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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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 Long do Marijuana Seeds last?
When it comes to cannabis seeds, many first time growers tend to have some sitting around from an old friend or baggie. With recent legalization, new growers are deciding to dust their seeds off and start their very own grow, but how long do marijuana seeds last before they won’t germinate?
A typical feminized cannabis plant can produce an enormous amount of seeds – hundreds, depending on how well the plant takes the pollen and how meticulous the pollination process is. It also largely depends on the strain, as some strains are capable of producing much more, especially if their flowers are larger and can hold more. But how long do they last once they’ve been harvested and dried?
How Long do Marijuana Seeds Last?
There are many different factors that come into play when it comes to cannabis seed lifespan, and the most important is conservation. If you’ve obtained your seeds from a seed bank and they come in their own packaging, when it comes to storage you can simply leave them in their packaging in a dark, dry spot; seed banks usually recommend planting within the year.
However, if you’re planning on crossing your own plants and making your own seeds, you’ll need to know how to harvest, dry and store them if you’re planning on keeping them for a while before germinating them; knowing how to store cannabis seeds properly is quite an important tidbit of information if you’re a professional cannabis grower.
The seed is undoubtedly just as important as the final result; without quality seeds, you won’t get quality results. Keep in mind that cannabis seeds are practically living beings ready to be brought fully to life. Many new growers don’t know that cannabis seeds require specific care, and the way you store your seeds can significantly affect their outcome. Check out our Cannabis seeds – Buy Marijuana Seeds section to find reliable strains.
Drying Cannabis Seeds
When working from the start you’ll first need to pollinate the flowers on a female cannabis plant and then harvest the seeds once it’s fully matured. Once you have your seeds you’ll need to dry them out before they can be stored or even germinated – they should be ready to harvest once they’ve gone a dark brown color or start showing dark stripes. Most people opt to dry their seeds by simply drying the flowers and harvesting the seeds once they’ve dried out – it makes them much easier to remove from the flowers.
How Long do Marijuana Seeds Last in Storage?
Once you have your seeds you’re going to want to store them correctly if you plan on using them down the line. In fact, when stored under perfect conditions, you can germinate 5 year old cannabis seeds successfully. Some astonishing cases have been reported of seeds lasting up to 10 years when stored optimally, although the germination times may vary wildly, taking much longer than a fresh seed. For home-growers, storing and maintaining seeds is quite important, and even more so for seed banks; a badly stored seed may not germinate, and if it does it may not grow properly. There are various parameters you’ll need to follow in order to store seeds long-term.
Seed Storage: Light
One of the first things to keep in mind is that whatever container that you store your seeds in needs to block out all light. If you’ve ever germinated cannabis seeds before, then you know that light is an important factor when it comes to the probability of the seed germinating or not. If your seeds are exposed to light for too long, they may end up too weak to germinate; even if they germinate they might have quite a hard time starting off.
Seed Storage: Temperature
The temperature at which you store your seeds is one of the most important factors. If you’re going for something short-term, you just have to make sure that they’re in an area with a stable temperature – do not store them somewhere where there are going to be temperature changes.
However, for long-term storage you’ll need to store them at around 6-8° – if you plan on storing a large amount of seeds, we recommend buying a small cooler for that specific purpose to keep them at a low, constant temperature; opening your fridge can cause temperature changes, so keeping them with the rest of your products is probably not the best idea.
Also, remember to use a blacked out container when storing in the fridge or a black bag to ensure that the lights inside don’t affect the seeds when opened.
Seed Storage: Humidity
Humidity is another incredibly important factor that can determine the success rate of your seeds. Relative humidity is essentially what causes seeds to germinate, so they’re quite delicate at this stage and you don’t want them accidentally germinating; keep relative humidity low in their container.
This obviously depends on your climate too, as there are places that have incredibly high humidity and others that are quite dry, which can directly impact how you have to store your seeds. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend keeping them in a low-humidity container, and if you live somewhere incredibly humid you might have to use specific methods to decrease humidity.
Cannabis seeds can germinate with a RH of 40-60%, and humidity higher than that can actually drown them and kill them. However, humidity ranging from 9 – 20% may also cause a myriad of issues such as insects, fungi, and even seed sweating due to excessive heat. The ideal humidity range in which to store your seeds is between 20 to 30% RH.
How Long do Marijuana Seeds Last
Taking into account the previously mentioned parameters, the best way to store your cannabis seeds for long periods of time is by vacuum sealing them and then putting them into an opaque container or bag so that no light gets to them. Keep them at a constant temperature of 6-8°. Some growers use products such as silica sachets to keep humidity down even if the outside temperature/humidity becomes drastically altered – this is a good idea if you live in more humid or hotter climates.
Keep in mind that if your seeds experience too much light or temperature changes they may end up using up their nutrient reserves, which would render them useless.