So, you’ve obtained some seeds and plan on germinating them soon, but you’re a tad unsure about their quality. Well, the first port of call is to take a closer look at them. This can be done with the naked eye, but using a magnifying device makes things a lot easier.
Seeds are a life form in themselves, and are subject to ageing and deterioration. Although passing the point of being viable might take years, it’s still something worth considering before growing.
There’s another box that needs to be ticked off the list before growing as well, one that is often overlooked. Checking the quality of your cannabis seeds before placing them in the soil is a simple process, and one that can save a lot of time and energy in the long-run.
HOW OLD ARE YOUR SEEDS?
Healthy seeds are mostly hard to the touch and should be able to resist external pressure when placed between the index finger and thumb and given a squeeze. If your seed cracks under this pressure, then it’s a sign of a weak and unhealthy one.
The most reliable way to check if your seeds are viable is to simply place them in the soil and allow them to germinate. Although this method is easy, waiting for them to pierce through the top layer of soil can take some time. This can be especially time consuming when growing on a large or commercial scale, or when simply wanting to get a grow started as quickly as possible.
A lot of preparation is required before embarking on the quest of growing cannabis. Growers must ensure they have a good lighting setup to provide their plants with energy. They also need a designated area, indoors or outdoors, in which to cultivate their crop. Furthermore, growers will need a water source, an array of macro and micronutrients, and a good-quality soil if choosing this growing medium.
If you’re buying from a dispensary or headshop, you might be able to inquire about the age of the seeds you’re interested in and get an honest answer. You’re far less likely to find out the age of seeds found in bags or acquired from other sources. Knowing the age of a seed before attempting to cultivate is beneficial, as seeds that are too old won’t end up sprouting, or will take a lot longer if they do.
Keep in mind that the simple process of packaging and storing cannabis seeds can also affect their appearance. Abrupt changes in humidity, temperature, or light exposure can make some seeds appear darker or lighter than others, but ultimately have no effect on their quality.
We do not recommend taking the size or shape of a seed into consideration as a sign of its quality. Some strains simply produce smaller seeds than others, and sometimes the same plant can produce seeds of different sizes and shapes. Never discard a seed just because it is smaller or of a different shape than another one.
Growing Seeds From A Bag (Bagseed)
The one true method to test the genetic potential of a seed is to simply put it in the soil. It won’t take too long to see the results. This option is best for the hobby home grower who has time and space to spare for a risky project. Growers cultivating cannabis for commercial use likely don’t have the excess time to invest.
However, slight patience is required when conducting the float test, as results are not immediately apparent. You’ll have to wait for approximately 1–2 hours before confirming the results. Some good-quality seeds will need adequate time to absorb enough water for them to sink. Use this time to go water the garden and get some much needed pruning done. Upon your return, any seeds that remain on the surface are most likely not viable and won’t be worth further time and effort.
It’s important to only conduct this test if you are planning to germinate the seeds immediately afterwards. The viable seeds that sunk to the bottom of the glass will have taken in water, crossing the membrane of the seed and signalling that it’s time to come to life—activating germination.
There are several easy methods for testing cannabis seeds. Most of them can be performed before germination, saving you some time and resources. Let’s find out how to check your seeds.
More commonly, growers use the paper towel method. Dampen a paper towel, ensuring it isn’t soaking wet. Place this on a kitchen plate and put the seeds on top, then put another plate upside-down on top. A moist, dark, warm environment allows the seeds to sprout. Check on the seeds once a day; after germinating, you should see a white taproot emerge.
Method #1: The Sight Test
At this point, you can transplant the seed into its pot. Use a pair of tweezers and handle each seed carefully, being careful not to touch the taproot. The taproot is fragile and may break if you’re not delicate; furthermore, touching it with your hands may contaminate it.
In some instances, you can crack the seed open and see inside if you can’t tell anything from the outer shell. An oily inside with a musty smell means that the seed has gone bad. Similarly, black inside the seed means that it’s fermenting. Again, it won’t germinate in this instance.
If the seed cracks under slight pressure, then it’s unusable. It’s likely to be past its sell-by date.