While there are only a handful of recognized species of marijuana, we are currently familiar with more 1000+ cannabis strains, according to The Way of Leaf.
With more than hundreds of combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes that different strains release along with the unique growing patterns, navigating through the cannabis strain market as a cultivator can be confusing!
Photoperiod vs. Autoflowering
When choosing which cannabis strains to grow, cannabis cultivators will typically consider the flowering time taken by their weed plants. One of the critical decisions you will make when you grow marijuana is choosing either photoperiod or autoflowering cannabis strains.
Before you can pick between photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis strains, you need to be familiar with how they are different to achieve the yield you desire.
Photoperiod Cannabis Strain
Before the cannabis plant can flower, it goes through a vegetative state where your weed plant spreads its roots, absorbs nutrients, and prepares to blossom. Photoperiod cannabis strains are known to vegetate for an indefinite period between when they are kept in anything from an 18/6 to a 24/0 light cycle.
As a grower, you can keep your photoperiod cannabis plant in the vegetative stage until you are confident that your plant is ready to flower. This control is particularly useful as this cannabis strain requires at least 4 months to produce a usable yield. Once kept in a 12/12 light cycle (or more than 12 hours of darkness), your photoperiod cannabis plant will flower.
Note: x/n light cycle is x hours in light and n hours in darkness.
What are the benefits of a photoperiod cannabis strain?
The critical advantage of growing a photoperiod cannabis strain is the amount of control that you can leverage in the interest of harvesting richer and resinous flowers from your marijuana plant.
If you are living in a climatic zone where the environmental conditions are less than desirable to promote cannabis plant growth, then you will appreciate keeping your photoperiod weed plants in the vegetative state until they are ready.
Photoperiod cannabis strains can also be cloned to produce an unlimited supply of weed plants with desirable attributes.
Where does the photoperiod cannabis strain fall short?
Photoperiod cannabis plants are more high-maintenance in that they require a precise light cycle to bloom successfully.
Once they are kept in at least 12 hours of darkness daily, they will begin to form pistils in a week. Compared to autoflowering varieties, you need expert knowledge, experience, and equipment to get the most out of your photoperiod cannabis crop.
For weed growers who are just getting started, growing this strain will be bumpy in the beginning as cultivating photoperiod crops requires learning the ropes before you get a hang of it.
Autoflowering Cannabis Strain
Unlike its sister strain, the autoflowering cannabis strain does not need an environmental cue or shift in light cycles to begin flowering. The genetic scheme of autoflowering cannabis plants is such that they flower automatically regardless of the physical conditions where they are growing, thus earning them the name ‘autoflowering’.
It is also worth noting that autoflowering cannabis strains require two months to mature and flower, compared to the four months needed by photoperiod cannabis plants.
What are the benefits of an autoflowering cannabis strain?
Most commercial weed growers are interested in harvesting potent cannabis flowers that develop quickly. Autoflowering cannabis plants begin flowering in as little as five weeks into their growth cycle.
Additionally, you will not have to worry about light cycles and offering adequate light coverage to your autoflowering cannabis plant.
The total crop time for autoflowering varieties is also much lesser compared to photoperiod cannabis strains. Cannabis cultivators will have to keep up with a regular cycle of flowering and harvesting of their autoflowering cannabis plant for maximum results.
Where does the autoflowering cannabis strain fall short?
The compromise with autoflowering cannabis plants is with the amount of control you have as a weed grower.
In a few months, your yield will be ready for harvest, which means that you need to be incredibly hands-on with autoflowering plants.
A short crop cycle also means that autoflowering cannabis plants grow shorter and smaller than their counterpart photoperiod strains. Their buds are packed with relatively less THC and CBD content, owing to how they have had less time to vegetate before blooming.
Autoflowering strains cannot be cloned to replicate desirable attributes from the parent plant.
So, which one is better?
Most weed plant cultivators prefer growing autoflowering varieties because:
- They can be harvested at any time of the year.
- You do not have to worry about light cycles.
- Growing them is easier and quicker.
Whichever cannabis strain you choose, be careful to do your research to know what you are dealing with.