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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.
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.
Male vs. Female Cannabis Plants
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.
Cultivators depend on feminized seeds for efficient growing cycles. (Courtesy of Mr. Sticky Farm)
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.
The predominant way to preserve the exact genetics of a plant is by cloning. However, a plant crossed with itself produces seeds that retain its parent’s favorable characteristics. Another reason to use this technique is to create a hybrid of two female plants. If a branch of one female is turned “male,” there will be pollen to fertilize the other plant, and to create seed when no male is around. Feminized seeds are produced by inducing a normal female, not a hermaphrodite, to grow male flowers with viable pollen.
By far, the noted breeder Soma developed the easiest method. He noticed that when colas of many varieties reached late ripeness (which, by the way, I prefer as the harvest-time) a few viable male flowers appear. This is also a sign that the buds are ripe. Harvest the pollen using a fresh watercolor brush and brush it directly on the flowers or store it in a small glass or metal container. Not all varieties produce male flowers at the end of ripeness, but many do, and they do it reliably. Very small amounts of pollen are produced using this method, but a little pollen applied properly goes a long way.
Feminized seeds are not as mysterious or weird as they might seem
Silver thiosulfate is made by combining two water solutions, one containing silver nitrate and the other, sodium thiosulfate. Silver nitrate alone can also be used to induce male flowers. Spray a solution of 0.02- 0.03% on the plant, and then turn the lights to a 12-hour flowering cycle. The leaves will droop for a day or so and then resume turgidity. Male flower growth will become apparent in a couple of weeks and ripen a few weeks later. To make a 0.02% solution, add 0.1 gram of silver nitrate in 0.5 liters of dis- tilled water.
Hermaphrodite cannabis plant.
Feminized seeds produce only female plants, and when they germinate there will be few males among them if they are produced correctly. The threat of accidentally pollinating crops by misidentifying a male is minimized. A male-free crop is only one reason to use all-female seeds: another might be the preservation of a particular characteristic or plant type.