Autoflower yield, what you can expect

Growing Information

When growers talk about the amount of yield they get from their plants, they are referring to the amount of bud that is harvested from their plants. Yield is the weight of the harvested and dried weed flowers. This is the most effective method of assessing the efficiency of the operation. As all growers want to produce as much weed as possible from their plants, you will not be surprised to learn that growers are always trying to find ways of increasing their yield. Especially when it comes to autoflowers.

In the past, autoflowers were known and often avoided by growers because of their limiteds yields. Fortunaly, these days there are many autoflower species that are capable of producing great yields. But how much yield can you expect from an autoflower? Let’s have a closer look at the autoflower yield.  

How to measure yield?

There are several ways you can do this. One of the best methods is to work out how much gram of bud is produced by each plant. This is done simply by weighing the total amount of dried bud from a single plant. However, for working out the total yield, this method is only useful if all your plants are roughly the same size.

Measuring grams per square feet is another parameter which allows growers to compare different grow rooms with the same dimension but varying growing conditions. It is calculated by dividing the total production weight by the square footage of growing space. Grams per cubic feet is another variation that is practical if you are using a vertical growing method. If growing indoors, you may wish to calculate your yield by measuring grams per watt or grams per light or kilowatt-hour. The latter is recognised as the industry standard for professional growers and is calculated by dividing the total weight of harvested dry bud by overall daily energy usage (kWh)

There is no one set of guidelines to advise growers on how to do this for several reasons. Firstly, there are many strains of cannabis, many of which thrive in vastly different growing conditions. Secondly, growing environments also vary enormously – whether plants are grown indoors or outdoors means that every grow is potentially different. And that doesn’t even take into account the impact of nutrients, the length of the flowering cycle and the use of growing methods such as ScroG.

Autoflowers are varieties of cannabis that automatically produce buds without the grower having to work out the best time to put the plants into the flowering phase by altering the amount of light each plant receives. Autoflowers proliferate and have the potential to produce vast yields, but you need to know what you are doing. To help you get started and hopefully prevent you from making mistakes that result in disappointing returns, we’ve created a guide to growing autoflowers both indoors and outdoors with tips and tricks for each to give you the best chance of a bumper crop in a short space of time.

Tips for the best indoor autoflower yield 

Autoflowering cannabis seeds differ from standard seeds as they only start to flower after a specified period, and this doesn’t depend on the number hours of daylight. Autoflowers seeds are therefore the ideal choice if you need a steady supply of weed.

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about growing auto-flowering weed indoors and to maximize yield:

How much light do autoflowers need?

Growers often disagree about the amount of light autoflowers need each day, the advice can range from 16 to 24 hours per day depending on the strain. However, 18 hours of light a day and 6 hours of darkness is generally recognised as a standard, and this applies throughout the lifecycle of the plants.

What nutrients do autoflowers need to achieve the best yield?

From the first day to the thirteenth day, the plants should only be given water. After two weeks, you can add a tiny bit of growth nutrients. After four weeks, (Day 28), give the plants a few flowering nutrients for the next month. Feeding the plants should be ceased approximately seven days before harvest.

Some producers of nutrients recommend using high doses of fertilising products, but we only recommend using moderate quantities as recommended by the manufacturer. Don’t forget that an overdose could cause root burn and destroy your plant!

What soil should I use for my autoflowers?

Getting the soil right is essential no matter what variety of cannabis seed you use. Usually, auto-flower seeds prefer light soils. Traditional potting soil is not ideal for growing cannabis. We advise using professional potting soil or Californian potting soil from a “grow-shop” (hydroponics). You could also make your own soil mixture by mixing equal quantities of peat moss, compost, perlite and vermiculite (the last two need to be previously moistened with water).

What sized containers do I need?

Most auto-flowering cannabis seeds do not develop into huge plants. We recommend using pots with a volume of fewer than 15 litres.

When choosing a large pot, the plants will have space to develop more roots, and they will also grow wider and taller – not ideal for indoors unless you live in a palace.

If you meet the above conditions, growing auto-flowering cannabis plants should be a breeze.

Tip for the best outdoor autoflower yield

If you are going to grow auto-flowering seeds, you need to have a clear idea in your head. Auto-flowers have such a short life cycle – two months from cultivation – that it is essential to optimise your resources even before you get started. While feminised varieties, whose life cycle can extend up to four months, have the opportunity to recover from invasions or nutritional failures, auto-flowering plants get going at full speed, so every step counts.

But there’s no need to worry; their superior genetics make them true resistance champions. The auto-flowering varieties have genetics derived from Ruderalis, a variety native to the harsh climatic regions of the north of Europe and which has adapted to the more challenging environmental conditions by developing extraordinary rapidity and excellent resistance to bad weather in the region.

However, proper planning from the start is essential to allow your auto-flowering plant to maximise the chance of success.

How long does the auto-flowering season last?

Autoflowering plants love the hot, sunny weather and depending on the length of your summer; you may be able to enjoy several harvests. In southern Europe, you can sow the first crop between the second week of April and the beginning of May, after the frosts and when the days are longer. Harvest comes at the end of July, and it is possible to cultivate again in early August, to harvest for a second time in October.

In northern and central Europe, wet and cold weather is much more common, there is less sun, and the summer tends to be shorter, so only one crop is realistic. Sow in early June when the soil is warm to the touch to aim for a harvest at the end of August.

What pests pose a risk?

Autoflowering genetics are less likely than non-automatic varieties to suffer from insect invasions, even if they are not immune. Indeed, they have such a rapid life cycle that insects and other pests do not have the material time to become a serious issue for the plant because it does not give them time to reproduce sufficiently.

However, excess moisture should be avoided to prevent fungi.

What sort of compost should I use to increase the yield?

Autoflowering plants prefer a light, airy substrate to allow them to make the most of resources, develop their roots well and speed up all their metabolic processes. To do this, you need 10 litres of the substrate, made up of 1/3 of coconut fibre and 2/3 of peat or pre-prepared substrate.

What sized containers should I use to achieve the best yield?

If not growing directly in the ground, the smallest pot size you should use is between 7-15 litres to ensure your plants grow as large as possible. It is essential not to re-pot them repeatedly – auto-flowers find being repotted stressful. Plant the seeds directly in the container you intend to use.

How much water do auto-flowers need outside?

Autoflowering varieties cope with a lack of water better than feminised ones and don’t like being over-watered, so it is better to water them in small quantities. Never let the plant’s roots soak – but water frequently to promote oxygenation. The volumes required really depend on the weather and the environment in which the plant grows. As a general rule, check that the soil is moist, but that the pot is not over heavy – lift it before watering and you will soon get the idea of what it should feel like.

Do I really need to wash the roots?

If you have used a type of fertiliser, chemical or organic, you should clean the plants to prevent the taste of the weed from being affected by these substances. This is a very straightforward process. Two weeks before the harvest, you should thoroughly soak the plants with plenty of clean water – tap water is fine – or treated by reverse osmosis to entrain all the fertiliser remaining in the substrate.

How will I know when to harvest and get the best yield?

Between seventy to eighty days after the seeds were sown, you will be ready to harvest your buds. We advise not watering the plants about five days before harvest so that the earth is dry. You will notice that the buds are ready because the leaves turn yellow, and the colour of the trichomes of the resin will start to alter from white to dark apricot. Autoflowering cannabis plants have a built-in clock, and once they have passed ten weeks of life, they gradually fade away.

We recommend harvesting the plants on a slightly humid day if possible to prevent moisture from remaining inside the buds. The plants can be cut by branches that should be hung in a ventilated and dark place.

The final step is the manicure, which simply consists of trimming the leaves that surround the flower heads so that they look more attractive and, more importantly, so that they can develop deliciously complex aromas during drying.

Select the right strain for the best autoflower yield

Selecting the right strain from the right seed bank is one of the most important keys to success. Fortunately, there are plenty of autoflowers with a reputation for big harvests. Curious? Check the highest yielding autoflower strains