Seeds are something so small and pretty simple initially, but become a lot more important when put into the context of growing! Most commonly, cannabis grows are started in one of two ways: seeds or clones. Seeds carry the genetic information from two parent plants, and will express themselves with traits more similar to the mother or at times like the father, or even a combination of the two.
When cannabis is produced commercially, many seeds of a single strain will often be chosen and grown until the grower establishes their favourite or the most favourable plants. They will then take snippings, or clones, from these plants to use for future grows so they can obtain consistent genetics for mass production.
Normal growers will do this too as a way of ensuring the continuation of a certain plants genetics, either for growing or breeding purposes.
For the common homegrower, it’s often easier to use seeds. Growing from seeds can also provide a stronger plant with more reliable genetics.
Cannabis seeds – what are they?
As we’ve noted before, cannabis can be either female or male – so they are dioecious plants. However, it is only the females that produce the usable buds which most of us are after. However, for breeding purposes, the flower of a female plant must be pollinated by a male plant, after which the female will produce seeds with genetic material from both plants.
Once these seeds reach maturity, the female begins to die and causes the seeds to fall to the ground where they will germinate and form new cannabis plants. Alternatively, these seeds will be taken and harvested for processing into seed oil, other food and health products, or used for the next generation of plants.
When you are in search of the consumable buds, female plants must be grown apart from male plants to avoid pollination. This prevents the females from generating seeds and pushes the plant to create the highly potent cannabis buds/nugs known as “sinsemilla”, which means “seedless”.
Lastly, cannabis can present itself with both male and female parts on one plant. These can occur when the plant faces high stress levels, and are known as hermaphrodites.
Feminised Cannabis Seeds
Feminised seeds are genetically modified to only produce female plants in order to create buds – this removes the possibility of males and thus the chance of seeds.
These seeds are produced by causing the monoecious, or hermaphrodite condition, in the female cannabis plant. These seeds are near identical to self-pollinated, or “selfed”, female parent – as only one set of genes is present.
At times this is referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce male plants. This is achieved by various methods:
- By spraying the plant with a solution consisting of colloidal silver, a liquid containing small silver particles
- The rodelization method – where a female plant pushes past maturity and can then pollinate another female
- Seeds can be sprayed with gibberellic acid – a hormone which triggers germination, but this is a lot less common.
Something to keep in mind is that feminised seeds only contain one set of genes, thus they are not suitable for breeding purposes.
Autoflower Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis plants will commonly start flowering with a change of light cycles, more specifically when the light they receive each day is reduced to 12 hours a day. This mimics the setting of the sun as the seasons change, most commonly changing into autumn as most plants are germinated in spring.
However, the species of plant known as Cannabis ruderalis ignore this rule. These developed in northern conditions with little sunlight, allowing them to develop in such a way that they start flowering once the plant reaches maturity as opposed to a change in light cycles. This is how they became known as “autoflower” cannabis plants.
Breeders have now taken these low-THC varieties and cross bred them with stronger genetics, allowing for the growth of potent high-THC autoflowers. These are often easier and simpler to maintain, and they grow much quicker than other seeds. Due to these factors, growers can fit multiple harvests into one grow season!
High-CBD Cannabis Seeds
Although most cannabis these days is bred for a high THC content, cannabis can be bred and grown for a high CBD content too. CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found within the plant, and is second in popularity only to THC. However, CBD has gained much popularity in recent years due to its medical potential in helping manage various health conditions. Cannabis plants also produce these two main compounds in vastly different ways.
Cannabis plants grown to be used for hemp have been selected for their unique traits, which includes low THC levels. Because of this, many of these plants also produce a high level of CBD. As CBD has risen in popularity, more breeders are crossing high THC strains with high CBD hemp plants. This results in strains containing little to no THC at all but high CBD levels, 1:1 ratios of THC to CBD, or those that still have high levels of THC but a much higher CBD level too (3% or more).
These seeds are now a lot more readily available online than they were before. However, growing CBD is more difficult than the other options, and genetics are still somewhat unreliable.
What determines a high quality seed?
The most vital factor that determines seed quality is the genetics. In order to grow great quality plants, you’ll need trusted genetics. Breeders who take less care in their work will cross a quality female with a random male, which doesn’t produce the highest quality seed.
Whereas a good breeder will take their time to cross and backcross their plants to stabilise the most desired traits, while continuing to produce an array of phenotypes.
Seeds must also be allowed to mature fully before they are harvested. They then need to be stored in optimal conditions to prevent mould growth or other pathogens that aren’t ideal. Ideally, seeds are stored in a cool and dark place, and used within 16 months – or they can be frozen for future use.
Now you know the basics of cannabis seeds and will be able to make an informed decision next time you buy your cannabis seeds or know where to start if you’re new to growing!