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Autoflower vs Photoperiod: Which Should You Grow?

Author: Adam

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Posted on 6-7-2024

If you’re starting with growing cannabis, you’ve likely encountered a common dilemma: autoflower vs photoperiod. These are two types of weed seeds according to their flowering, each with distinctive characteristics you should consider before making a final choice.

That’s precisely why we created this guide.

Below, you’ll find a detailed overview of both autoflower and photoperiod cannabis, helping you make the best decision for your cultivation.

The Main Difference Between Autoflower and Photoperiod Cannabis Seeds

The primary difference between autoflowering and photoperiod strains is how they initiate flowering.

Autoflowers don’t rely on specific light cycles to start flowering—they start producing buds automatically approximately five weeks after germination.

In contrast, photoperiod strains depend on specific light cycles to trigger flowering. They typically require at least 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to start the flowering process.

Autoflowering Cannabis: Everything You Need to Know

Autoflower seeds are a blend of sativa or indica strains and ruderalis—a type of cannabis native to regions with harsh, cold climates like Eastern Europe and Siberia. As such, ruderalis has evolved to flower regardless of light cycles.

These plants thrive in almost any environment, and you can expect multiple harvests throughout the year.

When growing autoflowers, you get buds regardless of the amount of light your plants receive. But, while they don’t rely on light-dark cycles to initiate flowering, they still need light to produce the energy necessary for growth. That’s why choosing the best light cycle for your autoflowering plants is essential. Growers typically use 12/12, 18/6, 20/4, or 24/0 cycles (the first number indicates hours of light and the second stands for hours of darkness).

Appearance, Yield, and Growth Specifics 

Autoflowering strains are compact in appearance, usually reaching heights between 23 and 39 in. They have a sturdy structure, and you can enhance lateral growth using low-stress training techniques.

Autos generally yield less than photoperiod varieties. But, their compact size allows more plants to fit in a space, which can compensate for the lower yield. 

They mature quickly, typically taking 8–12 weeks from seed to harvest. This rapid growth allows for quick yields but also means there’s less time to correct any cultivation errors that may arise. Another challenge is cloning autoflowering cannabis because clones start flowering at the same time as their mother plant, which can result in stunted growth.

Benefits and Potential Challenges of Autoflower Seeds

Benefits

  • Multiple harvests per year
  • No need for a light cycle change
  • Small and compact, suitable for indoor and discreet growing

Potential challenges

  • Lower yields
  • Can’t clone autoflowers 
  • Limited time for recovery

Top 5 Autoflowering Strains from DNA Genetics

If you’re looking for cannabis seeds that yield quickly and have premium genetics, the DNA Genetics autoflower collection has them.

Here are the top five best-selling autoflowering seeds from DNA Genetics:

  1. Purple People Eater Auto Seeds
  2. Return Of The Mac Auto
  3. Chemacal Romance Auto
  4. Canelo Auto Seeds
  5. HG23 aka Michael Jordan Auto

Photoperiod Cannabis: Everything You Need to Know

Photoperiod, or regular, cannabis relies on changes in light cycles to transition between growth stages, including flowering.

“Photoperiod” refers to a plant’s sensitivity to the length of day and night. This means these plants require a specific light and dark cycle to initiate the flowering stage. Photoperiod plants usually need at least 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day to begin flowering.

Growers often choose photoperiod cannabis seeds when they aim to maximize yield potential, as photoperiod strains typically produce more buds than autos.

Appearance, Yield, and Growth Specifics 

Photoperiod cannabis plants vary significantly in appearance. Sativas grow tall with sparse nodes and slender, ladder-like leaves, while indicas are bushier with broad-fingered fan leaves. 

Yields also differ: sativa-dominant strains typically yield approximately 18–21 oz/m², while indica varieties yield around 14–21 oz/m².

Growing photoperiod strains requires more care, planning, and attention than autoflowers. You must manage vegetative growth under specific light schedules (usually 18/6 to 24/0), then switch to a 12/12 cycle to induce flowering. You’ll need to invest more effort in pruning and training these plants since these are essential for controlling their size and maximizing yields.

With their longer 12–16 week seed-to-harvest time, you can experiment and optimize your photoperiods. But, the extended growing period also makes them more susceptible to pests and mold. On the plus side, you can effectively clone this type of cannabis.

Benefits and Potential Challenges of Photoperiod Seeds

Benefits

  • Larger yields
  • Opportunities for cloning
  • More time for experimentation and optimization (because of the extended period from seed to flowering)

Potential challenges

  • Longer time from seed to harvest
  • More susceptible to mold and pests
  • Require more attention regarding lighting schedules

Top 5 Photoperiod Strains from DNA Genetics

Here are the five most popular, high-yielding photoperiod cannabis seeds from DNA Genetics:

  1. Tangie Reg
  2. Skylwalker Kush Reg
  3. Kosher Kush Reg
  4. Tangielope Kush Reg
  5. Chocolope Kush Reg

Autoflower vs Photoperiod Seeds: Comparison

An autoflower vs photoperiod seeds and plants overview:

AspectAutoflower strainsPhotoperiod strains
GeneticsBlend of sativa or indica with ruderalisSativa, indica, or hybrid
Seed to harvest 8–12 weeks  12–16 weeks
Flowering    Independent of light-dark cycles  Requires 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness
Harvests per yearCan have multiple, regardless of whether grown indoors or outdoorsCan have multiple harvests indoors, typically one outdoors
YieldGenerally smallerGenerally larger
Morphology Short and compactSativas/Sativa-dominant: Tall with slender leaves, Indicas/Indica-dominant: Bushy with broad leaves

5 Key Factors to Consider Before Choosing Between Autos and Photos

1. Effort

If you prefer a lower-maintenance option, autoflowers are your best bet. They require less effort and care compared to photoperiod plants.

2. Speed

Autoflowers have shorter growth cycles, giving you faster yields than photoperiods. But, this speed comes with a trade-off: if errors occur, you have less time to correct them.

How to decide?

If you prioritize quick harvests and are confident in your growing setup, go with autoflowers.

Opt for photoperiod plants when you want a more extended growth period to troubleshoot and adjust your cultivation techniques as needed.

3. Size

Autoflowers are well-suited for limited spaces or discreet cultivation.

4. Yield

Photoperiod plants typically yield more, making them a better option if you prioritize maximizing harvest quantity.

5. Cloning

You can successfully clone photoperiod plants, but not autoflowers. Consider this factor if cloning is part of your cultivation plan.

Autoflower vs Photoperiod Cannabis: Make the Quality Choice

When deciding between autoflower and photoperiod cannabis, your unique needs are crucial.

Autoflowers may be the best choice if you prefer a low-maintenance option, need a quicker harvest, or have limited space. They’re also ideal for those aiming for multiple harvests throughout the year.

Photoperiod plants are ideal if maximizing yield is your priority, you desire more control over the growth process, or you plan on cloning your plants. They require more care and attention but offer larger yields and more time for experimentation and optimization in your cultivation.

Last but not least—ensure you invest in high-quality seeds.

DNA Genetics offers top-tier cannabis seeds crafted with decades of expertise, guaranteeing resilient plants, potent effects, and delightful flavors.

Browse our collection:

FAQs

  • What is the main difference between autoflower and photoperiod cannabis?

Autoflowers begin flowering automatically after reaching a specific age, typically around the fifth week. Photoperiods rely on particular light conditions to trigger the flowering—usually 12 hours of darkness.

  • Which is better for beginners: autoflower vs photoperiod?

Both are good options for beginners. Autoflowers are easier to manage because they require less precise care, while photoperiod plants allow beginners to learn and experiment with the full growth cycle of cannabis. 

  • Can I grow autoflowers alongside photoperiods?

Yes, you can grow autoflowers alongside photoperiods. Just ensure each type of plant receives the specific light conditions and nutrients it needs.

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About OG DNA Genetics Inc.

DNA Genetics was rooted in Los Angeles and founded in Amsterdam in 2004 by Don Morris and Aaron Yarkoni. Over the last decade, the Company has built and curated a seasoned genetic library and developed proven standard operating procedures for genetic selection, breeding, and cultivation. In a world that is increasingly opening up to commercial cannabis activity, DNA is positioned to become the first, truly geographically-diversified company with multiple partnerships with top-licensed producers and brands that have built their companies and global presence utilizing the “Powered by DNA” model.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT the following:

Rezwan Khan ([email protected]) – President for DNA Genetics

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