Cannabis Seed Development

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Jack Frost Landscapes & Garden Center blog for updates on sales and products as well as gardening tips and tricks, recipes, crafts, and more! Have you ever heard of viviparity? This phenomenon, seemingly uncommon in plants, is actually more widespread than it appears, depending on the enviro Breeders focus on plant characteristics when breeding cannabis seeds such as their potency, flavor, yield, smell, resistance to pests, color, growth stature and other characteristics.

Stages of Growing Cannabis

Cannabis, weed, marijuana, kush, ganja – whatever you want to call it, it’s now legal to own and grow in the state of Virginia. So what does this mean for those interested in growing it?

Growing Cannabis for the first time can be quite overwhelming. A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of results with more information than you can ever sift through. There’s so much to learn – lighting, pH, soils, training methods, curing, and so much more. Where does one start?

It’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of information online. The sheer amount of information can almost hinder you when you’re first getting started. I think it’s easiest to just get started and learn as you go.

Starting with gaining a general understanding of the stages of growing Cannabis is a great place to begin before you try growing for the first time. It will help you have a decent idea of what to expect along the way.

How long does Cannabis take to grow?

How long Cannabis takes to grow can vary based on the variety of the plant and conditions it is grown in. On average, from seed to harvest, it takes anywhere from 10-32 weeks (about 3-8 months). It’s a quicker process if you start with a clone (rooted cutting) or an autoflower seed. The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative stage—after the seedling phase and before flowering.

Stages of Growing Cannabis

Every plant begins with a seed. Cannabis seeds should be germinated just like any other seed. They can take anywhere between 3-10 days to germinate, although it can happen in as few as 24 hours or as long as 2 weeks. To germinate, you can place the seeds in a damp paper towel, which you should then place in a dark place, such as inside a drawer. Check on them after a few days to see if the primary root, called the radicle, has emerged. This will look like a little white “tail” coming out of the seed. Once germinated, move them to damp soil.

Alternatively, you can place the seeds directly in damp soil to germinate and grow, without having the trouble of moving them. For this method, I would recommend a seed starting mix. These are usually lighter and fluffier than traditional potting soil, which gives your fragile germinating seeds a start on the right foot. We carry Coast of Maine Sprout Island Blend Organic Seed Starter Mix. It has additional perlite that aerates the soil and helps prevent damping off. It also has mycorrhizae, worm castings, lobster meal, hen manure, and kelp to get your plants off to a healthy start.

2. Seedling Stage

Once your seed has germinated, it’s now time to move the germinated seed from its paper towel to a growing medium. If you started them in a seed starting mix, you will want to move them from the seed tray to a larger pot with a high-quality potting mix, such as the Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Grower’s Mix. This is a super soil, that works especially well for growing Cannabis. It contains mycorrhizae, kelp, alfalfa meal, fish bone meal, worm castings, perlite, manure, peat, coir, and lobster compost that feed your plant throughout the growing cycle, with no need to use additional nutrients.

Plants are considered seedlings for about 2-3 weeks after germination. During this time, the plant should be moved to a spot with direct sun, if growing outdoors. If growing indoors, set your grow lights to run for 16 hours a day.

3. Vegetative Stage

After the seedling stage, Cannabis plants move to a vegetative stage. This is the time when the plant focuses on leaf production. It will not produce flowers at all during this stage, as the plant needs to grow plenty of leaves to take up enough photons (sunlight) to create the necessary energy to produce large flowers. The vegetative stage can last anywhere from 3 to 16 weeks, depending on the variety.

During this stage, indoor plants need 16-18 hours of light per day, and outdoor plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (“full sun”), plus several hours of indirect sunlight. They will also need plenty of Nitrogen during this point, as Nitrogen is the nutrient that promotes healthy leaf growth.

4. Flowering

The flowering stage is the last stage of the Cannabis plant life cycle. This is the time when your plant will stop putting as much energy into leaf growth and will instead focus that energy on creating the flowers (buds), which are used for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Stages of Flowering – Source: Katie Plummer

Cannabis is triggered to flower when the hours of light it receives are reduced. If you’re growing outdoors, you’re at the whim of the seasons and will have to wait until the sun starts to go down in fall for it to flower and then harvest. If you’re growing indoors, you get to play mother nature and can force your plant to flower at any point. When you’re ready for plants to start the flowering stage, change your lights to a 12/12 cycle ( 12 hours with the light on and 12 hours with it off ). You will see signs of flowering in 1-3 weeks . On average plants will be ready to harvest after 8-11 weeks of flowering.

5. Harvest

Your plant will be ready to be harvested once flowers are compact and the pistils turn orange/brown. These pistils look like “hairs” coming out of the flowers.

6. Drying

To dry your Cannabis, hang sections of the plant upside down in a dark, cool space, such as a closet. You want to aim for 55-65% humidity and 60-70°F in the spot that you’re drying your plants in. Prolonged periods of light, friction from handling, and humidity/dampness can degrade resin glands, so you will want to avoid all of these.

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During the drying process, plants lose roughly 75% of water weight, which increases the cannabinoid to weight ratio. It also helps equalize moisture content, preserve cannabinoids, and shed chlorophyll.

Cannabis is ready to trim once the stem snaps when bent, typically after 3-7 days of drying.

7. Trimming

After your plant has dried, it’s time to trim! Trimming makes your fingers very sticky, so wear gloves if this is something you want to avoid. Simply trim off the larger leaves and stems. You can leave smaller sugar leaves if you’d like, as these still contain a good amount of cannabinoids and terpenes that provide the medicinal properties of Cannabis. It’s all personal preference of exactly how much you trim off. And you can save all the trimmings to make edibles, tinctures, salves, and more.

8. Curing

Curing is an essential part and the last stage in growing Cannabis. It helps the buds achieve full aroma. Curing is as simple as placing your freshly trimmed buds in a glass jar with a lid, like a mason jar. You’ll then want to place the jar in a cool, dark place, such as inside a drawer or in a cabinet.

During the first week of curing, you will want to “burp” your jars. This means you should open the containers once or twice a day for a couple minutes to allows moisture to escape and replenish the oxygen inside the container. After the first week, you only need to burp containers once every few days.

You should allow buds to cure for at least 2 weeks, but some people choose to cure for as long as 6 months. This helps stop the loss of moisture and to preserve flavors and aromas.

Viviparity or premature germination of cannabis seeds

Viviparity may be a strange-sounding word, but it actually describes one of the best-known phenomena among mammals (and other species), that of embryos developing inside the mother’s body until the moment of birth, at which point they are already prepared to survive in the outside world. This viviparity, which is so familiar to us humans, is not so frequently found in the plant kingdom, where the embryos are released by the mother plant as a seed and will depend exclusively on the environment to develop and grow.

However, viviparity can also occur in some plants and sometimes, the seed that would normally wait to be released begins to grow in the mother’s body and emerges to the surface like an alien unleashed. The result? Plants that seem like something from a horror movie but that are, in reality, premature mothers.

Plants with a tendency to viviparity

Viviparity in plants is not common, but there are some exceptions. In the plant kingdom, several species with a tendency to viviparity have been documented, such as:

  • Red Mangrove.
  • Plants growing in flooded areas.
  • Corn.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Wheat.
  • Rice.

For example, some species of mangroves grow on sediments that are saturated with water by the tides, in addition to having high concentrations of salts and being poor in oxygen, meaning that viviparity gives these species a greater probability of successfully rooting in the harsh substrate and to be able to survive to develop and form mangroves.

Red mangroves (and other mangroves) are viviparous: the seed germinates while the fruit is still attached to the branches; in addition, the mother will continue to nurture it until it reaches 40 cm in length

Viviparity can also occur in common fruits, such as tomatoes or peppers. The seeds contain a hormone that suppresses the germination process. This is a necessity, as it prevents seeds from germinating when conditions are not favourable and losing the opportunity to grow into plants.

But sometimes this hormone runs out, for example when a tomato sits on the greengrocer’s shelf for too long. And sometimes the hormone can be tricked into thinking the conditions are right, especially if the conditions are hot and humid. This can happen in ears of corn that experience a lot of rain and collect water inside their husks; or on fruits that are not harvested and consumed immediately during a hot, humid summer.

Viviparity often looks like a maggot infestation, which is bad if you want to sell your fruit. Otherwise, it’s perfectly harmless.

Apart from the instances of a mutant-looking tomato or corn on the supermarket shelf, it is believed that 89% of viviparous plant species grow in humid forests or in flooded environments and many are native to the tropics. Environmental conditions, therefore, have a lot to do with the causes of viviparity, as we explain below.

What causes viviparity in plants?

Experts affirm that viviparity arises as a response to factors that are detrimental to the development of embryos in the soil:

  • Extreme temperatures.
  • Environmental unpredictability.
  • Too-dry environments.
  • Seed vulnerability to predation.
  • Microbial attacks.

In addition to these factors, some studies point to a common cause in plant species that tend to display viviparity: an intolerance to seed desiccation, a key process in the formation of some seeds.

These aren’t mutant strawberries, it is just viviparity that gives them this strange appearance

Viviparity and seed dormancy

The seeds of many species within the plant kingdom are capable of preserving their germinative power for years. This state of metabolic inactivity corresponds to the state of dormancy (or latency) and allows us to collect seeds, package them and store them for a time without fear of them losing their viability or capacity to germinate. Desiccation is a key prerequisite to these seeds entering a dormant state so that they will only germinate in the soil when the environmental conditions are suitable.

However, this process does not occur in viviparous plants, thus allowing plant species from humid or flooded environments, where their seeds are unable to dry out, to generate healthy embryos. As a consequence, their seeds do not enter a state of dormancy and this is why they germinate in the mother’s body once the embryo has formed. In this way, viviparity arises from an environmental adaptation for many plants. But this is not the only reason for viviparity in the plant world.

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Mutant plants: another cause of viviparity

Although external factors such as the abundance of water can induce viviparity in some plant species, sometimes genetics is the principal cause of this phenomenon. Genetic mutations in tomato, corn and wheat plants can result in viviparous specimens due to an alteration in their production of phytohormones or a reduction in sensitivity to the phytohormones responsible for inducing the state of dormancy.

Viviparity or premature germination of seeds is a physiological phenomenon present in some cultivated species, such as corn

Viviparity, evolutionary advantage or not?

After everything is said and done, all living beings have the same mission to follow an evolutionary strategy with the aim of perpetuating ourselves as a species. For this reason, many experts argue about the usefulness of viviparity in plants. The arguments against it claim that this phenomenon limits the dispersal capacity of individuals, that when they germinate in the mother plant they will no longer spread to new habitats, meaning that the expansion of the species will be very limited. If something happened to that land where all the plants grow or if the environmental conditions changed, all the specimens of that species would perish and it would end up disappearing.

However, on the list of “pros”, viviparity is a reproductive strategy that favours plants grown in humid environments and also in difficult conditions, in which a developing plant would stand a better chance to establish itself than a seed with its shell.

Alpine poa (Pooideae) is only viviparous when growing with a combination of long days and cool temperatures, otherwise it produces normal seeds

Viviparity in cannabis

Viviparity in cannabis is not a common phenomenon, although it can occur under certain environmental conditions. And when the objective of the crop is not to produce flowers but seeds, the grower or the breeder is in charge of pollinating the flowers of the females that will develop these seeds. Cannabis seed production can be done both indoors and outdoors (and also in greenhouses). In both cases, something similar to viviparity can occur if the environmental factors favour it.

How? Very simple: when the flowers of the female cannabis plant are pollinated, each stigma (the hairs on the buds, the gateway for pollen to enter the plant) that has been fertilised will cause a seed to form inside the pistil. After a few weeks (usually at least four) it may happen that some seeds are fully formed while others still need a few more days to fully mature.

If the cannabis plants are growing in an environment that is too humid, the fully mature seeds start to germinate inside the flower of the mother. In some cases, these seedlings will fall to the ground and begin to develop by rooting in the substrate; while others will develop within the cannabis flower until they die.

Viviparity in cannabis: the climate is so wet in eastern Australia that the seeds sprout before you can harvest them

How do we prevent viviparity in cannabis?

As we already mentioned, when the goal of cultivation is the production of cannabis seeds, viviparity is something that we will definitely want to avoid. For this reason, it is necessary to pay attention to the relative humidity levels of the room or grow tent (in the case of indoor cultivation) and try to keep them ideally below 50% and, above all, ensure that they do not exceed 60%.

This can be a challenge, especially in the flowering phase of the plants, as the plants are fully developed and bushier, so more transpiration occurs, increasing the relative humidity. To reduce humidity levels in indoor crops and prevent seeds from germinating before time, it is recommended to use dehumidifiers.

In outdoor crops, the environmental humidity will depend on the climate of the area, therefore, it is important to know when the autumn rains usually arrive to avoid them at all costs. If the seed-bearing buds get too wet or rained upon directly, the chances of viviparity are high. Therefore, choosing fast-finishing genetics for cold climates, such as those offered by the Early or Fast varieties, can be very useful to prevent this from happening.

These genetics offer all the advantages of feminised or regular strains, reducing their flowering period by a couple of weeks; this means that they will be ready to harvest earlier, which is a great advantage for growers who live in regions with cold climates and short summers, or for those who want to make the maximum number of harvests per year.

  • Viviparidad en Goeppertia inocephala (Marantaceae). María Del Pilar Sepúlveda-Nieto, Ángela María Morales Trujillo, Liliana Katinas.
  • The Ecology and Physiology of Viviparous and Recalcitrant Seeds. Elizabeth J. Farnsworth.

The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.

Breeding Cannabis Seeds

You will want to begin by choosing parents for breeding cannabis seeds. Selecting the female plants for breeding is much easier than selecting male plants.

Breeders focus on plant characteristics such as their potency, flavor, yield, smell, resistance to pests, color, growth stature and other characteristics when choosing a female to breed cannabis seeds.

Choosing male plants is not easy since males don’t reveal their characteristics like females do. Some breeders will rub their fingers on the male plants stem to be able to better smell their resinous odor. The best way to test for male characteristics is by a progeny test where the male pollen is harvested and then placed on certain plants.

These plants will create seeds and the next season those seeds are planted then grow up to show off their characteristics. Once a male plant is selected for breeding the other male plants are then cut down and destroyed.

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Step #2 Is Collecting Pollen

You will collect pollen from the male plant that you have chosen and strip away all extra male branches to guard against random pollination then isolate the male as soon as anthers show. Before the anther’s open, you will place a plastic bag over the branch and tie it to prevent it from falling.

You will keep the bag over the branch for several days to collect pollen then carefully remove the branch and bag so pollen does not escape from the bag.

Step #3 Storing Cannabis Seeds’ Pollen

You can now either store the male pollen indoors since pollen in a natural condition in the wild will not last for long. Be sure that the storage container that the pollen is stored at low temperatures and moisture since as high temperatures, as well as humidity, will destroy pollen very quickly.

Pollen that is harvested can be stored for several months when it is stored in a freezer. To store pollen in the freezer you will first need to use a fine screen to filter out the plant leaf matter from the anthers that may have fallen into the bag.

If these are not removed it can contaminate the pollen and cause it to spoil. Before you filter the plant material you will want to lay down some wax paper or place a plate that is clean to capture the falling pollen.

You can then place the pollen in a sterile container, tube or sealed bag to make sure that the pollen for cannabis seeds is clean and sterile. When you are freezing the harvested pollen you will not want to continually freeze and thaw it out since this will diminish the viability of the pollen. Use only what is needed and leave the rest frozen.

Step #4 Using Pollen For Cannabis Seeds

Pollination occurs when male pollen comes into contact with the female pistil. Depending on which plant variety you choose to breed the female flowers will be ready to be pollinated within two (2) to twelve (12) weeks after the flowering cycle has been introduced to the plants.

The more pistils that are visible when pollinating then more cannabis seeds will be created. Female pistils that are turgid and most often white or off-white are the best to be pollinated.

Any pistils that are rust- or brown-color are beyond the point that you can fertilize. To pollinate a female plant, you will first cover the female branch with a pollen-filled bag then briefly shake the bag to make sure the pollen makes contact with the female pistils.

You can leave the bag over the branch for two (2) days to ensure pollination occurs. Many times cannabis breeders will contain the male pollen and pollinated-female plants in a separate room to prevent other cannabis plants from being fertilized.

After a few days in the pollination room, the female plant is sprayed with water to destroy the pollen that remains on the plant before the female plant is moved back into the flowering room. This is to prevent any remaining pollen from fertilizing other plants.

Also be sure to spray any room that you have allowed for pollination to occur. Another way to pollinate a female plant is to use a small paintbrush to ‘paint’ pollen onto the pistils for cannabis seeds. You will simply dip the paintbrush into a container of pollen and gently brush the pollen onto a female plant’s flowers.

Be sure that all fans are off to prevent the pollen from being blown around the room. This method is perfect for growers who want to have cannabis seeds created on only a few branches and leave the rest of the female flowers sinsemilla.

After a plant is fertilized the cannabis seeds will be ripe in about six (6) weeks but could be ready earlier. When seeds are mature they will split the calyxes open and make the cannabis seeds visible.

The seeds that are most ripe are seeds that have a dark brown or grey color and well-mottled (tiger striped) and will set loosely within the calyx. Seeds that are not viable and immature will be green, yellow or white in color as well as will be in sealed calyxes.

If you have seeds that are not mature by the end of the plants life-cycle then you can eat the immature cannabis seeds. Plants that are sativa dominant tend to allow seeds to fall from their small, lightly packed buds and while indica dominant plant seeds tend to stay within the large, densely packed buds.

Seeds are harvested from buds by either manually finger-picking each of the seeds out or by crushing the buds to separate the bud from all seeds. Seeds are often tested for their viability with a simple press between your thumb and index finger to test the seeds firmness.

If the seed splits open with this test it means that the seed is not viable or immature. If the seed is very firm then those cannabis seeds will tend to be viable.

Once seeds have broken the calyx then they are ready to plant immediately, if you choose to do so. Otherwise, the seeds may fall off the plant and germinate below the plant.

These ideas and methods are only a guideline for small-scale cannabis seed production. If you plan on producing massive amounts of seeds you will need to adjust what is done to be effective.

Many breeders will clone a male plant so they have multiple-males within a very large room that are able to pollinate many, many females. It all depends on what you plan on doing.

Let us know what you think.

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