Jorge’s Cannabis Encyclopedia: Seed Germination
Cannabis seeds need only water, heat, and air to break dormancy and germinate; they do not need extra hormones, fertilizers, or additives. Seeds sprout without light in a range of temperatures. Strong, viable, properly nurtured seeds germinate in 2 to 7 days. At germination, the outside protective shell of the seed splits, and a tiny, white sprout (radicle) pops out. This sprout is the root, or taproot. Cotyledon, or seed, leaves emerge on a stem from within the shell as they push upward in search of light.
Break dormancy: Put newly harvested seeds in the refrigerator for a week or two to simulate winter. Remove and germinate. Seeds will germinate more uniformly because they all come out of dormancy at the same time.
Timeline for Germinating Most Seeds:
At 36 to 96 hours – Water is absorbed, root tip (radicle) pops through outer shell and is visible.
At 10 to 14 days – First roots and root hairs become visible.
At 21 to 30 days – At least half of seeds are rooted by day 21. Seeds not rooted by day 30 will probably grow slowly.
Once seeds are rooted, cell growth accelerates; stem, foliage, and roots develop quickly. Seedlings develop into full vegetative growth within 4 to 6 weeks of germination.
Seeds are Prompted to Germinate By:
Water: Soaking seeds in water allows moisture to penetrate the protective seed shell within minutes. Once inside, moisture continues to wick in to activate the dominant hormones. In a few days, hormones activate and send enough signals to pro- duce an initial root tip. The white radicle (rootlet) emerges to bring a new plant into the world. Once a seed is moist, it must receive a constant flow of moisture to transport nutrients, hormones, and water so that it can carry on life processes. Some seeds need lots of moisture to wash out the dormancy hormones in the seed coat, and if they do not get enough moisture, they do not germinate. Conversely, too much water deprives the seed of oxygen, reducing its quality or destroying it. If fragile germinated seeds are allowed to suffer moisture stress now, seedling growth will be stunted. Soaking most seeds in water for 12 to 24 hours is all they need to initiate germination. All the nourishment for a seed’s initial growth requirement is pulled from the fleshy cotyledons, or seed leaves. Water seedlings with low-EC (electrical conductivity) household tap water during the first week or two of life. Supple- mental nutrients are unnecessary and if applied in excess can disrupt internal seed chemistry. Some gardeners prefer to germinate seeds using distilled or purified water that contains virtually no dissolved solids.
Temperature: Overall, cannabis seeds germinate in temperatures from 70°F–90°F (21°C–32°C) and grow best at 78°F (26°C). Temperatures below 70°F (21°C) and above 90°F (32°C) impair germination. Low temperatures delay germination. High temperatures upset seed chemistry causing poor germination. Seeds germinate best under the native conditions and temperature ranges where they were grown.
Air & Oxygen: Sow seeds twice as deep as the width of the seed. For example, 0.125-inch (3 mm) seeds should be planted 0.25 inches (6 mm) deep. Adequate oxygen is un- available for seeds planted too deeply, and tender seedlings have insufficient stored energy to drive through deep layers of soil or crusty hard soil when sprouting.
Agricultural Astrology — Planting by the Moon
Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians planted and harvested based on moon phases in relation to geographic location. The premise is that plants grow better when planted during the appropriate moon phase.
Moon phases cause ocean tides to rise and fall. They also affect the rise and fall of moisture in soil and fluids inside plants. The moon phase influence is said to be the same indoors, outdoors, and in greenhouse-grown cannabis.
Cannabis gardeners who plant by the moon report faster-sprouting seeds that grow into vigorous plants. However, scientific evidence is lacking in regard to cannabis and other plants’ relationship with agricultural astrology.
Seeds need oxygen from the air to germinate. Growing mediums that are too moist (soggy) will cut off oxygen supplies and the seeds will literally drown. Cannabis seeds germinate best when moisture is between 60 and 70 percent.
The secrets of germination
The seeds germinate when a small white root emerges. Water, heat and air (oxygen) are all that cannabis seeds need to germinate. Fertilizers, “special” hormones and “secret” additives are unnecessary and a waste of time and money, according to the company. Jorge Cervantes. Mother Nature provides seeds with a stored food reserve to lead them to germination. Strong, viable seeds germinate in two to seven days. During germination, the protective shell of the seed divides and a small white root (tap root) appears. Zoom on a simple and unique method of one of the greatest specialists in canna-culture.
Step one: Soak the seeds
For best results, soak the seeds for 12-24 hours in a glass of clean water. First, the seeds often float to the surface. They should sink to the bottom of the container after a few minutes. Soaking ensures that water enters the protective shell to activate growth hormones. Avoid soaking the seeds for more than 24 hours. This causes them to suffer from oxygen deprivation and drown, causing the seeds to rot.
Step two: Cover the seeds
Carefully remove the seeds from the water container. Pour the water and seeds on two to four paper towels (paper towel), contained by a saucer or a plate. Once they are in place, cover the seeds by folding the towels. Tilt everything at an angle so that all excess water drains freely. Paper towels should be evenly damp, and free from excess water.
Third step: Darkness & heat
Place the seeds in a warm, shady / dark place. The ideal temperature for rapid germination is 21 and 26 degrees . Make sure the seeds are covered and in the dark. Another variation is to place paper towels on a rack so that excess water drains freely. The grid also allows an abundant air circulation (oxygen).
Step Four: Maintain Humidity
Touch the towels to check the humidity level, two to three times a day. It may be necessary to add water once or twice during the day depending on humidity and ambient temperature. Keep towels evenly moist. Never let towels and seeds dry out.
Do not leave the seeds in standing water. In particular, the excess water must flow freely. Paper towels are able to retain enough moisture to promote germination in 36 to 96 hours. Of course, some seeds can germinate earlier, and others will take longer, especially older, weaker seeds. If mold is a concern, take prophylactic measures. Add a mild organic fungicide or 2% bleach mixture to the irrigation water. To obtain the 2% solution, use 0.60l of bleach per 3 liters of water (or 0.30l of bleach in 1.5l of water.)
Bonus: The propagator
The propagator is perfect for small scale crops, and very useful for novice growers. In short,e Propagator Pro 2 create and maintain the best germination environment.
The propagator goes perfectly with the Smart Start. Indeed, this utensil includes a compact tray of 20 small pots filled with compost activating essential microbial life. You can also use Propagator Pro 2 as a nursery for weak seedlings or for germinating clones.
Jorge Cervantes on PhotoCup and How to Grow Close-up Ready Cannabis From Seed
Jorge Cervantes is a legendary figure in cannabis cultivation, the author of industry standards like Indoor Marijuana Horticulture and The Cannabis Encyclopedia. Most recently, he’s turning his talents to judging the PhotoCup, an international cannabis photo contest sponsored by the online seed retailer Seedsman.
Tell us what PhotoCup is and how you got involved?
PhotoCup is a pretty cool cannabis photography contest that’s sponsored by Seedsman. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve seen a photo contest giving away cash prizes, and pretty significant ones—$40,000 all told, spread between several winners. It was nice to see a contest like this with more at stake than just bragging rights, so when they asked me if I wanted to be a judge, I was happy to be involved.
(Courtesy of Jorge Cervantes)
What made Seedsman an organization you wanted to partner with?
One cool thing about Seedsman is they handle everybody’s seeds, and they largely know everybody, especially the old guys. And maybe more importantly, they’re impeccably honest, which is hard to find in this business sometimes, especially as the cannabis industry transitions from being in the shadows to being in the spotlight.
What do you look for in a beautiful cannabis grow photo?
First, the photo has to be in focus. That seems basic, but it can be tough sometimes, especially in close-up photos with a narrow depth of field. So that’s a prerequisite. Lighting is also key, because cameras can do a lot for you these days, but they can’t control the lighting. The last thing I look for is photos that are framed properly and at an interesting angle that shows off the plant. Lots of people do just a straight on photo of a bud, and that can turn out nicely, but we want to see something interesting, and that takes an artistic eye.
What tips would you impart to aspiring cannabis growers who want to grow gorgeous plants like they see in the PhotoCup?
Health is pretty much everything when it comes to a good-looking plant. If it’s nutrient deficient, the camera won’t lie about that. If the plant has pests or insects, you’re going to see it in a photo. You take a picture of a healthy plant, you’re going to know it, just like with a healthy person.
How is growing from seed different from starting with a clone?
There are quite a few differences. When you’re starting with a clone, you have the advantage of stability, because the plant is genetically identical to its mother. But clones can also harbor diseases like powdery mildew or aspergillus, because keeping clones clean is very difficult, especially in a retail environment. And a lot of these diseases can go undetected because they’re not initially visible on the surface of a plant. But at harvest, you’re definitely going to see that.
What are some of the advantages to growing from cannabis seed?
Seeds don’t carry any pathogens, or insects or mites, because that’s the way mother nature designed them. If a seed doesn’t germinate, you know it real fast, so you can address the issue immediately. You find out when you can still do something about it, not halfway through the growing process when it’s too late to address the issue.
The other advantage is in selection. If you have a handful of seeds, you can have 200 varieties of cannabis represented. And of course, seeds are also hardy and easy to transport. You can get 1,000 seeds in an old film case, and you can store them for a long time and they’ll be fine.
These days, you’ve also got the advantage of feminized seeds, which save the time and effort of identifying and eliminating male plants from gardens, and autoflowering seeds, which can’t be cloned and only grow from seed.
(Courtesy The Irie Times)
What should cannabis cultivators be particularly aware of when starting from a seed?
The three things you have to keep in mind when starting a plant from seed are light, heat, and moisture. All three of those factors have to be controlled, and each has equal importance. You screw one of those up, the plant is going to grow slowly and waste valuable growing time.
My advice is to make sure seedlings have consistent heat and moisture. Moisture is something you have to watch carefully, as too much can cause a seed to rot, but too little will leave it dried out.
Another note is that seeds don’t really need much light at all, certainly not as much as a plant would get. As you’re starting seeds, dim fluorescent light is fine. Seedlings just need enough light to get out of the ground, and they’re are designed to come up in early spring and with other plants around them—that’s a low light environment, and they’re fine with it.
Once the true leaves come out, they need a little more light, but again, fluorescents are fine until the plant is 6-9 inches tall. Early on, most of the plant’s energy is going to developing a strong root system, so it can be easy to burn seedlings by giving them too much light.
What should people keep an eye out for when buying seeds online?
You look for a company that has a proven track record. That’s very important, as is a company that stands behind their product over time. Right now, you’re seeing lots of new people in the game, and while their intentions may be good, their execution is not always the best.
I’d also prioritize working with someone who ships fast. When you make a decision to order seeds, and you don’t want to be still waiting to find out when they’re going to ship five emails later—that’s valuable time you could be getting plants in the ground.