March 14, 2011

It Starts With A Single Seed – Expert Seed Breakdown

March 14, 2011
vortex cannabis

vortex cannabisSubcool Marijuana Seed Article

The following article was sent to me by the legendary Sub Cool. When this guy speaks, people that want to improve their skills should listen. I know I am. Thanks again to Sub Cool for sharing his knowledge, and make sure to check out his website.

I have spent most of my life looking for special and unique attributes, effect, and flavor in cannabis seedlings. I want to pass on a few things I have learned about the process.

Seeds have many benefits; the most helpful is that they do not introduce pests or problems into a garden like clones can. Another benefit seedlings can provide is health and vigor since sometimes clones can be old, tired, or even diseased without it showing visibly. When you start good hybrid cannabis seeds, you get to select a taste and effect that is more customized to your needs.

Many growers opt for feminized seeds since less selection and space is required to find a female plant worth keeping, but I feel the seed industry is partly to blame for heavily advertising feminized seeds as the easy way to grow. In my 48 years, I have found nothing in life that is easier is better and anytime you put in more hard work and effort, the results are always worth the extra details. The male plant is very important in breeding and many traits such as pest resistance, fungus resistance, and even potency are passed on from the male of the species.

The main reason people choose feminized seeds over regular seeds is space constraints. I have found many elite plants by starting just five seeds and selecting the best female, not only with TGA seeds but other breeders’ as well.

When selecting seeds, do some homework online and find out what real medical growers are actually raising in their gardens and not what’s being advertised by the Dutch re-sellers. Make sure your selecting based on grower feedback and not some huge advertisement or some fixed cannabis competition. While TGA seeds have an excellent reputation among medical growers, there are many talented breeders who not only care about their product but test extensively to ensure quality. Most are smaller breeders who cater to the medical community however.

Feminized seeds are notorious for containing high ratios of hermaphrodites and to an inexperienced grower these can wreak havoc among your sensimilla crop.

You would be surprised how many veteran growers have problems with getting seeds started. The most common mistake is to use a heat mat, which cooks the seeds. Cannabis is a weed and, as long as the seeds are viable, it’s hard to prevent them from germinating. I have had seeds germinate under the floor mat of a car in my youth and recently some of the seeds I deemed not viable germinated under my BBQ grill in gravel in the cold winter. I see people soaking or treating the seeds in god knows what products and I just shake my head.

All a seed needs to germinate is moisture and a temperature range between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit and you’re good to go. There are other factors involved though, and if you germinate your seeds between 70-80 degrees you will have a better ratio of females. Warmer temperatures tend to produce more male plants.

Many growers still use the tried and true method of soaking seeds in a paper towel. With the invention of “Rapid Rooters,” a product made up of composted organic materials bonded together with plant-derived polymers, this trend is changing. These plugs are manufactured using a scientifically controlled process that yields large populations of beneficial microbes in the medium. We started using them to clone in about three years ago and when I tried starting seeds in them, I knew I would never do it any other way.

I flip the cone-shaped rooting plugs upside down so they have more stability. They are made to fit into sectional trays, but that just adds cost and I try to keep things simple and low frills. Wash your hands well with a disinfecting soap to remove any oils or contaminants. Make a small hole with a poker and place the seed point side up into the plug about ½” into the rooter.

Place the plugs into a domed container and place it under florescent lights. I like to use plastic/Tupperware shoe boxes stacked on top of each other. They’re low cost and easy to find at any department store. Not everyone has access to a fancy grow shop at all times. Don’t let the cubes dry out. That is really the only thing to worry about. It’s best not to drown them, but as long as they don’t dry completely I have always had great success using this method.

Once the seeds sprout, I transplant them into one gallon pots filled with good quality potting soil such as Roots or Biobiz Light or even Scotts seed starting mix. Fox Farms Ocean Forest Soil does NOT work well on seedlings and is known to contain root aphids so be careful, but almost any good soil will work.

Do not feed seedlings. This is a common mistake. Once plants have established a good set of roots, I simply transplant them into the final container.

When they have matured and have five sets of leaves, you can choose to top the plant, forcing it to branch out and have multiple heads. This cutting can be rooted and once sex is established and quality determined this clone will be a duplicate copy of the mother plant. I do not top my seedlings since I prefer the tall, single cola when testing. This way the plants take up less space.

I started five Pine Queen seeds last year and found two males and three females. Clones were taken from the three females and the seed plants were grown to maturity out of the three females. One was a stunning, resinous female with an amazing taste and effect along with heavy resin production. It went on to become one of my top five favorites ever and it was found in five non-feminized seeds. These same results using just five seeds have been repeated with such strains as Third Dimension, Qleaner (featured on the cover of West Coast Cannabis) and surprisingly, our treasured Space Queen male plant was found in just 10 seeds started.

Don’t be so quick to take the easy way out. With passion and hard work, you can find many elite cuttings in non-feminized seeds and the keeper plant will be more stable, easier to grow, and something special that you selected for your needs, not some watered down genetic copy created by someone interested in a quick buck instead of the best genetics created by hard work and passion.

Remember, every elite famous cutting that growers drool over was started from a seed and saved by some grower and passed on to the masses.



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