The secret is out! Autoflower strains are the go-to choice for hassle-free, low-maintenance growing, multiple harvests per annum, and resilient plants that can grow in various environments. In the past, autoflower strains were less popular than today as they were known for low yields and potency. However, thanks to advancements in breeding technology, these plants now produce yields and have the same potency as their photoperiod counterparts.
This piece looks into the top 5 autoflowering strains to grow in 2023. We looked at the best strains in five categories: yield, flavor, bag appeal, ease of cultivation, and fast finishing. This is the right place to be if you are a cultivator looking for the next best strain to grow.
What are autoflower strains?
Autoflower strains refer to cannabis plants that do not depend on light cycles to transition from one growth stage to the next. The plants have a predisposed genetic timeline that allows them to switch from the vegetative to flowering phases without depending on the light cycle to change from 16/8 or 18/6 to 12/12. Autoflower cannabis plants have a short growth cycle, usually between 8 to 12 weeks, allowing cultivators to enjoy multiple harvests per annum.
How are autoflowers created?
There are three types of cannabis sub-species Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis. The first two are the most commonly used due to the potent cerebral and physical effects they provide consumers. The Ruderalis subspecies have a very limited cannabinoid composition, thus reducing its value as a consumer-oriented product. However, the subspecies have resilient genetics that cultivators covet.
Ruderalis strains are highly resistant to common biotic and abiotic factors, can grow in a variety of environments, and do not depend on grow cycle. Breeders take Ruderalis plants and breed them with Sativa/Indica/Hybrid strains to create strains that provide high yields, record growth duration, soaring potency, and high resistance to pests, diseases, and pathogens.
Best overall: Northern Lights autoflower
If you have ever grown or consumed this strain, it is easy to figure out why it takes the ‘best overall’ position. Not only does Northern Light auto provide the ultimate relaxation experience, but the strain is also easy to grow, high-yielding, resistant to mold and other pathogens, and has an impressive terpene profile.
Northern Lights auto comes from a long line of legendary, award-winning strains. It results from a cross between the original Northern Lights (Thai X Afghani) and a Ruderalis strain. This Indica dominant strain (90/10) provides a relaxing, happy, sedating, and uplifting high, making it the ideal choice for unwinding. The above-average 18% THC levels provide a stimulating, euphoric high with zero paranoia or confusion.
This auto variety is easy to cultivate. It thrives in a sunny environment but also does well in an indoor setup when exposed to optimum conditions. Northern Lights auto is ideal for novice and experienced cultivators. It is highly resistant to mold, pests, and diseases. The final yield is 400 grams per square meter indoors and up to 150 grams per plant outdoors. This strain has a mouthwatering spicy, fruity, sweet, earthy, and citrus flavor.
Highest yield: Big Bud autoflower
From its name, you can tell that Big Bud auto has alot of goodies to offer. This is the perfect strain for cultivators looking to grow a high-yielding cannabis strain variety. The seeds grow into short, sturdy, and dense plants with multiple bud sites. As is characteristic is Indica-leaning strains, Big Bud has dense, feathery, and thick buds – the one difference is that this strain contains massive buds compared to other strains. Big Bud auto produces around 500 to 550 grams per square meter indoors and up to 300 grams per plant outdoors.
The strain results from a cross between Big Bud (Afghani, Northern Lights, and Skunk #1) and a Ruderalis strain. This Indica dominant variety has undergone months/years of breeding to create a stable, high-yielding, and potent strain. Big Bud auto boasts THC levels of 23% and up to 0.5% CBD. For many cannabis enthusiasts, this is the go-to choice for the ultimate Indica experience. The strain is best taken during the evening or nighttime when one has no plans ahead that require them to be physically active.
When combusted, the buds produce a prominent earthy and spicy aroma that fills the room. The flavor is similar, with hints of fruit and grape on the exhale. This is a fairly easy-to-cultivate strain that requires minimal attention and care. The plants tend to grow dense and bushy, so occasional pruning helps with light penetration and unrestricted airflow.
Easiest to cultivate: White Widow autoflower
How would you define an easy-to-cultivate strain? For most people, a strain that requires minimal attention and care, takes up little space, is resistant to pests and diseases, and produces impressive yields fits the bill. This is exactly what White Widow autoflower offers. This strain is ideal for novice cultivators looking to grow their skills and experienced ones that need a non-demanding strain.
White Widow auto results from a cross between the award-winning White Widow and a Ruderalis strain. This slightly Indica dominant variety is an excellent daytime pick that treats consumers to a relaxing, calming, and functional high that lasts for hours. The strain tops its refreshing effects with mouthwatering spicy, peppery, citrus, and fruity flavors. THC stands at 19%, while CBD levels range between 0.5% to 1%.
This auto hybrid grows to a maximum height of 110cm, making it ideal for cultivators working with limited vertical height. White Widow auto grows from germination to maturity in 10 to 12 weeks and produces 300 to 400 grams per square meter indoors and 200 to 250 grams per plant outdoors.
Best flavor and bag appeal: Purple Kush autoflower
Purple Kush autoflower is a striking, beautiful strain that tastes heavenly, while still providing potent effects. This strain is a top pick for cannabis connoisseurs who enjoy tantalizing flavors that leave their tongues waggling for more. Purple Kush blends fruity, sweet flavors with hints of berry, pepper, and sandalwood for a refreshing toke.
This auto strain grows between 1 to 2 feet tall. The plants are broad, dense, and characterized by bulky, purple buds. The purple hues blend perfectly with orange pistils, and green fan leaves to create buds with top-tier bag appeal. A thick, frosty, trichome layer further accentuates the nugs’ appearance. Growing this strain requires intermediate to expert knowledge of cannabis cultivation. It is resistant to mold and other diseases but highly susceptible to humidity and temperature fluctuations. Its growth cycle ranges between 300 grams per square meter indoors and 100 to 150 grams per plant outdoors.
Purple Kush auto was created by crossing the original Purple Kush (Hindu Kush X Purple Afghani) and a Ruderalis strain. The resulting strain was an Indica-leaning variety with 18% THC, 0.3% CBD, and a complex terpene profile. Purple Kush auto is best-suited as an evening or nighttime choice thanks to its sedating and sleep-inducing effects.
Shortest growth cycle: Green Crack autoflower
Green Crack autoflower is a strain with quite a reputation. The Sativa dominant hybrid grew in prominence thanks to the potent cerebral effects it provides. This strain keeps consumers energetic, motivated, social, creative, and uplifted throughout the day, making it an ideal choice for a wake-and-bake session. In addition, properly dried and cured Green Crack auto buds produce a tantalizing mango, earthy, sweet, and citrus aroma that draws anyone from across the room.
This is an excellent choice for anyone looking for high yields within record time. Green Crack auto has one of the shortest growth cycles among autoflowers, growing from seed to maturity within 8 weeks. The auto hybrid produces an impressive 500 to 650 grams per square meter indoors and 300 grams per plant outdoors.
Tips on how to get the most out of your autoflower plants
- Pick the right genetics from a reputable seed bank. Settle for a seed bank with a track record for stable genetics, high germination rates, and fast and efficient shipping. Starting with high-yielding, potent, and fast-growing seeds gives you a competitive edge, allowing you to focus on providing optimum conditions for the plants to thrive.
- Autoflowers have a short growth cycle (8 to 14 weeks); hence they do not have time to recover from transplants from one pot to the next. Minimize the stress by growing them in the final pots.
- Adding to the point above, refrain from subjecting the plants to high-stress training techniques. The plants have little time to recover from topping, fimming, supercropping, and other HST methods.
- Utilize the Sea the Green cultivation technique for optimum yields
- Balance the macro and micronutrients across the different growth cycles. Avoid over or underfeeding the plants. Keep the plants hydrated and avoid overwatering.
- Always pick fabric pots over ceramic or plastic ones. Fabric pots help with aeration, root temperature control, and water retention issues.
- Always keep a record of everything to help you improve on past mistakes and do better in future growth cycles. Record the genetics, the growing medium of choice, nutrients and quantities used, durations the plants take on each growth stage, and the final yield.