The ability to yield from Autoflowering cannabis seeds is a challenging feat. The reason, we need to do lots of research and learn the best practices in doing it correctly. Autoflowering cannabis has widely emerged due to the benefits it brings. It may seem easy during the vegetative or the growing phase of leaves and stems when the plant develops.
But, when it comes to the flowering phase, this suddenly turns the total opposite and nothing will be as easy anymore. This stage is very sensitive and issues arise as the plant matures especially if you aim to achieve maximum yields. You must understand that that mistakes have no room at this point and reacting quickly is your only weapon in case it happens.
Stage 1: The Stretch
This is the initial stage of the flowering phase which includes a growth spurt from the vegetative phase. Giving the plant the strength and size to accommodate the upcoming buds. The reason this stage is themed as “the stretch”as most plants grow twice or even three times its current height.
During this stage the plant will still be as resilient and can recover fast in case any issues are encountered. The plant will now start to divert its energy from growing into producing buds. Preparing the necessary foundations to produce offspring. By not pollinating, the plant will then proceed in seed production which means the buds will increase in quantity and quality as these usually hold the seeds they will produce.
Notice the single leaves will start to bunch at the tip of the colas. White-colored pistils will be visible in between these showing signs that new buds are forming.
Stage 2: The Formation (“Budlets”)
Entering the next stage of the flowering cycle where the plant starts to form baby buds also referred to as “budlets”. We must remember that it gets more crucial than the last stage. So we must be careful of errors that can directly affect the yield.
Take time in observing and check for signs of any issues. The most obvious signs will show symptoms on its leaves. A usual one on this stage is nutrient toxicity which will turn the tips of the leaves to yellow or brown. With no quick reaction to the issue, this will severely affect the plant and will become incapable of producing its food.
Some bottom leaves may show these symptoms during this time but be aware that if it only affects a few , this may still be normal due to them not getting enough light. Remember, the cannabis plant is currently diverting all its focus in developing buds, so it may extract nutrients of these leaves to support this goal. Plants are intellectual by design and their resources will not be allowed to go to waste for no purpose.
Stage 3:The Fattening (Buds)
The next stage will be the fattening of “budlets”. These bud formations will now start to gain mass quickly and will rapidly fatten with the pistils sticking out of it.
Since no more growth will happen on the leaves, we must ensure and do what we can to keep the existing ones. Do this by giving them an ample amount of nutrients required for this phase and to make sure that no excess moisture, heat and light is present as this can directly affect the leaves.
Never try to use your hands in removing the leaves and only do so if you are an expert and you know which leaves are the correct ones to remove to give way to the bud growing parts.
We must keep as much of the leaves as possible to ensure we have enough to absorb the ample amount of light to support and to maximize yield. Extra leaves are always good to ensure the plant will thrive in case a main leaf fails.
Observe that most of the pistils remain white, indicating that the bud fattening is still in progress and is still getting denser.
Stage 4: The Ripening (Buds)
As buds ripen, this is the start of the next stage. Any growth that is vegetative will completely cease. And all of the plant’s focus and energy will direct to its final life stages. At this point, the bud will grow the most. Reason why we must ensure that we provide the right nutrient. And to stop with ones that promotes vegetative growth as this will be useless at this point. This means excessive nitrogen will not only be counterproductive. But is also harmful to your plants by causing them to revert to the vegetative phase trying to make use of this excess nutrient.
The lower bottom leaves will start to turn yellow and fall at this stage which is normal. But, we must keep a close eye and ensure not to confuse issues with the normal loss of leaves. If all stays as planned, the plant should be green and full with only a few leaves at the bottom changing.
You may now see the buds form below or beside the buds that have fattened. This is referred to as fox- tailing and we must be careful. As for some strains this is not a good sign and may indicate environmental stress from excessive light and high temperatures. So observe and adjust as required.
Too much light or temperatures may burn the buds which cause discoloration. This in effect will lose some potency of THC as evaporation will take place.
Stage 5: The Flowering’s End / The Harvesting
The perfect week to harvest depends on the strain and its characteristics. The window will usually take a week before the THC starts degrading. Nearing the end, the pistils will now turn orange in color. Indicating that there is no more production of new buds and the harvest is drawing nearer. Also the trichomes will now turn milky from being clear originally which is a sign of increasing THC levels. From there, this will progress to amber hues which is now a sign of degradation. Both of these transitions overlap each other. But, experienced growers believe that the best time to harvest is between 5 to 30% of the trichomes are amber in hues and the rest remains milky.
The plants are super sensitive at this stage and takes the utmost care. We must ensure no excess moisture is present and enough airflow is available. As any issues that may arise due to these will compromise the buds. Causing molds and other problems that usually spreads faster than getting noticed by the grower.
Keep in mind!
It is not uncommon for buds to become heavy and branches being unable to support. So be on the lookout and provide additional support as needed to ensure they keep upright.
Weed odor is most distinct at this stage so perform necessary strategies to ensure no threat will arise. Like those nosy neighbors or authorities if grown illegally.
Before harvesting your buds always practice flushing your plants. Do this by simply stopping to give nutrients to your plants. Instead feed them with water that has the appropriate pH levels. This should be done a few days to a few weeks before. Depending on the length of the strain’s flowering phase and the medium the plant is grown into.
The reason for flushing is to ensure that the plant can use up all the remaining nutrients in the system. And will no longer be present in its system to contaminate the flavor and the odor of the buds