Breeders focus on plant characteristics when breeding cannabis seeds such as their potency, flavor, yield, smell, resistance to pests, color, growth stature and other characteristics. Have you ever heard of viviparity? This phenomenon, seemingly uncommon in plants, is actually more widespread than it appears, depending on the enviro Discover the complete plant life cycle of the cannabis plant to further your knowledge of marijuana trimming and production.
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Breeding Cannabis Seeds
Step #1 For Cannabis Seeds
You will want to begin by choosing parents for breeding cannabis seeds. Selecting the female plants for breeding is much easier than selecting male plants.
Breeders focus on plant characteristics such as their potency, flavor, yield, smell, resistance to pests, color, growth stature and other characteristics when choosing a female to breed cannabis seeds.
Choosing male plants is not easy since males don’t reveal their characteristics like females do. Some breeders will rub their fingers on the male plants stem to be able to better smell their resinous odor. The best way to test for male characteristics is by a progeny test where the male pollen is harvested and then placed on certain plants.
These plants will create seeds and the next season those seeds are planted then grow up to show off their characteristics. Once a male plant is selected for breeding the other male plants are then cut down and destroyed.
Step #2 Is Collecting Pollen
You will collect pollen from the male plant that you have chosen and strip away all extra male branches to guard against random pollination then isolate the male as soon as anthers show. Before the anther’s open, you will place a plastic bag over the branch and tie it to prevent it from falling.
You will keep the bag over the branch for several days to collect pollen then carefully remove the branch and bag so pollen does not escape from the bag.
Step #3 Storing Cannabis Seeds’ Pollen
You can now either store the male pollen indoors since pollen in a natural condition in the wild will not last for long. Be sure that the storage container that the pollen is stored at low temperatures and moisture since as high temperatures, as well as humidity, will destroy pollen very quickly.
Pollen that is harvested can be stored for several months when it is stored in a freezer. To store pollen in the freezer you will first need to use a fine screen to filter out the plant leaf matter from the anthers that may have fallen into the bag.
If these are not removed it can contaminate the pollen and cause it to spoil. Before you filter the plant material you will want to lay down some wax paper or place a plate that is clean to capture the falling pollen.
You can then place the pollen in a sterile container, tube or sealed bag to make sure that the pollen for cannabis seeds is clean and sterile. When you are freezing the harvested pollen you will not want to continually freeze and thaw it out since this will diminish the viability of the pollen. Use only what is needed and leave the rest frozen.
Step #4 Using Pollen For Cannabis Seeds
Pollination occurs when male pollen comes into contact with the female pistil. Depending on which plant variety you choose to breed the female flowers will be ready to be pollinated within two (2) to twelve (12) weeks after the flowering cycle has been introduced to the plants.
The more pistils that are visible when pollinating then more cannabis seeds will be created. Female pistils that are turgid and most often white or off-white are the best to be pollinated.
Any pistils that are rust- or brown-color are beyond the point that you can fertilize. To pollinate a female plant, you will first cover the female branch with a pollen-filled bag then briefly shake the bag to make sure the pollen makes contact with the female pistils.
You can leave the bag over the branch for two (2) days to ensure pollination occurs. Many times cannabis breeders will contain the male pollen and pollinated-female plants in a separate room to prevent other cannabis plants from being fertilized.
After a few days in the pollination room, the female plant is sprayed with water to destroy the pollen that remains on the plant before the female plant is moved back into the flowering room. This is to prevent any remaining pollen from fertilizing other plants.
Also be sure to spray any room that you have allowed for pollination to occur. Another way to pollinate a female plant is to use a small paintbrush to ‘paint’ pollen onto the pistils for cannabis seeds. You will simply dip the paintbrush into a container of pollen and gently brush the pollen onto a female plant’s flowers.
Be sure that all fans are off to prevent the pollen from being blown around the room. This method is perfect for growers who want to have cannabis seeds created on only a few branches and leave the rest of the female flowers sinsemilla.
After a plant is fertilized the cannabis seeds will be ripe in about six (6) weeks but could be ready earlier. When seeds are mature they will split the calyxes open and make the cannabis seeds visible.
The seeds that are most ripe are seeds that have a dark brown or grey color and well-mottled (tiger striped) and will set loosely within the calyx. Seeds that are not viable and immature will be green, yellow or white in color as well as will be in sealed calyxes.
If you have seeds that are not mature by the end of the plants life-cycle then you can eat the immature cannabis seeds. Plants that are sativa dominant tend to allow seeds to fall from their small, lightly packed buds and while indica dominant plant seeds tend to stay within the large, densely packed buds.
Seeds are harvested from buds by either manually finger-picking each of the seeds out or by crushing the buds to separate the bud from all seeds. Seeds are often tested for their viability with a simple press between your thumb and index finger to test the seeds firmness.
If the seed splits open with this test it means that the seed is not viable or immature. If the seed is very firm then those cannabis seeds will tend to be viable.
Once seeds have broken the calyx then they are ready to plant immediately, if you choose to do so. Otherwise, the seeds may fall off the plant and germinate below the plant.
These ideas and methods are only a guideline for small-scale cannabis seed production. If you plan on producing massive amounts of seeds you will need to adjust what is done to be effective.
Many breeders will clone a male plant so they have multiple-males within a very large room that are able to pollinate many, many females. It all depends on what you plan on doing.
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Viviparity or premature germination of cannabis seeds
Viviparity may be a strange-sounding word, but it actually describes one of the best-known phenomena among mammals (and other species), that of embryos developing inside the mother’s body until the moment of birth, at which point they are already prepared to survive in the outside world. This viviparity, which is so familiar to us humans, is not so frequently found in the plant kingdom, where the embryos are released by the mother plant as a seed and will depend exclusively on the environment to develop and grow.
However, viviparity can also occur in some plants and sometimes, the seed that would normally wait to be released begins to grow in the mother’s body and emerges to the surface like an alien unleashed. The result? Plants that seem like something from a horror movie but that are, in reality, premature mothers.
Plants with a tendency to viviparity
Viviparity in plants is not common, but there are some exceptions. In the plant kingdom, several species with a tendency to viviparity have been documented, such as:
- Red Mangrove.
- Plants growing in flooded areas.
For example, some species of mangroves grow on sediments that are saturated with water by the tides, in addition to having high concentrations of salts and being poor in oxygen, meaning that viviparity gives these species a greater probability of successfully rooting in the harsh substrate and to be able to survive to develop and form mangroves.
Red mangroves (and other mangroves) are viviparous: the seed germinates while the fruit is still attached to the branches; in addition, the mother will continue to nurture it until it reaches 40 cm in length
Viviparity can also occur in common fruits, such as tomatoes or peppers. The seeds contain a hormone that suppresses the germination process. This is a necessity, as it prevents seeds from germinating when conditions are not favourable and losing the opportunity to grow into plants.
But sometimes this hormone runs out, for example when a tomato sits on the greengrocer’s shelf for too long. And sometimes the hormone can be tricked into thinking the conditions are right, especially if the conditions are hot and humid. This can happen in ears of corn that experience a lot of rain and collect water inside their husks; or on fruits that are not harvested and consumed immediately during a hot, humid summer.
Viviparity often looks like a maggot infestation, which is bad if you want to sell your fruit. Otherwise, it’s perfectly harmless.
Apart from the instances of a mutant-looking tomato or corn on the supermarket shelf, it is believed that 89% of viviparous plant species grow in humid forests or in flooded environments and many are native to the tropics. Environmental conditions, therefore, have a lot to do with the causes of viviparity, as we explain below.
What causes viviparity in plants?
Experts affirm that viviparity arises as a response to factors that are detrimental to the development of embryos in the soil:
- Extreme temperatures.
- Environmental unpredictability.
- Too-dry environments.
- Seed vulnerability to predation.
- Microbial attacks.
In addition to these factors, some studies point to a common cause in plant species that tend to display viviparity: an intolerance to seed desiccation, a key process in the formation of some seeds.
These aren’t mutant strawberries, it is just viviparity that gives them this strange appearance
Viviparity and seed dormancy
The seeds of many species within the plant kingdom are capable of preserving their germinative power for years. This state of metabolic inactivity corresponds to the state of dormancy (or latency) and allows us to collect seeds, package them and store them for a time without fear of them losing their viability or capacity to germinate. Desiccation is a key prerequisite to these seeds entering a dormant state so that they will only germinate in the soil when the environmental conditions are suitable.
However, this process does not occur in viviparous plants, thus allowing plant species from humid or flooded environments, where their seeds are unable to dry out, to generate healthy embryos. As a consequence, their seeds do not enter a state of dormancy and this is why they germinate in the mother’s body once the embryo has formed. In this way, viviparity arises from an environmental adaptation for many plants. But this is not the only reason for viviparity in the plant world.
Mutant plants: another cause of viviparity
Although external factors such as the abundance of water can induce viviparity in some plant species, sometimes genetics is the principal cause of this phenomenon. Genetic mutations in tomato, corn and wheat plants can result in viviparous specimens due to an alteration in their production of phytohormones or a reduction in sensitivity to the phytohormones responsible for inducing the state of dormancy.
Viviparity or premature germination of seeds is a physiological phenomenon present in some cultivated species, such as corn
Viviparity, evolutionary advantage or not?
After everything is said and done, all living beings have the same mission to follow an evolutionary strategy with the aim of perpetuating ourselves as a species. For this reason, many experts argue about the usefulness of viviparity in plants. The arguments against it claim that this phenomenon limits the dispersal capacity of individuals, that when they germinate in the mother plant they will no longer spread to new habitats, meaning that the expansion of the species will be very limited. If something happened to that land where all the plants grow or if the environmental conditions changed, all the specimens of that species would perish and it would end up disappearing.
However, on the list of “pros”, viviparity is a reproductive strategy that favours plants grown in humid environments and also in difficult conditions, in which a developing plant would stand a better chance to establish itself than a seed with its shell.
Alpine poa (Pooideae) is only viviparous when growing with a combination of long days and cool temperatures, otherwise it produces normal seeds
Viviparity in cannabis
Viviparity in cannabis is not a common phenomenon, although it can occur under certain environmental conditions. And when the objective of the crop is not to produce flowers but seeds, the grower or the breeder is in charge of pollinating the flowers of the females that will develop these seeds. Cannabis seed production can be done both indoors and outdoors (and also in greenhouses). In both cases, something similar to viviparity can occur if the environmental factors favour it.
How? Very simple: when the flowers of the female cannabis plant are pollinated, each stigma (the hairs on the buds, the gateway for pollen to enter the plant) that has been fertilised will cause a seed to form inside the pistil. After a few weeks (usually at least four) it may happen that some seeds are fully formed while others still need a few more days to fully mature.
If the cannabis plants are growing in an environment that is too humid, the fully mature seeds start to germinate inside the flower of the mother. In some cases, these seedlings will fall to the ground and begin to develop by rooting in the substrate; while others will develop within the cannabis flower until they die.
Viviparity in cannabis: the climate is so wet in eastern Australia that the seeds sprout before you can harvest them
How do we prevent viviparity in cannabis?
As we already mentioned, when the goal of cultivation is the production of cannabis seeds, viviparity is something that we will definitely want to avoid. For this reason, it is necessary to pay attention to the relative humidity levels of the room or grow tent (in the case of indoor cultivation) and try to keep them ideally below 50% and, above all, ensure that they do not exceed 60%.
This can be a challenge, especially in the flowering phase of the plants, as the plants are fully developed and bushier, so more transpiration occurs, increasing the relative humidity. To reduce humidity levels in indoor crops and prevent seeds from germinating before time, it is recommended to use dehumidifiers.
In outdoor crops, the environmental humidity will depend on the climate of the area, therefore, it is important to know when the autumn rains usually arrive to avoid them at all costs. If the seed-bearing buds get too wet or rained upon directly, the chances of viviparity are high. Therefore, choosing fast-finishing genetics for cold climates, such as those offered by the Early or Fast varieties, can be very useful to prevent this from happening.
These genetics offer all the advantages of feminised or regular strains, reducing their flowering period by a couple of weeks; this means that they will be ready to harvest earlier, which is a great advantage for growers who live in regions with cold climates and short summers, or for those who want to make the maximum number of harvests per year.
- Viviparidad en Goeppertia inocephala (Marantaceae). María Del Pilar Sepúlveda-Nieto, Ángela María Morales Trujillo, Liliana Katinas.
- The Ecology and Physiology of Viviparous and Recalcitrant Seeds. Elizabeth J. Farnsworth.
The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.
From Seed to Bud: The Plant Life Cycle of Cannabis
The popularity of marijuana plants is rife at different angles. However, it is the simple life cycle that makes the herb unique. From a seed into a mature bud, the cycle is one of the easiest to master. Below is a breakdown of how the plant grows until it reaches maturity.
The life of a cannabis plant starts immediately when the seed is sown into the ground. The rate of germination of the seed depends on the conditions it is exposed to. First, if the seed is watered regularly, it germinates at a fast pace. Colour and texture determine the quality of the seed, and to a great extent, the time it takes to germinate.
A healthy seed should be dry and hard. It should also have a dark-brown color. It is advisable to avoid sowing seeds that are white or green since the probability of germinating is negligible. High-quality cannabis seeds take between five to ten days to sprout.
The Seedling Stage
The seedling stage in cannabis takes place immediately after the seeds germinate. A standard cannabis seedling should have leaves containing a single-ridged blade. During the growth stage, the cannabis plant should be green.
During the seedling stage, it is advisable to reduce the rate of watering to protect their delicate stems. Besides, the risk of the plant developing mold and getting diseases is also higher during the seedling stage.
The seedling should be watered after two days. Overwatering the seedlings is a common mistake many growers make, which might affect the time taken for the cannabis to grow and develop. Also, the seedling should be kept in an area with free circulation of air and sunlight. This allows the chlorophyll to form and crucial cannabinoids to accumulate in the leaves.
If the right conditions are adhered to, the seedling stage should take between two and three weeks. Most importantly, the seedling stage should also be exposed to a source of light for at least 18 hours a day. Sunlight is the most common source of light used by cannabis seedlings. However, the sophistication in technology has led to the improvisation of LED lights, which provide the same light properties as the sunlight.
The vegetative stage is considered the time when the marijuana plant starts to mature. During the phase, the leaves become full, and the stems sturdier. The rate of growth also hastens, giving the plant a bushy appearance.
During the vegetative stage, it is advisable to transfer the plant to a place where it will attain the full size. In addition, the watering style should be changed. In this case, the water should be poured further from the stalk to protect the roots from being exposed. The stage takes approximately three to sixteen weeks and requires about 18 hours of light.
During the flowering stage, buds start to form on the cannabis plant. It is also during this stage that the sex of the plant begins to manifest. Once the male parts have been identified, they can be separated to prevent them from germinating the female ones.
The formation of buds is more prevalent in week 6 and 7 in the cycle. It is also advisable to avoid pruning leaves and branches two weeks before the marijuana starts to produce flower buds.
During this phase, the plant should be watered less, and the plant exposed less to light. The plant should receive less than 12 hours of sunlight in a day. Less exposure to light allows the cannabinoid levels in the plant to increase. The rate of watering during this stage should be lower.
Once the buds have matured, harvesting can take place. It involves plucking the branches from the plant and hanging them to allow excess moisture to evaporate. It is also during harvesting that bud trimming takes place. This consists of removing fan leaves from the buds together with sugar leaves. However, the removal of sugar leaves from the buds is less common since they contain a high amount of THC. Once the marijuana trimming has taken place, the seeds can be prepared for planting again.
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