Feeding your cannabis plant with the right nutrient is a requirement that cannot be overlooked. To a large extent, the harvest yield, and subsequently, your investment output depends on this requirement. One of the best ways to improve this yield is by fertilizing your cannabis plant. However, in cannabis cultivation, fertilizer application only has one primary purpose –supplying the needed nutrients for the cannabis plant. The nutrients needed by the cannabis plant are many and must be supplied when needed. If the soil lacks these nutrients, your cannabis growth becomes stinted. In severe cases, the leaves fall off; the stems weaken, the buds become smaller, and the root system dies out.
If you are considering increasing your yield with fertilizers, you have many decisions to make. It starts with selecting one of the two principal types of cannabis fertilizers –synthetic or organic. You also need to understand the nutrients needed at different stages of cannabis growth. With this information, you can easily select the best fertilizer that fits your growing operation.
Fertilizer Application For Autoflowers
Auto-flowering strains are developed from the Cannabis ruderalis genetics. Cannabis strains with the auto-flowering trait depend on time and age to transition into the flowering stage. This means these plants automatically transition from the germination stage to flowering without the need for light cycle modifications. Since flowering is automatic, you would expect that these cannabis plants complete their growth cycle within a short window. However, within this period, they also rapidly absorb nutrients from the soil. These nutrients are needed for rapid cellular rearrangement, root system development, bud formations, and stem growth.
The nutrient absorption rate is high, and the plant can quickly exhaust the soil's deposit of nutrients. This frequently happens in regions where the soil is practically poor in Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Autoflowering cannabis seeds, in many cases, need fertilizers to complete their growth cycle. Experienced cannabis farmers always have their preferred fertilizers handy as the plants start growing. In this review, we have compiled the list of best organic fertilizers you should consider.
Why Should You Use Organic Fertilizers for Autoflowers?
Both synthetic (commercially available) and organic (homemade) fertilizers are suitable for autoflowers. However, there are many reasons why you would want to consider using an organic fertilizer. Though not exclusive, here are some of the reasons to consider organic fertilizers;
a. Organic Fertilizers are Cheap
If you are just starting on planting your first few stands of auto-flowers, you don’t want to overstretch your budget. Using organic fertilizers might help you spend less. Compared to synthetic fertilizers, the production cost for organic fertilizers is lower. The raw materials needed can be easily sourced from the environment. If you have the necessary skills, you can make these fertilizers right at home and apply them at no cost whatsoever.
You can easily customize the nutrient content of your organic fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizers are sold in a fixed NPK ratio. Once produced, these fertilizers can only supply the component nutrients in the fixed ratio. For organic fertilizers, if you know which component supplies which nutrient, you can easily prepare fertilizer with different nutrient ratios.
c. No Environmental and Health Hazards
Perhaps this is one of the biggest reasons many cannabis farmers prefer organic fertilizers for auto-flowers. The raw material is biodegradable, constituting no huge hazard to the environment. Since they also contain no synthetic chemicals, organic fertilizers constitute no serious health hazard. You can safely apply them without worries of getting a chemical reaction.
d. No Adverse Effect on Harvest
You can be sure that your harvest is safe with organic fertilizers. Some synthetic fertilizers can interfere with the taste, flavor, and odor of cannabis plants. This is because residual chemicals present in these formulations can be absorbed directly into the plant’s system. With organic fertilizers, the formulation contains no residual chemicals as they are made from natural components. Your cannabis harvest is safe with its desirable features carefully preserved.
Our Selection of the Best Organic Fertilizers for Auto-flowers
1. Organic SuperSoil
Getting it right with organic fertilizers all starts with the soil. The organic soil recipe –commonly described as 'Supersoil’ –is one of the widely used organic growth mediums for auto-flowers. The soil is enriched with organic raw materials that are gradually decomposed over the years. The nutrients are decomposed over time into a form that the plant can easily absorb. There are various recipes and steps for mixing a SuperSoil. However, the components are always almost the same. You can modify the quantity of each component depending on the nutrient profile you need from the soil. One of the widely adopted mix ratios for autoflowers is the Ballpark recipe. Check the recipe below;
50% peat- or sphagnum-based soilless mix (provides the bulk of the medium),
10-20% mature compost (some organic nutrients + lots of microbes),
10% earthworm castings, or vermicompost (the same),
10% perlite (helps saturate the medium with O2, which is necessary for roots),
fungi/mycorrhizae/bacteria (turn raw organics into available plant food).
The fungi/mycorrhizae/bacteria component is very important. This organism plays two principal roles in Supersoils –they help decompose other components and also help the auto-flowers absorb these nutrients by binding to the plant root.
2. Bat Guano
Bat poo, commonly called ‘Bat Guano,’ is a conventional organic fertilizer used in many planting operations. For thousands of years, local farmers with no access to synthetic fertilizers reportedly used bat guano. Since it works, this organic fertilizer option has survived many years of history. Today, rural farmers still use it as organically sourced fertilizer. Cannabis farmers also use Bat Guano as an organic source of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium. You can prepare bat guano in powder form or as a pre-made extract in the form of aerated tea.
Depending on the diet of the bat and their location, Bat Guano preparation can have a rich supply of both macro-and micronutrients needed by autoflowers.On harvesting the dried guano, you mix it into compost or apply it directly to the growth medium. Its rich deposit of phosphorus particularly makes it a preferred booster during the blooming period. Depending on the lay of your farm and the prevailing weather conditions, you can be creative with how you use Bat guano.
Manure can also serve as the right organic fertilizer for your autoflower. Primary manures are decomposed animals waste gathered from farms. Farmers who cultivate their cannabis in regions where livestock farming is a big deal prefer manual as an organic fertilizer. Since it can be readily sourced, the cost of production is very cheap. Manure offers a balanced nutrient profile for autoflowers. It also conditions the soil, making it a natural depot of plant nutrients. This deposit of nutrients makes it possible to grow autoflowers multiple times within the same cannabis planting season. For locally collected manures, composting is very important to make sure the manure does not damage the plant. Some of the most commonly prepared manure for autoflowers include;
- Chicken Manure: Manure sourced from chicken waste is high in Nitrogen. This makes a perfect option for autoflowers during the vegetative stage. Chicken manure also provides a lasting nutrient supply beyond the vegetative stage. Proper composting is needed.
- Sheep and Rabit manure: This manure is especially good for cannabis plants in the flowering stage. Although not often found in abundance, cheap and rabbit manure comes naturally in an easy-to-apply pellet form.
- Composted Horses or Steers Manure: Unlike others, horses’ compost manure is produced as a cool material. This makes it easier to withoapply ut burning the plant. They also produce a rich nutrient profile and contain beneficial organisms that can help autoflowers grow rapidly.
4. Compost Tea
Though not very common, compost tea is another organic fertilizer you can consider for your autoflowers. This liquid concentrate contains soluble nutrients and microorganisms from compost materials. The key ingredients needed to make a compost team include compost. Worm casting, fish hydrolases, kelp, and molasses. The compost should have a large population of beneficial microorganisms. The worm castings are byproducts expelled from worms after digestion is completed. Kelp and molasses serve as food for fungi and bacteria that grow while the tea is brewing.
Once ready, the tea can be diluted and applied directly to the roots or sprayed on the autoflower leaves. Do not apply compost tea over an irrigation line to avoid clogging. It is also important that you apply a potent dose to a few autoflowers first and check for any adverse effect on the leaves after a few hours.
Growing your autoflowers with organic fertilizers is a good method of improving plant yield. The raw material needed for most organic fertilizers is locally available. You save time, energy, and resources if you choose organic fertilizers. You might also require the help of a botanist or agrochemical expert to help with any additional materials you might need.