Like it or not, we have entered a brave new world of cannabis. The days of removing seeds from brick weed and so-called ‘schwag’ most likely smuggled from far-off, exotic lands are pretty much over, at least as far North America and parts of Europe are concerned, which coincidentally have some of the biggest markets for legal cannabis. Nowadays, the menus at brick-and-mortar and even online dispensaries can be shockingly long with products you didn’t even realize could be obtained from the cannabis plant. Apart from cannabis buds, you might notice different kinds of concentrates, or a combination thereof, in addition to a plethora of different edibles, infused drinks and other products designated for oral ingestion. Businesses selling cannabis products might even carry plant clones and/or seeds if you are lucky.
While dispensaries and other legal shops are still limited throughout the globe, one particular area of the cannabis industry is thriving the world over: seeds.
To the untrained eye, a seed is a seed, but by browsing through a seed catalogue, you might notice terms such as ‘regular’, ‘feminized’, and ‘auto’ throughout. At major cannabis events, such as the Emerald Cup in Northern California, seeds are frequently traded like a hot commodity, reaching prices as much as $55 PER SEED.
In the US and Canada in general terms, the seed market is largely made up of professional or commercial growers with the odd novice or self-medicating patient filling in the gaps. However, potential cultivators are faced with a dilemma when it comes to what kind of seed to select. Beyond the usual indica/sativa or regular/feminized categories to consider, breeders have come up with yet another way of expanding the cannabis gene pool. Now say hello to autoflowering varieties, which you might know as cannabis ruderalis (or C. sativa subsp. sativa var. spontanea for the Latin scholars among us).
This subspecies is distinguished by its short height (30 to 75 cm tall), its stocky, sturdy stems, its uneven growth pattern, a smaller number of unusually light-green leaflets and a higher CBD/lower THC amount. Most noticeably however, ruderalis plants flower much sooner than traditional varieties, which is determined by the plant’s maturity as opposed to being induced by a 12-hour light period like sativas or indicas. This means they begin to flower automatically, thus we get the term autoflower.
The term ruderalis itself comes from the Latin word ‘rudera’ and refers to the plant’s status as a wild or ‘ruderal’ species able to flourish in environments that have been disturbed by humans (as opposed to traditional, locally-adapted ‘landraces’) or other factors. With origins in Siberia, the short summers and harsh ambient conditions drastically shortened the plant’s cycle of reproduction, meaning the vegetative stage lasts for up to one month and harvest usually comes after 10-15 weeks after germination. Simply put, plants mature much sooner, although yields are usually smaller than in the case of traditional photoperiod varieties. However, as a result of the diligent work of impassioned breeders, there are now dozens if not hundreds of ruderalis strains that have been crossed with traditional photoperiod varieties enabling growers to obtain very similar genetics with a much faster finishing time.
If you’re looking for some top-quality autoflowering varieties with fantastic genetics, we strongly recommend our Dragon Fruit Auto or Sweet Fang Lemon Auto seeds.