Germination and Sexing
There’s several methods for germinating marijuana seeds. We have our tried and true methods but you can try a variety and find the one that suits your circumstances the best.
Many folks recommend soaking the seeds first. We don’t. We simply plant the seeds about a fingernail deep into moistened seed starter or light soil medium. We then keep them in a humidity dome for the first few days and make sure to keep the moisture even with a misting sprayer.
One general guideline is keep them at 80 degrees and 80% humidity until emergence. Most seeds planted in harmony with the moon will crack within 2-4 days, with out-of-phase plantings taking 5-10 days. We remove the dome once all have cracked.
This is all done under 4-light 216 watt, T5 fluorescent fixtures with a distance of about 1′ to the soil.
When growing from seed, knowing how to sex your plants is one of the skills every cannabis farmer needs. Even if you’re starting from feminized seeds there’s no skipping this step – there’s still a chance a feminized seed could present male traits if under stress.
While there are various methods used for sexing, we use what we find most efficient and effective for a high volume garden – the visual method. Actually it same easy process we use for our hobby and specialty gardens.
There’s nothing high tech or complex about it – it simply relies on learning what to look for, when to look for it, how to do it, and what to do if you find male genetics in your garden.
We like to keep a 30x loupe with us as we work in our gardens, especially as we’re sexing since it allows us to see a level of detail that’s hard to discern with the naked eye, and may allow you to note male and female traits at an earlier stage than with your eyes alone.
Generally the earliest your plant would start to show male traits is about four weeks. Some gardeners don’t to wait that long so instead do forced flowering which can help be an early indicator. Otherwise, you’ll typically be able to sex your plants within 45 days.
If you’d like to become an expert at sexing, let one of your male plants continue to grow (in isolation) so you can learn exactly what to look for.
Here’s two methods we’ve used for training new growers; one is recommended, the other is not. Either way, if you get male plants threatening your garden you’ll never forget what they look like.
Hands Off Method
Check your plants daily. If you find some male traits on a plant, don’t worry – let it keep growing for a week – it won’t pollenate within 7 days so you’re safe.
If you’d prefer, take it to a separate location from your female plants for this experiment, but keep in mind that pollen transfers easily on wind and fabric so you’ll want to go a fair distance away.
Then, spend the next 7 days with your loupe and digital camera and train yourself. Watch how male traits start and develop. You’ll have an excellent visual reference of what they look like as they come to be and you’ll be able to recognize it at any step. Keep a close eye – it’s easy once you’ve seen it.
I Found A Male. What To Do?
You’ll want to treat male plants very carefully.
If you’ve found a male plant and it’s in an early stage (7 days) and not flowering, put it in the trash.
I Missed One and It’s Flowering. What To Do?
Firstly, the likelihood of pollination from a male in very early stages of presenting male traits is low. If it’s within 7 days or so and the sacs are not visible, you can simply take it out to the trash.
Now, if you have a male that accidentally flowers in a bloom room (or is just on the cusp of blooming), here are the steps:
- Don’t move anything. ID the male plants and put something like a colored stake in the soil so you don’t forget which ones are male.
- Take a spray bottle and using a fine mist completely, gently saturate the plant with sprayed water. Don’t use a high-pressure spray setting because high velocity pressure can actually blow the pollen into the air. Water makes pollen inactive so be sure to gently soak it totally and completely.
- Get a large trash bag. Carefully put the bag over your plant and pot. Tape it shut at the bottom. Gently but thoroughly spray the exterior of the bag until it is wet.
- Walk it outside to a trash receptacle that’s not near your garden. If you’re growing indoors, put it in the outdoor trash away from your garden. If you’re growing outdoors take it far away. Don’t compost it.
- Put your clothes in the washing machine and shower up.
Why Can’t I Compost It?
Pollen sacs on dead male plants can continue to open even after the it has been taken down. Keep in mind that bees can carry pollen about one mile, and wind about seven miles. If you grow outdoors you run serious risk of pollenating the rest of your garden and potentially that of your neighbor.