Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?
M any pot fans are starting to look into growing their own supply. After all, how hard can it be? Nature does it all the time, and it doesn’t even have any grow light options other than the sun. While you may not be producing showroom quality nugs, there’s a pride that comes with tending to your own garden and snipping buds straight off the branch. Plus, you can’t beat the price.
Plenty of online stores sell seeds so it’s pretty easy to pick your favorite strains to start. However, if it’s been a while since your seeds arrived and they’re not yet planted, you can forgive yourself for wondering if maybe you’ve waited too long. After all, how long do marijuana seeds last? Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point.
Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?
First off, marijuana seeds are the same as many other plant’s seeds. A waxy outer shell called the seed coat protects the embryonic shoot, stem, and root contained within, which are nourished by a nutrient-rich oil surrounding them. As long as the shell remains intact and the plant inside doesn’t dry out or get damaged, your seed can still grow into a cannabis plant.
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- 5 Tips For Germinating Old Seeds
However, this shell will not last forever. Once it dries out and hardens the seed coat can crack and expose the embryonic plant to damage. Or the seed coat hardens to the point that it no longer lets in moisture. In both cases, the seed is no longer viable.
Of course, there is some debate in the cannabis community over how long do marijuana seeds last. Some growers claim that when stored in the ideal conditions, marijuana seeds can last anywhere from six months to a year after packing and still spout once placed in the soil. Other producers believe that marijuana seeds can last up to a decade if properly refrigerated in the right containers.
Most seed producers agree that on average three to six years is a maximum for viability, and every day that the seed is stored drops the chances of it germinating just a little bit.
So how long do marijuana seeds last? In general, six months is the maximum if you’re looking for a nearly 100% germination rate. After three years, you’re looking at a germination rate of around 50%.
What constitutes “ideal conditions” for cannabis seed storage also depends on the genetics of that particular plant. Some cannabis strains produce a much hardier, longer-lasting marijuana seed that can last for years and still stretch their leaves once planted. Others produce seeds that need to quickly return to the soil.
How Marijuana Seeds Are Stored
In terms of long term storage for your marijuana seeds, there are four main factors to consider:
When it comes to how long marijuana seeds last, temperature is the main factor. In nature, heat tells the seed that winter’s over and it’s time to start sprouting. If your marijuana seed’s not in the soil, this means that the plant matter inside the marijuana seed will begin to germinate and then rot.
41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is the absolute warmest you want your storage spot to be, with the sweet spot being somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are refrigerating your marijuana seeds, they’ll last the longest in a separate unit or a spot near the back. Every time you open your fridge you are changing the temperature which can harm the seeds over time.
Humidity is also your enemy when it comes to how long your marijuana seeds will last. When a seed gets wet, it cracks open to allow the sprout and root out. This will let in rot if the seed isn’t planted. A humidity level of about 5% is the maximum you want to allow.
Much like heat and humidity, light tells that seed to wake up because it’s time to spring forth.
In order to keep your seeds from going bad, it’s best to keep them stored in a dark container in order to avoid light. photo credit
By keeping your seeds in a dark or opaque container, they’ll keep dozing long term. Light can also damage the surface of the marijuana seed, which in turn will damage what’s stored underneath, causing your marijuana seed to go bad.
Besides being dark, for your marijuana seeds to last long term, you want to expose them to as little oxygen and carbon dioxide as possible. These gasses are what growing plants breathe, as well as the pests that consume them. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your marijuana seeds, make sure your container is as airtight as possible. If you can vacuum seal them, even better.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on planting in the next few months, regular mailing envelopes will do in a pinch. They’ll keep the marijuana seeds out of the light and dry, so all you have to do is store them in a cool place. Plus, envelopes make it easy to label your strains so that you can keep them separate.
How To Tell If Your Marijuana Seeds Are Still Healthy?
What should you do if you find some old seeds and have no idea how long they were stored? Maybe past you put them in a freezer bag in the hopes of keeping your favorite strain alive, or found a couple at the bottom of a baggie that the trimmer missed.
How do you know if your marijuana seed has gone bad, or if it’s healthy and viable to grow into a plant? There are four easy ways to check if your marijuana seed is still good.
If your seeds are dark brown, black, or gray, that’s a very good sign. The shell is intact and uncompromised, which means the genetic material inside has been kept safe.
Seeds should have a dark color. If seeds are still green they are probably not ready yet. photo credit
Viable seeds should also have stripes or spots all the way around. If the seeds are white or green, they’re most likely still immature.
Check if the seed still has a waxy coating. A healthy seed should have a slight sheen to it, as though it’s been oiled. This means the seed still can retain moisture.
If the seed is still healthy, you should be able to lightly squeeze it without it crunching between your fingers. If the shell has no give and splits or splinters under light pressure, then your marijuana seed has gone bad and has no chance in the soil.
Cracks or Holes
If there are any cracks or holes anywhere on the shell, your marijuana seed’s likely gone bad and will most likely not sprout. Bacteria and other harmful lifeforms can find their way into the seed, or it will dry out.
The True Test of a Cannabis Seed
Of course, the best way to test whether your seeds will sprout is to plant them and see. If some green shoots climb their way out of the soil after a couple of days or weeks, you’ve got your answer.
Storing marijuana seeds is a great way to make sure you always have your favorite strains on hand, as well as to keep yourself stocked up on plants for the long haul. Luckily, marijuana seeds can last for years as long as you make sure your seeds are cool, dry, airtight, and out of sight. There’s no better time than now to learn a new skill, so let’s see how green your thumb can get.
How Do You Tell If a Seed is Good or Bad?
If the seed is dark with stripes or spots all the way around, has a waxy shell that doesn’t crack when you give it a light squeeze, and doesn’t have any visible cracks or holes, it’s probably still good. If there are holes in the shell, it’s dry, or especially pale, your marijuana seed’s probably gone bad.
Do Autoflower Seeds Go Bad?
All marijuana seeds can go bad, including autoflower seeds. However, by keeping your seeds at a stable 38 degrees Fahrenheit and at around 5% humidity, as well as airtight and out of the light, your seeds may last up to 5 years or more.
How do you like to store your seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.
How To Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds
We can only expect to use the old seeds with the cost of seeds floating above potheads’ reach. However, improper or long-term storage of seeds can cause infertility – and they cannot germinate. However, how do we let those old cannabis seeds come to life again? This guide will help us convert the relics into a sea of green sections of robust cannabis fields!
Sorting Old Cannabis Seeds
The first step in any farming process is to make sure we have the right seeds, and the same goes for weeds. When harvesting autoflowering marijuana seeds, everything is preserved, and nothing is lost. This means that all types of seeds are ripe and immature. How do we distinguish good seeds from bad ones? You are considering the following.
Sorting Seeds By Color And Shape
Whether we obtained the seeds from a seed bank, a store, or a retailer, different cannabis seed strains have different colors. Mature cannabis seeds acquire a dark coat, while immature ones are brighter and usually white. The most visible colors are brown, tan, and sometimes black. In contrast, bright yellows and whites quickly identify immature seeds.
Cannabis seeds are known for their aesthetic properties and shape. Round and symmetrical seeds are best. Larger seeds have a reasonable rate of germination compared to small seeds, which tend to be immature.
Classification Of Seeds By Hardness
Although the seeds have taken some time inside storage containers, ripe weeds seeds’ hardness is not compromised. Hard and tough seeds with a smooth shell guarantee a reasonable degree of germination. Also, pay attention to wavy and cracked seeds. They will lose time and energy and will not germinate after planting.
Ways to Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds
Below we will go through 3 popular methods used to germinate old weeds seeds. Remember that we have to do the part by trying to keep the temperature between 26 ° C – 28 ° because that is where the clones seem to season-best. You must also ensure that the seed is kept in a dark area, as light can slow down the germination process.
Method 1 – Scarification
The first method is scarification. This includes causing injury to the seeds’ outer shell to allow water and air to enter, which is essential for germination. For manual scarification, we will need a container or box lined with sandpaper or any coarse material to scar the seeds’ outer surface. Put the seeds in a container or box and shake. After a while, we will find that the roots become dull, and we can see parts of the sources inside the container. Once we scare the outer shell of the cannabis seeds, we can germinate them as usual.
Method 2 – Carbonated water
The second method involves the use of carbonated water with a pH below 7. This slightly acidic solution absorbs the outer layer of the seeds. Put the seeds in a container full of carbonated water and wait for about two hours. The solution loosens the seed coat and allows it to absorb water, which helps germinate.
Method 3 – Mixture of hydrogen peroxide
Method 3 requires that we use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide to soften the seed’s outer skin. It would be best if we were careful when mixing the peroxide solution, as we can burn the seed, and it will never germinate.
To use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide for the germination process, use 1 to 2 drops of 99% hydrogen peroxide in a glass of water. After soaking for 24 hours, the outer shell is softened enough to germinate the seeds.
In addition to chemical and mechanical scarification, we can use other DIY methods to loosen seeds. For example, we can use a small knife to scratch or open the seed coat. We can explore different approaches as long as we do not damage the seed embryo.
- One part 3% hydrogen peroxide with six parts water.
- One part 4.5% hydrogen peroxide with nine parts water.
- One part 6% hydrogen peroxide with 12 parts water.
- One part 30% hydrogen peroxide with 60 parts water.
Always Use Clean, Fresh Water
Clean and clean water contains oxygen and hydrogen molecules. These are two life-supporting elements necessary for germination. Soaking the seeds for at least 12 hours allows water to enter living cells, a process known as osmosis. Now that the internal conditions promote germination, the semen embryo expands and breaks out of the protective sheath.
Old cannabis seeds sometimes pose a challenge for germination. You can sort ripe seeds, release the hard protective layer by various methods, try new chemical germination enhancers, or use biocatalysts. Similarly, soaking the clean, soft seeds in clean water will push the embryo out of its protective blanket. After trying some of the above processes to germinate the old cannabis seeds, we can be sure to grow healthy and living plants and expect good yields.