Growing cannabis comes with many challenges, with one being dud seeds. Learn how to recognise unhealthy seeds to save time and effort. In this post our collaborator Light Addict explains which the three main methods to germinate cannabis seeds are as well as their pros and cons.
How To Test The Quality Of Cannabis Seeds
Sowing dud cannabis seeds can prove to be a waste of time and effort. But how can you tell the healthy ones apart? Take a look at these tips for some guidance.
A lot of preparation is required before embarking on the quest of growing cannabis. Growers must ensure they have a good lighting setup to provide their plants with energy. They also need a designated area, indoors or outdoors, in which to cultivate their crop. Furthermore, growers will need a water source, an array of macro and micronutrients, and a good-quality soil if choosing this growing medium.
There’s another box that needs to be ticked off the list before growing as well, one that is often overlooked. Checking the quality of your cannabis seeds before placing them in the soil is a simple process, and one that can save a lot of time and energy in the long-run.
The most reliable way to check if your seeds are viable is to simply place them in the soil and allow them to germinate. Although this method is easy, waiting for them to pierce through the top layer of soil can take some time. This can be especially time consuming when growing on a large or commercial scale, or when simply wanting to get a grow started as quickly as possible.
Below are a few simple and easy methods you can use to assess the quality of your cannabis seeds.
SOURCE OFTEN DETERMINES QUALITY
Before we even get around to testing the quality of our seeds, it’s important to discuss where to source them. By purchasing seeds from reputable dispensaries, seedshops, and headshops, you greatly enhance the chances of your cannabis seeds being of good quality. Additionally, you will have the knowledge of exactly what the strain is, its characteristics, flowering time, and so on.
Some cannabis users might be thrilled to see a few cannabis seeds laying at the bottom of the bag of weed they just purchased. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. As well as adding weight to the bag, there’s less of a chance that these seeds will be viable, and they are more than likely not feminized. Plus, there’s no telling exactly what strain they are and if their genetics are of any value. If you’re determined, there’s nothing wrong with attempting to cultivate these seeds; it could prove to be a fun side project. Just refrain from being overly optimistic from the get-go.
WHAT DO YOUR SEEDS LOOK LIKE?
So, you’ve obtained some seeds and plan on germinating them soon, but you’re a tad unsure about their quality. Well, the first port of call is to take a closer look at them. This can be done with the naked eye, but using a magnifying device makes things a lot easier.
Healthy seeds usually feature a “tiger print” pattern upon the shell with intertwined colours of brown, grey, and sometimes black. Healthy seeds also often display spots on their shells and appear to have a waxy coating. Sometimes, however, seeds will appear green, white, or pale, which signifies a low chance of germination.
Healthy seeds are mostly hard to the touch and should be able to resist external pressure when placed between the index finger and thumb and given a squeeze. If your seed cracks under this pressure, then it’s a sign of a weak and unhealthy one.
HOW OLD ARE YOUR SEEDS?
If you’re buying from a dispensary or headshop, you might be able to inquire about the age of the seeds you’re interested in and get an honest answer. You’re far less likely to find out the age of seeds found in bags or acquired from other sources. Knowing the age of a seed before attempting to cultivate is beneficial, as seeds that are too old won’t end up sprouting, or will take a lot longer if they do.
Seeds are a life form in themselves, and are subject to ageing and deterioration. Although passing the point of being viable might take years, it’s still something worth considering before growing.
CHECK IF YOUR SEEDS FLOAT IN WATER
One cost-effective and simple trick to determine if your seeds are worth the time is to see if they float in water. Fill up a glass or jug with water and place your seeds on the surface. Leave your seeds in the water for a few hours and return to check on them later. Seeds that have sunk to the bottom of the water are healthy and should be germinated now that they have been soaked. Any seeds that remain floating on the surface are likely of bad quality and shouldn’t be used if you don’t want to risk wasting time.
YOU CAN ALWAYS GO AHEAD AND GERMINATE THEM ANYWAY
If you have time to spare and are growing cannabis purely out of recreational joy, then you can simply go ahead and germinate the seeds. This is a 100% accurate way to determine whether a seed is viable or not.
Planting a seed into soil and waiting for it to sprout is one way to see if the specimen is healthy. However, a slightly faster way is to watch it germinate in real time. Place seeds between two pieces of paper towel and place them on a plate. Mist the towel with water until damp and store the plate in a dark spot. Check once a day and look out for any signs of a white tail emerging; this structure is called a radicle, which eventually becomes the primary root. Any germinated seeds can then be placed into the soil to sprout and become seedlings.
How to germinate marijuana seeds
Seeds. Such a gift to this world. From something so small, may we grow ourselves, our own food, shelter and in our case, medicine! So really, it seems only fitting we give them the best odds at a successful start in life. In this post, our collaborator Light Addict explains how to germinate cannabis seeds in order to be successful.
Having said this, let’s look at how compost inoculant teas can be used to help nullify the risk of unwanted bacteria and pathogens encountered once the cannabis germination/planting process has begun. This is managed through the introduction of beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi to the process via compost teas used for either pre-soaking your plugs, cubes, potting medium etc. or drenches to the media shortly after germination. These beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi colonize the rootzone creating a symbiotic relationship with your cannabis plant roots, leading to improved levels of nutrient/water uptake, general plant health and resistance to stresses.
Now a cannabis seed only needs 3 simple requirements to germinate:
So why are there so many different methods bandied about? Simply put, there are lots of different ways to give your cannabis seeds these 3 basic environmental requirements. So, within these simple basic provisions, what are the best ranges to promote a successful germination of your cannabis seeds? With moisture: you’re looking for a medium level of dampness, never soaking, (water method not inclusive). Temperature wise: you’re seeking to provide a range somewhere in the vicinity 23-26C/75-80F. Then lastly, darkness; total light deprivation isn’t truly a requirement. However, as it’s so simple to provide, it’s the option most of us choose. With all 3 of the above requirements, maintaining consistent levels can also aid in success.
Methods to germinate cannabis seeds
One of the oldest, most widely-known methods to germinate cannabis seeds for small-scale growers is the paper towel method. Using some folded up paper towel, we create a bedding layer for the seeds. Place this bedding layer inside an opaque container of suitable size, then dampen it with water via a spray bottle. Place your seeds on top, before covering with more paper and spraying once again with water. Close your container up and then place it somewhere warm to await germination. Once the tap roots have shown, simply plant it in chosen medium.
For simplicity, methods don’t come much easier than this, although again it’s only really suited for the small-scale grower. Drop your seeds into a shot glass, then fill it around 3-quarters with water, before placing your glass in a warm, dark area. You may need to return after a couple of hours, just to tap any remaining seeds that are still floating down to the bottom. Wait once more until the tap root has shown, before planting it to medium. However, please keep this in mind: if germination hasn’t begun within 36 hours, I’d recommend removing the seeds from water and placing them in paper towel to prevent your seeds drowning.
Seed plugs, rockwool cubes and peat pellets
These 3 different starting mediums share the same basic process when it comes to actual seed germination and are all suitable for any size of operation, although some require a little more care and caution when being prepared.
Versatility here is key, as they’re suitable for use with any medium or style of growing utilized further along in the growth process. Root plugs are specifically designed to make the germination process simple and successful, being made of a composition that holds moisture levels within an ideally suited range. Another big plus when it comes to root plugs is that generally they’re made from composted and broken down organic materials. Yet please, check your chosen brand ingredients for yourself. Take your seed and insert into the plug’s hole. Tear a small section of the plug away from a corner or the bottom section and stuff this into the hole to cover the seed. Then place your plugs into your germination space or propagator, using a constant light source and again remembering to keep an eye on moisture levels as you await germination.
CAUTION. Rockwool is a hazardous material. Somewhat like fiberglass, its dust can be breathed in, yet not expelled from the lungs. It also happens to be an irritant. So, both gloves and a face mask should be used when handling it. Rockwool is an inert medium, suitable for all general growing practices. This means, soaking your cubes in pH-adjusted water prior to use is a necessity. Once soaked and let drain, drop your seed into the hole, then tear a corner section off your cube and use it to cover the seed up from the light. Then place your cubes in your propagator under your chosen light source and wait.
Peat pellets are quite similar in appearance and design to the plugs once expanded. One major issue with peat pellets is that peat is not a sustainable source of material, or an eco-friendly one. Peat pellets come dried out, making pre-soaking them necessary. Once ready, they’ll have expanded to over double their original size. Then just make your own little insertion into the top of the pellet, before dropping your seed in and then covering over with another section you’ve torn off your pellet.
Seed, straight to medium
Take your desired pot of media and water an hour beforehand (pH’d, if required, as with soilless). Make a small hole, 0.5-0.75 of an inch is a good depth, then place your seed in and cover over. Finally, place your pot under your light source and wait. As with the other methods, keep an eye on your moisture levels as required. Although we strive to keep moisture levels at a constant, please remember that overwatering the medium can sometimes cause failure of germination. Then take into consideration the feeding requirements for new seedlings: no nutrients are needed in the first week or so of a seedling’s life, even if using an inert medium such as Coco or Rockwool. This is because the seed will be using its own stores of energy up.