When it comes to buying cannabis seeds, many people ask whether they should buy regular or feminized seeds. Both have their own benefits, but it depends on the grower’s goals.
Regular seeds operate exactly how nature intended. They have an equal chance of producing either male or female plants. Female plants produce smokeable bud, while male plants produce pollen sacks.
Optimal 50/50 Split of Male and Female Seeds
Before feminized seeds made at-home cultivation easier, cultivators grew cannabis from regular seed. These unaltered seeds produce an average of 50/50 male and female crops. While male plants produce pollen sacks that are useful for breeding purposes, only hermaphrodite crops bear buds rich in cannabinoids for consuming.
Cultivating regular seeds involves a bit of trial and error as each crop will develop its own traits. These may include yield, terpene profile, flowering time, insect resistance and more. With careful observation, growers can select the phenotypes that exhibit the qualities they desire and keep them in the vegetative phase as mother plants for future clones.
Fem seeds eliminate the need to cull a large number of plants in early flowering. They also carry a lower risk of accidental pollination, as the fem plants don’t have the Y chromosome required for male-producing flowers. These characteristics can make fem seeds ideal for home growers looking to save money.
Genetically Unaltered Seeds
Heirloom seeds have a long history of being passed down from generation to generation. Unlike hybrids which can only be used once, heirloom seeds can be saved and planted year after year. Heirloom varieties can also be grown organically.
One of the biggest arguments against genetically modified seeds is that they cause environmental harm. Melvin J. Oliver, a molecular biologist with the United States Department of Agriculture and the primary inventor of the terminator seed technology, stated that his main motive in creating these seeds was economic.
Currently, Monsanto holds the majority of the US market for genetically engineered seeds. Researchers worry that this consolidation has slowed the development of new varieties and could limit farmers’ ability to adapt to climate change. They suggest that removing unnecessary barriers for smaller seed companies while maintaining safety regulations would allow for greater diversity. Farmers have a lot of challenges to meet as temperatures rise, and they need a full toolbox of strategies.
A grower who chooses to use regular seeds can breed plants that have been bred for specific traits, such as vigour or flavour. These can then be used to produce clones, which will have the same desired characteristics.
In order to create new strains, a male plant must pollinate a female. This will result in seeds with a 50/50 chance of expressing either male or female chromosomes. From these seeds both hermaphrodites and intersex flowers can be produced.
Hermaphrodite plants are useful in breeding because they can be used to create hybrids. However, they do not produce buds that are very potent and may not have as much flavour.
For these reasons, some growers prefer to use regular seeds when creating strains. They can also create unique phenotypes and cultivars that are not available in feminized seeds. For example, Heims, a plant breeder from Oregon, visited Papua New Guinea and found a hearty sativa that has evolved genetics that protect it against powdery mildew.
Suitable for Mother Plants
Keeping mother plants is a crucial part of the cannabis growers toolkit. The process is not for beginners, but it is very rewarding for experienced growers. A good quality mother plant will produce clones that retain her unique phenotype, growth pattern, aroma, taste, yield, resistance to pests, THC/CBD ratio, and more.
The key to a good mother is not to tamper with her by taking cuttings too often. She needs to be able to remain perpetually in the vegetative stage, and this requires optimal nutrition.
Using a base nutrient blend that is formulated for your specific growing medium (e.g. Advanced Nutrients pH Perfect in soil, or pH Perfect Sensi Coco in hydroponics) will ensure your plant is getting exactly what it needs to thrive. Adding effective supplements such as Vitamin B, B-52 and Voodoo Juice will also improve your results.