Seeding Cannabis

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SEED Initiatives is the first U.S. government program to fund equity-centered community investment grants from local cannabis tax revenue. Marijuana Seedlings Now that your marijuana seeds have sprouted, what’s next? How do you care for your little baby marijuana seedlings? Your germinated seeds must be placed in a more suitable With seed-grown cannabis cultivation, the reduction of energy requirements, input usage, and labor will better ensure the longevity and sustainability of growers.

SEED Initiatives

SEED Initiatives is the first U.S. government program to fund equity-centered community investment grants from local cannabis tax revenue.

The New Vision

Social Equity & Education Development (SEED) Initiatives is supported by an ongoing $1 million in cannabis tax revenue allocation and a vehicle for single-source monitoring, measuring, and reporting on the city’s cannabis tax revenue.

Portland City Council’s decision to allocate ongoing funding to the SEED Initiatives is one small step toward rectifying past racially-biased cannabis policies and disparate cannabis-related arrests. This commitment has the potential to begin to repair the lasting legal, social, economic, and inter-generational consequences past cannabis prohibition has had on Black and brown communities.

The History

In November 2016, Portland voters approved Ballot Measure 26-180 to impose a 3% local tax on adult-use cannabis retail sales. Since then, over $14 million in cannabis tax revenue has been allocated across various City of Portland bureaus to support street infrastructure improvements; DUII training; drug rehabilitation; criminal justice, expungement and re-entry services; and small business owners from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

For more detailed information about the history of Portland’s local cannabis tax, please review these additional resources:

    , prepared by City Budget Office (2020) , prepared by the Cannabis Program (2019)

SEED Grant Fund

In alignment with the Ballot Measure 26-180 passed in 2016, the SEED Grant Fund prioritizes Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and women led/owned small business initiatives and/or projects, programs or services that support economic and educational development of Black and brown communities, which were most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

The SEED Grant Fund supports nonprofit and for-profit entities of any size, including community-based organizations, individuals, firms, teams or consultants. Newly-formed groups or initiatives with fiscal sponsorship from a nonprofit entity are also eligible. Multi-entity collaborations, coalitions and/or consortium efforts are encouraged to apply.

The SEED Grant Fund distributes funding across a range of projects, programs and services within the following designated priority areas, but are not limited to:

  • Education development
  • Entrepreneurship and economic development
  • Social justice

In the 5 cycles of the grant program, the SEED Grant Fund (formerly Cannabis Social Equity Grant) has awarded $4,379,415 through 42 grants.

Marijuana Seedlings

Now that your marijuana seeds have sprouted, what’s next? How do you care for your little baby marijuana seedlings? Your germinated seeds must be placed in a more suitable growing medium if you have started them in paper towels, rock wool or peat pellets.

Seedling containers

  1. Small planters utilize your space better
  2. Small planters grouped together are the most efficient way to use your grow light source
  3. A small container keeps the roots together and is easier to feed and water.

Planting your marijuana seedlings

Place garden soil in your container up to about 1” from the top. Pack l ightly . Make a hole with a pencil, eraser-side down about ½” deep and put in your germinated seeds, root side down and cover with soil. If your seedlings are already in a seed-starter of some sort, simply bury them in the dirt and cover with ¼ to ½” of soil. Water until the soil is damp, not soaking. It is not necessary, but some marijuana growers like to give the young plants some support. Long wooden kitchen matches (minus the head) work well.

Watering and feeding your seedlings

During this phase, feeding or the adding of nutrients or fertilizer will not be necessary unless you have chosen a soilless mix. Watering should be done perhaps twice per day with a misting bottle for the first few days. How often you water will depend greatly on temperature and humidity. Once the marijuana root is better established, you can slowly cut back to watering every 2-3 days. If you are not sure, you can test by placing your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, then add water. It is important to note that the number one cause of early crop failure is overwatering. Wilting or drooping leaves on your plants are a sign that your plant is thirsty. Plants will revive quickly from such dehydration. While many gardeners use tap or well water, the more sophisticated growers use reverse osmosis, filtered or bottled water and adjust the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of the water. If you are using municipal tap water, fill a bucket or a reserve reservoir and let it sit for several days. This allows most of the chlorine present in the water to evaporate. DO NOT water directly on the plant. They are very delicate at this stage and the stem and roots are easily damaged. Water around the seedlings a few inches base of the plant. It is best to water your plants first thing in the morning for best uptake.

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Marijuana seedlings lights

Marijuana seedlings require very little light and can be grown under CFLs (spiral compact fluorescents), tube fluorescents, LEDs and the blue light from Metal Halides (MH). Stay away from incandescent lights as they put off too much heat and too little light. The higher the Wattage your light source, the further away it should be from your seedlings unless you are using LED grow lights with good ones running nearly cold. Too far away and the plants will stretch towards the light making them weak and spindly. Too close and the bright light and heat may damage them, except with LEDs. Let us say you are using fluorescents or LED grow lights. It would be fine to place the light a foot above your plants to start and give the seedlings a chance to ‘harden up’. If they react favorably, you may lower the light a little bit each day until the lights are maybe 4” above your plants. Blue light dominant LEDs and full spectrum LED grow lights offer an excellent start, lower electricity costs and very little if any heat. High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights are generally not used for seedlings as they do not require the amount of light that HPS puts out, and more importantly, HPS is deficient in blue light. Blue light is what plants use to point them towards the light source. This is called phototropism. Have fun and good luck growing out your marijuana seedlings!

From Seed to Bud and Back Again: The Evolution of Cannabis Seed Desire

The history of cannabis and hemp use can be traced back as far as 12,000 years with the earliest archaeological record of the use of fiber from cannabis originating in Asia. During that time, hemp was used to make fishing nets, rope, clothing, and paper, while cannabis seeds and oil were used as food and drink.

Scientists have unearthed records from numerous ancient civilizations documenting the ritualistic, medicinal, and recreational use of cannabis. These findings suggest that the cannabis plant is among one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops.

Ancestral farmers grew cannabis and hemp from seed for nearly 6,000 years. While burned cannabis seeds have also been found in kurgan burial mounds in Siberia dating back to 3,000 B.C., and some tombs of noble people buried in the Xinjiang region of China and Siberia around 2500 B.C. have included large quantities of petrified cannabis.

In ancient India, the medicinal properties of cannabis have been explored for millennia, as the plant was utilized to treat a variety of ailments and was often part of rituals too. In fact, mentions of cannabis can be found in sacred Hindu texts, “The Vedas and the Atharvaveda” (Science of Charms), where it is referred to as one of the five sacred plants of India.

Over time, cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa, reaching South America, then eventually arriving north in the U.S. near the end of the 19th century.

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Restoring the Roots of Cannabis Production

As the American colonies were being established, hemp became an important agricultural product due to its ease of cultivation and many potential uses. In fact, during the colonial era, the Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies actually required farmers to grow hemp. In the late 1800s, cannabis became a popular ingredient in many medicinal products, readily available to aid in relieving chronic illnesses and common ailments. During this time, these products were sold openly in pharmacies and general stores.

However, as time went on, something changed. Prohibition hysteria along with prejudice — and consequently fear — of immigrants and people of color who had become associated with recreational cannabis usage, fueled anti-cannabis sentiments. Anti-drug campaigns dubbed cannabis the “Marijuana Menace” and “Reefer Madness which set the tone for what would become a century-long, politically motivated war on drugs. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed the cultivation and use of the plant.

In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively federally criminalizing marijuana, at a time when large-scale, domestic cannabis cultivation was rare. By the late 1980s, state and federal enforcement campaigns ramped up, making growing cannabis outdoors extremely risky. Accordingly, growers moved underground and indoors to cultivation labs, growing cannabis in basements, aquariums, apartments, and greenhouses.

By the time limited medicinal cannabis use in certain states was permitted again, indoor growing methods and clonal propagation techniques were established as the norm for cannabis cultivators.

The Pheno-Hunt

Growers who wished to create new varieties were forced to cultivate several phenotypes from various seed genetics and then select those that perform the best in an effort to create their own genetics inventory.

“What happened over time was the market started wanting very specific things, and clonal selection and trading of the clone became how those things were shared because seeds weren’t stable enough to give you the reproductive consistency that a production model would need. We started to go from using seed as our production source to seed as our selection source. So we would select from seed piles, find outliers in that, and then use them, but not necessarily use them in that form,” says Kevin Jodrey, cannabis industry veteran and founder of Wonderland Nursery. Jodrey’s career began in 1978 and his experience spans all aspects of the cannabis industry from farmer and cultivator to founder of Cookies R&D facility and currently focusing on genetic selection techniques.

However, pheno-hunting for preferable mother stock has led to a significant decline in the natural evolution of cannabis seed genetics, thus resulting in unstable seed genetics that lacks uniformity and varies in performance. Pheno-hunting often takes months, or even years, in order to breed excellent, stable seedlines making this process potentially costly in regard to both time and money.

Growers typically chose to use clonal varieties in their cannabis and hemp operations. However, genetic purity and access to feminized seeds is a major concern for growers dedicated to the production of smokable flower and concentrate. These two market segments represent approximately 70% of the cannabis market.

“The ability for an individual to now go pick up seed and then hold the seed in a container at their facility without having to worry about a mother space or any kind of clonal issues, along with with the technology that’s been developed in the seed, means you’re now able to have accelerated growth rates. You’re able to put the seed in, use it as a seed, and have a short vegetative period,” states Jodrey.

A Sea of Change

If you’ve spent any time as a commercial cannabis or hemp grower, you have likely seen or experienced, the shifts in trends that the market is currently experiencing.

As legalization expands, growers may be apprehensive to change, particularly when it comes to their existing operations in order to meet consumer demand. As the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, after taking time to understand the rationale behind market trends, many growers are quickly realizing that making strategic changes can actually benefit their yield, profitability, and sustainability.

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Previously shunned by some cultivators, seed-grown cannabis was once considered to be a sub-par method of cultivating cannabis and hemp at commercial scale. For growers who may be skeptical, cannabis seeds aren’t what they used to be. With modern plant breeding and data science, many of those preconceived notions and myths about seed-grown cannabis are being dispelled.

“I think that it’s an incredible time to be a cannabis cultivator, in all aspects, because what you’re seeing is the beginning of science really merging with cannabis in order to really create an ability for the cultivator to have reliability. We haven’t had this yet. We’ve had science come in to map, to look at, and to refine, but we haven’t had the ability to really use it introspectively to really dig through gene pools and create lines like other industries have,” explains Jodrey.

Companies like Phylos offer production-ready seeds, the latest tool available to growers as we enter the next era of cannabis cultivation. Developed with modern breeding practices, such as genomics, data analytics, and marker-assisted selection, these seeds are capable of delivering the genetic uniformity, performance, and vigor that growers are accustomed to from clonal varieties.

Using Science and Technology as a Tool to Optimize Seed

The positive financial and environmental impacts that come along with utilizing production-ready seed systems are multifold.

Cannabis plants grown from stable seed strains provide a greater variety of plants to choose from and grow into stronger, sturdier plants than ones grown from clones. Healthy, robust plants equate to a higher yield of flower. This is contributed to several factors including vast reduction in disease, pest infestation, and genetic mutations due to clones staying in prolonged vegetative states; as well as a stronger root system that is able to reach rich nutrients deep in the soil.

Growers who opt for production-ready seed systems can reduce the costly overhead and labor associated with building out and maintaining mother rooms — which can account for up to 25% of a facility’s footprint. This translates to significant cost savings, reduced associated expenses, and improved margins before the first seed has even germinated.

Additionally, crops started from seed begin free of pests and pathogens which translates to a lower likelihood of early-stage crop loss. While some diseases target both clones and seed-grown cannabis, common pathogens in the cannabis space like Powdery Mildew typically begin in mother plants or Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd), which spreads primarily through fomite transmission, like contaminated tools. This is particularly important, as the limited number of crop-protection products that effectively manage diseases stands as an additional pain point for growers.

The Future of Cannabis Is Seed

The current considerations for transitioning back to seed-grown cannabis production seems natural. As they say, “everything in life comes full circle” and cannabis cultivation tools and techniques are no exception.

“I’ve been in this my entire life. So to be able to see it come full circle from where we began with seed, and now we are going back to using seed as a desire. It’s just really an awesome experience to be able to see the world make that circle,” explains Jodrey.

Though most cannabis is still cultivated indoors, the legal cannabis industry is gradually moving toward a model that includes more greenhouses and open-air grows. By employing a data-backed approach when it comes to identifying and understanding the cannabis market and cultivation trends, commercial growers are rapidly changing the perspective of how they operate.

With the return of seed-grown cannabis cultivation, growers can expect positive revenue and environmental impacts. The reduction of energy requirements, input usage, and labor will better ensure the longevity and sustainability of a grower’s cannabis operation for generations to come.

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