Scaling up your outdoor crop with autoflowers: The Pure Healing case

Pure Healing is one of Portugal’s first licensed cannabis producers. In August 2021 they received their legal license to grow. The problem was, as an outdoor grower, August was just a little too late in the season to plant traditional photoperiod feminized seeds. Rather than waiting until the 2022 grow season, Pure Healing decided to plant an outdoor crop of autoflower seeds instead. Taking around 3 months to grow from seed to harvest, autoflower seeds allowed Pure Healing to produce their first cash crop in double quick time. Quality exceeded expectations with THC levels independently verified at 25-30% from the October harvest.

What are autoflower cannabis seeds?
Outdoors, auto seeds grow from seed to harvest in around 3 months. That’s far faster than photoperiod feminized strains. For Pure Healing auto seeds were the only realistic option to produce a crop from an August start date. The fact that autos generally produce slightly lower yields and smaller bushier plants was a small price to pay for the late season grow.

In terms of quality, autoflower seeds produce the same cannabinoids and terpenes in the same quantities. But the rapid 3 month grow cycle means that autoflower yields outdoors are often around 2-4 ounces per plant with plant heights around 3-4 feet high.

"In Europe, auto seeds have become particularly popular with both indoor and outdoor growers with a reputation for ease-of-growth and fast, easy harvests."

What benefits do they offer? 
Many growers use auto seeds alongside feminized seeds. For the outdoor grower, autos offer the opportunity to revenue a crop every 3 months or so. Yields per plant may be lower than those from photoperiod feminised strains, but with 2 or 3 successive auto crops per year they offer the opportunity for regular, fast harvests. This spreads the risk for the licensed grower and allows a revenue stream to flow continually rather than only at the season end. Many also grow autoflower seeds indoors. The short, stocky, and highly branched plant structure lends itself perfectly to those growing indoors in multi-level grows 

THC levels and potency
Pure Healing germinated their autoflower seeds in August and harvested in October/November. The speed of the 3-month grow cycle allowed them to revenue their first legal grow. The mild outdoor Portuguese climate and long growing season allowed the plants to ripen just in time. Two strains were selected to grow following consultations with Dutch Passion, these were Auto Cinderella Jack (28% THC levels recorded by Pure Healing) and Auto Skywalker Haze (27% THC). "The premium THC levels allowed good pricing for Pure Healing’s first crop and allowed them to establish an early reputation as a quality leader."

Strict product processes and quality control 
Understanding why medical cannabis is so important to their customers comes naturally to Pure Healing. The need for strict control of all production parameters is fully understood by all team members. Pure Healing currently have 5000m2 of outdoor production and 150m2 of greenhouse production. All their cultivation is done using proprietary organic methods.

Auto seeds grow easily in any grow medium and bloom under any light cycle whether that be indoors or outdoors. "For Pure Healing autoflowers have enabled fast harvests and extra revenue which simply wouldn't have been possible any other way."

"The results speak for themselves. Heavy auto harvests of buds with 25-30% THC, independently measured, is a dream start for any licensed cannabis producer. Licensed cannabis producers around the world increasingly see autoflower seeds as a key part of their outdoor cultivation strategy, often alongside photoperiod strains."

Disadvantages and downsides? 
Autoflowers tend to yield less than the average photoperiod feminized strain. That’s logical enough, autoflowers complete their grow cycle in around half the time (or less) of a feminised strain. So if you want the heaviest harvests, an autoflower is at a disadvantage compared to fem strains. Autos tend to max out at a height of around a metre, whereas fem strains may reach 3-4m outdoors.

"Other than that there are no real downsides to autoflowers. Potency/quality is on a par with feminized strains. The question of whether auto or fem seeds best suit you depends on your grow circumstances and your approach to production. But many growers enjoy using both seed types. Each has their own benefits. Growers that can take advantage of the fast grow cycles (indoors or outdoors) tend to get maximum value from auto seeds."

"Ideal for outdoor growers with short grow seasons" 

"Anyone that finds their outdoor plants struggle to ripen in time will find auto seeds are a great insurance policy. An early fall storm can spell disaster for an outdoor grower with an outdoor crop of photoperiod feminised plants. Autoflower plants can grow from seed to harvest, depending on the variety, in 3-4 months. Outdoor growers as far north as Alaska really can get a premium quality outdoor harvest."

2-3 outdoor harvests per seasons 
Pure Healing was able to complete an autoflower harvest from seeds sown in August. In the future they will be able to produce 3 autoflower crops per year with just a slight overlap. For many outdoor growers (or greenhouse producers) the idea of being able to continually harvest plants throughout the year allows some new options for growers. "Instead of selling your product in fall at the same time as the rest of the outdoor growers, you will be able to revenue your harvests throughout the year. Not only does this smooth your cash flow, but it can also allow growers to spread their risks across the year instead of an all-or-nothing once a year harvest."

Strict quality control throughout the production 
When asked about the Pure Healing approach to quality control, co-founder Sergio commented: “We have regular tests that we make during the grow cycles. However, we also have two partnerships with scientific labs that help us and give us analytical data.”

"Pure Healing has not needed to invest large capital sums on indoor LED lighting, the mild Portuguese climate offers some of Europe’s sunniest weather, perfect for cannabis cultivation. We have invested heavily in other areas of our business, with a custom-built drying room. This was designed specifically for the size/scale of the operation. This allows slow, finely controlled bud drying. Something which licensed growers in other parts of the world know is essential in order to create a fine-quality end product rather than bland over-dried cannabis."

"A serious consideration for outdoor growers" 
"Many licensed, legal producers are increasingly aware of the potential for autoflower seeds to enhance and complement their grow operations, indoors or outdoors. In the case of Pure Healing, auto seeds were a genuine game changer and a horticultural eye-opener in terms of speed, convenience and quality. If you want to revenue harvests safely throughout the year, then perhaps autoflower seeds could offer something to your business too."

Click here to read more in Dutch Passion's interview of Sérgio Neto, co-founder of Pure Healing.

For more information:
Dutch Passion  


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