The relatively recent developments of feminized and autoflowering seeds get all the attention, but there is still much to love about regular seed. For one, they give you the chance to cook up some exciting crossbreeds.
Growers working with regular seeds have to account for the fact that half their plants could be males, which reduces yield. They can also be more challenging to work with.
While feminized seeds are perfect for commercial growers that want a guaranteed ratio of female to male plants, many home growers choose to plant regular seed because of their ability to produce sex of either gender. Regular seeds are the way to go if you’re an advocate of organic growing and would rather let nature take its course, as well as if you’d like to try your hand at breeding.
You can experiment with a variety of strains by crossing them to create unique cultivars. Mixing an indica and sativa strain, for example, may lead to a more balanced cultivar with a quicker flowering time or even differing terpene profiles.
However, you’ll need to be able to distinguish between the male and female plants and remove them promptly to avoid hermaphroditism. This can be done by observing the plant’s pre-flowering stages to see its sex, or by using a simple reverse pollen method. It’s important to keep in mind that a male plant is needed to achieve any cross-breeding plans, as it will provide the genetic lineage to the next generation of cannabis.
There are a few things to consider when growing regular seeds or clones. Clones are exact copies of their mother plant, which is a big advantage if you want to produce a large harvest in a short amount of time. They can also suffer from problems caused by their mothers (such as powdery mildew) or from contaminants in the soil, so if you are working with clones it is important to keep them quarantined for a few days or weeks before introducing them into your garden.
Another benefit to cloning is that it avoids the need to wait for seeds to germinate and grow into seedlings. However, germination is an important skill that many experienced growers feel is better learned from scratch. Seeds also offer a chance to experiment with phenotypes and can bring in unique characteristics that you cannot duplicate with clones. For example, some growers find that growing from seeds leads to plants with longer, heavier buds.
Pollination is an essential part of the plant reproduction process. It occurs when pollen from a male flower’s anthers rubs or drops onto a female flower’s stigma, fertilizing it and producing seeds. Pollen is released through two tiny pores in a flower’s anthers. Bees bite the anthers and buzz to shake them loose, releasing thousands of pollen grains in under a second.
Other plants rely on insect pollinators, such as tomatoes, strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, almonds and many other fruits and vegetables. Many seed savers grow varieties that bloom at different times to prevent unwanted cross-pollination.
To hand-pollinate a cannabis plant, simply apply pollen from a male flower with a cotton ball or brush to the anther of a female cannabis plant and wait three days until she flowers. A good indicator that a female has been pollinated is the bracts on her buds becoming larger. They should then swell and become a darker color, as this indicates they have been fertilized.
Saving seeds is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. Indigenous societies and early farmers stewarded their food systems by collecting, saving and planting seeds season after season.
The benefits of seed saving are multifaceted. It’s a way to ensure gardeners have access to traditional varieties, decrease reliance on large corporations and their inconsistent supply chains, and support community connections through events like seed swaps.
The process is relatively simple, but it does require some skill. Knowing which plants will cross-pollinate is key to success. Annual plants that set seed and die in a single growing season are easy to save, while perennials like kale, carrots and onions need two growing seasons to produce seeds. Harvesting wet seed (such as from tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers) requires careful timing so that the seeds are mature enough to be eaten. The seeds must be removed from the wet pulp or gelatinous coating, and dried thoroughly.