How do cannabis seeds work? Learn how to store your seeds, how long you can store them for, how to germinate them and their internal biology. If you're looking to start growing your own marijuana, the first place to start is with the seed. What should you look for? How can you tell a good cannabis seed from a dud? Chris Bond tells us. The marijuana seed can be both inspiring and intimidating. Check out our guide to cannabis seeds before you start your first grow.
How do Cannabis Seeds Work
How do cannabis seeds work? You might not think that this is important, but knowing how seeds work can give you important insight on how to store them and what the germination profess involved. Cannabis seeds are technically small, oval-shaped dried fruit, around 3-4mm long and 1.5-2mm wide. They’re covered in a very subtle membrane, and underneath that layer there’s a much harder layer which is the largest system of the embryo, covering it and protecting it.
On the inside of the seeds you can find a substance called albumen, which is a nutritional reserve that keeps the embryo healthy until germination; it’s also the seeds initial source of energy once it begins germinating.
Now, for the center of the seed, home to the precious embryo from which your new plant will grow from. It contains the plant’s genetic code alongside four other parts; the radicle, the hypocotyl, cotyledons and gemmules. The radicle is the embryonic root; this is the part of the seed where roots come from. The hypocotyl is known as the embryonic stage, and the cotyledons are in charge of those first few leaves that you can see once the seed germinates.
Cannabis seeds, just like many other plant seeds, grow in pollinated flowers on female plants; seeds only contain the plant’s genetic code, so they don’t have any of the active principals in the plant, meaning that if you were to smoke it you wouldn’t get any sort of psychoactive or medicinal effect. They can be eaten however, as they provide an enormous amount of beneficial proteins, including Omega 3, 6 and 9. The aroma that comes from the seeds when burning isn’t pleasant at all, and if you’ve ever been smoking a joint that had a random seed in it then you know exactly what I’m talking about; they taste like some sort of burnt barbecue that ruins the taste of even the best, strongest tasting weed out there.
Germinating seeds correctly depends on different factors; the main one being how mature the seed is. Seeds that look too white, green or the skin seems to be coming off or not there at all tend to be too young still, although there are seeds of this stature that will germinate perfectly, depending on the strain. Strains like Somango, or hybrids that come from it, and Haze seeds are some of the whitest seeds you can find on the market; sativa seeds tend to be much smaller than indica seeds, like Thai seeds are generally much smaller than afghan seeds. In this case, size doesn’t matter at all; if a seed is smaller than others that doesn’t mean that it’s going to have issues germinating or that it will grow smaller plants. Smaller seeds generally have less protection, but they’re much easier to germinate. Seeds can take between 3-18 days to germinate depending on the conditions such as temperature, humidity, substrate composition etc. The longer the seeds take to germinate, the less likely that they are going to germinate. Sometimes if after a while it still hasn’t germinated, you can gently squeeze the seed to break the outer shell and if done right, you can help the root to leave the shell; if done wrong, you’ll end up completely squishing the seed and any chances of germination that it had.
During the time the seed is maturing various factors need to occur for the seed to be able to germinate in the best conditions. Seeds have a germination period of three years, which is the average time estimated that seeds can be kept in good conditions; it’s not the same to keep your seed in a fresh, dry area than in a hot and humid one. Humid areas will damage seeds, stimulating their metabolism with the humidity without stimulating germination which could even kill the seed off entirely. Water absorption is due to the water potential difference between the seed and its surroundings. Water reaches the embryo through all of the layers of the seed, which then activates the development of the radicle; once this process begins, seeds need more oxygen than water, so giving your seeds too much water might in fact “drown” them. This is why we highly recommend not germinating your seeds in glasses of water, as the oxygen-water ratio is nowhere near optimal for germination.
By lowering oxygen levels as well as temperature storage levels you can increase the life-span of your seed for up to 20 years. Another storage technique is to dehydrate the seeds around 2-5%; no more is recommended as it might affect the internal constitution of the seed. Temperature is extremely important as it regulates the activity of the enzymes during germination; during storage, temperature regulates the embryos metabolism.
Oxygen is found in nature in a concentration of about 21%; seeds tend to germinate in conditions with around 20-21% oxygen, and hardly any seeds can germinate with a lower concentration than that; the only plants that can really do that are marine plants and algae, which need 8% oxygen.
Now that you know how cannabis seeds work, you can store your babies for up to 20 years if you want to, and give them the perfect conditions in which to open up their shells and let the radicle take over growing the roots. Happy growing!
10 Markers of a Quality Marijuana Seed
If you’re looking to start growing your own marijuana, the first place to start is with the seed. What should you look for? How can you tell a good cannabis seed from a dud? Chris Bond tells us.
So, you’ve decided to grow your own marijuana from seed. How do you know if those little, round nuggets in your hand will grow up lush and produce beautiful, productive buds? How do you know if they are duds? While ultimately the genetics will determine the destiny of those little weed seeds, and proper care will help them to realize their full potential, there are some markers you can assess to see if what you have is quality seed, indeed.
What to Look for in a Cannabis Seed
While all cannabis seed is not identical in color, there are some consistencies. Healthy, viable seed will be light to dark brown in color. Seed that is light green or even whitish in color is underdeveloped and should be tossed out. Healthy seed will also have a burled or turtle shell-like pattern on its seed coat.
A quality cannabis seed will have a waxy, protective coating. Seeds that appear dull are probably not as viable and should be avoided if given a choice.
Quality cannabis seed will look like a plump teardrop. Flat or misshapen seeds will not likely produce quality plants.
Quality seed will be firm. Cannabis seed should have a strong seed coat protecting the pre-emerged life inside. Any seed that is tender, pliable or squishy should not be planted; poor results will follow if attempted.
Size is relative, but if you are able to compare several seeds at once, the higher quality seeds are larger. When it comes to seeds, less is more. The fewer seeds that comprise any given amount, an ounce or a gram for example, is generally an indicator of higher quality seeds. The biggest seeds within a species generally have more energy stored within them and have a greater potential to mature into a productive plant. Note that indica strains tend to produce larger seeds than sativa strains so make sure the comparison is made among like seeds.
Weight often goes hand-in-hand with size, but heavier seeds are generally of higher quality than lighter ones. The older a seed gets, the more potential loss of moisture and nutrients, reducing its overall weight. Damaged seed, which has been cracked can potentially lose those same necessary qualities.
#7 Float test
Quality seeds will sink in water. In glass or vessel, place room temperature water deep enough to full cover the volume of seeds to be tested. Place your seed or seeds in the water. After a couple of hours, anything still floating, should not be considered a quality seed. Soaking seeds will allow moisture to cross over the protective membrane and signal the seed that it is time to grow. As such this test should not be performed if the intent is to store the seeds after testing as it may render otherwise quality seed unviable if not meant to be immediately germinated afterwards.
You may not have access to see or have verified information on the storage conditions of seeds, but if you can find this out, it is critical to maintaining quality seeds. While cannabis seeds can be viable for over 10 years in some instances, the best seed in terms of productivity is not more than 12 to 18 months old. It should have been stored in dark, cool and dry conditions to prevent mold or the onset of any fungal issues. Storing in a freezer can prolong seeds as well, essentially suspending time.
#9 Age at harvest
This is another aspect you, the buyer may not be privy to. Quality seed is harvest when fully mature. If seed was collected before the plant was able to load as much stored energy into it as possible, then that seed will be starting out life in a deficit. Color, as referenced above can be an indicator of whether or not a seed was harvested at the appropriate time.
You get what you pay for and a cannabis seed is not exempt from this maxim. Quality seeds are not cheap (at least when compared to other agricultural seeds). This isn’t to say that inferior seeds can’t be overpriced, but if you find cannabis seeds proclaiming excellent genetics for sale at a price that seems too good to be true, caveat emptor.
This is not meant to be a definitive list, as new varieties of cannabis emerge on the scene all the time that may have “normal” traits that would otherwise be viewed as deficiencies in other strains. As always, do your homework, ask other growers who know and buy your seeds from a reputable source.
Cannabis Seeds 101: Your Intro Guide To The Marijuana Seed
If you’re thinking about diving into the world of growing, why not start from the ground up? Here’s an introduction course to cannabis seeds.
If you’re a wannabe pot grower, you need to be an expert on all things cannabis seeds. This knowledge needs to be gained before you even purchase your first marijuana seed in order to ensure a successful grow. While we’ve given guides on how to begin the plant process and how to see it through to a bountiful harvest, you may be seeking more information about the seed itself. And so, without further ado, here’s our intro course to cannabis seeds.
Basic Plant Biology
To put it in the most basic terms, a seed is a plant that is in its embryonic stage. Like animals, plants reproduce by, well, reproduction. The process actually isn’t totally dissimilar from that of animals. In order to produce a seed, a plant’s ovule (like an ovum, or egg) needs to be fertilized by pollen (similar to sperm).
Once the ovule is fertilized by the pollen, a seed is formed. Like an embryo, a seed contains a wealth of genetic material. Inside that one tiny object is the future of the organism. And like animals, the fate and final outcome of the seed is almost entirely dependent on how you treat it in its early stages of development. Here’s how to set up your baby, er, cannabis plant, for health and success.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds
Before you plant your seeds, you’re going to want to germinate them. What is germination? It’s basically a process by which seeds become hydrated. When they are hydrated, the enzymes in them become activated and ready to grow. When a seed is properly and completely germinated, the beginning of a root emerges from the seed’s shell.
So how do you germinate your cannabis seeds? First, you have to determine whether or not your seed is even viable. According to the experts, an ideal marijuana seed should be dark in color with black stripes. If you have seeds that look like that, great! Germination should be successful. There are a few methods of germination, but the easiest one is the paper towel method. Simply put your seeds between two damp paper towels on top of a flat surface, like a tray, and keep that on top of a warm surface. A root should break through the seed in just a few days.
If a root isn’t showing up in the expected time, you may need to stick it in some water for a day or so. This will help soften up the exterior of the shell and make it easier for the root to emerge.
What is a Feminized Marijuana Seed?
You may have heard the term “feminized marijuana seed”. But do you know what it means? According to our very own cannabis strain expert, Danny Danko, “feminized seeds are the result of using “male” pollen from a hermaphroditic plant to fertilize a female flower, resulting in plants that can be female or hermaphrodites but never males.”
Are Cannabis Seeds Legal?
Okay, so now you know the basics of what seeds are and how to begin the planting process. Feeling inspired and planning your grow operation already? Great! But first thing’s first. You have to buy some. But where? Since cannabis is federally illegal, surely the embryonic form of cannabis is prohibited as well, right? Not necessarily. If you reside in a state with either legal recreational weed or a medical marijuana program, chances are, you will be able to purchase seeds without any issue. However, some medical marijuana programs do not allow the purchase or possession of cannabis seeds for home growing. So make sure you do your research regarding your state’s medical marijuana program or recreational cannabis laws.
Buying A Marijuana Seed Supply
Once you’ve done your research and you have determined that yes, buying cannabis seeds is totally legal, the next step is to actually make your purchase. So where do you buy them? More to the point, where do you buy quality seeds? Your best bet is making the purchase at your dispensary. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your seeds will be high quality. And if you need guidance on what kind of seeds to buy (ie what strain would work well in whatever environment or climate you live in), the people working in the dispensary should be able to help you out.
It might be tempting to buy your seeds online. You’ve probably seen ads for websites claiming to sell superior seeds at an attractively low price. We strongly recommend that you do not fall into this trap. As with many things, keep the motto “buyer beware” in mind. Purchasing anything online has its risks. But cannabis seeds are particularly tricky because of the federal prohibition. Where you buy your seeds is ultimately up to you. But we recommend that you make your purchase at a dispensary or a trusted friend or colleague.
Storing Your Seed
Once you determine the legality of cannabis seeds in your state, have figured out what kind of cannabis you want to grow and have purchased your marijuana seed of choice, what’s next? You’re going to have to store your seed. But what is the optimal way to do this?
It is ideal to store them before germination. To do this, you’ll need an airtight container that is either opaque or dark colored. Keep your marijuana seed in this container and then store the container in a cool, dry and dark area. To ensure absolute dryness, some cannabis growers like to stick one or two packets of food-grade desiccants in the container as well. If those kinds of chemicals scare you, however, some dry rice to soak up any potential moisture can work too.
Final Hit: What Do You Do With Your Cannabis Seeds?
So what do you once your seed supply is successfully germinated? It may just be time to plant it and begin the next phase of your cannabis grow process! This next phase involves choosing the right growing medium for your needs, the right environment (like a grow box or greenhouse) and the best grow lights (if you’re growing indoors) to ensure healthy plants.