A marijuana seed or a clone are the two ways to start growing. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants that can be expressed in numerous different combinations. Some traits from the mother, some from the father, and many presenting various traits from both. Generally, commercial cannabis producers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant to get consistent genetics for mass production.
But for the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics. Read on for more info on marijuana seeds.
What are cannabis seeds?
Cannabis plants can be male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. However, for reproduction, the flower of a female plant must be pollinated by a male plant to produce seeds.
Once the marijuana seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die. The seeds are either dropped to the ground where they germinate and grow into new cannabis plants the next spring, or they are harvested for processing into seed oil, food products, or to be sown to become the next generation of plants.
The female cannabis plant doesn’t create seeds when no males are present. Therefore, the plants focus their energy on creating high quality buds. This high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless”.
Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant. This usually happens when environmental stress is high. These plants, known as hermaphrodites, can sometimes self-pollinate and create seeds.
Feminised vs regular vs auto cannabis seeds
Seeds come in three varieties: feminised, regular or auto.
Regular marijuana seeds
Regular seeds are harvested from a female plant that has been pollinated by a male plant. There is no way to tell if a regular seed will produce a male or female plant.
Feminised marijuana seeds
Feminised cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds. Therefore, there is no need to remove males or worry about the plants getting pollinated. Feminised seeds are produced by causing the monoecious, or hermaphrodite condition in a female cannabis plant. Only one set of genes is present. Therefore, the resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated—or “selfed”—female parent.
Commonly referred to as “cloning by seed”, this will not produce any male plants. By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)
Most experienced growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes.
Autoflower marijuana seeds
When the amount of light cannabis plants are exposed to each day is reduced to about 12 hours, most will start flowering. This mimics the sun going down in the sky as the season turns to autumn.
However, a species of the plant, called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the term “autoflower.”
Some breeders have crossbred the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties to create autoflower strains that start blooming as soon as they reach maturity. These can be easier to maintain and can be especially great in northern climates where summers are short and cold, wet weather comes early in the fall.
Autoflower strains can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer to take advantage of the highest quality light available. Growers can fit in multiple autoflower harvests in the span of a regular harvest.
One drawback, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent.
What makes a cannabis seed high quality?
The most important factor in seed quality is genetics—to grow quality cannabis, you need good genetics. Some less scrupulous breeders will simply cross a nice female with a random male and sell the resulting seeds. A good breeder will take time to cross and backcross plants to stabilize the most desirable traits, while still producing an array of different phenotypes.
Seeds must be allowed to fully mature before harvest. Mould or other pathogens that spoil seeds can be prevented by proper storage. The ideal conditions for storage is in a cool, dark place and used within 16 months. Alternatively, marijuana seeds can be frozen for future use.