I have spent most of my life germinating cannabis seeds and I’ve learned a lot during this process that I hope to pass on. While germinating, I was looking for special and unique attributes, effect and flavor. I am not going to get into much detail as far as growing in this article, as it’s more about selection but we have to cover a few basics.
Seeds have many benefits; the most helpful benefit is not introducing pest or problems into a garden like clones can. Another benefit seedlings can provide is health and vigor, as sometimes clones can be old, tired or even diseased without it visibly showing. When you start good hybrid cannabis seeds you get to select the taste, high, and effect that is more catered to your needs. Many growers opt for feminized seeds as because less selection and space is required to find a female plant worth keeping. They are seen as the ‘easy way’ but I feel the seed industry is partly to blame for this advertising bias. In my 48 years I have found that anytime you put in hard work and effort the results are always worth the extra detail. The male plant is very important in breeding and many traits like pest resistance, fungus resistance and even potency are passed on from the male of the species. To simply eliminate him from the scene is naturally wrong. My friend Jorge Cervantes pointed out that this same method was used to create seedless watermelons. I got a big smile when I pointed out that the seeded ones still taste better.
The main reason people choose feminized seeds over regular seeds is space constraints. The problem though is the fact that feminized seeds are notorious for containing high ratios of hermaphrodites and to an inexperienced grower these can wreak havoc among your sinsemilia crop.
I have found many elite plants by starting just 10 seeds and selecting the best female, not only with TGA seeds, but other breeders as well. When selecting seeds, do some homework and find out what real medical growers are actually raising in their gardens and not what’s being advertised by the seed re-sellers. While TGA seeds have an excellent reputation among medical growers, there are many talented breeders who not only care about their product but test extensively to assure quality; Many are smaller breeders who cater to the medical community and with testing labs popping up in the medical states, it’s getting pretty easy to separate fact from fiction when it comes to potency. Full Spectrum Labs actually has a searchable database where you can type in a strain name and if it’s been tested, the results will be shown in detail.
You would be surprised how many veteran growers have problems with getting seeds started. The most common mistake is to use a heat mat and cook the seeds. Cannabis is a weed and as long as the seeds are viable it’s hard to prevent them from germinating. I have had pot seeds germinate under the floor mat of a car in my youth and more recently, some of the seeds I deem not viable germinated under my BBQ grill in the gravel during winter. I see people soaking or treating the seeds in god knows what products, and I just shake my head.
All a seed needs to germinate is moisture and a temperature range between 50-90 degrees. Warmer temperatures tend to produce more male plants while a temperature between 70-80 degrees tends to produce more female plants.
Once the seeds become healthy plants, at about 45 days old they will start to indicate their sex and reach maturity. At this time the plants should be on 18 hours of light, 6 hours of darkness and should reach around 12-20″ tall. Label each plant with a tag indicating a number or letter (i.e. 1,2,A,B) then take a cutting from each of the plants and label accordingly. Once the cuttings have rooted, transplant them and keep under 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness. Then place the seedling plants into the flowering phase. If the sex of each plant hasn’t been determined by this point, it will take approximately a week of 12/12 lighting before all the plants should strongly indicate sex. At this time any remaining males can be discarded and the clones bearing the same number as well. When working on a new strain, I use this same selection method but don’t kill the males. As the flowering plants mature take good notes on the growth patterns of each differently labeled plant: smell, resin profile, and nutrient requirements. You may have 6 female Jack Herer or Jillybean plants, for example, but they won’t all be the same, and one will stand out. That is the prize we seek and the reason for doing all this hard work and record-keeping.
Once the plants are fully mature, harvested, the buds dried and placed into glass jars to cure, the really exciting part comes; You get to sample each different jar to determine your favorite. This cannot always be determined easily and it may take several judging sessions to find the one that works best for you.
I actually use a form called, “SSR (Standard Smoke Report),” which you can download for free by clicking here.
It is also a good idea to flower out the clones, keeping cuttings of each because plants can perform differently from clones. I have seen a plant that I wasn’t really impressed with, blossom on the second run from the same seed. The first timeI ran the TGA strain, Void, from seed, the finished flowers were potent but lacked what I call character. When the same cuttings were run from clone, the finished buds were sweeter and had a much deeper resin profile; it was almost like a completely different strain.
Last year I grew out a strain called Pine Queen by Sonic Seeds. Using this method, I discovered an amazing female plant that to this day is in my top 10 favorite smokes. Out of four female plants, the one featured in these pictures stood out far above the rest. S
he is a keeper plant in any garden; She produces copious large buds, all with an amazing smell that is very exotic. It is unlike any other strain I have smoked. Sonic tells me it’s the Shimla in the cross that is dominant in that particular female.
Over the years I have collected some amazing phenotypes, some that are collected by growers all over the world. Keep in mind, the next time someone talks about some elite clone like the Vortex, who won the High Times Sativa Cup, or the 26% THC Jack the Ripper plant that tested at 5.05% for THVC, they came from a seed. Don’t be afraid to crack open a 10 pack of seeds, find your favorite and keep her around for years to come. This is an art form that is almost forgotten in these days of bigger and faster, and as we all know, these things don’t always mean better.