For a bountiful outdoor cannabis harvest, May is the month to start with those seeds in the northern hemisphere as, from the middle of the month, the chances of frost diminish and the ground is nice and warm. Many growers are discovering the advantages that come with growing autoflower cannabis seeds and with careful planning, it is possible to get 2 harvests in a season in northern regions and up to 4 in southern parts (as autos take less than 3 months from seed to harvest)!
When it comes to growing outdoors, autoflower cannabis seeds should be treated just the same as those of photoperiod plants in terms of germination and early stage preparation but the change in approach occurs as the seedlings begin to grow. One of the best bits of advice Paradise Seeds gives to any new grower of autos is to see them not as a ‘mini’ version of feminized photoperiod plants, but in a category of their own.
Due to their accelerated growth, autoflowering marijuana strains will greatly benefit from advanced planning and good management. This is because once the seed is planted the clock is ticking (auto marijuana strains such as VertigoandPandora will be ready to crop within 65 – 75 days.
Insider Tips to Optimize Autoflower Cannabis Seeds Outdoors:
Get The Timing Right
Due to their short life cycle, making the most of available hours of light is essential in producing a big harvest. Autos should be planted between mid May and mid June. Where you are located in the northern hemisphere will affect this (for example, closer to the Mediterranean you can plant earlier, while further north temperatures (especially night time) can still be cold until mid – late May. Plant them too early and the lack of light hours and those chilly nights will probably cause stress leading to accelerated stretching and poor bud development.
Give Auto Seedlings a Safe Environment
Because of the quick growth, many auto growers recommend planting the germinated seed directly into the pot it will be living in to avoid lost grow time due to replanting stress. If planting out early in the season (particularly in northern regions) it is a good idea to create a homemade dome by using a plastic bottle. It’s simple. Cut off the bottom and place the top portion of the bottle over a tender seedling. Unscrew the cap to stop overheating in the day, and if cold at night, replace it for extra snugness! The plastic bottle dome creates a microclimate for the seedling to safely focus its attention on that all important growth.
Get the Grow Medium Right
As autos are so rapid in their growth, there is little opportunity to tweak the grow medium. The pH should be between 5.6 to 6 and creating good aeration in the soil provides drainage and ample opportunity for those roots to spread (for tips on soil additives that will achieve this, check out our soil mix article). Two common mistakes made by those new to growing autos are overwatering – as the plants respond best when there is a little bit of dryness between watering – and over feeding. Autoflower marijuana plants require less fertilization than photoperiod plants, so take it easy on the nutrients. It’s best to give smaller doses and judge the reaction of the plant, and don’t forget that pre-prepared potting soil will have enough nutrients for the seedlings for the first three or four weeks. As always, grow organically, and don’t be afraid to work with natural nutrients in the form of compost or nettle tea.
Plan for Another Harvest This Season!
One thing we hear a lot at Paradise is, “Next year I’m going to grow more autos.” Why? Because outdoor weed growers are always surprised at how good an auto crop is these days. Paradise Seeds is not alone in constantly tweaking and improving its autoflower genetics and these days the quality of the final product really is competitive with the buds produced by photoperiod plants. As mentioned, with au5tos it is possible to get 2 harvests outdoors in northern regions (50° – 52° N) – perhaps even 3 if growing in a glass house or polytunnel – while 4 harvests may be possible in Mediterranean regions. For best results sow seeds 30 days after the last sowing and enjoy autos through the summer!