not too stretchy), responded well to training, and produced enormous yields of high-quality bud.
- Zkittlez Auto by Seedsman – This strain grew fast and healthy with fat buds that smell sweet and look gorgeous.
Recommended Autoflowering Breeders
Many other breeders also produce great auto-flowering strains (Dutch Passion, FastBuds, Barney’s Farm, etc.), but the following breeders stand out for consistency.
- Bomb Seeds
- G13 Labs
- Mephisto – unfortunately, they can’t seem to scale up their operations and strains sell out constantly (keep checking back)
- Sweet Seeds
Get good genetics for a bountiful harvest!
Where Did Autoflowering Strains Come From?
Although I recommend auto-flowering strains now, I’m normally a photoperiod grower and I avoided autoflowering strains for years. Autoflowers used to produce poor bud quality and yields.
Why did auto-flowering strains start off so bad? Autoflowering plants descend from a strain of wild hemp from around Siberia known as Cannabis ruderalis. Although these tiny Ruderalis hemp plants produced minuscule buds with almost no THC, they had a unique “auto-flowering” characteristic.
C. ruderalis – This tiny wild hemp plant is the ancestor of all auto-flowering strains
A forward-thinking breeder thought to cross Ruderalis hemp plants with popular marijuana strains to capture the auto-flowering trait on plants with photoperiod-level buds and yields. The first commercial autoflowering strain “Lowryder” was introduced in the early 2000s, and although buds were subpar, more and more breeders were developing autoflowering strains aimed at home growers.
The original “Lowryder” plants produced small yields and low-potency buds
When I tried growing my first auto-flowering plants in 2015, the buds were still not quite photoperiod quality, but much better than the old Lowryders. By the time I tried autoflowers again in 2018, I finally got the bud quality I was looking for.
My first autoflowering plants in 2015 grew well but the bud potency wasn’t quite there
When I tried autoflowers again in 2018, the results were far better
Several of the strains produced excellent bud quality and potency
As I started figuring out which breeders made the best autoflowering stains, my auto-flowering results kept getting better
I experimented with growing autoflowers in small spaces (the mini tent on the left is only 3 feet tall)
First under fluorescent lights, which got pretty good results
Then under LED grow lights, which worked even better. Autoflowers can produce a lot of bud in a tiny space!
There are now hundreds of auto-flowering strains available that produce buds with a variety of effects and smells. Here are examples of auto-flowering buds I’ve grown.
Ultimate Auto by Dutch Passion (ultimate yields!)
Creme de la Chem Auto by Mephisto Genetics (smooth, tasty, and beautiful)
Cinderalla Jack Auto by Dutch Passion (talk about high potency!)
Amnesia Auto by MSNL (gorgeous buds with captivating effects)
Black Jack Auto by Sweet Seeds (unique soaring bud effects that reminded me of an outdoor Sativa or Haze strain)
I’ve now grown almost 50 different autoflowering strains from several different breeders. Yes, some autoflowering strains are underwhelming, but some strains consistently produce great yields with photoperiod-level bud quality and potency. Auto-flowering breeders finally accomplished what seemed almost impossible. You can get the convenience of auto-flowering plants with the yields and magical quality of photoperiod buds.
Now that you (hopefully) know a little more about the best autoflowering strain for you, I hope grow your own awesome auto-flowering cannabis plants at home!
What’s the highest-yielding autoflowering strain? Auto-flowering strains are kind of like the “houseplant” version of weed. I’m a big fan of autoflowering cannabis strains for first-time growers,