Quality seeds are the key to healthy plants and good harvests. While proper feeding/watering and good light quality obviously also affect the health and yield potential of your plants, starting a grow with top-shelf genetics is equally, if not more important. But how exactly do you tell quality cannabis seeds apart from the rest? In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to spot top-quality cannabis seeds, avoid duds, and start your grow off right.
Are your seeds light or dark in colour? Are they tough or do they turn to dust when you press them between your fingers? These are just some of the ways to tell if a seed is healthy and worth growing. Keep reading to learn more.
Appearance And Feel – Checking The Color, Size, and Shape Of Your Seeds
A quick web search will bring up all kinds of myths about how to tell female cannabis seeds from males. One of the most popular ones comes from a chart showing 5 different seeds that claims that the female seeds have “a perfectly round volcano-like depression at the bottom (from where the seed was attached to the plant).”
The fact that cannabis seeds can vary in appearance has led some growers to think that the size, shape, or color of a seed dictates its quality.
This simple and cost-effective method is a great way to tell the good genetics from the bad; they will sink or swim, literally. Seeds that remain buoyant on the surface are more than likely of poor quality and are to be discarded. Seeds that sink to the bottom like a botanical cannonball are probably healthy and should be germinated.
Understanding the genetic basis for CBD-type and THC-type plants has implications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state industrial hemp programs. The opportunity to know that seeds are CBD-type prior to planting is significant and seeds could be certified to guarantee consistency and quality.
“We validated a simple genetic test that can predict whether a plant will produce mostly the CBD or THC molecule, using a variety of Cannabis sativa plants,” said George Weiblen, who is a professor in the College of Biological Sciences and the Science Director & Curator of Plants at the Bell Museum. The research team, led by the Weiblen Lab, published their findings in the American Journal of Botany.
Taking a closer look at industrial hemp, the researchers found impurities in planting seed imported from Canada. Some varieties proved to be 100% pure CBD-type but a few had too much THC to meet the legal definition of industrial hemp. As for CBD products that claim to be 100% industrial hemp, Weiblen is also skeptical.
Industrial hemp growers monitor Cannabis sativa plants throughout the season and send samples off for chemical analysis, but THC levels peak at the plant’s maturity and can catch growers off guard. If the crop exceeds federal THC levels, the growers must destroy the crop. This makes growing industrial hemp much riskier than other crops. A University of Minnesota-led research team is hoping to change this.
Depending on the THC level, Cannabis plants earn the title of “hemp” or “marijuana.” However, the researchers argue that a definition based on THC alone doesn’t match the biology. Instead, they propose using the ratio of THC to CBD to separate THC-type plants from CBD-type plants.
Researchers were surprised when analyzing stands of ditch weed — populations descended from fiber hemp cultivated in Minnesota during WWII — contained both CBD-type and THC-type plants. The populations are mixed and the mixing of plant types extends beyond ditch weed. Weiblen notes that finding THC-type plants in a field of ditch weed is rare, a 1 in 100 chance. The THC levels are also much lower than what marijuana users are seeking.
Farmers always face uncertainty. Extreme weather, pest outbreaks and early frosts can dampen harvests or ruin them entirely. Industrial hemp growers deal with another uncertainty — whether their Cannabis sativa crop will meet legal THC standards. The molecules CBD and THC appear in different amounts in crops referred to as hemp and marijuana.
Also, you have to keep in mind that genetics isn’t an exact science and results could easily vary from company to company or from one scientist to the next. There’s a difference between tests a physician would carry out in a controlled lab setting and one that’s done at home.
More recently, Toronto-based Lobo Genetics has developed their own test that’s available in some Alberta stores. This genetics cannabis test looks at three specific genes to predict how one will react to using cannabis:
Decoding the DNA sequence of an individual is no longer a technique exclusively intended for scientific research. Although not so many years ago this technique was extremely costly in terms of money and time, today it’s become a routine technique used in genetic diagnostic laboratories and is affordable for many people.
Cannabis as personalized medicine
However, it should be noted that such genetic variations are rare. According to the latest research, only about 10 percent of occasional cannabis users develop a physiologic dependence, cravings, or other addiction-related behaviours that can affect everyday life.
Cannabis is widely known to be used for pain management. So could these tests help pave the way for making it legal everywhere and help end the opiate crises? Maybe.
The molecular diagnosis might allow medical professionals to tailor the treatment to each patient, including the dosage and duration of treatment. And all this also applies to medicinal cannabis.
Some medical experts warn that the tests done for cannabis genetic testing have been small, though. Previous exposure to drugs may also play a role in how one reacts, as well as many other genes other than the three that Lobo Genetics tests focus on.