With Cannabis.. Size Does Matter, By Tommy L. Gomez, Sweet Seeds
The New Extra Large Autoflowring Strains from Sweet Seeds..
As the autoflowering revolution reached the cannabis market about 10 to 15 years ago, home growers around the world tested this new concept of strains to identify their interesting features and determine their pro’s and con’s in regards to photoperiod-dependent strains. Just a couple of years later when the understanding of this new family of strains achieved its peak, all the growers that became usual clients for this type of cannabis plants started to get more and more demanding.
One of the traits of autoflowering strains that a good number of growers wanted to see improved was the final size and sturdiness of the plants. As soon as this started to become clear to us at Sweet Seeds®, our breeders started to work on a fix for this obstacle. Therefore, in 2012 our first XL Auto® strain was born. And since then, we’ve been filling the gardens and indoor areas of loads of home growers around the world with big sized autoflowering cannabis plants.
In the last few years..
we’ve been releasing many autoflowering strains in extra large size, including some of our all time classics. Recently two new genetic lines and a strain that got a new twist reached our catalog, all in XL size. I’m talking about the three strains that I just harvested in my terrace garden for this 2020 outdoor season: Crystal Candy XL Auto® (Sweet Seeds® variety SWS87), Gorilla Girl XL Auto® (SWS82) and Sweet Amnesia Haze XL Auto® (SWS57). From all the Sweet Seeds®’ new releases for 2020, these were the ones that I’ve chosen to grow in the outdoor season. And I definitely do not regret it. It’s not every year that you can manage to grow actual trees and harvest them in less than 10 weeks. But, the best part of it, still have them ready to harvest in the peak of the Summer.
Two seeds of each of the strains (a total of 6 plants) were sprouted by the 20th of May. They were kept indoors for the first 12 days, under two CFL compact bulbs of 18 watts each. This is a very weak light but in the first days the plants are very small, so we can have them in little pots (I had them in 200ml cups) and if we crowd them all together then a couple of light spots with the ideal spectrum for the first stage of growth is more than enough. As CFL lights produce very few heat, I was able to have them really close to the bulbs (2 to 5 cm), which helps to prevent the initial stretch of the main stem, so characteristic in cannabis plants. But of course, using a good ventilator blowing air directly to the plants, also helped them to start building a strong stem and an initial compact structure. By the 1st of June they were small in height but huge in strength and vigor, more than ready for an outdoor adventure in the amazing South Europe’s summer weather.
And so the next day, the 2nd of June, they were taken out for sunbathes from 6am till almost 10pm, making good use of the best 3 months of the year for outdoor growing in this region of the planet. But not without being transplanted first, to prevent the heat produced by the direct sunlight from negatively affecting the small root system of the young plants. By placing them in 2 liter pots, the roots would be much more protected and further away from the bounds of the pots, where direct sunlight can be more aggressive. With this, the roots can better adapt to the new conditions and once they stretch to the bottom and sides of the pots, they can deal much better with the heat as they have been progressively adapting to the extreme conditions for the past days or weeks. When the roots manage to fill all the available areas of the 2 liter containers, they are ready to deal with the adverse conditions of a hot summer.
Then, by the 12th of June, 23 days from germination, it was time to transplant them to their final pots, as flowering was probably about to start. At this point no liquid fertilizers were used, as the soil mix was itself very rich in nutrients, besides an extra treat of worm humus that I added. As these are autoflowering plants, I decided to use 20 liter pots. These pots were filled with a very rich soil mix to which I added about 150 grams of powdered bat guano per plant. My goal was to completely avoid using liquid fertilizers or using it just a couple of times during the whole flowering cycle. At this point the plants already featured a nice structure for a very decent flowering, with Sweet Amnesia Haze XL Auto® being the tallest (around 35 cm) and the other two strains almost at the same height ranging from 26 cm to 35 cm.
By the 17th of June the plants started to show clear signs of flowering, with groups of pistils forming lots of flowering sights. The Gorilla Girl XL Auto® plants were the first ones to start flowering, followed closely by Crystal Candy XL Auto® and just a couple of days later the Amnesia plants joined the club. All the 6 plants were truly grateful for the environmental parameters, especially in regards to the 14 hours of intense and direct sunlight. But the natural windy conditions and a very rich soil, also helped a lot. In the first 2 weeks of flowering they stretched as champions, going from the mentioned 30 to 40 cm to around 100 to 120 cm of height. One of the Sweet Amnesia Haze XL Auto® tripled the pre-flowering height. But they were much more than tall plants, all of them developed a very good number of thick and strong side branches, ready to hold the weight of the buds that were about to take shape.
By the 2nd of July the six plants had all their buds formed, so it was time to decide about the possible use of liquid fertilizers. And with all the heat, with maximum temperatures reaching about 35º C in the hottest days, I had to water the plants everyday, which made the soil run out of nutrients much faster than I’m used to in my indoor grows. So I decided to use blooming nutrients for 3 times.
First time was by the 4th of July, the second time by the 9th and then one last time by the 14th, the day I assumed that harvest was only about two to three weeks away. Luckily the three strains resisted the heat without major problems. I was also lucky this year, as no pests affected the plants. I used Neem oil as preventive and I also used Bacillus Thuringiensis to prevent moths from leaving eggs on the plants, which then turn out into caterpillars that eat the flowers from inside. It happened a few years ago and I guarantee it is not a beautiful thing to see.
Reaching to the final third of flowering, the aromas were very pleasant and intense in all the plants. This usually happens with all the strains from the Sweet Seeds® genetic collection, as they are developed paying close attention to the profile of terpenes, with the goal of getting sweet and aromatic fragrances in every genetic line. In the last week of July the resin production was copious in all of them. Crystal Candy XL Auto® presented the desired exquisite and subtle aromas that evoke an olfactory sensation of candy shops.
The fragrances resembled bubble gum and jelly beans, complemented by shades of acidic strawberries and ripe melons. Amazing aromas, as intense as when grown indoors. Sweet Amnesia Haze XL Auto® was all about incense aromas with sweet shades and hints of lemon, wood and nuts. On the other hand, Gorilla Girl XL Auto® featured intense, sweet and fruity aromas, with tones of blue cypress and wood, complemented by citric, earthy shades.
All the plants were harvested by the 28th of July. Exactly 69 days after the germination of the seeds. This is one extra week in regards to the harvest time presented in the catalog, but when you give the plants such amazing conditions to develop to a big-sized structure, it is entirely acceptable (and even desirable) that they use an extra week or two to complete their life cycle. They were also very easy to harvest and manicure.
After drying for 12 days, they were placed in glass jars, hermetically sealed and open for only 20 minutes every day, for an adequate curing that highlighted their exquisite aromas and tastes. The total harvest was 785 grams, which divided by the 6 plants is about 130 grams per plant. No to mention a good block of dry hash that I managed to get with a tumbler and a 95μ mesh. All together, more than enough for my personal use until my next harvest, which might only happen by the end of the year.
I loved growing these three strains and having a stash for a few months but, looking back, the best thing was to have such a good and abundant harvest by mid Summer, avoiding the usual problems that come with the end of the Summer and beginning of Autumn, such as cold and humidity that end up so many times in mold and rotten buds. Well, not this time. By mid August I couldn’t be happier, with six jars filled with top quality weed.
As expected, Gorilla Girl XL Auto® was the most potent smoke. Perfect for relaxation but also a good option for a night with friends. Sweet Amnesia Haze XL Auto® became my favorite effect for a day at the beach. Very stimulating and energetic. While also being very potent and relaxing, the effect of Crystal Candy XL Auto® was also on the motivational side, so I saved it for the time when my holidays ended and went back to work, as it really helped to deal with boring tasks with a new perspective and a very sweet mindset.