Autoflowering seeds (also known as “automatic seeds” or “auto seeds”) produce cannabis plants that flower regardless of the hours of light that they receive (photoperiod).
At Sweet Seeds® we work to develop easy-to-grow plants, very aromatic and tasty, but they also feature a vigorous structure with a taller size when compared to the original autoflowering genetics and, above all, featuring higher yields and stability.
Autoflowering strains usually don’t grow taller than one meter of height. This happens because most of the breeding improvement projects on autoflowering strains have been performed by using autoflowering strains and commercial Indica strains featuring fast flowering. This small size feature was a bit scarce for the needs and expectations of some cannabis growers who demand taller-stemmed autoflowering plants. Considering this request, Sweet Seeds® focused in the creation of tall-stemmed autoflowering strains, giving birth to the Big Devil® family and our “XL” autoflowering strains, developed to satisfy the clients who demanded tall-stemmed autos. When grown with optimal conditions these strains easily exceed the meter of height, helping them to accomplish an important increase in production, making them the most productive autoflowering seeds.
This tall-stemmed trait was achieved by introducing new genes with Sativa predominance in the genetic pool of the autoflowering strains.
In the year of 2013 we presented the new, exotic and attractive purple-flowering autoflowering strains that we baptized as “The Red Family®”. The most appealing characteristic of these varieties is how beauty they get when the buds achieve maturity, showing a dark purple color.
Strains from The Red Family® are the result of the hybridization and subsequent stabilization between Sweet Seeds® genetics and a curious exotic purple-flowered autoflowering strain. The purple-flowered characteristics are inherited from an autoflowering genetic with ancestors from the Chitral region in the Pakistani Hindu Kush, very close to Afghanistan.
Around 90% of the specimens from The Red Family® acquire purple or reddish tones in the flowers and some specimens also acquire purple tones in the leaves while flowering. After harvested and dried, the buds gain a very dark purple tone, almost black.
When grown indoors with artificial light, the best results can be obtained with photoperiods of 18 hours and up. Many cannabis growers grow these plants indoor with 20 hours of light and 4 hours of darkness during all the life cycle of the plants, achieving excellent results.
The size of the pots and the use of liquid fertilizers is identical to the one described in the previous chapter of outdoor growing.
To look into the origin of most of the autoflowering genetics we have to take in consideration a lot of cold zones from Eastern Europe (Hungary, Southern Siberia, Russia...) and Central Asia, where the first and wild Cannabis Ruderalis genetics originated. In these regions the climate conditions (especially the cold temperatures and long winter) only allow for three or four months per year of adequate conditions for their development and reproduction. One possibility was that these types of varieties could have developed this especial autoflowering characteristic because it represented an adaptive improvement that allowed them to flower and produce seeds in the short period of adequate climate, thus perpetuating its own species in these inhospitable places.
Cannabis Ruderalis is a subspecies of Cannabis Sativa. The subspecies Cannabis Ruderalis was first described and scientifically catalogued by the Soviet botanics Dmitri Janischewsky in 1924 and was considered by then as bad weed, not much appreciated for medicinal and recreational uses for its low content of THC and low quality of its organoleptic characteristics (taste and aroma), while it was disregarded as raw material for industrial use (fiber and paper) due to the small size of the plants.
It is also possible to find wild autoflowering plants similar to Ruderalis in some zones where cannabis growing was common in the past. The most important of these zones is the central zone of North America and Canada, although it is possible to occasionally find disperse populations all over the country. These populations have been growing wild for years and without man selection they lost many of the selected traits, adapting to the environment.
Maybe the autoflowering genes can be found in the gene pool of most cannabis strains. And Ruderalis strains, along with other wild autoflowering strains, might have arose from a process of natural selection of short flowering in populations of Cannabis Indica. Nowadays, the general consensus is that all “domesticated” cannabis strains and all the wild strains proceed from the same source of genes, making it very plausible that many cannabis strains preserve autoflowering genes in their gene pool.
After observing the type of inheritance that expresses the autoflowering trait, at Sweet Seeds® we tend to believe that perhaps the autoflowering genes are “damaged” genes which can not carry out their mission of flowering according to the photoperiod, when the hours of light decrease.
After the 70’s some pioneers at cannabis breeding observed the potential concealed by these autoflowering varieties and started to cross them with high-THC marihuana strains, with the final goal of taking advantage of these autoflowering genetics which provided fast flowering, short stature, acclimation to cold zones and resistance to local insects and diseases. This is how the first improvement programmes to introduce these characteristics in strains with high THC content and pleasant aroma started.
The first documented experiments with crosses between several Ruderalis strains and high-THC strains were performed by Ernest Small from Agriculture Canada in Ontario in the course of the 70’s.
During the 80’s the famous cannabis breeder Neville, owner of the legendary and pioneer Seed Bank experimented with crosses between Ruderalis and some varieties as for example Mexican strains, Skunk #1 and several Indicas. Although some of these Neville’s crosses matured much earlier than the classic Mexican strains, they featured lower THC content and were very unstable regarding flowering time and calyx-to-leaf ratio in the buds.
Also during these years, in British Columbia’s gulf islands (Canada), an anonymous outdoor cannabis grower observed that in the photoperiod-dependent cannabis variety that he was growing for some years, harvested in October, every year a few specimens matured much earlier, by late July or beginning of August. After several years of selection he obtained a seed line that kept the autoflowering trait and preserved the effects and aromas of his beloved variety of seeds. This is how Mighty Mite was born.
Mighty Mite was quickly converted into a very popular plant, providing the Canadian growers with harvests before summer and before the arrival of mold. Also in Northern zones it substituted many fast Indicas acclimatized to cold areas. Lately this variety was also cultivated by indoor growers and was hybridized with more potent varieties.
One of the first autoflowering strains presented by Sweet Seeds® in the beginning of 2009, Speed Devil Auto®, was developed from a selection of specimens from a Canadian autoflowering seed line received in a seed interchange and was submitted to several generations of selection. We believe that it is very likely linked to the famous and primitive Mighty Mite.
Above anything else we, the Sweet Seeds® breeders, consider ourselves users and collectors of genetics. It is to say that we search and select the best strains that we find, to preserve them indefinitely and enjoy them today, tomorrow and for the rest of our life. Besides that, we work with the belief that in 200 years the future generations will enjoy and benefit from our work, which is at the same time our passion. The criteria we use for the selection of our best mothers concern mostly to the desirable qualities of these plants and not to their origin, lineage or pedigree.
When we identify our autoflowering strains in different genetic generations (3G, 4G, 5G, etc...) we refer to generational steps and not to the generations strictly speaking. We establish a new generational step every time the presence of Cannabis Ruderalis genetic in our autoflowering varieties is reduced. It usually occurs due to the cross with the photoperiod-dependent genetics.
With the arrival of autoflowering strains, as cannabis breeders we were forced to return to breeding from seed lines or populations as these strains don’t allow selection and keeping clones due to their autoflowering characteristic.
Since we, the Sweet Seeds®’ breeders, started to understand the immense potential of the autoflowering trait confined in these small varieties, we started crossing them with our best photoperiod-dependent elite clones, searching for automatic flowering plants but with a quality at least similar to the one found in our beloved photoperiod-dependent mothers. The creation of new autoflowering strains was performed by hybridizing autoflowering genetics with selected photoperiod-dependent elite clones from our bank of mothers.
If you reached to this point of the text we would like to wish sweet and happy harvests. But we would also like to remind you that cannabis is a magical plant that has evolved by human hand since the beginning of times and is always ready to kindly return all the care and favours that the humans may give.