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cannabis seed markings

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Cannabis seed production begins with the pollen grain of a male plant. From this grain, a pollen tube grows, producing male generative cells that disperse in the form of pollen. The migration of pollen into a female plant ovule triggers pistils to fall off and seed production to begin. The bracts, which contain the ovule, will then fill with seeds.

In 1982, Indian breeders made a major advance in cannabis botany with the development of the feminized seed. The key difference between feminized marijuana seeds and regular marijuana seeds is that feminized seeds have been engineered to produce exclusively female plants, whereas with regular seeds you can’t really predict if the mature plant will be male or female. This matters for cultivation since smokable flowers are produced only by female plants. Further, a male plant can potentially ruin a harvest if it pollinates nearby female plants, which produces flowers full of seeds.

What's the difference between feminized, regular, and autoflower Seeds?

The embryonic plant protected by an outer shell, formed when pollen fertilizes the female plant. Marijuana seeds are ready to plant and grow once they successfully germinate, or once the root has broken through the seed. They can be found in multiple forms; regular, feminized, and auto-flowering. Home growers of cannabis often choose to grow feminized seeds to ensure that the adult plant will be a flowering female.

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Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Seeds can remain viable for three to ten years if stored properly, but more and more seeds will fail to germinate as time passes. Older seeds will take more time to germinate, so growers should use the float test before assuming the viability of their stored seeds. They can speed germination by soaking the viable seeds in water mixed with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours. It is important to watch them closely for signs of opening, as they will need to be removed immediately to avoid drowning.

A high-quality marijuana seed has a dark color, typically a shade of brown, grey, or black. It should have tiger-like stripes or spots on the entire surface of the seed. If the seed is green or white, it is immature and is not likely to germinate. In the rare circumstance that an immature seed germinates, it takes much longer than it would for a mature seed.

A lot of information can be gleaned from the texture and hardness of a marijuana seed. After visually inspecting the seeds, growers can pick them up and feel their shell for the following:

Germinating Old Seeds

While it is best to identify male marijuana plants by their pollen sacs as soon as possible to avoid accidental pollination, there is another way to determine a plant’s sex. If male and female seeds are planted at the same time, the male plants will grow faster and taller than the female plants. Additionally, male plants have longer stems with fewer leaves, making them look spindly compared to female plants.

There are several visual indicators that can give a person an idea about the quality of a marijuana seed. Some details are easy to spot while others take a higher level of scrutiny.

A mature, high-quality marijuana seed has a hard shell that can withstand the pressure of being squeezed between two fingers. Poor quality seeds will disintegrate when squeezed. If this happens, the seed was weak or dead and would not have grown a viable plant if it germinated at all.

Many growers who have numerous marijuana seeds need to store them long term if they want to germinate them in the future. However, seeds need to be kept in specific conditions to remain viable. They should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry room, much like the environment in which growers dry their harvested marijuana.