Cannabis seeds have an incredible amount of potential once they’re ready for germination. During this period, the seed will start to develop roots and two small embryonic leaves called cotyledons.
These first leaves are a telltale sign that the seed is good to go. There are several boxes that growers can tick to ensure premium seeds, from visual assessment to simple DIY tests.
Male or Female?
Many growers prefer to work with female plants, as they produce buds. Some seed companies offer both male and female seeds, while others focus solely on producing only females, which are referred to as feminized seeds.
Feminized seeds are produced through a process known as feminizing, which removes the plant’s male chromosomes. This allows for a greater percentage of females in a crop and reduces the risk of cross-pollination, which can drastically reduce yields.
However, it’s important to know that there is no way to tell a seeds sex simply by looking at it. There are no other indicators, such as weight or coloration, that can help determine the sex of a seed.
Size or Shape?
Cannabis seeds are oval-shaped and can vary in size. They have a delicate outer shell that protects the immature embryo inside. Some strains have a heavier or lighter shell, but this is not an indicator of their quality.
It’s also possible for a seed to show minor differences in shape, such as one of the extremities being rounded while the other is pointed. This is natural and has nothing to do with its germination potential.
A good way to test a seed is to squeeze it. Quality seeds are firm, and they should not crumble or bend under pressure. Any that are pliable or squishy should not be planted as they may not survive the process of germination.
Do I Need a Male Plant?
Feminized cannabis seeds are best for beginner growers because they eliminate the need to determine a plant’s gender. This process involves selecting the best female plants and using them as’mothers’ to produce clones, which are exact genetic copies of their mother.
Male plants merely produce pollen, which is needed for the females to naturally reproduce and create seeds. The male weed plants will develop ‘balls’ that open up and release pollen, making it easy to tell them apart from the females, which have flowering buds full of seeds.
The simplest way to determine a plant’s sex is to examine the calyx. A matured flower will appear a different color than an immature calyx, as well as have two white hairs sticking out from the buds that are known as stigma.
Can I Test Seeds?
Due to cannabis’ criminalisation, the industry lags far behind other mainstream agricultural sectors in terms of quality control. Thankfully, seed companies are working hard to close the gap and offer seeds of the same high vigour and quality found in commercial crops.
One cost-effective and simple trick is to test a batch of seeds by placing them in a glass of lukewarm water. Good-quality seeds should sink to the bottom of the glass while low-grade seeds will float on the surface. This method can take a few hours to give results, so be patient! This also applies to stored seeds. Make sure they’re stored in a dark place to avoid light and heat degradation.
Do I Need to Germinate Seeds?
Cannabis seeds are quite fragile and require a lot of care. It is recommended that you germinate your seeds before planting them. Germinating seeds is simple and can be done in a number of ways. Most online seed sellers have guides on their websites, and there are also plenty of grower communities that you can join for more tips and advice.
Germination involves allowing your seeds to soak in water for 24 to 72 hours. The process triggers hormones that encourage the embryonic plant to sprout and begin growing. The sprouted seed will develop a stem and the first set of tiny leaves (cotyledons). You can then transplant it into its desired growing medium.
How to Test Seeds
If you are a hobby home grower, it might be worth your while to invest the time in testing each seed. If you are cultivating for profit, you might not have the time to take on such a risky project.
One simple way to test seeds is to simply float them in water. A healthy seed should sink to the bottom of the glass or jar while seeds that float are likely not viable. The float test takes patience, however, as you will have to wait a few hours before you can confirm results. A quick alternative to this test is to crush the seeds between your index finger and thumb. If the seeds crack, they are likely not viable.