Cannabis seeds are the result of sexual reproduction in cannabis plants, which occurs when pollen from a male plant fertilizes a female plant’s flower. The seeds are oval, slightly pointed at one end, with a smooth, hard protective shell that is usually a grey or brown color.
Cannabis seeds contain an embryo (the young plant) and stored food reserves (in the form of endosperm), which provide nutrition to the plant as it begins to germinate and establish roots. Seeds can remain viable for years when stored properly in cool, dark, and dry conditions.
Germination is the process by which a cannabis seed begins to develop into a plant. It involves the seed absorbing water, which triggers enzymatic activity within the seed, leading to the breakdown of the stored food reserves and the growth of the embryo.
The first sign of germination is the emergence of the radicle or primary root from the seed, after which the embryonic stem and leaves develop. Factors like temperature, moisture, and light levels can influence the success rate and speed of germination.
Genetics and Breeding
Cannabis seeds carry the genetic information from their parent plants, which will determine the plant’s characteristics such as its growth pattern, cannabinoid content, resistance to diseases, and more.
Cannabis breeders often use selective breeding techniques to develop new strains with desired traits. For instance, they may breed plants with high THC content to create a new strain that also has this characteristic. Breeders can also cross different strains to create hybrids that carry traits from both parent strains.
Regular, Feminized, and Auto-flowering Seeds
There are three primary types of cannabis seeds available:
- Regular Seeds: These seeds can develop into either male or female plants, with a roughly 50/50 chance for each. Growers usually need to identify and separate males to prevent them from fertilizing females, as this can result in lower-quality, seedy buds.
- Feminized Seeds: These are seeds that have been bred to remove male chromosomes, ensuring that nearly all (typically around 99%) develop into female plants. Feminized seeds are popular among growers looking to maximize their yield of usable cannabis flower.
- Auto-flowering Seeds: These seeds are bred to automatically switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage after a certain period, regardless of light cycle. This trait, inherited from the ruderalis subspecies of cannabis, makes them a good option for growers looking for a fast, low-maintenance crop.
Cannabis seeds are the starting point for the life cycle of a cannabis plant, but they are much more than that. They are the bearers of genetic diversity and potential, key to the development of new and improved cannabis strains. From germination to harvest, these seeds are the beginning of a complex and fascinating journey that results in the diverse world of cannabis we see today. As research advances and the cannabis industry continues to evolve, the importance and understanding of cannabis seeds are sure to deepen.