For those hoping for a true organic cannabis crop, it all starts with high-quality organic seeds. While there has been little research that determines that organic seeds produce larger yields or more impressive crops, there are still many reasons to go organic. Here are a few to get you started:
Better for the environment
Perhaps the number one reason to go organic is to reduce reliance on pesticides and fungicides. By this point, it is common knowledge that overuse of pesticides, herbicides, and anti-microbial agents destroys soil and contributes to environmental damage.
Many may find it surprising that cultivating healthy soil is one of the healthiest ways to combat climate change, as soil is one of the most impactful methods of carbon sequestration available. Simply stated: excess carbon in the atmosphere can be funneled back into soil through sustainable planting and agricultural practices.
Pesticides and antimicrobials, however, destroy soil. Destroyed soil means less carbon sequestration, meaning enhanced greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. For those with an environmental consciousness, opting for organic products is a way of reducing the negative impacts of cannabis agriculture.
Every good grower knows that high-quality crops start with healthy genetics. Unlike plants cultivated for flower, plants grown for seed are grown for extended amounts of time as the seed matures. The lengthy seed development process means that only the healthiest, most pest and disease-resistant plants should be chosen for seed selection.
Further, breeders choose only plants that express desirable traits as seed donors. So, a well-produced seed will also come from potent, fast growing, resilient, or particularly impressive plants overall.
With conventional seed agriculture, cultivators can use pesticides and antimicrobials to ensure that their plants survive to produce seed. Organic seeds, on the other hand, must come from plants that demonstrate some type of natural resistance to environmental conditions.
While certain natural pest preventatives are used in organic growing, the organic method relies on supporting plants by cultivating the environmental conditions that allow plants to thrive. This means that plants used for seed are often plants that express vigorous growth without the need to be continuously doctored to ensure their survival.
The end result? Seeds with truly superior genetics.
What do superior genetics ultimately have to offer? Truly high-quality plants. While all plants can be prone to disease and misfortune when not grown with tender love and care, the genetics passed on from organic seeds come from plants that have demonstrated premium growth without the need of significant intervention.
Searching for a top-notch crop? Organic cannabis seeds are worth serious consideration.
Organic seeds vs. organic clones
When getting a cannabis grow started, growers have the option to start either from seed or clone. Both options have their own advantages and disadvantages. Opting for clones means that plants have less genetic diversity, potentially making crops more prone to disease and mutation in the future.
Starting from seed can be tricky, as seeds take longer to germinate and there’s no telling which phenotypes a particular seed might express. Further, non-feminized seeds can produce either male or female crops. For those hoping for a solely female harvest, taking the gamble with regular seeds is often seen as a monetary loss.
When purchasing organic clones, you may risk purchasing a plant that wasn’t originally grown using organic seed. Yet, when purchasing seed, you may risk the chance that the seed is not viable and won’t germinate.
What are feminized seeds?
If you’re not interested in producing your own seed, one way to ensure that you get an all-female crop is to purchase feminized seeds. Feminised seeds can also be organic.
These seeds are made by forcing a female plant into hermaphroditism, making her produce male pollen sacks. When pollinated by the pollen in these hermaphrodite sacks, a plant will produce only female seeds.
There are two ways to force a female plant to produce male pollen sacks. The first is with treatment with colloidal silver, which is naturally found in colloidal clay.
The second is through rodelization, in which a female plant produces pollen sacks on its own close to the end of its lifecycle. Rodelization is an elderly female plant’s last chance for seed development. All seeds produced from this form of self-pollenation will be female.
What are autoflowering seeds?
Autoflowering seeds are especially popular among novice growers hoping to cut down on the hassle of caring for traditional plants. Regular cannabis plants flower with 12:12 light cycles, meaning that they will blossom when they get exactly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkenss each day.
Autoflowering plants have been mixed with ruderalis cannabis varieties. Cannabis ruderalis is an Eastern European type of cannabis which flowers automatically when the plant reaches the right size and age, regardless of the light cycle.
Autoflowering plants tend to be shorter and have lower yields than traditional plants, but they also are more reliable and consistantly produce crops in approximately eight weeks. For this reason, they are considered easier to use by beginning growers. Some autoflowering seeds are also feminized, making it particuarly easy to get a crop.
Where to find organic cannabis seeds
In some regions, it is legal to mail-order organic cannabis seeds online. There are several major organic seed producers, including Mandala Seeds and Kingdom Organic Seeds. There are also several well-known organic seed producers in California, including Swami Seeds and the Supreme Seedbank from the California Growers Association.
When trying to find legal organic cannabis seeds in your area, talking to a local dispensary about seed sellers in your region can be helpful. Unfortunately, thanks to federal cannabis prohibition in many countries, buying and/or germinating cannabis seeds in your region may put you at risk for incarceration or fines.
Always do your research and know your risks before buying cannabis seeds online or from a dealer. There is no doubt that cannabis laws are unjust, but innocent gardeners are still arrested and incarcerated around the world every single day.
Producing your own organic cannabis seeds
Growing organic plants? If you have both male and female varieties, it’s possible to create your own organic cannabis seeds for future use. While breeding experts may have specific methods for pollinating and bringing their plants to seed, here are three simple ways to get organic cannabis seeds from your plants:
Male and female plants
To produce your own seeds, you need both male and female plants (unless you’re trying to create your own feminized seeds, which is not discussed here). In order to produce a harvestable cannabis crop, male and female plants need to be kept separate.
However, placing both male and female plants together will cause female plants to pollinate and begin producing seeds. When left to flower, female plants put more energy into developing their buds and trichome resin glands.
Pollinating female plants
Pollinating female plants can be as simple as putting male and female plants in the same room together with some airflow. Yet, it’s also possible to collect pollen from male plants and pollinate your female plants yourself. Hand-pollinating your plants can ensure that each flower has been exposed to pollen and stands a solid chance of producing seed.
To collect pollen from male plants, you can simply place a long paper bag over mature male flowers and gently tap the flower into the bag to collect pollen. You can then take this bag to a female plant, and gingerly slip the bag over a female flower. Tying the bag tightly, you can then shake the bag around the female flower to coat it with pollen.
This bag pollenation method works well with flowers on lower, lateral branches. If you’re hoping to pollenate all of the flowers on a plant, you can also collect pollen from male plants and hand-brush the pollen onto flowers with a clean paintbrush.
Once plants are pollenated, it’s important to keep the pollinated plant away from other females. It’s also important to avoid placing the pollinated plant in an environment with moving air, as air flow may cause pollen to travel to female plants intended for the crop.
After pollination, it can take up to 40 days or longer for seeds to ripen. Seeds should be harvested when up to 80 percent of the white pistillate hairs on the plant transform from white to a firey red or brown. Similarly, trichomes should transform from translucent to a cloudy white.
Seeds can also be kept on the plant for continued maturity while crop flowers are cut, dried, and cured. In nature, a cannabis plant will drop it’s own seeds when they are ready.
To collect seeds, you can simply harvest the polinated female plant, hang the plant upside down to try, and collect seeds that drop with trays. If harvesting before seeds are ready to drop, expect to do some picking!
Storing organic cannabis seeds
After collecting cannabis seeds, it’s time to store them. When stored properly, seeds can be saved for upwards of a couple of years, if not much longer. Here are a couple of ways to store your organic cannabis seeds:
Place in air-tight jar
Seal seeds in a small envelope and store in a size-appropriate glass jar. Store this jar in a cool, dry, and dark place for upwards of a year. Seeds will degrade if they are exposed to light, oxygen, and moisture. Seeds can also be vacuum sealed and stored for extended shelf-life, so long as they are kept away from light.
Freezing and refrigeration
While some people swear by freezing seeds, it is generally not recommended. Freezing can rupture cell walls over time, potentially making seeds less viable. If not stored in an opaque container, the light from opening and closing the freezer or fridge may also limit the viability of seeds.
These areas also tend to be moist, meaning that there is increased risk that your seeds will be exposed to moisture if not stored properly. Still, experimenting with vacuum sealing is a way some individuals try to extend the shelf-life of their seeds with refrigeration.
Germinating organic seeds
Do a quick search online and you’ll realize that there are several ways to germinate cannabis seeds. While many growers have their preferred method, below is a super simple way to get cannabis seeds started. Remember, however, that germinating cannabis seeds is still illegal in many regions. Always know the laws before you plant.
Step 1: dampen a standard paper towel, ringing out excess moisture
Step 2: Fold the towel in half
Step 3: Place organic cannabis seeds in between folded halves on paper towel
Step 4: Place paper towel in a 1 gallon plastic storage bag
Step 5: Leave the plastic storage bag open to let out excess moisture
Step 6: Store storage bag with seeds in a warm place, such as above a water heater
Step 7: Wait for seeds to germinate
Step 8: Spray additional water on paper towel if needed to maintain moisture but do not oversaturate.
Germination can occur in just one to two days. After initial germination, wait until the root sprout is at least one inch long before placing in the next growing medium.
Once seeds have germinated, it is then possible to gingerly plant them in a sprout-safe growing medium. The root end of the sprout should be placed down into the medium. Rockwool or a soil that has yet to be treated with nutrients. Too many nutrients too soon can burn the seedlings.
To thrive, new seedlings need a warm and humid environment with decent amounts of light. Purchasing a standard plastic grow box should provide enough protection and humidity to produce nice sprouts.
Do not feed the sprouts any nutrients and be careful not to overwater the plants. Once a seedling’s root system has been adequately developed and begins to outgrow the starter container, it’s time to transplant the seedlings.