Nowadays, the choice of what to grow or what to smoke is ever-expanding. With advancements in genetics, even seeds are no longer just seeds. From regular seeds, to feminized seeds and even autoflowering seeds there are pros and cons to each. So how are you supposed to choose which aligns best with your needs? Check out our quick guide to the three types of seeds you need to be familiar with for your crop to succeed from the start.
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Regular seeds are the landrace originals of the seed family. They’re the most natural choice remaining as mother nature’s original form. Due to this, regular seeds also contain more hybrid vigor versus others. In addition, regular varieties also mimic the growth of a standard plant as it would grow in natural conditions.
What this means for you, is regular seeds can be male or female. As you know, female cannabis plants are what you ultimately need for a successful crop. Female cannabis plants are the sole providers of beneficial cannabinoids, and healthy effective buds.
The chances of male or female from regular seeds is usually 50/50. Hence, the cheaper cost for purchasing regular seeds that come with a higher risk of gender when sprouting. What regular seeds are still good for, is the breeding and creation of new strains. When using male and female plants of varying strains, they pollinate to create a cross of both sets of genetics.
When using regular seeds, one key thing you’ll need to know is how to identify the sex of male or female plants. Leaving a male plant in a room or area with a female plant causes detrimental effects. Male plants pollinate the females causing genetic or environmental issues. The female plant will produce seeds and less beneficial cannabinoids, due to the transformation. In layman’s terms, your crop is ultimately ruined.
Luckily, breeding advancements have led to completely feminized seeds. If you’re looking to avoid the risk of regular seeds, those are likely the choice for you.
Emerging in the late 1990’s feminized seeds were the answer to the need of having to sex plant crops repeatedly. The demand caused breeders to develop fully feminized seeds that don’t run the risk of being male. Which is a benefit to growers around the world.
As you are eliminating the chance of sprouting a male plant, requiring additional processes during their growth, feminized seeds do come at a higher cost. But, the guarantee of bountiful female crops is worth it for many. The choice is more cost effective over time since you won’t need to get rid of any plants that sprout due to their male gender.
But with any positives, there are also negatives to consider. The main drawback of feminized seeds is they are relatively high maintenance in comparison to autoflowering plants, which we’ll cover more next. Feminized plants will require care, monitoring and maintenance for overall health. This includes light cycle changes for optimal growth. In addition to training techniques to boost yields. You’ll also have to wait extended periods of time to harvest feminized plants. Another factor to consider is that feminized strains can be more susceptible to environmental conditions. Like some varieties being more apt to grow mold. Or, others are non-resistant to pests or cooler temperatures.
If you’re looking to breed, feminized seeds are not for you which is one of their cons. Feminized plants don’t produce seeds that breeders need to cross with other genetics. Next and lastly, let’s learn more about autoflowering seeds and their unique traits for growth.
When breeders developed autoflowering seeds, they did so with convenience and timeliness in mind. Autoflowering varieties use the lesser known ‘ruderalis’ species to produce the seeds. The end-result are cannabis plants that grow “automatically” switching into their flowering cycle and this is beneficial in many ways.
Autoflowering seeds are growing in popularity due to this automatic nature. The first perk they boast is not requiring any change in light cycles. This makes it possible for growers to avoid the tedious task of 12-hours of light and 12-hours of dark, to promote growth while flowering. Autoflowering seeds will even grow normally with up to 24 hours of light at a time (although we do recommend that at least 2 hrs of darkness is given).
That also means that autoflowering seeds can be grown indoors or outdoors. But, they’re usually preferred for indoor spaces due to their shorter heights and smaller stature. This allows autoflowering seeds to be grown in small compact spaces, like grow tents or closets. As for outdoors, they’re an ideal choice too. Autoflowering seeds on the market today tend to be more resistant to temperature, pests and mold.
The automatic nature of autoflowering seeds gives one of the best benefits to growers. Being, you don’t have to be an expert to harvest a successful crop. Not to mention autoflower varieties have a quicker turnaround, too. Most autoflowering strains have a short growth cycle, of 10 weeks or less.
Autoflowering seeds do have a few disadvantages though. Even though their size can be a benefit for some, it obviously hinders the yield it can produce. Yields from autoflowering seeds will be significantly less than regular or feminized varieties which is a factor to consider. One upside is their quick turnaround will allow multiple harvests in one season.
Harvesting a lesser quantity will have lesser THC quality too. Overall, autoflowering seeds tend to produce lower percentages of THC which is a con that outweighs the pros, to many growers.
Do keep in mind that autoflowering varieties can be feminized or regular. So even though you choose an autoflowering seed, you could still fight with gender if you choose regular. If you’re spending extra to harness the advantages of autoflowering seeds, choosing a feminized version will guarantee a full return of female crops.
Deciding which is best - regular vs. feminized vs. autoflowering
Now that you know more about regular seeds, feminized seeds and autoflowering seeds you can make the decision that’s best for your operation. Whether your garden’s goal is to cross-breed new strains, produce high yields with potent THC %’s or turn around multiple harvests per year…you now know which variety of seed will work to your benefit. When making your choice take the knowledge you now have to outweigh the initial upfront costs that could pay back quicker over time. Luckily, with any option you have the chance to nurture the growth in a healthy cannabis plant, regardless.
Written by Francisco, Staff writer for MSNL