As the world today is now demanding more cannabis buds and products, cannabis growers are now hard-pressed to keep up with the demand for legal weed. This has been one of the reasons for the rise of autoflowering cannabis strains, whose seeds are now some of the most sought-after products on the market today. But, if you already have autoflowering marijuana plants, you might be wondering if you still need to buy more seeds in the future if you want to plant more. Will autoflowering cannabis produce seeds?
Well, that is really a legitimate question to ask especially if you want to save up money by producing and planting your own autoflowering marijuana seeds. But, before that, what exactly are autoflowering cannabis?
What are autoflowering marijuana strains?
The term “autoflowering” is not really something that is exclusive in the marijuana community or industry. There are a lot of other plants that are autoflowering but marijuana stands as arguably the most popular plant with an autoflowering variant. But what does it mean for cannabis to be an autoflower?
In the simplest way to put it, autoflowering marijuana strains are cannabis plants that no longer need to rely on the regular light and dark cycles (photoperiod) for them to transition from their vegetative stage to the flowering phase. In other words, they will automatically flower regardless of the photoperiod. This is unlike regular marijuana strains, which need to have their light hours decreased when they are about to flower. Regularly, ordinary marijuana plants need about 14 or more hours of light per day during their vegetative stage but need 12 or fewer hours of light when they are about to flower.
However, in the case of autoflowering marijuana plants, it does not matter whether they get the required dark hours because they will always automatically transition to the flowering stage with the passage of time. Simply put, age is the only determining factor for them to flower.
Autoflowering marijuana strains trace their roots to the Cannabis ruderalis plant, which is regarded as the third yet less popular species of the marijuana plant. In terms of appearance, Cannabis ruderalis is similar to the regular indica except that they are not as bushy as indicas and are a lot smaller. In fact, the ruderalis plant is so small that it rarely grows over three feet.
Cannabis ruderalis is commonly found in regions that are quite uninhabitable for common plants because of how harsh the climate is. These places tend to be very cold and are not as abundant in terms of sunlight. Such conditions were what eventually helped the ruderalis plant to develop into an autoflower.
The lack of nutrients and available sunlight kept the Cannabis ruderalis small. It also adapted well to the lack of sunlight that it was able to automatically flower without having to rely on the photoperiod to do so. Of course, in anticipation of the cold winter seasons, the ruderalis plant is able to quickly flower and is a plant that grows faster compared to indica and sativa strains.
However, as great an attribute as being an autoflower is, the Cannabis ruderalis plant had little to no practical uses as a marijuana plant because it did not have the same levels of chemical compounds that regular indicas and sativas do and was not as industrially useful as the hemp plant. As such, the ruderalis plant was seen more as a novelty.
It was not until during the 1990s when the first true autoflowering marijuana strain was born. A breeder crossed a ruderalis plant he called “Mexican Rudy” with the Northern Lights strain to produce the Lowryder, which is known as the first autoflowering marijuana strain since it has some of the attributes of a regular cannabis plant and the autoflowering capabilities of the Cannabis ruderalis strain.
Since then, Lowryder’s genetics were used to produce more autoflowering strains. And while the first autoflowering strains were seen as novelty items due to their poor THC contents and low yields, years of research and breeding have led to the rise of better autoflowering plants today. While they still are not as potent and as high-yielding as some other strains are, autoflowering strains have come a long way since the first Lowryder.
Can you breed with autoflowering strains?
In case you did not know, the cannabis plant is diploid. What that means is that marijuana plants will produce an offspring (or seeds) that each has a genetic trait or a chromosome coming from both parent plants. In other words, the male marijuana plant will contribute one chromosome while the female also does the same. What that means is that the offspring plant’s traits will largely be dependent on the chromosomes it received from its parents.
If you are breeding with parents that are both pure autoflowering and not photo-dependant (regular), then all the chromosomes that the father and the mother will be contributing to their offspring will be autoflowering. That means that the resulting plant will always be an autoflowering variant because all of the genetics it received from its parents are autoflowering chromosomes. The difficult part is when one or both parents are hybrid autoflowers.
Hybrid autoflowers are strains that have the chromosomes of both photo-dependant plants and autoflowering plants. However, in this case, they are autoflowering plants because their autoflowering genetics are dominant. Regardless of that, what is sure is that these plants carry the genetics of both regular and autoflowering cannabis.
In this case, if one or both of the parents are hybrids, there is a chance that the resulting strain ends up being a photo-dependant plant even though both parents are autoflowering-dominant. For example, if the father passes on its photo-dependant gene while the mother passes on its autoflowering chromosome, you will end up with a hybrid that can either be photo-dependant or autoflowering depending on which side is more dominant. However, if both parents get to pass on autoflowering genetics, then the only conclusion is that their offspring will become a pure autoflowering strain.
Even if both parents are photo-dependant hybrids, there is still a good chance that you will end up with an autoflowering hybrid or a true autoflowering strain so long as the offspring takes on the recessive genetics of both of its parents. What that means is that if its parents pass on their recessive autoflowering chromosomes, the result will be an autoflowering strain.
In this case, if you are breeding with autoflowering plants, it might be better if you use pure autoflowers instead of hybrids because there will always be a good chance that a photo-dependant phenotype will emerge by crossing hybrids. Meanwhile, breeding and producing seeds using autoflowering plants will always yield to autoflowers because they will only pass autoflowering chromosomes.