- Are you looking for a fast, easy-growing strain that gives heavy yields even in cold, wet conditions? Then you should definitely check out Amnesia XXL Autoflowering.
- If you’re not convinced, you can have a look at this grow report by our collaborator Ganja Farmer and learn about Martin, a pressed-for-time grower that started his crop in March so as to harvest in June and enjoy the summer well-supplied.
Choice of strain
Martin, a grower from south-east France, needed a fast yet abundant crop, so he went for the improved, higher-yielding version of a very popular strain by Dinafem: Amnesia XXL Autoflowering, a reasonably productive seed considering its autoflowering nature that ensures an incredibly fast crop. Martin wasn't satisfied with last year's crop - he had barely harvested 500 grams that left him empty-handed by April despite his efforts to make them last. So with the festival season starting in June - which is not exactly the best time of year to run short of supplies, particularly if you are a musician like Martin is - this year he got down to work in early February and travelled to Ventimiglia to get the cherished seeds at the Dinafem store.
You've got to move fast when you grow an auto
The weather is quite good, so I decide to plant my ten seeds in a mini-greenhouse - I use peat pots to avoid transplant shock. All ten seeds germinate well, but one dies inexplicably after a week. Then I realise that I haven't pressed the soil properly in that particular pot, and this has left the roots exposed to moist air, the perfect breeding ground for fungi. Moral: young seedlings are extremely delicate, they need to be treated like babies and be constantly checked on.
Once the race is underway, with autoflowering strains you can't waste an extra minute in the vegetative period. Quite often, though, it is the climate conditions that make you lose time. These young ladies don't enjoy temperatures below 20 ºC, and even if they don't necessarily die, their growth slows down or stops completely. My garden lies above the Toulon harbour, in the Côte d'Azur - which enjoys more days of sunshine than any other French region- and even if tourists have this idea that it's always nice down here, because it is mainly a summer destination, the reality is torrential downpours can flood the area until late April, making your crop end up in the sea. Heat waves are not infrequent either, and are just as damaging. That said, the number-one enemy of Provençal cannabis growers is the mistral wind, a cold airstream from the north very common during the growing season that reaches speeds of 90/100kph and that can last from ten to twelve days. Woe to the foolhardy that don't use stakes during the flowering period, because all their efforts will come to nothing.
In early March, after four weeks of growth inside the greenhouse, I move the plants to their final growing position. I dig one metre by one metre squares of soil - that's more or less what autos need - and I fertilize with a mixture of dry blood, and bone and horn dust. The smell is not what you would describe as pleasant, but the results are good. I'm lucky enough to own a large allotment, as this allows me to plant in a different spot every year. The cropped area is barely 20 sq metres and I've come to the conclusion that cannabis grows best in virgin soil that has not been used for previous crops. Some very optimistic growers plant their cannabis in the same spot for three years in a row without even mulching with manure, and of course this affects the end result. During transplant, I spot worrying sings of flower filaments on two of the plants even if they're just 8 cm long and have only three rows of leaflets.
Generally, it takes me 100 days to grow an auto: fifty days for the growing period and another fifty for flowering, give or take a couple of days. Between week four and week seven, my Amnesia XXL Autoflowering exemplars go through an impressive phase where they grow even at night. On week six, most plants have developed flower filaments, and the most vigorous ones have reached about 50 cm in height. The ones that started flowering on week three have kept growing but at a slower pace, with flowers appearing clearly on week six.
Growth goes on until week eleven, with a more than satisfactory stretch: the plants have doubled in size since the first signs of flowering and are approaching the 1 metre mark. The buds formed in the last stage are healthy and pointy, and just keep getting longer. They are quite light coloured and is hard to tell whether they've reached maturity.
It's time to draw the first conclusions
I decide to harvest when the buds start to look slightly greyish. The aroma they give off towards the end of the day is another sign they're ready for picking. Also, some leaves are starting to yellow, a clear indicator that the plant is already ageing. The late-may sun is dry and hot (35 ºC indoors). I decide to harvest five plants and leave the remaining four to dry on the spot for some days. I dry the buds indoors to avoid the heat, except for one of the big upper branches, which I leave to dry in the shade for nearly three days. The buds dried indoors are ready in ten days and are obviously the ones that smoke best. I wait a little before weighing the dry weed because the buds on the upper part of the stem are large but not particularly dense. Nine out of the ten plants have made it to maturity: from the two that started to flower on week three I have obtained just 30 grams in all; the next three most productive plants have yielded about 60/70 grams each; the next three, about 80 grams each and the biggest one, about 110 grams (it is 88 cm tall with a 2.5 cm thick stem).
I place the dry buds inside jam jars and store them in a dry, cool place in order to preserve the quality - this weed is quite frail and dries out quickly. The flavour is smooth and fruity, almost sweet, and the effect is really uplifting; it reminds me of the weed from Dutch coffee-shops that made the strain so popular. Plus, it is great for vaping and bongs, but that's more a matter of taste. My ten seeds have produced slightly over a kilo of bud in all, may the festival season begin joyfully and in abundance!