I'm going to show you how to get excellent yields every single time. Because if I can do it, then anyone can. I have learnt this from experience with growing auto's because these are the only plants I grow. I'm not a grow god or anything like that. I've just learnt what works best and what doesn't. I hope this helps those people who are struggling and gives them an understanding of how these remarkable variety's of marijuana can grow to their maximum potential. I only grow organic in soil, so I can't help you hydro people out there, sorry!
Sometime over the next few months I will post a grow journal showing exactly what I've written here.
Choosing a good quality soil will make a huge difference to your plants and will help them to develop to their maximum potential. If you skimp on the soil it WILL show. Plants will not be as healthy or vigorous nor will they grow as big and yield as much. I use Bio-Bizz All mix right from seed. Canna Terra and Fox Farms Ocean Forest are also great soils. Adding a little perlite can help with aeration and drainage.
Don't water every day! A lot of people make this mistake. It will slow growth, lower yield significantly and make your plants take longer to finish. Only water when the pot feels light or the top 2 inches of soil are dry. This is usually every 3-5 days.
This one is important. The first few weeks of an autoflower's life is spent developing a strong root system which will provide it with the nutrients and water it needs to go through the rapid growth spurt to come. If there is not enough space within those first few weeks, the plant will not develop a big, healthy root system in time and as a result will grow smaller and yield less.
Start in the biggest pots you can. The bigger the better. 5L to 7L is good, 8L+ is best.
If using a good quality soil like one of the above, start feeding after week 3 from seed. Give only 1/4 strength to begin with. You don't want to overfeed at this stage as this is when the plant begins flowering and goes through a massive growth spurt. Overfeeding will stress the plants and slow down growth considerably. After week 4 increase the nutrients to 1/2 strength and then onto full strength feeding every second watering. If you notice a pale colour to the leaves or the lower leaves beginning to yellow then you need to increase feed at this point. Despite what a lot of people say, some auto's have quite an appetite.
If you can, go with HPS. Do everything you can to go down the HPS route as apposed to CFL. Even a 150W will do wonders if you are only plan on growing 1-2 plants. When growing under HPS light, plants will grow lots of branches because the light is strong enough to penetrate further down the canopy and reach the small branches between the nodes of the plant. These then grow out and become their own little plants, each producing their own colas.
CFL's are ok and that's about it. Don't expect much branching or tonnes of bud. Plants will also be smaller and take longer to mature. Keep CFL's as close to the tops as possible, 2-3 inches away or maybe even closer if you can.
When growing under CFL's, plants won't branch as much as the light can't penetrate past a few inches and therefor doesn't reach the lower branches. These stay small and usually stay close to the main stem to form a single cola.
If you have nice weather where you live you can just grow them outside. You can get great results depending on weather conditions and how much sun you get. If you get sun all the time, expect BIG plants and BIG yeilds. Don't let plants stay out at night if it's too cold ( under 15C) though as this will slow growth. Monitor buds carefully in the last 2 weeks for bud rot.
TEMPERATURE, HUMIDITY and AIR CIRCULATION
Don't allow temperatures to exceed 30C (86F) as this will hinder growth. At night, stay above 15C (60F). Humidity can be between 20/50 the entire grow, too high and you could loose your entire crop to bud rot. Make sure you have fresh air circulating in your grow area at all times.
18/6, 20/4 or 24/0? Which one do you choose? That is entirely up to you. There isn't much difference between them. 24/0 will produce slightly shorter plants and about a 5% increase in yield. That's about it. Just remember to give your plants at least 18 hours of light per day for maximum growth and yield.
Be careful when choosing seeds, especially auto varieties. Do a bit of research on a strain before ordering. There are many new auto strains popping up from different breeders all over the place. Some don't show the auto-flowering trait and will have to be put into 12/12 to induce flowering. This is a pain in the ass so rather go with a tried and tested strain and save yourself the hassle of it all going wrong 3-4 weeks from now.
Here are some strains which I recommend and that have been tried and tested:
Lowlife AK47 - High yield, strong, big plant
Buddha White Dwarf - Strong, beautiful aroma, potent smoke
Lowlife Blueberry - Very tasty, strong, good yield
Dinafem Roadrunner - Strong smoke, good yield, not 100% stable but close
Lowlife White Russian - High yield, strong smoke
Lowlife Hindu Kush - Small, tasty, strong couchlock
Joint Doctor Easy Ryder - Tasty smoke, high yield
Joint Doctor Lowryder - Small, medium strength, low yield, low odour
Joint Doctor Lowryder 2 - Tasty, medium yield, good strength
Joint Doctor Diesel Ryder - Smelly, tasty, small, potent
There are many more, but these are some of the best and most stable.
Ok, so how do you know if you're doing it all right? This time frame should give you an idea of what to expect and when. If your plant is considerably behind what I've put here, then go back and read again.
DAY 1 - First real leaves emerge
DAY 6-7 - Plant has 3 nodes with smaller branches beginning to emerge
DAY 10-12 - 5 nodes
Day 17-21 - 8 to 10 nodes, plant sex is shown. Very fast growth by this stage.
Day 25-30 - Plant begins flowering and starts to stretch. Bud sites popping up.
Day 35-45 - Growth slows, gets a bit boring, buds slowly develop more and more each day.
Day 50+ - Buds begin to fatten, heavy trichome production and smell. This is the exciting part.
Day 65-75 - Harvest.
LST, SCROG, TOPPING & SUPER-CROPPING
Yes, you can LST autos and it works a treat too! Start tying them down after they reach the 5th/6th node. I usually get 12-14 tops with this method. It also doesn't slow growth which is important. SCROG is also a great way to maximise yield. TOPPING and SUPER-CROPPING are big no no's though! There just isn't enough time for the plant to heal and so will actually end up reducing your yield quite a bit.