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Growing Auto-flowers Successfully for Maximum Yield Author: Groen SeedsGrowing auto-flowers can be a very rewarding experience if done correctly. Depending on your situation, season and space, they can have many advantages. They also come with some challenges, but if done correctly, you will enjoy success. They are prized for their amazing speed and, with that said, can be grown before many known pests and diseases start to affect your plants and buds. We will discuss how to successfully grow auto-flower genetics to reach their full potential, offering you buds anytime (you can almost grow them in any season), anywhere (you can even grow them in small spaces), as long as you get the basics right! Auto-flowers reach an average height of 0.7m to 1.3m, providing plenty of flowers, all genetics dependent. However, it is still your work to provide the factors needed to reach their maximum potential. Select your Auto-flower Genetics Firstly, always buy from a reputable seed bank. Secondly, look for genetics from well-known breeders, such as Barneys Farm, Seedstockers, World of Seeds, Seedsman, Delicious Seeds, Samsara Seeds, Fast Buds and many more. Consider factors such as how much space you have to determine preferable final plant height. Determine what environment you can best sustain, considering genetics that handle humidity well or perhaps prefer dryer climates. Most importantly, at the end of the day, what do you like in terms of terpenes, effect, bud structure etc. A large selection of premium international genetics seeds can be purchased locally online at www.groenseeds.com and are couriered in 2 – 5 days nationwide Germination This remains one of the biggest challenges, especially for new growers, and auto-flowers can be a little trickier than photoperiods to ensure successful germination to seedling stage. Auto-flowers have a built-in clock from germination to flower, which starts ticking as soon as they germinate. Thus, it helps to speed up the germination process and transfer them to an ideal growing medium as soon as they have germinated with a strong taproot. We recommend soaking them in high-quality water at room temperature overnight, thereafter between two damp paper towels in a dark place, maintaining a temperature of 23'C to 27'C. Using store-purchased bottled water is easy; just ensure it's not cold. Always make sure your hands and all equipment used are clean and sterilised. Planting Once the tap roots are 1-2cm, carefully plant the seedling into an ideal growing medium. Be extremely careful not to damage the taproot; they can be more fragile than you think. Any damage can render it useless, or slight damage at any stage can stunt the growth. It is essential to use a light and airy growing medium without fertiliser. Professional coco-perlite mixes work well. Any thick, dense, nutrient-heavy growing medium will slow and stunt the growth. We also don't recommend transplanting again; thus, plant the germinated seed into its final container and growing medium. The key is: to minimise any damage or changes that might stunt the growth. The ideal container we recommend is a fabric pot or an air pot. These types of containers ensure better airflow and diminish the risks of overwatering to an extent. The ideal size is a minimum of 7L up to 20L. Too small will limit the growth considerably; too big, and you might be wasting resources. General Growing Water: Your watering needs to be adjusted as the plant grows, but basically, never let the medium completely dry out, and also don't water excessively. A good rule of thumb is to water just until there is some water coming from the bottom. An excellent way to check if your plants need water is to lift your container and feel the weight; this is more accurate than simply judging by the growing medium's surface. The importance of water pH is often underestimated. Going above or below the recommended pH will lead to possible disease and malnutrition issues. Try to always keep your water pH between 6.0 - 7.0. If growing hydroponically, this needs to be lower and kept to a range of 5.5 - 6.5. You can also test your growing medium pH from time to time with a soil pH tester or by testing run-off water. With hydroponics, keep an eye on your pH daily. Nutrients: In general, auto-flowers need fewer nutrients than photoperiods. Plant health can rapidly deteriorate with too many nutrients or too little. A general rule of thumb is to adjust any good nutrient mix to only about 75% of the recommended dosage. Leaves help you read the plant's health, and it is essential to keep a close eye on them and act as soon as you see any over or under-feeding issues. For professional grow medium, specialised cannabis nutrients, fabric and air pots, grow lights and grow tents, visit the South African Grow Shop: www.growfolk.co.za Growing Outdoors Ideal Site: Always select a site that is not too windy (yet has good airflow) and faces north with the longest possible sun hours during the day. Auto-flowers extend the growing season considerably from early spring to autumn, in some areas in South Africa, or with a greenhouse, even during winter! Pest and Disease: When growing outdoors, take preventative measures to protect your plant, don't wait to react when it's too late. We recommend being wary of white powdery mildew, mould, spider mites, caterpillars and aphids. Contact your grow shop and ask what products they recommend. Any of these issues can set your plant back and even spoil your harvest. More Tips
Always plan your grow ahead since the auto-flower clock will be ticking. As discussed in this article, ensure you have everything you need before starting.
Use quality genetics and make sure you have selected the strain most suitable for you to grow.
Don't transplant, don't overwater and don't overfeed!
Vegetative phase is about a month, and flowering phase is anything from 6 to 10 weeks; make the most of every phase.
Be careful with pruning and training; only consider low-stress training, and you can top or FIM after the 3rd node.
IPM is the best way to manage pests and diseases; always be proactive!
Enjoy what you do; growing your own is a wholesome experience.
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