For breeders seeking genetic stability regular seeds are the way to go. They are also essential for growers wishing to create their own clones.
Unlike feminized seed, regular seeds produce male and female plants. This means growers must pay attention to sexing, pulling out the male plants before they pollinate their crop.
Stable genetics are an essential trait for cannabis plants. Breeders must stabilise a strain over several generations by selecting healthy mothers and fathers, cross-pollinating them, and then evaluating the offspring to identify desirable traits. This process requires a significant amount of time, and it is often difficult for cultivators to justify investments in long-term breeding programs.
Seeds from stable parents can be used to produce clones that are identical in size and yield, and they can then be planted again to create new seeds. This is how a strain becomes a cultivar that can be sold to customers, and it is one of the reasons we think agtech companies specializing in plant trait development are compelling investment opportunities.
Feminized seeds, on the other hand, are not stable. They have been genetically tampered with to ensure that each seed produces a female plant, but they are not as robust as regular seeds. As a result, they do not grow as well or produce as much.
Unlike feminized seeds, regular seed will always contain a small percentage of male plants. This means that growers don’t have to worry about sifting out male plants in the pre-flowering stage and that they can focus all of their water and nutrients on their females.
Because of this, regular seeds can offer breeders a wider genetic diversity. This allows them to highlight specific traits in particular strains and create new phenotypes. However, this does require a significant amount of cultivation experience and time.
Some of Royal Queen Seeds’ best regular strains include Critical, a hardy and easy-to-grow cultivar that produces high yields in ten weeks. There’s also Bruce Banner, which is a superhero in every sense of the word and can yield large crops with THC levels up to 29%. It is also available in feminized form, if that’s your preference.
In plant conservation and restoration, maximising genetic diversity in seed collections is an important goal. Achieving this requires collecting seeds from a wide range of populations to capture variation within the species – and variations among populations (e.g., patterns of population structure).
In both Centaurea and Betonica, pairwise genetic diversity analyses separated conventional seeds without certified origin from the main cluster of natural populations – but they also strongly overlapped with regional seeds and some of the restored populations (see Figure 3).
However, it is not clear whether this is due to adaptation to different disturbance regimes or to differences in seed-collecting strategies. Further investigation is needed to understand these relationships and develop best practice guidelines for ensuring that native seed collections adequately represent the genetic diversity of standing populations. Generally speaking, a high level of genetic diversity in seeds should be possible even with small sampling sizes. Achieving this will require a combination of methods including random sampling, population structure balancing, and using multiple collection sites.
Regular seeds do not produce hermaphrodite plants by default and this is a big plus for many growers. Male cannabis plants are a nuisance to any sensimilla grower or seed breeder as they pollinate the female plants which can result in a lower yield than expected. It can also waste a lot of time and growing medium when trying to sex them.
Determining sex early on in a young plant can be difficult, as it depends on the strain and how rapidly it grows. However, most strains do have a small flower that shows in the vegetative stage that indicates if it is a male or female.
Feminized seeds eliminate the need for growers to sex their plants early on and this can save a lot of time, space and resources in a cultivation environment. It can also allow for faster and more consistent results in terms of harvest. There are also many traditional landrace genetics that have not been feminized and these are worth considering when working with seed.