Do Feminized Plants Produce Feminized Seeds?In the cannabis world, female plants get all the attention. And for good reason. Only female cannabis plants can produce flowers that are rich in cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. In contrast, male plants produce pollen sacs, which are not ideal for smoking and do not contain the high concentrations of cannabinoids typically found in female cannabis plants. Male plants may also pollinate the flowers of female plants, greatly reducing the cannabinoid content of the buds and filling them with unsmokable seeds. In view of these considerations, most cannabis growers remove males from their gardens or choose to grow feminized seeds. This ensures that growers will produce sinsemilla flowers. Growers and breeders who are unfamiliar with feminized seeds may wonder if these all-female seeds are useful for breeding. One common question is whether or not plants grown from feminized seeds will produce offspring that are also feminized. This article describes what feminized seeds are, how they are made, and whether or not they produce feminized seeds.
What Are the Differences Among Regular, Autoflowering, and Feminized Seeds?Inexperienced growers may be overwhelmed by the many types of cannabis seeds available on the market today. Although regular seeds, feminized seeds, and autoflowering seeds are all cannabis seeds, each has its own unique characteristics. So, what are the major differences among these types of seeds?
Regular SeedsWhen male and female cannabis plants reproduce naturally, they create so-called regular seeds. Until recently, regular cannabis seeds were the most common type of seeds sold by most seed banks in the United States. These seeds produce both male and female offspring. Regular cannabis seeds generally have a 50 percent chance of producing female offspring and a 50 percent chance of producing male offspring. Regular seeds are usually bred to produce photoperiod plants, although some autoflowering varieties are also available. Photoperiod plants begin flowering in response to changes in the light cycle. Indoor growers typically switch from 18 hours of light during the vegetative growth period to 12 hours of light during the flowering period. The reduction in light triggers the blooming of these photoperiod plants. Photoperiod plants that are grown outdoors begin flowering in late summer, when the days start to become shorter. Indoor growers are not limited by seasonal changes in light. Regular seeds are useful for breeding. Breeders can create their own seeds, using the male plants to pollinate the female plants. Hundreds of strains are available in regular seed form, including Indica, Sativa, and Ruderalis varieties. Growers can find regular seeds that are high in THC, high in CBD, or that offer a mixture of both of these cannabinoids.
Autoflowering SeedsIn recent years, autoflowering seeds have become increasingly popular among growers. Unlike photoperiod plants, autoflowering plants can begin blooming without the occurrence of a shift in the light cycle. These plants start flowering after a certain amount of time has passed. Autoflowering seeds are produced by Ruderalis plants or hybrids containing Ruderalis genes. Ruderalis plants evolved in the cold climates of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, where the growing season is much shorter than in other regions. This subspecies of cannabis adapted to the shortened growing season by flowering without respect to the shifting light cycle. Indoor growers are fond of autoflowering seeds because the plants are typically small, they flower quickly, and are both hardy and easy to grow. Autoflowering strains are available in both regular and feminized forms and are usually high in CBD (although high-THC autoflowering strains are also available).
Feminized SeedsIn the past two decades, feminized seeds have become widely popular, and are now the most common type of seeds sold by most seed banks. Feminized seeds grow under the same conditions as regular seeds, using the same nutrients and light cycles; however, unlike regular cannabis seeds, feminized seeds are bred to produce all-female plants. In fact, 99.9 percent of feminized seeds are female. This assures growers that their crops will not be pollinated by male plants. Like regular seeds, feminized seeds are usually bred to produce photoperiod plants, although autoflowering feminized seeds are also available. Growers today can choose from a wide array of feminized seeds, including Indica, Sativa, Ruderalis, and hybrid strains.
The History of Feminized SeedsFeminized seeds are not unique to the cannabis industry. For many years, they were used in a variety of conventional agricultural settings, before being adapted for cannabis seed production. Cannabis growers began experimenting with feminized seeds in the late 1980s, and breeders began selling these seeds in the late 1990s. Initially, however, feminized seeds proved to be expensive and unreliable. Poor breeding practices led to the production of unstable plants that were prone to hermaphroditism. As a result, most growers and breeders were skeptical of feminized seeds. But as feminization techniques improved throughout the early 2000s, breeders were able to create stable and reliable seeds that were 99.9 percent female. Prices for feminized seeds were reduced as more efficient feminization techniques were developed. Today, feminized seeds are widely popular among growers and breeders.
How Are Feminized Seeds Produced?There are several methods for creating feminized seeds, however, some methods are more effective than others. Most of these techniques involve causing hormonal changes in female cannabis plants, triggering them to develop pollen sacs. The pollen produced by female plants contains only X chromosomes, because Y chromosomes are found only in male plants. Among the most widely used methods for creating feminized seeds are the rodelization method, the silver thiosulfate method, the gibberellic acid method, and the colloidal silver method.
RodelizationRodelization, the oldest technique for producing feminized seeds, can be done naturally, without human intervention. This method relies on the fact that some phenotypes of female cannabis plants may develop pollen sacs late in the flowering cycle or when exposed to environmental stresses. When these sacs pollinate female plants, feminized seeds are produced. One of the problems that arose when breeders initially created feminized seeds was that many breeders were unwittingly working with plants that were prone to being intersexed. As a result, many of the early feminized seeds on the market were sexually unstable. Breeders since have learned to avoid this problem by selecting plants that do not easily develop pollen sacs.
Silver ThiosulfateSome breeders create feminized seeds by spraying female plants with a silver thiosulfate solution early in the flowering cycle. This solution inhibits ethylene production in female plants. In turn, this causes a hormonal shift that triggers the plants to produce pollen sacs. The STS method is highly effective and can cause plants to form pollen sacs with just a few applications. This method is also advantageous because it can force highly stable plants to produce pollen. Because these plants are not prone to hermaphroditism, their offspring will also be highly stable. Because STS tends to produce sexually stable feminized seeds, this method is used by many breeders today.
Gibberellic AcidAnother method of creating stable and reliable feminized seeds is to use gibberellic acid to induce hormonal changes. Breeders spray the female plants with a GA3 solution early in the flowering cycle, forcing the plants to produce pollen sacs. This method is less effective than using STS because, in some cases, breeders find that they must apply the solution as many as ten times before the plants begin developing pollen sacs.
Colloidal Silver[su_youtube url=”https://youtu.be/gAe4qS3syIY” responsive=”yes” autoplay=”no”] The most common method of creating feminized seeds involves the use of colloidal silver. The solution is affordable and can be obtained at most grocery stores and can even be made at home. Like the other chemical methods, this involves spraying the plants—in this case, with a solution of colloidal silver—until they begin to form pollen sacs. The silver particles block ethylene production in the plants, causing a hormonal shift that triggers the formation of the pollen sacs. This method is not as effective as the STS method, because it tends to require a greater number of applications. It usually takes 10 to 18 applications of colloidal silver before pollen sacs start to form. Because of this delay, breeders may choose to begin spraying the plants with colloidal silver late in the vegetative cycle, rather than early in the flowering cycle, giving them enough time to produce fully mature seeds by the end of flowering. It is important to point out that plants that have been sprayed with STS, GA3, or colloidal silver should not be smoked or consumed in any manner. These plants should be used only for the sake of seed production because the chemical solutions can be hazardous to human health. Plants grown from feminized seeds, however, are safe to consume as long as they have not been sprayed with these solutions.
Do Feminized Seeds Produce Feminized Seeds?Breeders who are unfamiliar with feminized seeds may wonder if plants grown from these seeds will produce all-female offspring. The answer is an ambiguous “yes and no.” Feminized cannabis plants are essentially the same as female plants grown from regular seeds. Feminized plants are capable of producing regular, feminized, and autoflowering seeds, depending on what breeding method is used. Breeders can create regular seeds by using a male to pollinate a feminized plant. Roughly 50 percent of the offspring will be male, and roughly 50 percent will be female. Feminized plants can produce feminized seeds through the application of a chemical solution or the use of rodelization to form pollen sacs. All of the resulting offspring will be female. Finally, growers can pollinate a feminized autoflowering plant with another autoflowering plant to create autoflowering seeds.
Stress TestingTo produce sexually stable feminized seeds, breeders should “stress test” their plants before using them for breeding. Stress testing involves exposing the plants to environmental stresses to determine how readily the plants can produce pollen sacs. Plants that readily turn male should not be used in breeding, as they likely will produce sexually unstable offspring. Plants that seldom turn male or turn male with notable difficulty are ideal for use in the production of feminized seeds, as their offspring will usually not be prone to hermaphroditism. Plants can be stress-tested in a variety of ways; for example, providing an inconsistent light cycle, growing the plants in cramped containers that cause the plants to become root-bound, using excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering or underwatering the plants, or letting the plants continue to flower after they are fully mature. Using one or a combination of these techniques probably will cause the sexually unstable plants to reveal their hermaphroditic tendencies.
Who Should Buy Feminized Seeds?Because feminized plants require the same light cycles, nutrients, and growing environment as regular plants, they are an excellent choice for growers and breeders of any skill level. Inexperienced growers can benefit from not having to identify and separate male plants, and breeders can benefit from the ease of finding female plants for use in breeding. Before buying seeds or attempting to grow or breed plants, it is advisable to check local, county, and state laws to ensure compliance.
Where To Buy the Best Feminized SeedsPurchasing feminized seeds from a reputable seed bank is essential for a successful harvest. This ensures that the plants have been adequately stress tested and bred to produce viable and sexually stable seeds. Greenpoint Seeds offers the USA’s most diverse and reliable selection of high-quality feminized seeds.
Final Thoughts About Feminized SeedsFeminized seeds are a useful tool for growers of any skill level. They make the growing process easy by eliminating the need to identify and remove male plants and by ensuring a bountiful harvest of pure sinsemilla flowers. Feminized plants also are an excellent tool for breeders, as they can produce regular, feminized, or autoflowering seeds, depending on how they are bred. Feminization allows breeders to quickly develop stable inbred lines and preserve rare, clone-only varieties. At Greenpoint Seeds, we offer a wide variety of premium feminized and regular seeds. Contact us today to learn more about feminized seeds, and check out our full selection of feminized cannabis seeds. Have you tried any of our feminized cannabis seeds? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
Photo/Grow Credits: @epileptic_champ_goo (2021) Purple Punch S1