Ever since the domino effect of legalization started to tumble across the USA, there has been a buzz about the idea of home cultivation. In part, it is probably down to the excitement of now being able to legally set up a grow room, using that equipment that had previously only been seen in TV coverage of police busts.
A more prosaic reason, however, comes down to a different type of green altogether. When you buy weed online or from a dispensary, you can expect to pay on average $320 per ounce. A cannabis plant will yield at least 10 ounces, and sometimes as much as 17. In other words, that $15 cannabis seed could produce weed that would cost you about $5,000 if you were to buy it from a licensed seller.
Of course, there are other costs involved, not to mention several weeks of effort, but it is clear from the numbers just why so many people are taking an interest in growing weed. In particular, you can see why cannabis seeds themselves are suddenly of so much interest.
There’s a buoyant industry out there with plenty of respected seed shops vying for business. Unfortunately, there are also the inevitable charlatans out looking to make a quick buck from poor quality produce. That’s why it is so important to be as well-informed as possible about cannabis seeds before you go shopping.
Most people are surprised to hear that you get male and female cannabis seeds. From a grower’s perspective, male seeds are bad news, as we want the buds to grow on the female plants and not to be pollenated by the males.
There is no way of differentiating the seeds visually, so when you just buy regular seeds, you have to plant them all and then when they start to grow, you can spot the male plants and remove them before they grow to maturity and pollenate the buds on the females.
With feminized seeds, the seeds have gone through one of two possible genetic processes to ensure they are not male. It means every seed will produce a female plant with buds.
A cannabis plant goes through several distinct stages in its growth cycle, and these include the vegetative and the flowering phase. With regular, or photoperiod, seeds, switching from one phase to the next is triggered by changes in the light cycle.
During the vegetative stage, the plants need about 18 hours of light to six hours of darkness. To move them to the flowering stage, this changes to around 12/12.
It is an added complication for growers to know when to do this and then to make the necessary changes. One of the main advantages autoflowering seeds bring to the table is that they enter the flowering stage after a set period of time, as opposed to waiting for these changes in the light pattern to tell them to start.
The original autoflowering cannabis seed was from a subspecies called ruderalis. This is native to Russia and the less hospitable areas of Asia. Here, sunlight is not guaranteed, and that’s why it had to learn its autoflowering trick.
Ruderalids have subsequently been used as the genetic blueprint from which a whole variety of new autoflowering strains have been bred. These are ideal for growers who live in climates with less sunshine, as you can still start growing in early spring to have the plants ready for harvesting in summer.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that even though flowering is not dependent on a specific light cycle, plants grown from autoflowering seeds still need consistent light in order to produce a good yield.
Understanding the concepts of feminized and autoflowering seeds is one thing. But equally important is ensuring that the seeds you plant are of good quality. There is only so much you can learn by looking at a seed, and the best way to maximize your confidence in the quality is to buy from a reputable seed supplier.
There are plenty of online options, so perform the same due diligence that you would with anything else. Look for a business that has been established for a while, and check out the reviews. Also take a general look around their site. If there are plenty of recent blog posts and useful resources, it is a good indication that this is a company that takes its products seriously.
You can also play your own part in ensuring quality, by storing your cannabis seeds correctly. Keep them somewhere cool, dry, and dark. You can even freeze cannabis seeds for up to 12 months if you don’t intend to use them immediately.
But ideally, the best place for them is in the ground and doing what they were designed to do, so aim to get them planted sooner rather than later.