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Unique Terpenes & Growth Using Autoflowers

Cannabis is broken up into three distinct different families or subspecies. There’s the two mainstream families that we’re all used to, sativa and indica, excluding hybrid as a family. Today we are focusing on the third more rare family of cannabis called ruderalis, otherwise known as autoflower due to their unique photoperiod.

Cannabis ruderalis is a subspecies of cannabis that grows wild in many parts of the world. Pure ruderalis is in scarce supply though, and is often referred to as rare or landrace. Although both indica and sativa families offer their own slew of rare landrace genetics, ruderalis is a beast all on its own due to it’s unique ability to flower under 18- 24 hours of light. Much like their sativa and indica counterparts most of the autoflowering strains you will find on the market are a cross of ruderalis and either a sativa, indica or hybrid. This allows the breeders to still retain the unique photoperiod and characteristics from the ruderalis, while also bringing aspects we enjoy from other cannabis varieties.

Ruderalis history

Ruderalis, or to put it more mainstream, autoflowering cannabis strains have carefully evolved over thousands of years in harsh conditions to flower under longer lighting periods. This is a survival mechanism from the plant in order to survive in regions with unpredictable climates, such as the short summers of Norther Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

In these regions the summers are relatively short, and the days are long.  By adapting itself to flower based on age opposed to photoperiod the ruderalis cannabis family has evolved to be able to flower regardless of the amount of light they receive.

This is an incredible feat in the cannabis world and we believe these cannabis strains should be explore more.

Terpene profiles of ruderalis

Ruderalis cannabis strains typically have a very unique terpene profile compared to their indica and sativa counterparts. This is largely due to their unique and unexplored family tree, but also partly due to their increased photosynthesis time. Although these are some of the following terpenes found in ruderalis strains, what truly makes their flavor profile unique is the entourage effect of the terpenes when combined together.

While studies on ruderalis are still lower then sativa and indica, here are some of the common terpenes we’ve found in it:

  1. Myrcene – Providing a musky, earthy aroma that is said to have sedative effects.
  2.  Caryophyllene – One of our favorite terpenes famous for creating a spicy aroma and anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
  3. Limonene – Has a citrusy aroma and is said to provide anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties.
  4. Pinene – Just like its name implies, this terpene has a piney aroma and is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects.
  5. Terpinolene – Which smells like a forest with wood, pine and musk. It is said to house anti-cancer properties making this one an instant favorite as well.
  6. Humulene – Similar to the above terpene this one has an earthy, woody aroma to it and is believed to offer anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Keep in mind that the specific terpene profile will change depending on the strain, phenotype and the growing conditions, however, there’s no denying that ruderalis can offer some unique terpenes.

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Bigger yields with autoflower!

That’s right, we said it. Some of the largest yields we’ve seen have been from autflower strains, but is it sustainable? Maybe not, they aren’t as easy to grow commercially, simply because you can’t keep mother plants in the vegetative phase to clone from. Meaning you would have to grow from seed every time. Another reason they may not be for everyone is the fact that they initiate their flowering cycle based on age, or roughly 14″ in height. This means they may not be best suited for every growing style. Some peoples plant spacing is very far apart due to plant count or maybe a fixed hydroponic system with far spacing. 

However, if you have the plant count or canopy space available for a crop of autoflower we would highly recommend trying it. You would have to grow each one from seed, so we recommend contacting a seed company and getting a bulk order, or wholesale pricing which is commonly around $5.00 (CAD) each.

Why are yields bigger with autoflower? – Because of photosynthesis. Since buds bulk up during their day period, and autoflower strains can flower in 18 – 24 hours of light you get some real fatties!

There’s no one strain, growing system or lighting that rains king though, like many things with growing cannabis there’s always pro’s and con’s for every scenario. Luckily for you its our job at 4trees to help streamline every growing process for you. So lets dive into some of the positives and negatives of growing ruderalis.

POSITIVES

  • Huge flower development
  • Unique terpenes
  • Higher ticket price, rare
  • Starting from seed ensures a clean start
  • Seed vigor

NEGETIVES

  • Phenotype variation
  • Can’t keep mother plants
  • Ordering seeds can take time
  • Automatically flowers after 14″, not good for far plant spacing or low plant counts
  • Higher cost in electricity

Wrap it up already

In a fast evolving industry like this you need to stay ahead of the curve with everything you can. While ruderalis may be a change from the normal mom and clone ways we would strongly recommend that every grower try them at least once. Some of the most flavorful cannabis that I have had has been from autoflower varieties, there’s so much to be explored here and we strongly urge everyone to try them. 

By Daniel

Daniel Vaillancourt is the president of 4trees Cannabis Building ltd and has proudly been shaping the cannabis industry for over 25 years.

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