How To Tell If Cannabis Seeds Are Bad

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There are several different methods for evaluating the quality of cannabis seeds. Here's a quick guide to evaluating the quality. Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point. Do seeds go bad? Let's find out! Find out how to tell if your cannabis seed will be a winner or a flop. Here is how to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality seeds.

How to Check the Quality of Cannabis Seeds

A float test is an easy way to determine whether or not your cheap marijuana seeds are viable. The process involves dropping the seeds in distilled water. Then, wait at least two hours. If the seeds sink, they are healthy and ready for germination. If they float, they are not viable and are probably moldy or decaying. To ensure the viability of your cannabis seeds, always perform this test before planting.

The most reliable way to check the viability of seeds is to let them germinate. This can be time-consuming, especially if you are a commercial or large-scale grower. But it is a necessary process. To conduct the test, follow these simple steps. First, dampen a plain white paper towel with some distilled water. Next, place the seeds onto the towel. Make sure that the paper towel is completely covered with water. Then, place the seeds in a dark, cool environment.

Size

You might be wondering how to check the size of cannabis seeds before you purchase them. Although cannabis seeds may vary in size, shape, and colour, genetics play the biggest role in the results. The markings on the seed shells are purely cosmetic and have no bearing on the results. In fact, before the Dutch Passion seeds, people had been trying to predict the sex of cannabis plants by measuring the weight of individual seeds.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to determine whether a cannabis seed is healthy and ready for planting. A healthy cannabis seed will have a teardrop body shape and be tapered at one end. If it veers away from this shape, it is probably a genetic flaw and will not germination properly. Also, don’t buy seeds that are flat or misshapen, because these may have germination problems.

Shape

There are some ways to tell if your cannabis seeds are of high quality. Often, weight and size go hand in hand, with heavier seeds indicating a higher quality. Additionally, a seed that has cracked or dents is probably not high quality. Seeds with these characteristics have low nutritional value. It’s important to purchase seeds that are healthy, so be sure to squeeze them before purchasing. Listed below are some tips on how to check quality cannabis seeds.

A simple test for cannabis seed health is to place it in water and feel its surface. If it sinks and stays there, then it’s healthy. Otherwise, it’s unhealthy. The seeds need to be kept dry for germination, so look for those that stay above water. Seeds that are shiny or have a sheen should be in good condition. Ensure that they’re able to hold their own weight.

Hardness

One of the things you may have noticed is the hardness of the seeds. Cannabis seeds come in different hardness and are used to help you identify the strain of cannabis. Cannabis seeds with stripes are an example of an Indica strain, and those with a solid color are Sativa strains. Harder seeds are also better to use in growing cannabis plants. However, you must be sure to avoid immature seeds because they will crack easily.

The first thing you should know about the hardness of marijuana seeds is that they hold only five percent of water. This is not enough to start the germination process. Once the germination process has begun, the hydrolytic enzymes will release stored water and soften the seed shell. This will enable the seed to split. While hardness of cannabis seeds varies between types, mature seeds shouldn’t have any trouble sprouting.

Color

Before you plant your cannabis seeds, you should first determine their quality. While most seeds will germinate in two to three days, high-quality ones may take as long as seven days. However, it is always better to be patient than to waste money on bad seeds. It is also important to note that the quality of your seeds depends on how much water they absorb. The best way to determine whether your seeds are high-quality is to squeeze them gently.

Seeds that are larger in size are generally of higher quality. They store more energy and are more likely to mature. This results in larger plants with greater yields and higher levels of therapeutic and psychoactive effects. Another way to determine the quality of your seeds is to look at their size and shape. Large, symmetrical seeds are more likely to germinate than those that have a smaller or irregular shape. If they are too small, they are not high-quality.

Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?

M any pot fans are starting to look into growing their own supply. After all, how hard can it be? Nature does it all the time, and it doesn’t even have any grow light options other than the sun. While you may not be producing showroom quality nugs, there’s a pride that comes with tending to your own garden and snipping buds straight off the branch. Plus, you can’t beat the price.

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Plenty of online stores sell seeds so it’s pretty easy to pick your favorite strains to start. However, if it’s been a while since your seeds arrived and they’re not yet planted, you can forgive yourself for wondering if maybe you’ve waited too long. After all, how long do marijuana seeds last? Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point.

Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?

First off, marijuana seeds are the same as many other plant’s seeds. A waxy outer shell called the seed coat protects the embryonic shoot, stem, and root contained within, which are nourished by a nutrient-rich oil surrounding them. As long as the shell remains intact and the plant inside doesn’t dry out or get damaged, your seed can still grow into a cannabis plant.

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However, this shell will not last forever. Once it dries out and hardens the seed coat can crack and expose the embryonic plant to damage. Or the seed coat hardens to the point that it no longer lets in moisture. In both cases, the seed is no longer viable.

Of course, there is some debate in the cannabis community over how long do marijuana seeds last. Some growers claim that when stored in the ideal conditions, marijuana seeds can last anywhere from six months to a year after packing and still spout once placed in the soil. Other producers believe that marijuana seeds can last up to a decade if properly refrigerated in the right containers.

Most seed producers agree that on average three to six years is a maximum for viability, and every day that the seed is stored drops the chances of it germinating just a little bit.

So how long do marijuana seeds last? In general, six months is the maximum if you’re looking for a nearly 100% germination rate. After three years, you’re looking at a germination rate of around 50%.

What constitutes “ideal conditions” for cannabis seed storage also depends on the genetics of that particular plant. Some cannabis strains produce a much hardier, longer-lasting marijuana seed that can last for years and still stretch their leaves once planted. Others produce seeds that need to quickly return to the soil.

How Marijuana Seeds Are Stored

In terms of long term storage for your marijuana seeds, there are four main factors to consider:

When it comes to how long marijuana seeds last, temperature is the main factor. In nature, heat tells the seed that winter’s over and it’s time to start sprouting. If your marijuana seed’s not in the soil, this means that the plant matter inside the marijuana seed will begin to germinate and then rot.

41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is the absolute warmest you want your storage spot to be, with the sweet spot being somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are refrigerating your marijuana seeds, they’ll last the longest in a separate unit or a spot near the back. Every time you open your fridge you are changing the temperature which can harm the seeds over time.

Humidity

Humidity is also your enemy when it comes to how long your marijuana seeds will last. When a seed gets wet, it cracks open to allow the sprout and root out. This will let in rot if the seed isn’t planted. A humidity level of about 5% is the maximum you want to allow.

Light

Much like heat and humidity, light tells that seed to wake up because it’s time to spring forth.

In order to keep your seeds from going bad, it’s best to keep them stored in a dark container in order to avoid light. photo credit

By keeping your seeds in a dark or opaque container, they’ll keep dozing long term. Light can also damage the surface of the marijuana seed, which in turn will damage what’s stored underneath, causing your marijuana seed to go bad.

Besides being dark, for your marijuana seeds to last long term, you want to expose them to as little oxygen and carbon dioxide as possible. These gasses are what growing plants breathe, as well as the pests that consume them. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your marijuana seeds, make sure your container is as airtight as possible. If you can vacuum seal them, even better.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on planting in the next few months, regular mailing envelopes will do in a pinch. They’ll keep the marijuana seeds out of the light and dry, so all you have to do is store them in a cool place. Plus, envelopes make it easy to label your strains so that you can keep them separate.

How To Tell If Your Marijuana Seeds Are Still Healthy?

What should you do if you find some old seeds and have no idea how long they were stored? Maybe past you put them in a freezer bag in the hopes of keeping your favorite strain alive, or found a couple at the bottom of a baggie that the trimmer missed.

How do you know if your marijuana seed has gone bad, or if it’s healthy and viable to grow into a plant? There are four easy ways to check if your marijuana seed is still good.

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Dark Color

If your seeds are dark brown, black, or gray, that’s a very good sign. The shell is intact and uncompromised, which means the genetic material inside has been kept safe.

Seeds should have a dark color. If seeds are still green they are probably not ready yet. photo credit

Viable seeds should also have stripes or spots all the way around. If the seeds are white or green, they’re most likely still immature.

Waxy Coating

Check if the seed still has a waxy coating. A healthy seed should have a slight sheen to it, as though it’s been oiled. This means the seed still can retain moisture.

Hard Shell

If the seed is still healthy, you should be able to lightly squeeze it without it crunching between your fingers. If the shell has no give and splits or splinters under light pressure, then your marijuana seed has gone bad and has no chance in the soil.

Cracks or Holes

If there are any cracks or holes anywhere on the shell, your marijuana seed’s likely gone bad and will most likely not sprout. Bacteria and other harmful lifeforms can find their way into the seed, or it will dry out.

The True Test of a Cannabis Seed

Of course, the best way to test whether your seeds will sprout is to plant them and see. If some green shoots climb their way out of the soil after a couple of days or weeks, you’ve got your answer.

Storing marijuana seeds is a great way to make sure you always have your favorite strains on hand, as well as to keep yourself stocked up on plants for the long haul. Luckily, marijuana seeds can last for years as long as you make sure your seeds are cool, dry, airtight, and out of sight. There’s no better time than now to learn a new skill, so let’s see how green your thumb can get.

How Do You Tell If a Seed is Good or Bad?

If the seed is dark with stripes or spots all the way around, has a waxy shell that doesn’t crack when you give it a light squeeze, and doesn’t have any visible cracks or holes, it’s probably still good. If there are holes in the shell, it’s dry, or especially pale, your marijuana seed’s probably gone bad.

Do Autoflower Seeds Go Bad?

All marijuana seeds can go bad, including autoflower seeds. However, by keeping your seeds at a stable 38 degrees Fahrenheit and at around 5% humidity, as well as airtight and out of the light, your seeds may last up to 5 years or more.

How do you like to store your seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Author

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

How To Tell If Cannabis Seeds Are Bad

Published: June 28th, 2019
Categories: Cannabis Info

If you want to grow great cannabis, you gotta have great seeds! Start your grow with poor seeds, and not only will you miss out on that top-tier harvest, but you’ll have wasted a lot of crucial time and energy. Given how important the distinction is between seeds of high and low quality, it’s vital you know how to tell the good ones from the bad. So, just how do you recognise a high-quality seed?

WHY IT MATTERS WHERE YOU SOURCE YOUR CANNABIS SEEDS

Before we offer our tips on distinguishing the winners from the duds, you should know that where you source your seeds is probably the most important variable in your entire grow. The best case scenario is to source your seeds from a legal, reputable seedbank. If you buy from industry leaders like Zativo, not only will you know that your seeds will germinate, but you’ll be able to view information about strain characteristics such as flowering time, height, and effect once smoked.

On the other hand, not all would-be cannabis cultivators have access to seeds of this calibre. It is not uncommon for smokers to receive a seed (or several) in the bag their dealer threw at them before racing away with a wad of cash. Here is why planting these seeds is probably not a good idea.

To start, the fact that your dealer sold you seedy weed immediately points to issues in quality and processing. It’s likely your weed was accidentally pollinated by a male, otherwise it shouldn’t have any seeds at all.

Moreover, these seeds likely won’t germinate as they will be immature or of poor quality in general. Weak genetics means your mature plant and final yield are bound to suffer, no matter how great of a grower you are. And unlike seeds sourced from seedbanks, you’ll have no way of really knowing what you’re about to grow. Any seed company worth its salt will guarantee germination rates well into the 90% range; bagseed, on the other hand, all comes down to chance.

HOW TO SPOT QUALITY SEEDS

Regardless of where you source your seeds, once you get your hands on some, how can you ascertain their quality? Here’s what to look out for:

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Just by glancing over your seeds, you can already get a fairly good idea of their quality. Colour is probably the first thing you will notice, with healthy seeds normally having a darker shell. High-quality seeds may also have some natural “tiger stripes” or speckles, and can range between dark brown, grey, and almost black.

On the contrary, immature seeds literally pale in comparison, with green or light-grey-coloured shells. Some almost appear ivory white. If your seeds look anything like this, it is likely they will not germinate. Even if you’re able to germinate some immature seeds, it will take much longer, and your cannabis plants will probably not turn out as great.

Good seeds will normally have a shiny coat as well. To verify this, bring your seeds under a light. You should see a glistening, shiny effect on the shell that makes your seeds look like tiny pearls or marbles. If your seeds have a rough or dull appearance, they are normally of lesser quality.

• Hard and smooth surface

Good seeds should be quite resilient and firm to the touch. You can test your seeds by taking one between two fingers and giving it a slight squeeze. Under normal duress, the shell of the seed shouldn’t crumble, break, or bend. If the shell doesn’t feel solid, but instead easily breaks or feels soft to the touch, it is old and will probably not germinate. Likewise, if the shell isn’t smooth and shiny, but instead has cracks and holes, the seeds are probably bad as well.

HOW TO TEST YOUR SEEDS FOR QUALITY AND GERMINATION RATE

If you’re still unsure if your seeds are duds or not, or if you’re ready to just get started with your grow, you can always go ahead and get germinating! Checking their appearance is one thing, but these tests will tell you if your seeds actually pop or not.

• The water glass float test

A classic! The float test isn’t exactly rocket science, but it yields consistent results. Here is how to do it:

1. Fill a glass or jar with bottled or distilled water. Clean tap water also works.

2. Put your seeds in the glass with the water. There are only two outcomes for your test: sink, or float. Those that hit the bottom of the glass are likely of good quality, while those that remain afloat are probably not going to germinate or be all-star performers.

3. Now it’s time to wait; give your seeds at least two hours before coming to a conclusion about their quality. The reason for this is that good-quality seeds with a more resistant shell can take a while to soak up the water, causing them to float for a short while at first. So make sure to be patient when performing this test—you don’t want to act too soon and toss out otherwise healthy seeds!

Important tip: Only do the float test once you’re ready to plant your seeds. Once they’ve soaked in water, you can’t put them back in storage. You need to germinate them. So, if you have a whole bunch of seeds, only test as many as you can actually germinate and grow.

• The ultimate test: just plant your seeds

Maybe you don’t feel the need to do any testing, instead throwing caution to the wind in hopes that your seed will sprout. In this case, you can go ahead and plant your seeds in soil and wait to see a tiny stalk of green appear. High-quality seeds like those from Zativo will likely germinate in 2–3 days this way. Some strains, such as certain sativas, could take a bit longer, up to 7 days depending on the strain. But the bottom line here is that quality seeds will pretty much always germinate. Planting them in soil and seeing them break through the surface is a good sign you have some quality seeds on your hands!

HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP CANNABIS SEEDS?

If you’re like most hobby growers, you may at some point end up with more seeds than you can actually grow at one time. As such, longer-term storage becomes a priority. But how long can you even store them? Do cannabis seeds go bad?

Stored properly, you can keep cannabis seeds viable for a very long time. However, moisture, exposure to light, and high temperatures could spoil your seeds and shorten their period of viability significantly. If you buy from a good seed company, your seeds will often come in a vial with a lid that also contains desiccant; this way, your seeds can stay good for a long time. To properly store your seeds, it’s best to keep them in a dark and cool place, such as a cupboard. In this setting, seeds can potentially stay viable for years.

CAN YOU TELL THE SEX OF YOUR SEED?

Another disadvantage of getting seeds from an unreliable source is that you won’t know their sex. Most growers, unless they need males for breeding purposes, will immediately toss out any males after identifying them to prevent pollination of females. This issue can be avoided entirely by purchasing feminized seeds from a reputable provider. These seeds will, of course, only sprout females, which is what you want. But if you obtained a mystery bag of seed, there is unfortunately no way to tell outright if your seeds are male or female.

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