January 9, 2020

What Makes Feminized Seeds Different from Auto-flowering Seeds?

By Brian Cusack

With cannabis garnering more mainstream support each day, many new farmers are considering including hemp and marijuana strains into their list of plants. If you have an interest in growing marijuana for its medicinal values, picking seeds is one of the crucial aspects. There are many things to review before choosing a particular seed. Experience (of growing cannabis), yield and setup all determine the seeds you choose. Even for manufacturers of hemp seed oil and CBD oil, seed selection is an essential component if you want high-quality products. Besides regular cannabis seeds, feminized and auto-flowering seeds are the only other two options available. Here is a brief look at what makes the difference between feminized and auto-flowering cannabis seeds.

Auto-flowering seeds

As the name suggests, auto-flowering seeds flower automatically without the need for changing light cycles. Most cannabis strains require a change in the light cycles to go from the vegetative phase to the flowering stage. With auto-flowering seeds, you can grow your plants with the same LED light and the yield will be the same. However, you still need to set up the right growing conditions and provide necessary micronutrients for the plant to thrive. It is crucial that you get good quality and healthy seeds from a top franchise store to get the best results.

The first commercial auto-flowering cannabis seeds, Lowryder, emerged back in the 2000s. Cannabis experts create auto-flowering seeds by cross-breeding various strains of cannabis with ruderalis. This cross-breeding results in plants that flower automatically, usually within three months. Auto-flowering plants mature fast, so you can harvest twice during the same time as other strains require to mature once. However, this comes with a drawback. Auto-flowering seeds offer a lower yield per plant and have smaller buds. They also contain less amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and more amount of CBD (cannabidiol), especially since most ruderalis strains are hemp-like.

Feminized seeds

Feminized seeds are cannabis seeds designed to grow female plants only. Feminization came from trial and error when researchers put female varieties of the cannabis plant under stress to a point where they characterized hermaphroditic qualities. When the female plants undergo stress because of over-pruning their leaves, altering lighting cycles, or keeping them un-pollinated for a very long time, they begin to produce their pollen. 

Regular seeds can grow into male or female plants, so if you do not want your males to fertilize your females, you have to discard them manually. Feminized seeds eliminate this need as every plant is female. However, this is not always ideal, especially if you intend to produce seeds for hybrid cannabis varieties.

Which one should I choose: Feminized or auto-flowering?

Whether you seek budget buds or want to self-medicate with your plants, feminized and auto-flowering cannabis plants offer a significant improvement from regular seeds. They are particularly favourable if you are looking to prevent pollination from the male pollens. However, these are genetically engineered to have different characteristics from the regular cannabis seed. As such, they have various requirements to achieve optimal growth and maturity. Even so, there is no single best option for everyone. It all depends on your unique needs as a cannabis farmer.

There is one significant difference between auto-flowering and feminized cannabis seeds. Auto-flowers offer 100% automatic flowering. However, you cannot clone such plants, so you need to purchase new seeds every time. With feminized seeds, you can achieve cloning and have as many plants as you need. Experts also note that auto-flowering yields are less potent than those from feminized seeds.

Nonetheless, auto-flowering plants offer faster maturity and high CBD, so they suit those who do not prefer a potent THC high. If you are looking to pick one of the two options, it is advisable to review the following:

  • Growing experience and expertise

Like any other plant, growing cannabis requires insights, especially since authorities require documentation and tracking from the farm to the final product. If you are planning to grow marijuana for commercial sale, you need more expertise to produce standard quality products. Some farmers know about growing auto-flowering plants, while others only grow feminized seeds. As such, it is recommendable to choose farms that specialize in a specific strain or variety. If you are starting a personal garden, it is recommendable to read through cannabis cultivation and understand the unique requirements of different strains.

  • Desired flowering time

Auto-flowering cannabis plants go through the vegetative and flowering process automatically without the need for altering light and darkness hours. They are ideal if you want fast-bloom seeds that will give yield within a couple of months. Feminized seeds require regular changes in light hours and a unique environment to thrive. If flowering time is a crucial determinant of the plants you want to grow, then auto-flowering seeds offer a viable option.

  • Size of growing setup

Both feminized seeds and autoflowers seeds can grow indoors or outdoors. However, auto-flowers mature fast and can provide two harvests in the same period feminized seeds take to bloom. Nonetheless, rapid maturity comes at the expense of yield. Feminized seeds produce bigger buds and THC-rich trichomes, so make sure you outline your needs to understand what each variety offers. If you have a small space, auto-flowering seeds may seem appealing because you can harvest twice. They are also perfect for indoor setups that have a small growing area.

  • Yield
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Auto-flowering cannabis plants have more CBD and lower amounts of THC. This makes them ideal for extracting hemp oil and CBD. If you want THC-rich yield, feminized seeds offer a better option. They also provide a more significant yield volume, despite the longer maturity time. Essentially, if you want one bulky harvest, feminized seeds will perform better than auto-flowers. They also allow you to clone and have several plants without buying new seeds. This makes them ideal for those growing cannabis for seeds.

Conclusion

Feminized seeds are prevalent these days thanks to their easy availability and ability to clone. Auto-flowering plants are also ideal, especially in large industrial farms where discarding male plants is daunting. However, it is essential to find high-quality seeds from credible, reputable retailers. This will allow you to get the best yield from your garden. It is also vital to observe all the other necessary growing conditions and requirements. If you do not take proper care of your plants, it does not matter what seeds you pick; the outcome will be abysmal.

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