Published: June 28th, 2019
Categories: Cannabis Info
If you want to grow great cannabis, you gotta have great seeds! Start your grow with poor seeds, and not only will you miss out on that top-tier harvest, but you’ll have wasted a lot of crucial time and energy. Given how important the distinction is between seeds of high and low quality, it’s vital you know how to tell the good ones from the bad. So, just how do you recognise a high-quality seed?
Before we offer our tips on distinguishing the winners from the duds, you should know that where you source your seeds is probably the most important variable in your entire grow. The best case scenario is to source your seeds from a legal, reputable seedbank. If you buy from industry leaders like Zativo, not only will you know that your seeds will germinate, but you’ll be able to view information about strain characteristics such as flowering time, height, and effect once smoked.
On the other hand, not all would-be cannabis cultivators have access to seeds of this calibre. It is not uncommon for smokers to receive a seed (or several) in the bag their dealer threw at them before racing away with a wad of cash. Here is why planting these seeds is probably not a good idea.
To start, the fact that your dealer sold you seedy weed immediately points to issues in quality and processing. It’s likely your weed was accidentally pollinated by a male, otherwise it shouldn’t have any seeds at all.
Moreover, these seeds likely won’t germinate as they will be immature or of poor quality in general. Weak genetics means your mature plant and final yield are bound to suffer, no matter how great of a grower you are. And unlike seeds sourced from seedbanks, you’ll have no way of really knowing what you’re about to grow. Any seed company worth its salt will guarantee germination rates well into the 90% range; bagseed, on the other hand, all comes down to chance.
Regardless of where you source your seeds, once you get your hands on some, how can you ascertain their quality? Here’s what to look out for:
Just by glancing over your seeds, you can already get a fairly good idea of their quality. Colour is probably the first thing you will notice, with healthy seeds normally having a darker shell. High-quality seeds may also have some natural “tiger stripes” or speckles, and can range between dark brown, grey, and almost black.
On the contrary, immature seeds literally pale in comparison, with green or light-grey-coloured shells. Some almost appear ivory white. If your seeds look anything like this, it is likely they will not germinate. Even if you’re able to germinate some immature seeds, it will take much longer, and your cannabis plants will probably not turn out as great.
• Shiny coat
Good seeds will normally have a shiny coat as well. To verify this, bring your seeds under a light. You should see a glistening, shiny effect on the shell that makes your seeds look like tiny pearls or marbles. If your seeds have a rough or dull appearance, they are normally of lesser quality.
• Hard and smooth surface
Good seeds should be quite resilient and firm to the touch. You can test your seeds by taking one between two fingers and giving it a slight squeeze. Under normal duress, the shell of the seed shouldn’t crumble, break, or bend. If the shell doesn’t feel solid, but instead easily breaks or feels soft to the touch, it is old and will probably not germinate. Likewise, if the shell isn’t smooth and shiny, but instead has cracks and holes, the seeds are probably bad as well.
If you’re still unsure if your seeds are duds or not, or if you’re ready to just get started with your grow, you can always go ahead and get germinating! Checking their appearance is one thing, but these tests will tell you if your seeds actually pop or not.
• The water glass float test
A classic! The float test isn’t exactly rocket science, but it yields consistent results. Here is how to do it:
1. Fill a glass or jar with bottled or distilled water. Clean tap water also works.
2. Put your seeds in the glass with the water. There are only two outcomes for your test: sink, or float. Those that hit the bottom of the glass are likely of good quality, while those that remain afloat are probably not going to germinate or be all-star performers.
3. Now it’s time to wait; give your seeds at least two hours before coming to a conclusion about their quality. The reason for this is that good-quality seeds with a more resistant shell can take a while to soak up the water, causing them to float for a short while at first. So make sure to be patient when performing this test—you don’t want to act too soon and toss out otherwise healthy seeds!
Important tip: Only do the float test once you’re ready to plant your seeds. Once they’ve soaked in water, you can’t put them back in storage. You need to germinate them. So, if you have a whole bunch of seeds, only test as many as you can actually germinate and grow.
• The ultimate test: just plant your seeds
Maybe you don’t feel the need to do any testing, instead throwing caution to the wind in hopes that your seed will sprout. In this case, you can go ahead and plant your seeds in soil and wait to see a tiny stalk of green appear. High-quality seeds like those from Zativo will likely germinate in 2–3 days this way. Some strains, such as certain sativas, could take a bit longer, up to 7 days depending on the strain. But the bottom line here is that quality seeds will pretty much always germinate. Planting them in soil and seeing them break through the surface is a good sign you have some quality seeds on your hands!
If you’re like most hobby growers, you may at some point end up with more seeds than you can actually grow at one time. As such, longer-term storage becomes a priority. But how long can you even store them? Do cannabis seeds go bad?
Stored properly, you can keep cannabis seeds viable for a very long time. However, moisture, exposure to light, and high temperatures could spoil your seeds and shorten their period of viability significantly. If you buy from a good seed company, your seeds will often come in a vial with a lid that also contains desiccant; this way, your seeds can stay good for a long time. To properly store your seeds, it’s best to keep them in a dark and cool place, such as a cupboard. In this setting, seeds can potentially stay viable for years.
Another disadvantage of getting seeds from an unreliable source is that you won’t know their sex. Most growers, unless they need males for breeding purposes, will immediately toss out any males after identifying them to prevent pollination of females. This issue can be avoided entirely by purchasing feminized seeds from a reputable provider. These seeds will, of course, only sprout females, which is what you want. But if you obtained a mystery bag of seed, there is unfortunately no way to tell outright if your seeds are male or female.