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Popularized and marketed extensively by Dutch seed companies, feminized seeds produce female plants more than 99% of the time. Growers that use feminized seeds should still check to make sure no male plants have sprouted. Any variety of cannabis can be manipulated to make it feminized.

Cannabis seeds are about the size of a peppercorn, ovular in form, and pointed on each end with a ridge that transverses longitudinally on only one side from tip to tip. It is this ridge that opens up during germination. The other side opposite to the ridge is rounded. The body of the seed is brown, but underdeveloped and unfertilized seeds can have an off-white color and are typically smaller in size.

In 1982, Indian breeders made a major advance in cannabis botany with the development of the feminized seed. The key difference between feminized marijuana seeds and regular marijuana seeds is that feminized seeds have been engineered to produce exclusively female plants, whereas with regular seeds you can’t really predict if the mature plant will be male or female. This matters for cultivation since smokable flowers are produced only by female plants. Further, a male plant can potentially ruin a harvest if it pollinates nearby female plants, which produces flowers full of seeds.

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Germination is the process of beginning vegetative growth of the new cannabis plant. Sometimes referred to colloquially as “popping,” this process starts when the seed is exposed to water and light . The seed abandons its state of dormancy, or quiescence, and resumes essential metabolic processes that feed on energy stores to delicately rupture open the shell and grow its first root. This root will elongate until it has taken hold of the medium, after which it will pull two small embryonic leaves (cotyledons) from the seed shell. Cotyledons are in the seed prior to germination, and are not considered “true” leaves. The cotyledons will grow until they are about one centimeter long, and once the stem below this is around five centimeters tall, another set up true leaves will grow out of the top and the stem between the true leaves and cotyledons will continue to elongate.

As with all angiosperms, or flowering plants, cannabis produces seeds that contain all of the genetic information needed for growth and reproduction. When a seed is planted, the translation of this genetic material dictates each unique physical characteristic the mature plant will have. If these are desirable traits, like potency, smell, vigor, etc., a breeder can select for these through a long process of genetic stabilization through generations, which eventually leads to the creation of a cultivar, or strain.

The body of a marijuana seed is spotted or striped, most commonly with light brown specks, but some varieties of cannabis can have red or yellow markings. Plant embryos are contained within seeds and house all of the cells that will eventually differentiate into leaves, roots, and stems. Embryos, found within the reproductive organs, are protected by an outer envelope called the pericarp. Crucial components of the plant embryo are the cotyledons, the first leaves to appear from the seed, and the radicle, which develops into the primary root. Once the seed germinates and begins its growth into a mature plant, special structures called root caps protect the growing tips of the plant.

Registered Seed Establishments, Operators and Graders need to be familiar with the changes so that they are ready to apply the changes on November 1st, 2016. The new WSO includes:

The CFIA published amendments to the Weed Seeds Order (WSO) on May 18th, 2016 in Canada Gazette, Part II which come into force on November 1, 2016. The amended WSO includes harmful new species and reclassifications of existing species.

Operators, Graders and seed industry stakeholders can access additional information on the CFIA website:

Please use the following links to download a copy the Weed Seeds Order documents prepared by CFIA: