Today, almost two decades into the autoflowering revolution, some growers are still reluctant to try autos because they’re not sure if their yields will be as high as what ‘normal’ photoperiod plants can offer. Luckily, the difference is becoming increasingly blurred thanks to selection and breeding, so more and more growers are wondering how to get bigger yields from autoflowers rather than whether to grow autoflowers at all.
How Much Do Autoflowering Plants Yield?
There are two ways of looking at indoor yields – per-plant figures and per-square footage figures. Breeders usually judge by the latter because even with autoflowers, this gives more info. For modern autos, expect something like 300-400 g/m² (1-1.3 oz/ft²). In the most efficient setups and when the grower has honed their skills to perfection, some autoflowers can produce 550-600 g/m² (1.8-2 oz/ft²) or even more.
Per-plant numbers can range from 1 ounce (28 g) or less to up to a pound of dry bud (450 g), but that would be an outlier. Another benchmark is the gram-per-watt goal that indoor growers strive for. If you have a 300W LED and manage to harvest 300 grams or more, congrats – you grow like a pro!
Autoflower vs. Photoperiod: Which Yields Most?
So, how much do autoflowers yield compared to photoperiod strains? When the first of them appeared, their yields were puny (and old autos were subpar in most other respects, too). However, breeders have worked tirelessly to maximize autoflower yields and managed to level the field. Modern autos are now at least as generous as many old-school photoperiod genetics. Of course, more state-of-the-art photoperiods still produce more , but it’s an increasingly neck-and-neck-race.
Unfortunately, autoflowers will always lose the race outdoors because there’s only so much they can achieve in 2-3 months of their life cycle, while photoperiod strains can be planted, say, in April and harvested in October, reaching gigantic proportions and bringing in huge yields.
Tips to Increase Autoflower Yields
Now, let’s look at some important autoflower yield tips that’ll help you make them more rewarding.
1. Germinate Your Seeds in the Pot Where You’ll Harvest Them
This and some other tips have to do with the fact that autos are literally on the clock, so you should put every minute to good use and avoid stressing or shocking your plants at all costs. Repotting is a potentially stressful procedure – some autos are strong enough to handle it, but better not to risk it.
2. Grow in Bigger Pots With Drainage Holes
The question of how to grow big autoflowers is closely related to choosing a pot of the right size. Both the height and girth of your auto depend on the size of its root ball, and that needs space to grow big. In most cases, about 5 gallons, or 20 liters, is all your autoflower needs. Make sure the pot has drainage holes to let out excess water, or better yet, use smart pots, aka fabric or textile grow bags.
3. Grow in DWC or Coco
If you’re wondering how to get max yields from autoflowers, investing in a hydroponic grow kit or cultivating your weed in coco is the answer. Both options offer an opportunity to give the roots water for drinking and air for breathing at the same time, resulting in neck-breaking growth rates. These two methods have a rather steep learning curve, but they’re well worth it.
4. Use an Airy Grow Medium
If you prefer soil over hydro, you should make the medium as well-aerated as possible. Usually, growers achieve that with perlite. Many potting mixes come pre-amended with perlite, but we suggest adding more – from 15% (for less frequent fertigation) to 40-50% (for very frequent fertigation).
5. Get the Nutrients and pH Right
Good-quality nutrients, a proper NPK balance for different stages of the life cycle, and the use of all essential microelements are very important, but remember that when it comes to feeding, more doesn’t mean better. Slightly hungry plants are generally healthier than overfed ones, so err on the side of caution. Also, remember that pH levels make or break your growing experience, so keep these between 5.5-6.0 in hydro and 6.0-6.5 in soil.
6. Don’t Overwater
Remember that cannabis roots hate being constantly deprived of oxygen, which is what overwatering does. To avoid that, allow for long intervals between waterings to let the roots catch their breath.
7. Use an 18/6 Light Cycle From Seed to Harvest
The beauty of autoflowers is that they can receive 18 hours of light a day during the flowering stage compared to 12 hours for photoperiod plants. They’ll use up this extra energy to fill out their buds. Some autoflowering strains will perform great under even longer schedules, such as 20/4 or even 24/0, but you won’t know until you try it.
8. Add Root Stimulators
Ensure quick growth of your seedlings right out of the gate with root stimulators. These plant hormones aren’t nutrients, so you’re unlikely to hurt the vulnerable roots of your baby autoflowers. On the contrary, they’ll contribute to a vigorous start, and you’ll see the difference during harvest.
9. Use Proper Training Techniques
You’ve probably heard that the best results indoors are achieved with canopy management. So, wondering how to increase yields with proper training? Remember that your main goal is to avoid stress and shock. This is why you should stay away from high-stress training (HST) methods – these are too risky. It’s better to stick with LST by simply bending and tying down the fastest-growing branches.
10. Use Reverse Osmosis Water
We’ve already mentioned that your nutrient solution shouldn’t be too strong. This is measured with a TDS meter and expressed in ppm (parts per million). With autoflowers, you don’t want to go beyond around 800 ppm. However, tap water may already have 300 ppm of mostly useless salts. It’s best to filter these out and then add much more useful cannabis-specific nutrients.
What are the Highest-Yielding Autoflowers?
You’ll thank us later for these autoflower yield tips, but nothing really beats choosing the most productive genetics from the start. Just adding them to your shopping cart is the easiest way to increase autoflower yields in your garden. Read on to find out which strains you should try next for maximum output with minimum hassle.
Gorilla Glue Auto (Barney’s Farm)
Gorilla Glue Auto stands head and shoulders above many other high-yield autoflowers, but not literally. This compact and relatively short strain is covered all over in fist-size buds, bringing up to 600 g/m² (2 oz/ft²) indoors and up to 800 g (1.75 lb) per plant outdoors. With 25% THC, this beast packs quite a punch, with a long-lasting body high that creeps into knockout territory. In fact, you’d better save this coffee and cream-tasting treat for nighttime use and go on a long ‘trip’ without having to move a muscle.
Jack Herer Auto (Green House Seeds)
Jack Herer Auto is the envy of many breeders looking to create high-yielding strains. Expect jaw-dropping harvests of 700 g/m² (2.3 oz/ft²) indoors, provided you use powerful lights and show your A-game when training and feeding your plants. The quality of the smoke is also worthy of these award-winning genetics – the spicy- and herbal-smelling buds pack around 20% THC and produce an intense head high, with just a little body relaxation to mellow things out.
Blueberry Glue Auto (Expert Seeds)
- 21.6 %
- Enlightened mind
- 600 - 650 g/m² indoors
700 g/plant outdoors
No grower would say no to getting 700 g/m² (2.3 oz/ft²) in just 8 weeks from seed to harvest, and that’s exactly what you can count on with Blueberry Glue Auto. This amazing Gorilla x Blueberry hybrid oozes resin and berry-like aromas, producing an ecstatic explosion of a high thanks to its 21% THC. Use this one with your friends to have inspired conversations or silly laughs depending on how much you consume.
Critical Neville Haze Auto (Delicious Seeds)
Grow your THC-rich smoke by the cartload with Critical Neville Haze Auto! Indoors, this big autoflower with huge colas produces 600 g/m² (2 oz/ft²), while outdoors, the yields are epic at 400 g (14 oz) per plant. You’ll want to savor every last crumble to enjoy this uplifting, euphoria-inducing, and motivating Sativa-like smoke all day, every day.
Monster Bruce Banner Auto (Monster Genetics)
Come harvest time, this autoflower will be truly impressive to look at, just like its namesake. Monster Bruce Banner Auto produces 550 g/m² (1.8 oz/ft²) indoors and a staggering 700 g (25 oz) per plant outdoors. All it needs is enough sun, rich soil, regular watering, and some extra L&C. With 25% THC, the effects are knockout-strong and may make you wonder: will I burn through even half of my stash before the next harvest?
Final Thoughts on How to Get Bigger Yields From Autoflowers
We hope it’s now perfectly clear to you how to grow big autoflowers and how to get bigger yields from them, at least in theory. All you need to do now is give these tips a spin with a real-world grow. Buy any of the high-yield autoflowers above and start experimenting. Good luck!
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