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When beginning a grow, genetics is an important consideration. But what does "genetics" mean? The term might be a little confusing or vague for a new grower, and not just because you may or may not have paid attention in high school biology.
While the term “genetics” does refer to the genetic material a plant contains, we use the term a little more loosely in Cannabis cultivation. Simply put, we’re talking about the things your plants are going to grow from: the seeds or the clones (we’ll talk clones in a future article)
A “Seedy” Joint
Disclaimer: Cannabis seeds are available from a number of online retailers and brick-and-mortar dispensaries, but ALWAYS check the legality of Cannabis in your state or country before purchasing.
Cannabis seeds are not much different than the seeds you may already be familiar with. There are 3 basic parts of a seed:
- The seed coat, which protects the inside of the seed from the environment.
- A starchy interior that serves as a source of nutrients for the initial development of the plant
- The embryo which contains the cells and genetic material that will grow into an adult plant.
A real understanding of Cannabis seeds is more than just an anatomy lesson, however. When beginning growers think about seeds, they probably only consider the final outcome of a particular strain they want to grow. While this is definitely important to consider, there are several other considerations that should be made:
Things to Consider
Seed health should always be a primary consideration. The problem is that if you purchase online or by phone, you can’t evaluate the seed health until you have them in hand. Our advice here is to research your vendor beforehand and see what vendor suits you best:
- Do you recognize their name?
- What are Google Reviews and Yelp saying?
- Do you know anybody who has used them as their seed supplier?
- What’s their return or refund policy?
Of course you’re still going to want to assess the health of your seeds yourself. So what are looking for? Glad you asked! Here's what you should be looking for:
- Dark color with stripes or spots (white or green seeds are too immature to sprout).
- Waxy, shiny coating: While not critical, this is a sign that the seed is healthy.
- Hard shell: You should be able to apply light finger pressure without the seed cracking. If the seed buckles under light pressure, the seed is either infertile or dead.
- No cracks: Healthy seeds will have their seed coat intact without damage. Check for holes too, as insect pests may dig into seeds for the delicious starch.
Without getting too technical, many strains of Cannabis produce their flowers in response to the amount of light they receive. While this is highly beneficial if you have the time and resources to take advantage of this, many beginning growers do not (or just don’t want to). If you can't control the lighting for your plants, consider auto-flowering strain seeds. When mature, these seeds will flower automatically based on what point they are at in their growth cycle rather than in response to the amount of daily light they receive.
Additionally, different Cannabis strains vary in how quickly they produce their flowers, so you’ll want to consider the anticipated length of your grow as well.
So there you have it. Hopefully you know a little bit more about “genetics” in the context of Cannabis cultivation. Please be on the lookout for part 2 of this series where we’ll talk about another option for your genetics: clones.
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About the Author
Chris DeWildt is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and Western Kentucky University. He worked in education and publishing for ten years before joining the team at Growers Network. In addition to editing the GN blog, Chris also works on the Canna Cribs series.