Germination Cannabis Seeds
Germinating your cannabis seeds is the first step to getting your crop under way. It is the process in which life within the seed is stimulated, turning it from a seed into a sprout.
There are three main stimuli that trigger germination; Water, air and warmth. All three must be present for the cannabis seed to successfully grow. The first is water; the seed goes through a process called “imbibing”, this is where the seed soaks up water around it, eventually causing the seeds shell to split as the embryo inside expands. The second factor which is required to trigger germination is air. This will ensure that the embryo that it has what it requires to perform photosynthesis and transpiration. Finally the cannabis seed needs a degree of warmth to trigger growth. The embryo contained within the seed has a small store of food to get itself going; it just needs these indicators to give it the go-ahead.
As your cannabis seeds take their first steps into life they will develop a tap root, which bursts through the shell of the seed. As it continues to grow it will produce 2 small embryonic leaves known as the cotyledons; these will push off the remainder of the seed shell – do not attempt to remove it yourself, you are likely to do more damage than good. When these leaves appear it is very important to start providing the seedling as much light as possible, allowing it to start its process of photosynthesis, which produces the fuel for its future growth.
There are a few methods by which you can germinate you cannabis seeds, some of which are more reliable than others. It is generally recommended as a novice cultivator, that if you have 10 seeds start by germinating 5, followed by the other 5 the following week. This will ensure that if you spoil your first batch due to poor technique, you will still have some seeds left to try again. If you are confident in your skills, and you have done this a few times, then there is no reason not to do them all at once.
Generally speaking, cannabis seeds germinate best in temperatures of 69-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius), and will take around 2-7 days to germinate. Although many believe otherwise, it is fine to have your seeds germinate in daylight.
If you buy low quality/immature seeds then you are not likely to get very good success rates, no matter how experienced you are. Indicators of a bad seed can be a pale whiteness in color, but this can also be the appearance of some specific strains – so do some research or contact your seed bank if they have sent you white seeds you were not expecting.
Other factors that can cause cannabis seed germination to fail are incorrect pH levels, seed exposure/drying out, the incorrect depth, over feeding, physical damage or bad soil. Take care where you store you germinating seeds as well; for example, a cold draft could end up damaging your seeds, causing the growth to be stunted.
If you are growing in soil then refrain from the urge to uncover your seeds to see how they are doing – no matter how long you think they are taking. It will do more harm than good, as you can damage young roots.
Finally, some strains of cannabis can grow with fairly weak stems. If you notice your seedlings leaning to the side, prop them up with a small stick until they are stronger. Never use a stick from the outside; they can bring in unwanted, negative variables such as pests.
The six pillars of a cost-effective cannabis seed germination at scale
Ask ten large-scale cannabis growers about their preferred germination method and you might get just as many different answers: moist cotton pads, seedling trays, soaked in water, directly in soil. Some might even explore different methods depending on the type of plants to be grown as well as the production scale. Regardless of the chosen method, the end goal for any grower is to save money and time by ensuring the highest germination rates. This comes with careful planning and close attention to detail. Dutch Passion supplies and supports many licensed cannabis producers with seeds. Here are the company’s findings from 30+ years in the cannabis seed business.
Growing cannabis from cuttings vs seedlings
When you have searched painstakingly through hundreds, or possibly thousands, of seed grown plants sometimes you find a few with genuinely elite properties. That may mean a golden combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, yield, speed and ease of growth. It makes sense for any large, licensed produce to use this as a mother plant.
That way, your seedlings have identical growth patterns, nutritional requirements and care plans. If you’re growing thousands of plants annually for demanding buyers, taking identical cuttings from an elite mother has obvious attractions.
Despite this, many licensed producers routinely grow cannabis from seed. Often feeling that seed-grown plants grow faster and with more vigour in their conditions. The justification for choosing seed-grown plants is easier if the seed supplier has good genetic control with minimal phenotype spread. Planting seeds is easy and for some growers it saves time & money vs running/staffing a mother room with clones.
Ultimately, whether a producer prefers to operate from a base of clones, seeds (or both) often depends on the style of grow operation and the personal preferences/experiences of the Head Grower and their team.
Sourcing your cannabis seeds with caution
Often personal experience plays a large role in the choice of seed supplier. Nothing quite beats working with predictably consistent seeds from an experienced supplier that you know you really can rely on. Conversely, having a nightmare with unstable genetics is one way to avoid a particular brand of seeds forever.
The reputation of your seed supplier is often an influencing factor. Does your seed supplier show cannabinoid and terpene analysis from their strains? Do they have sufficient experience as a leading seed supplier? Do they employ full-time cannabis geneticists to continuously improve seed production methods and the genetics?
What kind of germination process do you use? Let Dutch Passion know by doing this super short survey here
A few prestigious cannabis cups, preferably collected over a decade or two (rather than a recent smash and grab at a local seed fair) is often a sign that your seed supplier takes their craft very seriously. You can grow from autoflower, feminised or regular seeds. Dutch Passion are often still most fondly remembered by the cannabis community for inventing feminised cannabis seeds back in the 1990s.
Understanding the genetics you are working with
When growing autoflower seeds, suppliers often recommend that the auto seeds are grown in their final containers, without numerous repeated transplanting into progressively larger containers.
That’s because autoflower genetics crash rapidly through their life cycle in around 75 days, they don’t really have time to spend adapting to each new container. That’s why many large-scale auto growers often germinate seedlings directly in their final containers. Or they germinate the seeds and quickly place them in their final grow containers.
When growing feminised seeds, you have more flexibility. You can decide the length of the vegetative stage and pot up into larger containers as often as you wish.
Germinate seeds in a humid environment (never soaked)
There are, of course, many ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Dutch Passion have monitored and tried them all. The method with the highest germination rates seems to be the moist cotton pad method. This is where cannabis seeds are germinated between two cotton pads, like make-up pads, but without any additives to the cotton pads.
These pads are lightly sprayed with water to moisten them and are kept moist until the seeds germinate in a couple of days. Note that the conditions should be moist, but never soaking wet. Soaking conditions eventually cause the root to rot if insufficient oxygen is present.
Other germination methods include soaking the seeds in a glass of water for a day and then planting them in moist substrate (soil, coco etc.). Some people will plant seeds directly into soil or fibre glass cubes. Each grower tends to use their own germination method. But if you’re looking to get the very best seed germination rates, try putting your seeds between a couple of lightly moistened cotton pads for 2-3 days.
Monitoring your grow environment the right way
Serious growers know the importance of keeping consistent conditions for seedlings and not stressing them. The first week or two of the cannabis seedling’s life is crucial. ‘Burn’ your cannabis seedlings with excessively strong nutrients and you may have permanently stunted them. Expose your seedlings to full strength PPFD light levels too early and they may be damaged for good. Temperature extremes will also limit the ability of your seedling to develop healthily.
Monitoring and controlling your grow room to allow stable, optimised conditions is the best way to ensure healthy development. Your cannabis seeds are a relatively minor expense in relation to the value of your final crop. Nevertheless, the efficient grower will try to get maximum value from their cannabis seeds and aim for the highest germination rates.
Know how and when to fertilize cannabis seedlings
Cannabis seedlings need very little nutrition. One of the more common errors, even occasionally from licensed producers, is over feeding.
The logic is simple enough, it’s an attempt to get faster growth. But the delicate seedling roots and biochemistry can only cope with very dilute nutrients. When growing in large containers of soil you may not need to add any nutrients for a couple of weeks, water may suffice initially.
When growing in, e.g. hydroponics, you need to use nutrients with great care. Err on the side of caution and steadily increase your nutrients, backing off at the first hint of overfeeding.
For serious growers, quality seeds really are the best foundation
The difference between the best cannabis seeds and the cheapest seeds is usually just a few dollars per seed. Choose the best seeds you can get from a supplier you know you can trust and get the best germination rates you can!
Cannabis seed quality is one area of your life where you don’t need to compromise. Always prioritise the quality of your seeds and use reliable germination methods to get the best value from your seed investments.
Remember that the most expensive seeds are not necessarily the best. But the cheapest seeds are often best avoided. They usually have low quality genetics with little stabilisation. Choosing your seeds is never easy but get your cannabis genetics right and you have the best possible foundation for a killer harvest.
What kind of germination process do you use? Let Dutch Passion know by doing this super short survey here
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