The ability to determine plant sex as early as possible is a critical skill for cannabis growers. As you develop this eye for identifying plant sex, you will be able to prevent any accidental pollination.
During the early flowering stage, take a stroll around your grow room or garden with a magnifying glass or jeweller’s loupe. Inspect a few nodes on each plant to see how far along into the flowering process they are. At this stage, you won’t see any obvious flowers or pollen sacs. Instead, you’re looking for young pre-flowers. Although these tiny structures look similar, they have distinct features that allow growers to tell them apart.
A guide to differentiating between male, female, and hermaphrodite cannabis plants.
IDENTIFYING EARLY SIGNS OF MALE PLANT
Despite their differences, all female plants share one thing in common: they produce flowers. These flowers, colloquially known as buds, possess small glandular structures called trichomes that produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
If you want to try breeding, you’re going to need regular cannabis seeds, and Royal Queen Seeds offers a premium range. In contrast to feminized seeds that produce only female specimens, regular seeds offer a 50% chance of the plant being male or female.
See, the vast majority of plant species are monoecious, a term meaning they possess both male and female reproductive organs. These include edible plants, such as corn and squashes, that can readily fertilise their own flowers using their own pollen.
Cannabis, like those who love it, doesn’t always stick to the rules, though. Sometimes, this dioecious plant species goes against the grain and develops both male and female reproductive organs. These specimens are known as hermaphrodites. Either genetic or environmental factors, or both, can cause plants to develop this unusual trait. Having both buds and pollen sacs, they end up developing the ability to pollinate and reproduce with themselves.
Male cannabis plants are normally seen as something undesirable, at least if you ask the average cannabis grower. No one wants their precious crop accidentally pollinated and then ruined, as we’ve learned will happen if we don’t separate the males from the females early on. This negative stigma and the hassle associated with male plants are the reasons that feminized seeds have gained popularity. It’s true, they do make things easy on the grower.
A simple sniff test is yet another easy but effective way to find a promising male. Keep those plants that have the best scent.
CAN YOU SMOKE MALE PLANTS?
Those male plants took shape by pulling a lot of nutrients out of your soil. They mainly consist of carbon and nitrogen, but they harbour lots of other goodies too, such as valuable micronutrients. If you don’t plan on using them elsewhere, be sure to return those compounds back into your garden.
Always eliminating the genetically distinct males at the earliest time leads to decreased diversity. The presence of the males is important to the continued strength and vitality of a strain.
When you start breeding your own top-shelf bud, the male will contribute 50% of the genetic material. It just makes sense that you’d want to select the best male that you have as the donor.