Interest in growing marijuana is growing on P.E.I., say retailers, even though seed sales at P.E.I. Cannabis have not been strong. Breeders have begun specializing in the cultivation of cannabis seeds. Find out more about how breeders pay special attention to the pollination, harvest time, and drying process for the seeds to improve the likelihood of a successful harvest. When it comes to cannabis plants, feminized seeds are the most known ones. But do you know what auto and regular means? 1. Photoperiodic Cannabis Photoperiodi
Growing pot? Here are some common mistakes to avoid
Interest in growing marijuana is growing on P.E.I., say retailers, even though seed sales at P.E.I. Cannabis have not been strong.
Seeds are available at P.E.I. Cannabis but sales have been weak
‘We really encourage growers to take some time and do some homework,’ says Hunter Kerr at Grow Daddy in Stratford, P.E.I. (Associated Press)
With more than $7 million in legal pot purchased from P.E.I. Cannabis in the first six months of legalization, it’s clear Islanders are interested in consuming the product, and interest in growing marijuana is also, well, growing, say retailers.
Veseys Seeds in York, P.E.I., has devoted six pages in its catalogue to growing at home — grow lights have been a big seller — and many people have been coming to their store seeking equipment and advice.
Grow Daddy, which sells cannabis growing and smoking equipment online and from its storefront in Stratford, P.E.I., has two staffers who call themselves growing experts — Hunter Kerr and Shawn Harnden — and they’re busy selling equipment and giving advice to many new customers, they say.
Seed sales not ‘strong’
P.E.I. Cannabis began selling marijuana seeds in January but says interest in the legal seeds isn’t strong. It secured what it calls a limited supply from Ontario-based Canopy Growth for purchase in-store and online.
“Sales in the seeds sub-category have not been as strong as other formats,” said an emailed statement from P.E.I. Cannabis to CBC.
“In order to ensure customers have a legal source for cannabis seed, P.E.I. Cannabis intend to increase the variety of seeds in stock as supply becomes available.”
It can be a bit of an investment. But it’s certainly cheaper than purchasing it at the store. — Hunter Kerr
A visit to the agency’s site shows it has only two varieties of indica seeds for sale. A package of four seeds costs $52.99 — that’s more than $13 per seed, plus tax.
People are “definitely ordering [seeds] from other provinces,” said Kerr. “It tends to be better genetics and better service too.”
Needless to say, growers will want to handle those seeds with care — Kerr and Harnden described some of the pitfalls for those who are new to the process.
“We really encourage growers to take some time and do some homework on what it takes to grow and then you won’t let yourself down,” Kerr said.
“It can be a bit of an investment. But it’s certainly cheaper than purchasing it at the store — if you’re smoking or consuming in any quantity.”
1. Going hydroponic
Harnden said hydroponic growing is harder than it looks, mainly because controlling nutrients in water is more difficult than in soil.
Many rookies dive right in to hydroponic growing, he said, then discover just that and switch back to growing in soil.
“Soil is more forgiving,” said Harnden.
2. Growing outside
Growing outdoors is fun and can be cheaper, both said, but can lead to an inferior product for your investment of time and energy, especially if you don’t have a fast-maturing strain.
Shawn Harnden and Hunter Kerr at Grow Daddy in Stratford, P.E.I., both call themselves cannabis-growing experts. (Sara Fraser/CBC)
Because the plants are at the mercy of nature, they may get too much wind or not enough ventilation, pests, not enough moisture or sun, and an early frost can kill off all your season’s work before it is harvested.
“It’s not just something you can put outside and then in six months have bud,” Kerr said. “You’re going to want to tend to them almost as much as you tend to them indoors.”
If you are planning to grow outdoors this summer you should have already started growing your seedlings, Kerr said, because you’ll want to plant them outside as soon as the weather allows, to aim for an October harvest, when temperatures can dip below zero.
“A lot of first-time growers don’t understand the importance of proper environmental factors,” Kerr said.
3. Getting light cycles wrong
Once you have germinated the seeds and they begin to sprout you can plant them in soil and give them light 24/7 for the first few weeks.
Kerr said more expensive lights give higher wattage which will be needed for the plant’s vegetative growth stage and flowering stage.
In vegetative growth they need 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness, he said. In the flowering stage they need 12 hours light and 12 hours dark.
4. Improper sexing
You will want to get rid of the male plants Kerr said — only the females produce the buds you want. You do not need the male plants for this.
After six to eight weeks of growing, the difference between male and female plants becomes clear — at the node, where the plant’s branches extend from its stalk — male plants have small sacks that will release pollen, and female plants have white “hairs.”
There are lots of tutorials online to help you sex your plants if you are unsure, he said.
5. Poor PH levels
PH levels in the soil and water need to be well-controlled, both said.
Cannabis plants want water with the proper PH level and you can get a PH pen to test that. You can also test with strips or drops. (Sara Fraser/CBC)
Kerr said cannabis likes a PH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Because cannabis is fast-growing, anything outside that PH can hinder the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.
He recommends growers PH balance everything that goes into the soil. Mix water with plant food then get a PH reading with a PH pen, and adjust the PH.
“To get good results it takes staying on top of these things,” Kerr said.
6. Improper pruning
Excess leaves need to be pruned from a marijuana plant, Kerr said.
Fan leaves need to be removed — those are larger leaves that don’t have a bud site at the node, he said, that are just used for the plant to provide photosynthesis. Once the plant begins to shadow those lower leaves, they can be removed.
“If you pluck them off the plant it is able to direct the energy toward the canopy,” Kerr said.
7. Not controlling moisture
Rookies will often grow a few plants in a big open basement with a light, Harnden said, but cannabis plants need different heat and humidity for different stages of growth — more for growing leaves, less for plumping up buds during flowering.
Pot plants require a certain amount of heat, humidity and ventilation, which can be a tricky combination. (Laurie Fagan/CBC )
Hanging reflective material or fabric or using a growing tent (they range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000) will help control this, Kerr and Harnden say.
The plants also require a certain amount of ventilation to keep mold, mildew and fungus at bay.
Growing indoors usually takes about four months until harvest, while outdoor plants take about six months. Depending on the strain of plant and the quality of your setup, Harnden says each plant can yield anywhere from one to eight ounces of product.
“That should take care of you for the whole year,” Harnden said with a smile.
A reminder that under P.E.I.’s Cannabis Act, a household is permitted to have four cannabis plants, and that cannabis grown outdoors cannot be visible from public spaces and must be in a locked enclosure at least 1.52 metres high.
The Importance of Collecting and Harvesting Cannabis Seeds
T here was a time in our not-too-recent history when a sack of weed almost always included seeds. However, as cannabis cultivation evolved, so did the demand for sensimilla, or high-quality, seedless cannabis. Breeders not only began developing their own customized strains, they also started specializing in the cultivation of very special cannabis seeds. These seeds are used in both the breeding process and the wide-spread distribution of the carefully created strain itself.
- Autoflower Seeds Explained
- Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?
- What to Look for When Buying Cannabis Seeds
- Ultimate Cannabis Seed Feminizer: Colloidal Silver
The Role of Seeds in the Breeding Process
The process of breeding the perfect strain requires a controlled production of seeds. Breeders must force their favorite plants to produce pollen and then use it to pollinate other favorite strains, thus creating “cross-breeds” of their two selected parents. Note that this process is not haphazard like the seeds one might find in a poorly-controlled outside marijuana grow – cannabis seed cultivation is a precise process that requires controlled, sanitary environments that are thoroughly sealed to prevent outside dander from getting in.
The plants can “veg” here, or continue their vegetative growth phase if trying to increase their size before seed production begins, but it’s not necessary. Once the plants are large enough, they are put into a flowering light cycle of 12 hours light and 12 hours of complete darkness.
Within a few weeks, the male will produce pollen sacks which will soon burst and get carried off into the air to pollinate the females. The females will now produce seeds which may continue to be used in the breeding process or harvested and sold to the public.
For the purpose of seed production, only around 20 females are recommended per male. However, a single male can realistically pollinate hundreds of females, hence the importance of a tightly sealed environment during the seed production process.
Natural Cannabis Seed Production
Cannabis is an amazingly resilient plant and doesn’t require male pollination to produce seeds. Evolution has bestowed upon the cannabis plant an amazing ability to self-pollinate when there are no males around to do it for her. Whether stressed or old (for example, a female cannabis plant that is not harvested before her prime), if a female senses an environment that is not conducive to long-term growth, she will produce seeds in hopes that her legacy will continue.
This is how feminized cannabis seeds are produced. Breeders will carefully stress a healthy female plant to “trick” her into thinking her life or safety is in danger.
One common method is to stress the female by applying solutions like colloidal silver or silver nitrate generously onto the leaves when she first enters the flower light cycle. Within 3-4 weeks, male sex organs will appear on the nodes of the female plant. Please note, applying these stress-inducing solutions to plants renders them unsmokable. The particulate cannot be washed off thoroughly because it settles deep into the surface of the plant. This method is for seed production only.
Another method is to simply let a healthy female age. If she grows past maturation, she will produce male “banana” pollen sacks without any male chromosomes. Though she may look like a hermaphroditic plant at this point (one containing the chromosomes of both male and female), the pollen she produces will contain only XX chromosomes and therefore cannot pass the Y (male) chromosome down to its heirs. Pollen collected in this way is then used to pollinate another female which will then produce female-only seeds.
How to Collect Cannabis Seeds
Though many grow ops aim to do away with seeds to grow fine sensimilla instead, sometimes breeders want seeds. Whether to grow their own crops or to sell to a demanding public, cannabis seed cultivators have their goals set on producing healthy, happy seeds in lieu of big, beautiful buds.
Seed crops are harvested when the seeds are plump and dark, often with a tiger stripe appearance (around six to eight weeks into flowering).
After harvesting, the bud is dried and the seeds are collected. Small-scale seed collection is done by simply crumbling the cannabis flower and collecting the seeds that fall out (this video by Johnnys Green Extractions offers a clever way to separate seeds from flower using an old vinyl record cover).
Commercial seed collection usually involves special machines that crush dried flower then pass the trim and seeds into separate bins. After seeds are collected, they’re stored in opaque, air-tight containers to prevent them from rotting or sprouting prematurely.
Though cannabis flower is usually cultivated to be seedless, sometimes the seeds are the whole point. Breeders pay special attention to the pollination, harvest time, and drying process when growing cannabis specifically for the seeds to improve the likelihood of a successful harvest.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are Feminized Seeds Made?
Feminized seeds are made by inducing a female plant to produce seeds without being pollinated by a male. These resulting seeds will not contain a male Y chromosome, only retaining the two X chromosomes from the female plant, and thus all of the resulting seeds will be female. This process can be done by stressing the plant, altering it with chemicals, or allowing it to grow past its harvesting time.
How Many Plants Can a Male Cannabis Plant Pollinate?
For professional production, it is recommended to pollinate about 20 female plants per male plant, but this is done to ensure tight oversight and quality control. In the wild, a single male plant can pollinate hundreds of female cannabis plants.
Can You Smoke Cannabis That Has Been Treated with Colloidal Silver?
No, colloidal silver is only used on plants raised for seeding purposes, it makes the plants that it is sprayed on unsmokable.
How are Strains Crossbred?
Cannabis breeders create crossbreeds by using the pollen of one strain to pollenate seeds with another strain. The resulting seeds will have genetics from both parents. These new plants are selected by their desirable traits and then stabilized through further breeding, typically using the genetics of their parent strains.
Have you ever harvested cannabis seeds? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
How to produce cannabis seeds
When it comes to cannabis plants, feminized seeds are the most known ones. But do you know what auto and regular means?
1. Photoperiodic Cannabis
Photoperiodism isn’t unique to cannabis plants, many flowering plants sense changes in the length of night and day and use those changes as signals for when to flower. Photoperiodic cannabis plants are just like that, they basically respond to changes in the light cycle. As the night becomes longer at the beginning of autumn (in nature) or when you flip to 12/12 in a grow tent, the plant receives more darkness. This causes the plant to realize that its life cycle is coming to an end and they will start to flower (females) or produce pollen (males) in order to reproduce before winter.
Regular Photoperiodic Cannabis
Regular cannabis is photoperiodic cannabis that produces both male and female plants. They are called regular because they are produced the “natural way”: the pollen from the male plant pollinates the female, resulting in seeds. Back in the day, the only way to grow cannabis was with regular seeds, this way you would get half male and half females plants. There is a big difference between male and female plants, while female grows buds, male plants will only grow pollen sacs.
In nature male cannabis’ pollen sacs will open to release pollen which will pollinate the female flowers, this way producing seeds. But most growers that grow cannabis commercially or for their own consumption only want buds, allowing males to pollinate buds would ruin their harvest because pollination diminishes yield, so they’re mainly looking for female plants.
Feminized Photoperiodic Cannabis
To completely avoid accidental pollination and other problems related to male plants, feminized seeds were created. Feminized seeds come from the cross of two female plants, one of them is stressed so it starts producing pollen sacs, which will fertilize the other female. When you cultivate feminized seeds, the offspring will be only female plants. This takes out a lot of the unnecessary work that you can have when growing males and them not being able to use them. Ever since the boom of feminized seeds back in 1998, growers have stopped buying regular seeds for quite a bit. Nowadays most seed banks don’t even sell regular seeds anymore. With so much focus on feminized seeds, we can’t forget that regular seeds are vital for the creation of new strains.
2. Automatic Flowering Cannabis
You must already know that the characteristic that makes autoflowers an auto is they don’t need a different light cycle to enter the flowering stage. Like their name says, autoflowers start flowering automatically depending on age, and unlike regular and feminized cannabis that needs a change in the light cycle to start flowering. Autos don’t need anything else other than time to start producing buds.
But that trait didn’t come out of anywhere, it appeared as an adaptation to the environment. You’ve probably heard of Cannabis Indica and Sativa…well, the autoflowering gene comes from Cannabis Ruderalis. The Ruderalis species adapted to the extremely cold and harsh climates of Asia, Europe, and Russia. These regions have shorter warm seasons and colder temperatures. Because of this, Ruderalis started mutating from a photoperiodic plant to an autoflowering plant, to guarantee its reproduction before the temperatures reached freezing levels. Thanks to that adaptation, now we have autoflowers that take considerably less time from seed to harvest.
3. How To Make Your Own Seeds
Producing your own seeds is relatively easy if you have what it’s needed but that doesn’t mean the result will be a perfect strain. The good strains or “IBLs” that most seed banks sell are strains that have been developed for years and are far into the third or fourth generation. IBL or stabilized strain means the offspring will have certain characteristics locked down. When you cross two strains for the first time the offspring can have infinite phenotypes and this is not good for commercializing.
Photoperiodic Regular Seeds
When we talk about cannabis, it’s easy to forget about male plants. Everybody nowadays is used to the beautiful flowers we all love, but it’s important to remember that male cannabis plants are just as important as females. Male cannabis plants produce pollen and are an essential element in the production of new cannabis plants. This pollen is super important in breeding cannabis as it allows breeders to create crosses with genetics from different plants and create their own seeds. For producing seeds all you need is pollen and buds. Cannabis pollen is no different from regular pollen produced by other plants. It’s a fine powder that usually has a golden yellow color and is excreted from the pollen sac on male plants.
Collecting pollen is simple. You’ll know when its ready to be collected when the pollen sacks are open and you see pollen floating in the air and on the leaves near them. When this happens, you can gently remove the sacs and store them in a ziplock bag, once you are ready to pollinate just release the pollen onto the buds. Another way is to simply agitate your male plants near the female plants, the pollen will stick to the buds. Pollen is used in order to pollinate female plants and create seeds. In nature, female plants get pollinated by the wind which carries the male pollen. Cannabis seeds develop in the buds about 4-6 weeks after pollination, you will see the calyxes start to round up from the seeds being inside them.
Pollinated buds look quite different from regular buds. They usually don’t have as many trichomes and are usually smaller and a lot more swollen. 4 weeks after pollination, you can start checking the buds to see if the seeds are ready for harvest by picking a couple of seeds from the bud. Mature seeds will have a hard shell and be a dark brown color, they might also have some stripes on the outer shell.
Photoperiodic Feminized Seeds
Normally, a male cannabis plant has to pollinate a female plant to produce seeds. The resulting regular seeds will contain about half male and half female seeds. The way feminized seeds are produced is the same but instead of collecting the pollen from a male, breeders will stress or spray flowers with colloidal silver, for example. This process forces the female plants to become a hermaphrodite and starts producing pollen sacs. Hermaphrodite plants are females that are halfway turned into males, this means she has both male (pollen sacs) and female (buds) parts.
By picking out the pollen sacs and using a reverted plant’s pollen to pollinate a female plant, you will have only female genes as there is no “father”, this way you get feminized seeds, meaning the offspring will be 100% female plants.
Feminized and Regular Autoflowering Seeds
Regular Autoflowering Seeds
Usually, you can find regular and feminized seeds, and this applies to autoflowering seeds also. This means you can find male and female autoflowers, depending on the type of seed you buy (regular = 50% male and 50% female, feminized = 100% female). Unfortunately the high increase in the production of feminized seeds affected automatic seeds also. Although it’s not common to find regular auto seeds nowadays, they do exist. For producing regular autoflowering seeds all you need is male pollen and female buds, just like for regular photoperiodic cannabis. The process is basically the same, collect the pollen from the male and spread it on the buds, this will result in regular autoflowering seeds.
Feminized Autoflowering Seeds
The process of producing feminized autoflowering seeds is almost the same, the only difference is you will need two female autos instead of one male and one female. You will have to make one of your female autos produce pollen, either by stressing her out or spraying with colloidal silver and pollinating the other female. This will result in a 100% female automatic offspring.
4. Pollen Collection and Storage, and Proper Pollination Techniques
The process of collecting pollen from either a male or a hermaphrodite cannabis plant is a piece of cake, but you do have to be very careful if you have female plants nearby. One male or hermie plant can pollinate a whole crop if you are not alert and aware of the stage the pollen sacks are at, so always try to keep any pollen-producing plants well quarantined from any females that you want to keep seed free. The best way to harvest the pollen is to carefully remove the whole pollen sac flower head, let it dry for a couple of days to a week and then transfer the whole shebang to a sealable container or zip-lock bag. Once in the bag or container, you can give the whole thing a bit of a shake and the pollen should fall right out In terms of pollen storage, there are a few factors to take into consideration. Temperature and moisture levels are the most important things to control. Our tried and true method for at-home storage of cannabis pollen is:
- Collect the pollen and place it in a sealed container or zip lock bag.
- Add regular baking flour – about double the weight of pollen. This doesn’t need to be super exact, but it helps greatly with moisture absorption and spreads your pollen out much further.
- Place the whole thing into the freezer where it can be stored for up to a year.
- Pollen hates temp fluctuations, so leave it be until you are sure you are ready to use it
When you are ready to pollinate your plant the process is again nothing more than child’s play, but you have to be very careful not to spread the pollen to plants that you want to remain seedless. This can be a little difficult if the plants are rooted into the ground, but if they are in pots then the job is much safer.
Just move whichever female plant you want to produce seeds to an area well away from the rest of the crop. There are a few ways to pollinate your plant, but our favorite method is this:
- Wait until the female plant is in her 2nd or 3rd week of the flowering cycle. At this point, you should see pistils forming fully (the small white hair-like growths)
- Grab your pre-collected pollen from the freezer and let it come to room temp over a few hours
- Dip a small, fine paintbrush or Q-tip into the pollen and apply it to the pistils of the budding sites that you want to produce seeds
- We recommend focusing on the budding sites on the lower branches – the popcorn bud producing areas. These buds are usually the lowest quality in terms of smokeability and trichome production, so use these ones for seeds instead!
- Seeds usually take around 4 – 5 weeks to mature fully. A mature cannabis seed is brown in color with tiger-like stripes and a hard outer shell.
A common question asked is – how many seeds a single budding site will produce? This is an impossible question to answer, as it varies widely between strains and the size of the budding site. But a fully pollinated plant can produce A LOT of seeds.
5. In Conclusion
Even though it is fairly easy to produce seeds, we recommend having a bit of experience before trying it. We recommend easy-to-grow strains like Zkittlez Auto to start acquiring experience before going into breeding.
Just an easy to grow, solid packed buds. A heavy feeder and can be a bit prone to light burn at the end but otherwise perfection!
A breeding operation needs a lot of caution, even the smallest amount of pollen may ruin your entire harvest. Remember you should always buy seeds from a reputable seed bank. If you buy bad genetics, your plants can become a hermaphrodite easily and what was initially cheap can end up being surprisingly expensive.