How to make feminised cannabis seeds
Until the 1990s, any cannabis cultivator was aware that, at some point, they had to separate the male and female plants if they didn’t want the first ones to pollinate the latter, which results in plants completely full of seeds. However, those were the days when pioneering seed banks like Dutch Passion were revolutionizing the cannabis scene with the birth of the first feminized cannabis strains, or in other words, seeds that only develop into female plants. At the beginning of the 20th century, many seeds banks were offering this type of seeds, feminized versions of classics strains that had been cultivated during many years as regular plants.
We are sure that by now you’d probably have grown some feminized seeds, maybe even though you are a purist and the fiercest defender of regular seeds. But. do you know where feminized seeds come from? Are you familiar with the processes used by both breeders and growers to obtain them? In this article we explain everything!
Feminized cannabis seeds quality control
Advantages of growing feminised seeds
Indeed, the advent of feminized seeds brought about a genuine revolution within the cannabis sector. Growers were now sure that all their plants would be females, without the need to differentiate between male and female plants or having to remove the males before they could ruin the crops, which offers a number of benefits of significant importance:
- Space and resources saving: no more growing plants which eventually will be removed for being males.
- Reliability: it’s not that most plants are female, or that they are genetically more likely to produce female plants. The plants grown from feminized seeds have only female chromosomes (XX), therefore this method is 99% reliable.
- Sinsemilla plants: by not having males in the grow room, your female plants won’t be pollinated, so they won’t produce any seeds during the flowering period (something that every cultivator wants, unless they want to obtain seeds)
These advantages were of great interest for the growers, and soon feminised seeds accounted for a large portion of the seeds available in the market. In addition, being able to use only female plants (generally known and selected clones) to produce seeds had another great advantage for seed producers and breeders of new varieties: they no longer need to keep males in their gene pools! And not only that. from that moment on, any female plant they could get their hands on could be used as a male to pollinate other plants, thus exponentially increasing the possibilities of creating new crosses.
Outstanding Orange Candy feminised from Philosopher Seeds
It is not surprising, therefore, that at present, feminized seeds represent virtually all the seeds in the market, since they offer a number of significant advantages for both professional and home growers and breeders, for photoperiod and autoflowering plants. The main disadvantage of this method is a well known and hotly debated issue: the growers who buy this type of seeds cannot produce their own seeds in the absence of male plants, so the only way they can manage it it’s using the same process to obtain this type of seeds. But. what are these processes and what are they based on?
Female crosses: feminised cannabis seeds are born
As we’ve already mentioned, feminized seeds are the result of a process that reverses the sex of a female plant, that is, she is forced to produce male flowers. This way, and once into flowering, the female chosen will start to develop what we know as male flowers (stamens and anthers), which, just like male plants, will release the pollen that will pollinate the female plants. What is then the difference between a male plant and a reverted female plant?
The sex of cannabis plants is determined in the same way as ours, through the so-called sex chromosomes or genosomes. Male plants have a couple of different sex chromosomes called “XY” or heterogametic, while female plants have two chromosomes called “XX” or homogametic. When crossing a male (XY) with a female (XX), we will obtain around half of the plants of each type in their offspring. In other words, when a breeder uses a male and a female plant, the seeds produced by them will be approximately 50% males and 50% females.
After this explanation, many of you will have already figured out that if we cross two female plants (reversing the sex of one of them to force it to produce pollen), the result will be seeds that will produce female plants, as there are only female sex chromosomes in the equation. If crossing XY with XX produced 50% of each class (male and female), crossing XX with XX will produce plants that only exhibit chromosomes XX, that is to say, female plants. No matter how many times we “transform” a female plant into a male plant, we won´t be changing their genetic composition, which will still be female or XX. This way, the pollen produced by this plant will pass down female sex chromosomes exclusively.
Feminised seeds grown indoors, 100% female plants
As you can see, and although we normally use the expression “reversing the plant sex“, that is not exactly what is done, because the sex chromosomes of the female plant (XX) have not changed, even if we managed to produce male flowers. This “sex change” of female plants can be achieved in a number of ways, but usually with the same goal: to reduce the level of ethylene in plant tissues and/or inhibit the ethylene action, which makes the plant develop male flowers on entering the flowering period, as if it were a male from regular seeds. This is because ethylene is a natural regulator of the sex expression in plants!
Let’s see now the most popular ways to reverse the sex of a female plant in order to produce feminized seeds.
Methods used to produce feminized cannabis seeds
There are several ways to secure that a female plant produces pollen, and almost all of them require some type of chemical that is often sprayed on the plant. Once sprinkled with the chosen product and under a flowering photoperiod, the plant will flower normally, but as a male instead of female, producing ‘feminized’ pollen (which only contains chromosomes XX) that can be used to pollinate other females in order to produce seeds. These are some of the most commonly used techniques:
Stress or rodelization
One of the first methods used to obtain seeds that produce female plants was stress or rodelization. There are several ways to stress the cannabis plants to make sure they develop male flowers, such as through temperature, nutrition, photoperiod, and pH. However, supporters of this technique often prefer something as simple as delaying the harvest 2-3 weeks in order to force the plants to develop a few male flowers without stressing them as much as with any of the other methods we have mentioned.
Although this action will produce far less pollen than other techniques like STS, it will be enough to obtain a handful of seeds for the domestic growers to try to create their own feminized crosses. Also, the great advantage of this technique is that is 100% natural, and it doesn´t use any chemicals. It is an excellent alternative for anyone who just wants a few seeds and wishes to keep it simple without any formulas or laboratory products. However, bear in mind that this is the only method listed in this post that may produce some plants with hermaphroditic traits.
Male flower produced by rodelization
STS or silver thiosulfate solution
Without any doubt, one of the most commonly used methods for both producers and seed banks. This is a solution made of distilled water, silver nitrate and sodium thiosulphate (sometimes called sodium hyposulphite) that, after being sprayed on the female plants, inhibits their ethylene action resulting in the formation of male flowers once flowering has been induced. STS is relatively easy to prepare, although its lifespan after combining the two components is quite limited, barely a few days as long as it´s well preserved (in a dark and cool place).
It is important to mention that you must not consume any part of the plants sprayed with this type of product, although that would be weird, as the plants have “become” males and won´t produce any buds. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t use the reverted plants to make resin extracts; the best thing is to discard them after harvesting the pollen. Both components, sodium thiosulphate and silver nitrate, are also used for photo-development.
This is another way to revert the sex of the plants, but this time using a solution made of 30ppm colloidal silver (that you can easily find in many pharmacies and also online) and distilled water. The solution must be applied for a few days until the plant starts producing male flowers, something that it´s not necessary with STS, where in most cases one single application is enough.
Colloidal silver is formed by electrically charged silver nanoparticles and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. This product was introduced in the market in 1980 for therapeutic use. However, as with STS, you should get rid of the sprayed plants once their pollen is harvested, as colloidal silver is absorbed systemically by the plant and remains in its tissues.
This sativa plant treated with STS started flowering as a female but soon developed male flowers
This is a method researched by Mohan Ram, who also conducted extensive investigations on plant sex reversal with STS. According to his findings, sodium thiosulphate (STS) is more effective in producing male flowers and viable pollen in female plants. Probably because of this, silver nitrate is mixed with sodium thiosulphate, instead of using it in isolation.
Gibberellins are plant hormones that help regulate various processes related to the development of the plants. There are several types of gibberellins available in the market, although the most common and effective is gibberellic acid or GA3 (Gibberellin GA3). This product is used in a very similar way to colloidal silver, sprayed on the plants during several days before switching the photoperiod over to flowering.
It is worth stating that one of the side effects of gibberellic acid is a significant stretching of the treated parts of the plant, so don’t be surprised if this happens to your plants! The recommended dose to achieve the best results is approximately 100ppm.
Urban legends and lies about feminized seeds
Despite the fact that, after two decades of cannabis cultivation, many of the false myths surrounding feminized seeds have been debunked, from time to time we still hear some arguments like the ones shown below. As is often the case, many of these stories are spread by people who have never grown this type of seeds or have none or very limited experience with them. Ignorance is always a bad thing, and that’s why we want to emphasize several points in relation to feminized seeds and the myths that often go with them; myths such as the following:
Feminized seeds produce hermaphrodite plants:
The problem with monoecious hermaphrodite plants has more to do with the parents used (and if they exhibit any hermaphrodite trait) rather than with the type of seeds produced. If to create a feminized seed you use a female plant with a tendency to produce male flowers, part of its offspring will likely inherit that characteristic, whether the said female plant is used as a pollen donor (after reversing its sex) or as a recipient of pollen (letting it flowering as usual). Yet the same thing happens when producing regular seeds: if the male or female parents are not stable in this respect, neither will be their offspring (or at least part of it).
Marijuana and hermaphroditism
Many growers have been surprised by the presence of hermaphrodite plants in their marijuana crops. In this post we will tell you how to detect them and how to proceed if you find a hermaphrodite cannabis plant in your growing space. We will also discuss the causes of this hermaphroditism.
Feminized seeds produce mutant plants:
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that sometimes some plants develop weird traits or mutations, although this also happens with regular seeds. Unfortunately, there seems to be not enough studies comparing the ratio of specimens with mutations of one or other type of seeds; however, given the millions of feminized seeds that have been germinated in the last 20 years, if mutations would pose a problem, the quantity of feminized seeds sold would certainly not be so high, and this would be a “public security” issue within the cannabis sector, both for the growers and the producers of the seeds.
Feminized seeds have chemicals:
This is another lie that some people believe. As it’s been mentioned before, a female plant is sprayed with some chemicals in order to inhibit its ethylene action. After a few weeks of this and once in the flowering period, the plant will produce male flowers and pollen, which will be harvested to pollinate the female plants designated to produce seeds. Once the seeds are formed, they are collected and packed immediately, so they don’t come into contact with any chemicals or the plants that produce seeds, nor, of course, with the seeds themselves. Also, to produce cannabis seeds, you normally need two separated indoor cultivation areas, one for the reverted plants (treated females) and the other for the females to be fertilized to produce the seeds, so the latter can’t get “contaminated” with any chemicals.
Feminized seeds are GMOs:
Once again, this is a false statement. We have already pointed out that by using these sex reversal techniques we inhibit the ethylene action in the female plant, and under no circumstances the seeds (or plants) are genetically modified. The sex chromosomes of the female plant converted into a male plant are still female (XX), nothing has changed at a genetic level.
We hope you found this article interesting; even today, many people are still unaware of the intriguing process behind this type of cannabis seeds. Do not hesitate to leave your comments; we will be delighted to answer them.
Butterfly Weed Seeds
To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.
- If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
- If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).
Find Your Planting Zone:
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is one of our great North American native flowers with rich Indian and medicinal history. The brilliant orange blooms light up meadows dramatically, and of course, visits by butterflies are a bonus. This wildflower, also prized as a garden perennial, is not easy to grow, but once established, is a tough, dependable colormaker.
Native Range for Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) – AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV.
Attract Butterflies To Your Garden With Milkweed!
Understanding Milkweed (Asclepias) Seed & Germinating
Germination: To start Milkweed seed we recommend starting inside, but before this happens Milkweed seeds need to go through a cold stratification period. Cold stratification is very important for the germination and growth of Milkweed. It helps break the seeds natural dormancy cycle. To do this, we recommend placing Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel or damp sand in a zip lock bag and place in your fridge for 3 – 6 weeks (30 days). Place in an area of the fridge, where it won’t get damaged. We taped ours to the bottom of a refrigerator shelf.
Planting In Spring: Once the 30 days are complete, it’s time to plant the cold stratified Milkweed (asclepias) seeds. We recommend planting in 2-4” peat pots. Fill peat pots ¾ of the way with seed starting potting soil and gently add water. Water should be able to drain through the peat pots. Once the soil is damp, place 1-2 cold stratified seeds into each pot. To finish, place 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seed.
Planting In Fall: If you’re planting Milkweed seed in the fall, let nature do the cold stratification for you! There is no need to place your seeds in the refrigerator before planting, you can plant seeds directly into the soil after there have been a few frosts in your area. This allows for the seeds to remain dormant for the winter and come up in the early spring. Clear away any existing growth and using your index finger to measure, create 1.5" holes for each Milkweed seed. We recommend spacing seeds about 4-6” apart. Place a seed in each hole and cover. Water thoroughly.
Watering: Gently water the planted seed to give additional hydration. The best way to water is from the bottom up. Use a flat pan under the peat pots and add a half inch of water to the bottom of the tray. Don’t over water as it can cause fungus. Water every day or every other day as needed, the best way to test the soil dampness is to touch it. If the soil seems dry then add water; if it’s wet, wait for the soil to dry out to water.
Light Requirements: For the next few weeks, make sure the Milkweed is either in a sunny window, in a green house or under a grow light. Milkweed needs lots of sun and warmth to grow. If you’re using a grow light, make sure to lower the bulb closer to the pots or your seedlings may become leggy, as they stretch to the light. In our experiment, this happened to us. Ideally a sturdier stem is better. Cold stratified seeds should germinate and sprout within 10-15 days once planted. In total Milkweed from the day they are cold stratified to growth can take 40 plus days, so be patient!
Other planting options: Place dry seed (not stratified) in seed starting soil and plant in peat pots under a grow light or in a greenhouse to germinate seeds. The success rate for this is low and more difficult to accomplish. If you choose to use this option it can take months for the seeds to germinate.
If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall, and let the Milkweed seed lay on the ground through winter. Milkweed seed will have a long winter of dormancy, so once the sun comes out and the ground warms in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.
Transplanting Milkweed (Asclepias) Seedling Outdoors
Where to Plant: Milkweed does well in open areas with full sunlight exposure areas like fields, parks, cultivated gardens, roadsides, highway medians, and road sides. We suggest transplanting Milkweed when the plant is no larger than 3 inches tall. In most cases in transplanting, the Milkweed plant will go though some shock and could lose all its leaves. This happens, don’t panic. The plant is trying to establish its roots and will eventually grow leaves again. This is the main reason we suggest planting seeds in peat pots, because Milkweed roots are very sensitive. Peat Pots breakdown over time in the ground, which allows the milkweed roots to grows without being disrupted. We found this to be the best way to transplant. If you decide to plant in plastic containers, but make sure it’s deep enough for roots to grow. If you receive a plant already grown in plastic, be careful to take out the plant and not disturb the roots.
When to plant: Soil moisture and temperature are very important when growing Milkweed. The best time to plant Milkweed is in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. If you plant seeds late in the spring, the seeds may not grow due to Common Milkweed Field Grown germination time and temperature. Common Milkweed seed doesn’t germinate over 85 degrees.
Caring For Milkweed (Asclepias) Plants
Once your seedling is planted, water it for a few days to get it established, but after that, the plant doesn’t need a lot of supplemental water. Only water if you have an unusual dry spell. Peat pots are nice to use, but you need to be sure there is no top edge above the soil line after transplanting. In dry climates, this will wick away valuable soil moisture. A small 2 1/2″ diameter x 3 in. deep pot is ideal. Asclepias are somewhat finicky native plants. So minimizing the time growing in a pot and transplanting them as young plants is the best approach.
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Virginia gets green light to grow marijuana: Wannabee weed growers obtain seeds and know-how
‘It’s the best thing to happen to Virginia in a long time’ – Donovan Higginbotham
Where can budding pot growers purchase seeds now that Gov. Ralph Northam has given the green light? Legally, nowhere.
Green-thumbed Virginians 21 and older are legally allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use, however, Northam’s legislation legalizing the personal cultivation of marijuana fails to include a pathway to obtain seeds.
On July 3, RVA Cannabis Company [RVAC] celebrated Independence Day by hosting an event to welcome back the reform of marijuana. A limited amount of tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] seeds was presented to attendees.
“A friend recommended that I attend today,” said Felicia Moore of Hopewell. “I suffer from fibromyalgia and PTSD on top of everyday stress. So, I decided to come out and see what products they have that would benefit me. They gave me stress and pain relief gummy samples and another one that is a sleep aid.”
“The event was private as stated in law in order to hand out THC seeds,” said RVAC owner Milton Ares. “We had a limited amount of premium seeds to hand out for free.”
Located in the heart of Chester, RVAC is owned by Ares, his wife Jennifer, and their nephew CJ Thomas. The family business had a pandemic-delayed opening in September last year.
According to Jennifer Ares, they initially planned to hand out 100 premium feminized seeds but ended up handing out 250 in total.
RVAC purchased seeds in hopes to sell them, but as the law currently states, they were unable to do so.
What brand of seeds did attendees receive?
“We handed out one premium auto-flower, feminized seed per adults 21 and older,” said Jennifer Ares. “Some of those strains were Auto Bubblegum, Auto Jack Herer, Auto Northern Lights, and Auto Gelato 33.”
“Sticking to our ‘safe access’ motto, we wanted to help with getting some seeds out to our loyal customers legally,” said Ares. “We plan to do more of these in the near future to help our community have access to good quality genetics.”
How were seeds presented?
“Virginia requires each plant to be tagged with ‘name’ and ‘ID number,’ so we had plant tags printed and taped a seed to each one,” said Ares. “We also added ‘name of strain’ and ‘date planted’ which will be helpful when tracking growth.”
RVAC sells the plant tags in packs of four which include a scannable QR code that provides general grow guide information.
Cannabis growing tips
“Make sure you have a proper environment that is out of public view, and do not overwater,” shared Ares. “Also do not give over-intense lighting in a young stage, don’t forget to write down your planting date, and be sure to use good-draining nutrient-rich soil.”
“We have growing classes that will begin in a few weeks in order to help people get comfortable with growing their own cannabis,” added Thomas.
“We aren’t legally allowed to grow THC plants at the moment on-premise, but we had two different strains of CBD [cannabidiol] we carry in-house on display,” said Ares. “Just wanted to show not only a tent set up but also the similarities that both CBD and THC share such as leaves and smell.
“I sell worm poop that can be used in cannabis growing,” shared Moose Hill Worm Farm owner Bill Clark of Gloucester while checking out the grow tent.
As explained by Ares, CBD and THC are both cannabinoids out of hundreds that interact with receptors involved in a variety of functions like anxiety, appetite, depression, and pain sensation.
When I asked attendee Donovan Higginbotham of Chesterfield what he thinks of the law passed July 1, he thinks it will be a good thing for Virginia.
“It will open up a lot of doors. They treaded on marijuana while other states were legalizing it,” said Higginbotham. “It’s the best thing to happen to Virginia in a long time.”
Thomas stated, “Since July 1, our business has certainly picked up. We definitely have more calls and walk-ins with a lot of questions on this new exciting law.”
“Overall, we are witnessing a new flow of curious, inquisitive people which is awesome because we want to get rid of that stigma that cannabis has had in past,” added Ares.
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Top three questions
At this time, Virginia law does not allow recreational sales, so THC products are not available at RVAC.
Medical cards are not needed to shop, since RVAC is a cannabis dispensary that carries cannabis products that are under a .3% THC.
“We can guide our customers to someone who can answer any questions they have about the process and see if they qualify for a medical card,” said Jennifer Ares.
No, RVAC does not sell Delta 8 or Delta 10 products.
“There is a synthetic process to create this product with no state regulations, so who’s insuring its safety? It’s for those reasons we will not carry them in our store,” explained Ares. “For example, you can not grow a high content Delta-8 cannabis plant. They take CBD flower and spray the manufactured Delta 8 on it.”
Delta 8 and Delta 10
“Delta 8 and Delta 10 are indeed part of the plant but in very small amounts, none of which is potent enough to intoxicate you,” explained Ares. “They do this by extracting CBD then doing a chemical reaction to it. Is it safe? Who knows.
“Is it regulated? Nope, but, both CBD and THC Delta 9 are regulated. This is to ensure the safety of its consumers,” said Ares. “Someone found a loophole in the law to intoxicate with no regulation. I think we are up to 15 states who have banned it. Our stance is simple, prove it’s safe and regulate it. But, honestly, with the legalization of Delta 9, why are we turning to synthetics?”
What products and/or services can RVAC now offer as of July 1 that they could not legally offer previously?
According to Jennifer Ares, the new law has not changed retailing of THC variety cannabis. Consumers are still not able to purchase or sell seeds, plants, or any finished product of it.
“In the coming months, the Cannabis Control Authority [CCA] will set up a structured system for cannabis in Virginia that will include how THC cannabis will be sold and who will be able to sell it,” said Ares. “Until that is established, the law has removed punishment for possession. You may possess up to an ounce of your herb outside of the home, and the law allows for home cultivation of four plants total per house.
“This initial law will give people safe access to it through growing instead of relying on the illicit market. You must be at least 21,” added Ares. “Currently, the only sales would be at one of the four medical dispensaries that you will still need a medical card to enter and purchase legally.”
“We are now educating our customers about all the benefits of mixing their personal THC with our cannabis varieties to help prevent over intoxication of THC or if people would like to just reduce their THC tolerance level without needing to take a complete break from it,” said Jennifer Ares.
While looking into RVAC’s in-store transparency kitchen, I noticed joints being prerolled.
“Yes, we have fresh-rolled joints. The test tube-looking item is actually called a Knockbox. Its purpose is to ‘knock-out’ 100 prerolls at a time,” said Ares. “We grind up our CBD flower and make our CannaRolls and sell them in 3-pack or 7-pack options.
“When this process is done it makes for a very fragrant store! Whether you call CBD hemp, cannabis, or low gas, it has the same beneficial terpenes as THC cannabis does,” explained Ares. “People are genuinely surprised to see that the plants look and smell alike. Different strains have their own terpene profile ultimately making them either a Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid.”
“We believe that it’s comforting to see the process of where it’s done,” said Jennifer Ares.
“Continue to provide safe access to high-quality cannabis products,” shared Thomas. “We are currently doing research and development with new varieties of cannabis that are under 0.3% THC in order to target specific therapeutic needs.”
“Our major goal is to become a dispensary that can offer THC cannabis as well,” added Jennifer Ares. “We would love to represent that compound in our store.”
Vendors present at the “Welcome Back” event included Kobi’s Soul Food and Catering of Petersburg, Pure Shenandoah of Charlottesville, Moose Hill Worm Farm of Williamsburg, Leah’s Snow Shack of Chester, ECC Test Lab of Ashland, RC Health & Fitness of Chester, Forever One representative Sylvia Bland of Chester, and DJ Lee Bueller of Richmond.
To learn more about growing cannabis follow RVA Cannabis Company on YouTube. RVAC partners with Happy Trees Agricultural Supply to provide tips on how to grow cannabis at home.
Currently located in Richmond and Fredericksburg, Happy Trees Agricultural Supply is preparing to open its doors in Petersburg on August 1. The store focuses on selling agricultural supplies home growers will need in order to cultivate and harvest cannabis.