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June 18, 2018



There are many different ways one can start to grow cannabis.  The most obvious and common practice is to grow cannabis from seed.  Seeds are a great way to keep genetics viable in stasis over long periods of time.  In fact, other than tissue culture seeds are the only way to keep genetics stored or “backed up” in suspended animation.  Most seeds can keep for a year or two in a cool, dry, dark environment with little to no degradation.  However, storing seeds long term takes special preparation both in storage and in germination.


    Unless I am breeding, I myself prefer to grow from clone.  With a clone I know exactly what I am getting because it’s an exact copy of the donor plant… like if you cut off your thumb and grew another “you” from it.  Now with seeds, usually they are the offspring of two different strains which means… Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.  Now if you have set plans and random isn’t good enough, there is another natural option...  We can “self” a plant.  Selfing a plant means that you manipulate it into pollenating itself.  In order to “self” a plant, we treat a pubescent flowering female cannabis plant with a silver compound that causes a physiological change in its sex.  Once treated with silver for long enough, the female plant will present male parts in the flowers called stamen.  These stamen look like tiny yellowish bananas… nature has the best sense of humour.  Most often, self sexing stamen have a little pollen on them but contain more inside.


    Alternatively, when a regular male plant produces stamen, it’s in a small bouquet inside of a small pod.  This small pod is shaped like the paper shell of a tomatillo.  Unlike the “selfed” female that has a single stamen with most of the pollen inside, the male stamen are caked with pollen like a bumble bees backside.  If these get crushed, brushed or blown by the slightest breeze, the pollen immediately takes to the air in search of Mary Jane.  Similarly in our selfed female, sometimes a minute amount of feminized pollen will mobilize and pollenate another plant.  This is relatively uncommon unless the stamen become broken or the silver is over applied.


    When the “selfed” female reaches maturity, she starts to presents seeds.  Depending on whether the plant was treated with silver topically (sprayed) or systemically (fed), it will present stamen and then seeds in different locations throughout the plant.  Sprayed plants present seeds specific to where they were sprayed.  Fed plants produce seeds in most of its mature flowers.  The seeds created via “selfing” will be very close copies of the selfed plant.  They will vary widely in cannabinoid and terpene concentration, but the profile (medicinal/smell/flavour compounds present) will stay relatively the same.  

These “selfed” seeds will all be female which is what we call “feminized” seeds.  Feminized seeds means one can grow all females and not have to worry about males and pollination.  It also means that the majority of the plants will be quite close in flavour aroma and performance.  Starting with feminized seeds has many advantages so long as they were created without the use of stress.


    Many novice gardeners will force their plants into creating seeds via stress.  These stresses include erratic light patters and or parasitic light (most cannabis plants prefer 18< hours light for vegetative growth or 12< hours dark for flowering).  Parasitic light occurs when a flowering room is not properly sealed allowing light to penetrate and interrupt the sleep cycle of the flowering plants.  Other plant stresses are extreme temperatures, crowding, cramped rhizosphere (root zone), over-fertilization, over-pruning and fertilizers/chemicals that affect hormone production.  Any seeds created with stress will have that stress encoded into their RNA.  The odds of having seed plants become hermaphrodite increases exponentially if the seeds carry stress memory.  Hermaphrodite plants differ in many ways from “selfed” plants.  One such difference is that hermaphrodites usually produce both single stamen and fully developed male flowers.  Male flowers are especially problematic when a crop is being grown for "flower only" as they release a tremendous amount of pollen.  Hermaphrodite plants are not easy to spot and can pollenate a crop in a matter of days.  Worse, the seeds produced from hermaphrodite pollen carry hermaphrodite traits making them unviable for sale or germination.  

    With that said, if a gardener is looking for an especially stable strain a hermaphrodite mutant may be just the thing.  As much as 10% of a hermaphrodites offspring will be extra stable and able to withstand heavy stress without becoming hermaphrodite.  To find these natural mutant plants, hundreds of seeds are germinated and every single plant must be isolated, grown to flower and stressed in exactly the same way.  This type of hermaphrodite mutation seed selection is arduous and costly, but the outcome may be very valuable.


    Unless growing hemp for food or breeding, most cannabis farmers grow female plants with no seeds.  Cannabis flowers that contain seeds have less potency, taste unpleasant and often the seeds pop when they burn.  It was these unpleasantries that actually coined a term synonymous with cannabis... “Sinsemilla".  It literally means “without seeds” and it remains a very popular cannabis colloquialism to this day. 


    Some seed vendors will claim that their seeds are “stabilized”.  Stabilized means that after breeding two different strains A + B together i.e. A-male and B-female, they grow out an AB female offspring.  Then they “back-cross” that AB female by mating her with her A-male father if they want more of the fathers traits.  Or if they are looking for more of the mothers traits, they would either use a male version of the B-mother strain if they have it, or self the AB female until they find the traits that they are looking for within her offspring… I know, none of that sounds very tasteful. I don’t know if I heard battle of the banjos in my head or the “Game Of Thrones” theme song.  It’s not weird like that with plants though so we shan’t worry… definitely Game Of Thrones.


    So there you have it… the basic, natural ways in which we create seeds.  There are other seed  treatments being used on many food crops that will double the genetic code of the plants and create super plants.  This particular procedure involves a compound called colchicine, which is derived from the crocus plant.  This procedure and others currently in use start us down the path towards genetic alteration which is a whole other story that we may touch on next time.


    If you are interested in arranging a consultation to help you achieve any of the aforementioned, or to learn more about the processes, you can email me at info@howtousecannabis.com  


Kemal Evans - © 2018



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