When you first come to a seed store or an online shop, you may get confused by the abundance of seed varieties. Feminized, autoflower, regular… all these categories can drive anyone crazy. So, here is a simple and definitive guide to help you with the seed selection process and ensure that your seeds grow exactly into the plants you’ve expected.
Traditional Seed Classifications
There’s a much broader and more nuanced system of weed classification than Sativa or Indica. Thus, a beginner grower should understand all these intricacies to choose the seeds correctly and get the plants they expect.
Here, things work pretty simply. There are three weed types: Indica, Sativa, and ruderalis. Indica is traditionally associated with calming, relaxing properties that enhance sleep and unwind stressed people. Sativa is an energizing, uplifting variety that boosts energy, creativity, and focus. Ruderalis is a relatively new find for weed breeders; it is a highly resistant, wild-growing weed type, the genes of which help make the existing hybrids more resistant to weather conditions, pests, mold, and disease.
When you start choosing seeds for your next crop, the choice you have is: regular, feminized, and autoflower seeds. The difference is also pretty straightforward: by planting feminized seeds – see more at https://askgrowers.com/seeds/feminized, you get only female plants; by planting autoflower seeds, you get plants that may be male or female, but they start to flower regardless of the light cycle. Naturally, regular seeds are a non-modified seed variety that grows as usual, is photoperiod, and produces both male and female plants.
It’s well-known that weed is diecious, with male and female plants developing from seeds. Female plants have flowers on them, which are of primary interest to growers striving for therapeutic or recreational weed use. Male plants have sacks with pollen that pollinate the flowers and turn them into seed sacks. Thus, a combination of male and female plants in one’s garden is necessary only for crossbreeding or seed production purposes. In all other instances, growers strive to have only female plants in their growing rooms so that they can collect the yield of flowers without the risks of their pollination.
Now, the most interesting part – the type of flowering that the weed plants exhibit. It’s a parameter that many cultivators confuse with the seed type; that’s why there’s so much misunderstanding about the “feminized” and “photoperiod” concepts. If you talk about the flowering type, weed plants can be photoperiod or non-photoperiod (aka autoflowering). Thus, as you can see, there’s no discussion of feminized plants in this section, as only female plants can flower. And here’s the catch:
- All photoperiod flowers grow from feminized seeds, but not all feminized seeds produce photoperiod plants.
- Feminized seeds can produce both autoflower and photoperiod plants.
- Autoflower seeds grow only into autoflower plantsas it comes from https://askgrowers.com/seeds/autoflower.
Hopefully, this clarification will make your seed choice way easier, and you will know what plants you can expect from specific seeds.
Photoperiod vs. Non-Photoperiod
So, as you can see, the main problem surrounding the seed selection process is the distinction between photoperiod and non-photoperiod plants. Both come with a specific set of pros and cons that a grower should consider before making the final decision.
Photoperiod plants are the variety that takes longer to flower – up to 12-16 weeks until the harvest is ready for collection. However, the long waiting time is compensated with higher yields, which may exceed the autoflowering plants’ yields by up to 2 times. Another benefit is that plants spend more time in the vegetative stage, so the grower can recover plants from stress or disease if they note any before the start of the flowering stage. This is a sure way to save the crop and get higher THC in the buds.
Nonetheless, there are some downsides to consider. Photoperiod plants are generally harder to grow and maintain, so they require moderate to high skills. A longer wait is also unsuitable for many growers who want quick yields.
The advantages of autoflowering seeds are pronounced. Most originate from ruderalis weed, so they are fine with colder climatic conditions. Given their immunity to cold weather, the plants vegetate and flower quicker than their photoperiod counterparts. You can expect the harvest in as little as 8-12 weeks upon germination. Besides, ruderalis genes often make autoflowering plants smaller and denser in stature, which makes them suitable for any growing space and simplifies their management.
However, because of the short height, these plants yield fewer buds and have a smaller harvest. Autoflower plants also yield buds with a lower THC level, which may not suit pro users who like pronounced cerebral effects. Finally, you should remember that autoflower plants cannot be cloned.
Feminized vs. Autoflower
Now, let’s talk more about the difference between the concepts “photoperiod” and “feminized.” As you might have already grasped, photoperiod relates to the flowering type, while feminized is about the seed type. That’s the main confusion that growers and even retailers face when categorizing their seeds. So, not to get caught in the trap of terminology, this is what you need to remember:
- If you have little experience and want to ensure that your plants are all female, opting for feminized seeds is better. The plants will usually cause you a little more trouble during cultivation. Still, such seeds usually guarantee higher yields, and you have no problems removing male plants and losing some of the seeds you’ve invested money in.
- If you want to ensure a hassle-free cultivation process or live in a place with insufficient sunlight, it’s better to opt for autoflower seeds. They grow easily and start flowering regardless of the light cycle, so you will surely get your harvests.
- Those who want to bring down all the risks and enjoy an easy cultivation procedure can opt for the double benefit of autoflower seeds that have been additionally feminized. In this case, you get female plants that will surely flower within a given period. Thus, the problem of providing proper sunlight or watching out for male plants is resolved. The only nuance is that such seeds may come at a higher-than-average cost, as breeders have to go a long way to refine these seeds’ properties for your cultivation convenience.
So, What’s the Difference?
As you can see from this detailed discussion, the term “feminized” is used sparingly by different seed banks, and it should not necessarily be associated with photoperiod plants. Feminized seeds can also grow into autoflower plants without a problem; some breeders work specifically on the combination of these positive seed characteristics to make weed cultivation a breeze.
Here is a cheat sheet for checking your knowledge of the difference between feminized, autoflower, and photoperiod concepts:
- All photoperiod plants grow from feminized seeds.
- Feminized seeds are not only photoperiod; they can be autoflower as well.
- Autoflowering and feminized plants are an arbitrary classification that many seed banks confuse to simplify matters for the growers.
Thus, not to lose your way in the seed bank or seed store, always check the detailed instructions coming in the product’s card. It may often happen that you buy autoflower seeds to ensure an easy cultivation experience but end up with a plantation of male and female plants, which complicates matters manifold. The ideal option is to buy autoflower seeds that are also additionally feminized. This way, you can ensure that your plants will start flowering regardless of the light cycle, and at the same time, the seeds grow only into female plants without the risk of seed pollination.
The author of this article is Denys Svirepchuk, an experienced cannabis grower and expert in weed cultivation technology, authoring research and informative pieces for AskGrowers. Denys is a fan of innovation and always monitors the market to share exciting technologies and devices for hassle-free weed cultivation.