In all the shops for self-cultivation inputs (growshops) we see that almost all cannabis seeds are feminized seeds. Feminized cannabis seeds have become the industry standard and the truth is that they have greatly improved the growing experience. All international seed banks (European and gringos) have adapted to this trend and offer this type of seed as the main seed in their catalog. Today I want to write about this type of seed and answer the most common questions about it. I am going to do it in the form of an interview, where I ask and I answer. Sorry, I’m alone in this.
What is a feminized seed?
A feminized cannabis seed is one that has a genetic predisposition to become a female plant. The cannabis plant is a dioecious plant, which is why it can develop as a female or as a male. Although cultivation conditions may end up affecting the development of the plant, genetics largely determines whether it will be female or whether it will be male.
This predisposition of cannabis seeds to be female or male is determined by the X and Y chromosomes. In feminized seeds it is possible to ensure that they have a pair of X chromosomes and, therefore, that the plant is (almost with total safety) a female plant.
But what advantages does a feminized seed have over a regular seed?
Those of us who grow our own cannabis have discovered several advantages of having feminized seeds. These are perhaps the most important:
1) We get what we are looking for:
It is the female cannabis plants that bloom and produce those buds full of terpenes, THC and other cannabinoids that we love so much. By sowing a feminized seed we have complete security that we will have that cannabis plant that we want to smoke and enjoy.
2) We avoid male pollinators:
One of the risks when we have a crop of more than one plant, is that a male is born and pollinates our female cannabis plants. This would make our plants stop their process of producing the flower, to dedicate themselves to producing seeds. We can no longer say that our weed is “sinsemilla”.
3) We avoid having to sex:
Although it is still recommended, having feminized cannabis seeds can take a bit of care out of the task of determining the sex of our plants. Almost with complete certainty we are going to have a female plant.
4) They are more stable:
Feminized cannabis seeds have typically undergone a careful process to stabilize them and decrease the risk of hermaphrodite plants growing out. This has made feminized seeds more stable and uniform than regular ones. When we say that they are more stable, we do not mean that it is more difficult for the cultivation conditions to promote the development of an unwanted characteristic. On the other hand, being uniform means that there are few differences between one seed sold by the bank and another.
Where do I get feminized seeds?
In Catacoa we have selected the best feminized seeds, from the main cannabis seed banks, to offer them to our community.
How are feminized seeds created? Are they genetically modified?
Many, seeing the magic behind feminized cannabis seeds, think they were genetically engineered. The truth is that to obtain a feminized seed, an artificial selection process is carried out which imitates a process that occurs in nature. Artificial selection is very common in agriculture and is a valid way of obtaining plants with the desired characteristics.
To obtain a feminized seed, a quality of the cannabis plant is used: its sense of survival. When the female cannabis plant is under a lot of stress and feels that it is close to dying, its sense of survival is capable of causing it to develop organs of the opposite sex; this is known as hermaphroditism. By having a stressed female plant (which is rare in the plant kingdom), it develops male organs and removes pollen to self-reproduce. I know, I know… this sounds pretty bizarre. But plants have an adaptability that goes beyond our common sense. There are two ways to get a female plant to develop male organs:
1. Applying silver thiosulfate:
By applying silver thiosulfate on the leaves of a female plant (I will write a step by step of this process soon, but there is still no fabric to cut) we achieve a chemical stimulus that causes it to develop male organs. Once sex has been reversed, we allow the female plant with male organs to pollinate another female plant. As a consequence we will have seeds with XX chromosomes that will have a genetic predisposition to be female.
2. Stressing the plant:
There are plants that already come with a genetic predisposition to hermaphroditism and by just stressing them a little they begin to develop the organs of the opposite sex. This technique, although it was the one that started feminized seeds, is the least recommended since it is very likely that the mother plant inherits this genetic predisposition to hermaphroditism.
Why are feminized cannabis seeds so expensive?
If you start looking for feminized cannabis seeds you will soon realize that they are several times more expensive than regular seeds. This is because feminized seeds usually come from international seed banks and the low supply of these seeds. As it is a relatively new technique (it takes less than fifteen years), there are few seed banks that produce them. This makes supply low while demand is high, increasing seed costs. Furthermore, these seeds pass through various intermediaries and are transported long distances, further raising their prices.
Who was the inventor of feminized cannabis seeds?
Although there are several theories, everything seems to indicate that the Dutch seed bank Dutch Passion (1999) was the first to develop feminized seeds with a 95% probability of having a female plant.
Can growing conditions affect the probability that the plant will turn out male or female?
The answer is yes. The cultivation conditions have a strong incidence on the sex of the plant. Here are some factors:
- A high nitrogen concentration produces more female plants.
- A high concentration of potassium produces more male plants.
- High humidity promotes the plant to have a female sex.
- A low temperature promotes the plant to have a female sex.
- Blue light promotes the plant to be female.
- Less hours of light promotes that the plant is female.