Many marijuana growers start autoflowers early in the season, and at a different time than a regular crop, so keep the season and climate in mind when growing and harvesting—your plants still need warmth to grow, and rain can give them bud rot. Consider growing in a greenhouse to protect them.
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
In some cases, even if a seed isn’t completely mature, there’s still a chance it could be viable. But often these are extremely weak, take long to develop, and express other unfavorable characteristics. Growers usually discard weak plants to free up space.
You can also minimize headaches and avoid the hassle of seed germination and sexing plants by starting with clones.
Keep a close eye on the temperature and moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy. It’s very delicate at this stage. Use a spray bottle to water it—over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.
So today I'd like to share a short guide on how you can reduce the time to harvest, and how you can reduce the amount of time you actually spend tending your plants, and still get outstanding results.
When I say "flowered," what I mean is that you can change the light schedule so that it forces your young seedlings to start making buds right away.
1.) Fewer Hours of Light Each Day in Flowering Stage
The vegetative stage can be shortened by getting the plant to grow faster when she's young. Yet the length of the flowering stage (the time between when flowers first start forming and when the plant is ready to harvest) is pretty much strain-specific.
So, how long does it actually take to grow marijuana?
Desired yields – do you want to grow a few grams, a few ounces, or a few pounds?
For those who prefer autoflowering hybrids, Northern Light Auto is a great choice. The original was already fast, but this improved version can go from germination to harvest in 10 weeks or less without any extra measures. Royal Cheese is a photoperiod strain, but this European favourite only needs about 6 weeks of 12/12 lighting to reach full maturity. Medical marijuana patients who are on a tight schedule should take a look at Medical Mass. This variety only needs 7 weeks of bloom to yield up to 550g/m² of CBD-enriched flowers.
This doesn’t mean you’ll ruin your grow with a bunch of seeds. Pollinate by hand about a week before you want to harvest. As soon as the buds are fertilised, the plant will switch its energy away from flower formation to seed production and the maturity rate will escalate. The next week, when you harvest, the seeds won’t even be noticeable because they haven’t had time to form a hard shell.
Cannabis needs more nitrogen (N) when vegging and more phosphorus and potassium (P & K) while flowering. If you give then too much nitrogen during bloom, it’ll slow down bud growth and result in lower yields of fluffier buds. That’s the exact opposite of what you want!
CANNABIS SEED SELECTION IS KEY TO FASTER GROWING
Growing indoors is almost always faster than growing outdoors, mostly because you can control the lighting. You can tweak a few other things in the name of speed too.
Cover your outdoor plants with a tarp or other light-proof cover in the early evening and remove it the next morning. This works just like a grow tent to give your plants 12 hours of darkness each day to force them to bloom. As a bonus, you’ll end up with bigger, denser, more resinous buds when you’re done because the sunlight they do get, during the height of summer, will be much more intense than what they would receive during the fall months when outdoor cannabis plants normally bloom.
As a general rule, autoflowering cannabis will mature at a faster rate than photoperiod strains because they contain a percentage of ruderalis genetics. Ruderalis evolved naturally in cold places like Siberia where the summers are very short. They had to develop the ability to produce flowers and seeds quickly to ensure the survival of the species.
Note that breeders are now reducing the amount of ruderalis they use to create autoflowering hybrids in order to increase yield and potency. As a result, some may take a little longer to be harvest-ready, or require a 20/4 or 18/6 light cycle for flowering.