Traditional Strains versus Auto-Flowering Strains
Photoperiod Dependent Strains versus Auto-Flowering Strains
Marijuana plants can be broadly categorized as “photoperiod dependent” strains (also called traditional strains), and “auto flowering” strains. Photoperiod dependent strains have growth stages that are sensitive to light, while auto flowering strains start flowering regardless of changes to light. Auto-flowering strains are not as common as photoperiod dependent strains.
Photoperiod Dependent Strains
These are the traditional marijuana strains found in the wild and crossbred into newer strains. Photoperiod dependent marijuana strains start flowering when exposure to light changes. In the wild, marijuana plants start flowering as sunlight fades when summer transitions into winter. This tells the plants that their life cycles are ending, so they start flowering. When these strains are grown indoors, the vegetative stage is kept in areas that are lit for 18 hours. When the grower wants the plants to flower, the light schedule is changed to 12-12, with more darkness, which triggers flowering.
Auto-flowering marijuana strains do not require tightly controlled light schedules to start flowering. These strains automatically start the flowering process when the plants are 3 to 4 weeks old. These plants are typically ready to harvest about 3 months after cultivating.
Auto-flowering marijuana strains descend from a wild Russian hemp plant known as “Ruderalis.” These plants have evolved to not respond to light to survive long Russian winters and very short summers. Natural Ruderalis plants are small, produce very low yields, and contain very low levels of THC. These qualities are pretty much useless to growers. However, the auto-flowering strains growers can buy now have been crossbred with photoperiod dependent strains. So the auto-flowering strains have significantly more yields and THC levels compared to wild strains.
Auto-flowering strains are sometimes called “Lowryders” and can be obtained from seed banks.