After seeds are collected, they’re stored in opaque, air-tight containers to prevent them from rotting or sprouting prematurely. Though cannabis flower is usually cultivated to be seedless, sometimes the seeds are the whole point. Breeders pay special attention to the pollination, harvest time, and drying process when growing cannabis specifically for the seeds to improve the likelihood of a successful harvest.
Have you ever harvested cannabis seeds? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Another method is to simply let a healthy female age. If she grows past maturation, she will produce male “banana” pollen sacks without any male chromosomes. Though she may look like a hermaphroditic plant at this point (one containing the chromosomes of both male and female), the pollen she produces will contain only XX chromosomes and therefore cannot pass the Y (male) chromosome down to its heirs. Pollen collected in this way is then used to pollinate another female which will then produce female-only seeds.
This is how feminized cannabis seeds are produced. Breeders will carefully stress a healthy female plant to “trick” her into thinking her life or safety is in danger.
Though many grow ops aim to do away with seeds to grow fine sensimilla instead, sometimes breeders want seeds. Whether to grow their own crops or to sell to a demanding public, cannabis seed cultivators have their goals set on producing healthy, happy seeds in lieu of big, beautiful buds.
T here was a time in our not-too-recent history when a sack of weed almost always included seeds. But as cannabis cultivation evolved, so did the demand for sensimilla, or high-quality, seedless cannabis. Breeders not only began developing their own customized strains, they also started specializing in the cultivation of very special cannabis seeds. These seeds are used in both the breeding process and the wide-spread distribution of the carefully created strain itself.
But cannabis is an amazingly resilient plant and doesn’t require male pollination to produce seeds. Evolution has bestowed upon the cannabis plant an amazing ability to self-pollinate when there are no males around to do it for her. Whether stressed or old (for example, a female cannabis plant that is not harvested before her prime), if a female senses an environment that is not conducive to long-term growth, she will produce seeds in hopes that her legacy will continue.
The plants can “veg” here, or continue their vegetative growth phase, if trying to increase their size before seed production begins but it’s not necessary. Once the plants are large enough, they are put into a flowering light cycle of 12 hours light and 12 hours of complete darkness. Within a few weeks, the male will produce pollen sacks which will soon burst and get carried off into the air to pollinate the females. The females will now produce seeds which may continue to be used in the breeding process or harvested and sold to the public.
Yes, of course you can… if you’re not stuck on the principle that the next generation must absolutely be identical to the previous one.
And it’s not just the color that won’t be true to type: the plant’s size, the number of flowers, the taste (if it’s edible), its disease resistance and in fact almost any characteristic of the hybrid may show up differently in the F2 generation.
Hybrids are generally produced by meticulously hand pollinating one plant with another.
About Laidback Gardener
If you’re into growing plants from seed, especially vegetables and annuals, you’ve undoubtedly been warned you’re not supposed to collect seeds from hybrid plants. But why?!
So the choice is up to you: if you prefer trustworthy results from a hybrid seed-grown plant, buy fresh seeds when you run out, but if you like to experiment, go and ahead and sow what you reap!
Often when you sow the seeds of hybrid plants, you end up with some really interesting combinations of characteristics… but also some rather unfortunate ones. But by weeding out the undesirable plants and annually harvesting the seeds of plants that you judge the very best, you can eventually develop your own seed line that will probably, after some years of selection, be true to type.
Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
First, many seeds only have a shelf life of a few years and then the germination rates decrease dramatically. Parsnips are a good example of this. I have had extremely poor germination from parsnip seed I’ve keep for more than one year. So if you do wish to stock up on survival seeds, I suggest purchasing them in an airtight container that seals out moisture. If you open the package, pop a silica gel packet (desiccant) in before resealing to help prevent any damage from humidity.
Although most gardeners like to know what they’ll get when they plant seeds, there are pros to planting the seed from cross pollinated and hybrid plants. For starters, you could come up with a brand new variety of pumpkin, radish, or green bean. Plant breeders have worked for ages to develop new varieties of fruits and vegetables that produce better, resist disease, and bear earlier.
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If you wish to save heritage seeds in anticipation of the end of the world as we know it…here are a couple of things to think about…
There is quite a bit of misinformation out there about saving seeds. Again and again I read the pronouncements online that you can’t save seed from hybrid plants. This simply is not true. You can save seed from hybrid plants or from plants that have been cross pollinated. It is important to note, however, that the plants you grow from these saved seeds will carry the genetics from both ‘parents’ and may display different characteristics than you are expecting. If you are interested in growing heirloom seeds that grow true to type each year, check out my post Seeds for Self Sufficiency.
The best course of action is to start gardening and learn the skills needed to raise, prepare, and preserve your food. Each year seed should be saved to plant a garden the following year. Some crops are biennials and the seed can’t be gathered until the second year of growth. For these plants, some seed should be planted each year and some of the crop should be left in place to grow and produce seed the following year.
Second, there is a learning curve when you start gardening. It takes several years to gain the experience needed to grow enough food to sustain your family. So preppers should seriously learn the skills rather than just saving up boxes of seeds in hopes that they’ll have a great first garden.
Many preppers purchase and stash away a myriad of heritage, or open pollinated, seed varieties in anticipation of the collapse of society. Their plan is to start growing and saving heritage seed varieties when the grocery stores are closed and food is scarce. I think it is a good idea to keep extra seeds on hand, but I think it is a much better idea to grow a garden every year, save seeds from your crops, and develop new varieties that are better suited to your growing conditions.