10 Markers of a Quality Marijuana Seed
If you’re looking to start growing your own marijuana, the first place to start is with the seed. What should you look for? How can you tell a good cannabis seed from a dud? Chris Bond tells us.
So, you’ve decided to grow your own marijuana from seed. How do you know if those little, round nuggets in your hand will grow up lush and produce beautiful, productive buds? How do you know if they are duds? While ultimately the genetics will determine the destiny of those little weed seeds, and proper care will help them to realize their full potential, there are some markers you can assess to see if what you have is quality seed, indeed.
What to Look for in a Cannabis Seed
While all cannabis seed is not identical in color, there are some consistencies. Healthy, viable seed will be light to dark brown in color. Seed that is light green or even whitish in color is underdeveloped and should be tossed out. Healthy seed will also have a burled or turtle shell-like pattern on its seed coat.
A quality cannabis seed will have a waxy, protective coating. Seeds that appear dull are probably not as viable and should be avoided if given a choice.
Quality cannabis seed will look like a plump teardrop. Flat or misshapen seeds will not likely produce quality plants.
Quality seed will be firm. Cannabis seed should have a strong seed coat protecting the pre-emerged life inside. Any seed that is tender, pliable or squishy should not be planted; poor results will follow if attempted.
Size is relative, but if you are able to compare several seeds at once, the higher quality seeds are larger. When it comes to seeds, less is more. The fewer seeds that comprise any given amount, an ounce or a gram for example, is generally an indicator of higher quality seeds. The biggest seeds within a species generally have more energy stored within them and have a greater potential to mature into a productive plant. Note that indica strains tend to produce larger seeds than sativa strains so make sure the comparison is made among like seeds.
Weight often goes hand-in-hand with size, but heavier seeds are generally of higher quality than lighter ones. The older a seed gets, the more potential loss of moisture and nutrients, reducing its overall weight. Damaged seed, which has been cracked can potentially lose those same necessary qualities.
#7 Float test
Quality seeds will sink in water. In glass or vessel, place room temperature water deep enough to full cover the volume of seeds to be tested. Place your seed or seeds in the water. After a couple of hours, anything still floating, should not be considered a quality seed. Soaking seeds will allow moisture to cross over the protective membrane and signal the seed that it is time to grow. As such this test should not be performed if the intent is to store the seeds after testing as it may render otherwise quality seed unviable if not meant to be immediately germinated afterwards.
You may not have access to see or have verified information on the storage conditions of seeds, but if you can find this out, it is critical to maintaining quality seeds. While cannabis seeds can be viable for over 10 years in some instances, the best seed in terms of productivity is not more than 12 to 18 months old. It should have been stored in dark, cool and dry conditions to prevent mold or the onset of any fungal issues. Storing in a freezer can prolong seeds as well, essentially suspending time.
#9 Age at harvest
This is another aspect you, the buyer may not be privy to. Quality seed is harvest when fully mature. If seed was collected before the plant was able to load as much stored energy into it as possible, then that seed will be starting out life in a deficit. Color, as referenced above can be an indicator of whether or not a seed was harvested at the appropriate time.
You get what you pay for and a cannabis seed is not exempt from this maxim. Quality seeds are not cheap (at least when compared to other agricultural seeds). This isn’t to say that inferior seeds can’t be overpriced, but if you find cannabis seeds proclaiming excellent genetics for sale at a price that seems too good to be true, caveat emptor.
This is not meant to be a definitive list, as new varieties of cannabis emerge on the scene all the time that may have “normal” traits that would otherwise be viewed as deficiencies in other strains. As always, do your homework, ask other growers who know and buy your seeds from a reputable source.
How to Identify Quality Cannabis Seeds
Like with any crop, a successful cannabis harvest starts with high-quality seeds but knowing how to identify the best ones can be tricky even for growers with years of experience. To help give you an idea of what to look for when preparing for your marijuana garden, here we talk about how to identify quality cannabis seeds on sight.
1. Appearance & Color
High-quality seeds have certain aesthetic qualities that set them apart from seeds that aren’t as healthy. The most viable seeds are brown, tan, or even black, as immature seeds are lighter colors like white, yellow, and pale green. Some people even claim that the best seeds feature dark spots or stripe patterns and that there should be a healthy sheen on the surface when held under light, like a fresh coat of wax.
2. Size & Shape
You can identify quality cannabis seeds by their size and shape, especially when you can compare several seeds side-by-side. The largest seeds with the most symmetrical round or teardrop-shape are the best quality, while immature seeds are small and often have an irregular shape.
3. Hardness & Durability
The best seeds have a hard outer shell with a smooth, uncracked surface, while undesirable seeds have soft surfaces that crinkle, crack, or crumble completely quite easily.
If you know how old the (fully mature) seeds are you’ll be able to have a better idea of viable they are. Like all genetic material, seeds degrade over time, so freshly harvested seeds are often more viable than ones that are months or years old. You should store seeds in a cool, dark place (even a freezer) so they don’t rot or get mold.
5. Float Test
The “ float test” is an easy way to check if a seed is viable or not. It’s as simple as dropping a seed into just enough distilled water to see if it has enough mass to sink within an hour or two, and if it does, then it generally has a better chance of germinating than seeds that float. You should do this right before you plant the seed because the water saturation can cause it to mold or decay.