On our side of the equator it is still springtime although summer 2017 is getting closer! Did you start your outdoor project already or are you still deciding which variety you should choose?
Well ASC friends - especially our Dutch, German, Belgian and UK friends - you have to decide sooner than later because our sunshine is kind of scarce compared to the Mediterranean countries! For this reason, I would like to talk about a question we often hear at ASC:
Should I grow auto-flowers or should I just grow normal (photo-period) outdoor varieties in my local climate?
AUTOS AND PHOTOPERIOD: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Auto-flowering cannabis varieties do not depend on the hours of light to grow; in other words, you can’t control their growing- and flowering-stages with light-schedules. This is because they contain the genes of the Ruderalis, a short cannabis plant that grows in the Arctic Circle and flowers automatically.
On the other hand, photoperiod cannabis varieties (regular and feminized), are dependent on the hours of light – whether natural or artificial. It is only when the light/dark ratio hits 12 hours/12 hours that they start to flower. This occurs naturally at the end of August in northern climates, so plants need the whole ‘growing-season’ to finish up (up to 7 months from seed to harvest).
CONTROL THE DARKNESS!...
The photoperiod plant (feminized/regular) will naturally start flowering at the end of August/beginning of September and she will finish in October in a northern climate (such as Holland). But here is the problem. Best results for flowers come from strong, intense sunshine and at this time of the year, in northern regions, the days are often grey, cold and rainy.
It would be much better if your plants flowered earlier so that they can finish up under the strong summer sun (July/August/beginning September). This means that the flowering-phase ideally should start in the beginning of June… but it won’t happen naturally. To initiate flowering, they need a minimum of 12 hours* non-interrupted darkness on a daily basis.
So you are probably thinking, “Uh yeh EsjeHerb, that sounds right if you grow under lights indoors, but how can I control the sun?!” Of course you are right! You cannot control the sun, BUT you can control the darkness! By changing the light-hours from 18/6 to 12/12 you can ‘manually’ start the flowering-phase earlier and finish in time for a perfect outdoor harvest. This is called ‘Light Deprivation’ or better known as Light-Dep.
EsjeHerb’s solution? Use a shed and totally darken the place so there are no light-rays coming through, or even use an empty grow-tent. Put the plants in this sealed space every day for 12 hours, and then bring them out for 12 hours of full power sun. OK, so it is a bitt of work, but the end result will be a satisfactory reward!
*Some strains will start to flower outdoors when the hours of sunlight decrease under natural circumstances with less than 12 hours of darkness, but to make sure your plants will certainly start flowering and don’t fall back into the vegetative-phase. 12 hours minimum, as with indoors, is recommended.
Pictured here: Light-Dep setup by @Jeckle_HCC on Instagram
OR GROW AUTOS FOR A SIMPLE SOLUTION!
With auto-flower varieties you can bypass this issue, because they start flowering automatically (light-hours don’t play a role) and they will finish in 60-70 days from the germination of the seeds. So if you don’t feel like putting in lots of work (moving your plants back and forth from your garden to a special ‘dark’ space), then I really recommend auto-flower varieties as the way to go!
MY TOP-10 AUTO’S
I have made a top-10 auto-flower recommendation list for you based on the feedback of customers, and the personal experience of the (entire!) ASC personnel!