Male cannabis plants produce very few cannabinoids, which means growers potentially have to scrap 50% of their crop. For this reason, we have developed feminized seeds. But just what are feminized seeds, and where do they come from? The answer is a remarkable feat of genetics and horticulture. Feminized marijuana seeds can streamline the growing process and ensure that cannabis cultivators get the most out of their hard work. Read all about the process here. Feminized cannabis seeds are genetically altered so that they produce female plants in at least 99,9% of the cases.
Feminized Cannabis Seeds Explained
L ike many living things, cannabis plants come in two sexes, male and female, which blend their genetics through pollination to produce seeds. These seeds then, have about a 50% chance of inheriting the sex of either parent. However, male cannabis plants produce very few cannabinoids, which faces many growers with the prospect of scrapping about 50% of their crop (unless, perhaps, they’re making their own rope). For this reason, we have developed feminized seeds. But just what are feminized seeds, and where do they come from? The answer is a remarkable feat of genetics and horticulture.
What are Feminized Seeds?
Feminized seeds are cannabis seeds genetically guaranteed to grow into a female plant. Female plants produce far more THC and CBD than their male counterparts, but once a female plant is fertilized, resources and energy are diverted from growing rich, sticky flowers, to growing a healthy crop of seeds instead. Those seeds are, of course, wonderful and necessary, but they may inherit the gender of either parent, and, as we have seen, males are nearly useless for harvesting cannabinoids.
Feminized sees will always guarantee a female plant, ensuring growers a plant that will produce cannabinoids. photo credit
When growing for cannabinoid production, pumping water, fertilizer, and time into your plants only to find half are male can be frustrating to say the least. A single male plant can pollinate an entire grow room, leaving whole crops producing seeds instead of flowers. Additionally, inspecting your plants for male attributes and removing them from the grow room takes time and attention that could otherwise go to treating female plants. For this reason, we have learned how to breed feminized seeds – seeds that we know will grow up to be female, and produce lush flowers rich with therapeutic cannabinoids.
How Feminized Seeds Are Made
Female seeds must come from two female parents, which on the surface sounds impossible. But under extreme circumstances, female cannabis plants can produce their own pollen. So the first step toward feminized seeds is inducing pollen production on a female plant.
The primary method is to douse the flowering sites with a solution of colloidal silver, or less commonly, with gibberellic acid, for about two weeks once the flowering stage has begun.
These chemicals will suppress the hormone ethylene, which causes the plant to produce male characteristics instead, including pollen sacs. And since the plant is still genetically female, the pollen within will carry 99% female genetics (a small margin of mutation is unavoidable). This pollen can then be harvested and applied to a flowering female plant to produce seeds with purely female genetics.
The less common, but more natural, method is called “rodelization,” often favored by organic growers. Near the end of a cannabis plant’s life cycle, unfertilized females will begin to express male pollen production as a final effort to continue their genetic line. This usually occurs after the prescribed time frame for harvesting, but not always. In fact, many growers keep a sharp eye out for these “nanners” – the banana-shaped growths that protrude from flowers – because they are capable of fertilizing other plants as well, thus halting flower production.
There is a debate among growers about the viability of this method because some believe hermaphroditic plants primarily produce hermaphroditic offspring. Others insist that offspring are not more inclined to be hermaphrodites, but rather may be more easily induced to be hermaphrodites, and that hermaphroditism has less to do with genetics than external stressors (high heat, nutrient lock, physical damage, etc.). Regardless, most growers agree that rodelization is less effective and carries a higher risk of accidental pollination. For this reason, it is more often used by more experienced or meticulous growers who want to maintain the organic integrity of the plant.
Feminized seeds have become the industry standard, especially for home growers who do not have the space or resources to scrap half of a crop that turns out to be male. Many sites now default to offering feminized seeds, some growers have undoubtedly planted them without fully understanding the science behind them. And one thing that makes these seeds so popular is that you can, you can grow them without knowing what they are or how they exist, and they will still deliver a lush, low-maintenance cannabis plant.
Interested in growing your own cannabis? Click here to purchase seeds and start your journey.
This is also a great process to practice if you want to take your growing skills to the next level. So next time you find some nanners growing in your bud, don’t panic, but rather appreciate the opportunity that has presented itself, and try breeding your own feminized seeds.
Do you prefer to grow with feminized seeds, or have you ever made you own? Share your experiences in the comments!
Trevor Ross is a writer, medical marijuana patient and cannabis advocate. He holds an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has previously worked as a copywriter, a teacher, a bartender, and followed Seattle sports for SidelineBuzz. Originally from Washington state, you can find him now working in his garden or restoring his house in Scranton, PA, and he can be reached through LinkedIn.
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
This article is sponsored by Kannabia Seed Company, an award-winning cannabis seed company headquartered in Spain. Using only the highest quality genetics on the market, their grower-oriented approach has made cannabis cultivation simple and satisfying for growers of all skill levels for years.
Anyone who’s ever savored a joint owes their enjoyment to the fruits of the cannabis plant, but moreover, to the female of the species. That’s because only female cannabis plants produce the cannabinoid-rich flowers that deliver the flavors and effects consumers look for.
This is why many North American growers are turning to feminized seeds—cannabis seeds that carry only female genetics, and can be relied on to produce only female plants. By creatively applying technologies to seed feminization, modern breeders like Kannabia can ensure female genetics in seeds with a nearly 100% success rate.
Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants
A bud of Diesel Glue grown from Kannabia’s feminized seeds. (Courtesy of Kannabia)
Cannabis plants that are pollinated naturally or with traditional breeding techniques can produce both male or female seeds. These are known as regular seeds and, as in most species, they occur with about an even split between the two sexes. That means cannabis cultivators starting with standard seeds have about a 50% chance of yielding a female plant from each one.
As a result, growing cannabis from regular seeds isn’t very efficient—it’s akin to running a bakery that has to throw out every second loaf of bread. Growers working from regular seeds have to account for the fact that roughly half of their plants could be males. While those plants are of some value to breeders, folks growing for flower won’t find much to like in them, and too many male plants can spoil a grow.
Traditionally, the solution to this has been an inelegant one, with many cultivators planting at least twice as many seeds as they hope to harvest with the assumption that about half of them will be useless. However big a harvest you’re looking for, using regular seeds means you’ll have to plant twice that many seeds.
Why Grow From Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
Cultivators depend on feminized seeds for efficient growing cycles. (Courtesy of Mr. Sticky Farm)
There are numerous advantages for growers who start their garden using feminized seeds. By removing the guesswork of germinating regular seeds, feminized seeds streamline the growing process, saving space and time.
That efficiency is key for medical cannabis patients and hobby growers. Since most cannabis regulations limit plant counts, growers cultivating a small crop of cannabis for personal use want to ensure they’re getting the most out of their grow.
Male plants don’t just take up space in a garden, either. They can also sap time and resources from growers. When male and female plants are both present, growers need to cultivate both until their sexes are clear. While some strains will show early signs of their sex before flowering begins, most cannabis plants don’t begin to express their sex until they start to mature past the vegetative stage.
This change occurs when the photoperiod, or amount of light and dark that the plant receives, changes to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. In outdoor gardens this change can happen naturally with the seasons or, in more controlled environments like indoor gardens, by human intervention using light timers.
Once those plants are old enough, growers have to go to the trouble of actually determining their sex, monitoring each individual plant to ensure any males are removed before they can pollinate their female counterparts.
Growers can avoid spending weeks nurturing plants with only a 50% chance of expressing as female and maximize the space and plant count in their gardens by using feminized seeds from suppliers like Kannabia. These specially-treated seeds increase the probability of producing a female plant to 99%.
How Are Cannabis Seeds Feminized?
Treating cannabis seeds with a silver thiosulphate solution can ensure the resulting plants are females. (Courtesy of Kannabia)
There are a few techniques that can produce reliably feminized seeds. One classic method is stressing out a healthy female plant by interrupting its light cycle during flowering. While that works to an extent, the more common and controlled method is to spray down female plants with a collodial silver or silver thiosulphate solution. This method makes it possible to control the sex of a plant without any genetic tinkering or modification.
Both substances are a blend of water and fine silver particles, and they work in largely the same fashion. The silver solution impedes the production of ethylene, a hormone involved in flowering. The result is a female plant, but one that produces male flowers with pollen sacs. Since those pollen sacs develop on a plant with only female genetics, female genetics are all they carry. When those flowers pollinate another female plant (one untreated by silver solutions), the resulting seeds are nearly certain to be female.
Treating plants with a silver thiosulphate solution results in seeds that will produce feminized plants nearly 100% of the time, and Kannabia’s breeders have found this method to be the most effective way to maintain the stability of the seeds and future feminized plants.
Feminized Varieties to Try in Your Garden
Using feminized seeds can make it easier for home growers to cultivate strains like Russian Doll. (Courtesy of Kannabia)
Growing cannabis in your home is legal in an increasing number of states and provinces throughout the United States and Canada. To make starting a home garden easy, growers can start with feminized seeds for many popular strains from providers like Kannabia.
“In our search to find new genetics, Kannabia paired us with their feminized Russian Doll seeds,” say growers at Canada’s BlueSky Organics. “Every seed germinated, and now that we are in the late vegetative stage, these plants have an extremely hardy trunk preparing themselves for some massive buds.”
If you have more questions about strains or seeds, keep digging through Leafly’s resources. And to learn more about the variety of feminized seeds available to you, visit Kannabia’s website to see its full line of feminized genetics, including strains like Diesel Glue and the award-winning Mataro Blue.
Promotions are offered solely by Kannabia Seed Company. Terms and conditions may apply—contact Kannabia for full details.
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds are genetically altered so that they produce only female plants in at least 99,9% of the cases. This forms a great advantage as only female cannabis plants produce flowers or buds. The male cannabis plants don’t produce flowers but only pollen, contain little THC and can even influence the production of THC of female plants.
The female cannabis plant produces considerably more working substances or cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG and CBN and terenes than a male cannabis plant. Suzy Seeds only sells feminized cannabis seeds. Before bringing the seeds on the market, they are first thoroughly tested in a lab and further cultivated, so that we are sure that our seeds are genetically stable and consistent.
Suzy’s Tip: You can only smoke the flowers of female plants, so only buy feminised seeds.
Then you are (almost entirely) sure that you are only cultivating female plants. The gender of the plant is determined by two chromosomes, namely the X and Y chromosome. A plant with two X chromosomes becomes feminine or female and a plant with an X and Y chromosome becomes male. How are Feminized seeds produced? Feminized cannabis seeds are made by means of gibberellic acid (a hormone found in plants). Because of this, the female plant is forced to produce male flowers. The female plant becomes hermaphrodite and this makes it possible to produce seeds that have two x chromosomes and are thus female.