For some growers, time is of the essence. There’s a multitude of reasons one might want to wrap up an operation as quickly as possible. Some cultivators still live in areas under prohibition; the faster they set up and shut down their project, the less likely they are to get busted and prosecuted. Alternatively, commercial growers want to achieve the fastest harvest possible to boost turnaround.
Regardless of the reason, it’s certainly possible to speed up the cultivation process. Autoflowering varieties are prized for this very quality. Many of them provide ripe flowers only several weeks after germination, although this speed comes at a price. Yields are usually comparatively small, and cannabinoid content is lower too. That means less THC and CBD in each flower.
By comparison, photoperiod varieties offer larger yields and higher levels of cannabinoids. However, they usually take much longer to reach harvest when grown conventionally. Growers typically keep indoor plants on a light cycle of 18 hours on and 6 hours off during the vegetative stage. The photoperiod is then switched to 12 hours on and 12 hours off to initiate the flowering stage.
However, it’s possible to grow any photoperiod variety at a pace that rivals autoflowering cultivars. The very word “photoperiod” implies that these plants require a shift in the light cycle to begin flowering; an acquired evolutionary trait. A decrease in light signals that autumn is approaching, and thus it’s time to produce flowers and seeds to reproduce.
Indoor growers have free rein over the length of the vegetative phase in photoperiod varieties. As long as plants receive more than 12 hours of light per day, they will stay in veg. Growers can thus trigger flowering whenever they please. This trait means the photoperiod can be used to force plants to flower very early on in the growing cycle. Applying a 12/12 light cycle from germination will cause photoperiod strains to flower just as fast as most autos. Starting with clones will produce even faster results.
Although this level of speed is practical for some growers, there is a trade-off. The lack of a vegetative phase means plants only reach a small size, which results in reduced yields. However, this deficit can be negated by starting many seeds or clones together and cultivating them using the sea of green (SOG) method.
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