Cannabis Seed Germination Rate

This definition explains the meaning of Germination and why it matters when planting a seed. Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point. Do seeds go bad? Let's find out! White cannabis seeds vs dark cannabis seeds. Should cannabis seed germination and growth be affected by seed colour or seed appearance?

Germination

Germination is the budding of a seed after it has been planted in soil and remained dormant for a certain period of time. For plants that reproduce through seeds and pollen, the seeds eventually grow into young plants through the process of seed germination. When seeds are planted, they remain inactive until conditions are suitable for germination.

For germination to occur various conditions must be met such as the proper amounts of water, humidity, oxygen, temperature, and light. When these conditions are met, the seed begins to enlarge as it takes in water and oxygen. The seed’s coat breaks open and a root, or radicle, emerges from the seed, which is followed by a plant shoot. This initial stage of a plant’s development is germination.

Growers tend to want to speed up the germination process by triggering or forcing their seeds out of their dormant state so they begin to grow. This is often done by keeping the seeds moist by soaking them and then housing them in a dampened paper towel.

Germination rates vary between plants, with carrots, celery, peppers, and okra being amongst the most difficult at 50 to 55 percent, meaning only 5 out of 10 seeds will germinate successfully. Cannabis, cucumber, lettuce, peas, turnips, and watermelon having a more successful germination rate of 80 percent.

Seeds can take anywhere from 3 to 14 days to germinate depending on the plant and the method of germination (soil versus hydroponics).

Maximum Yield Explains Germination

In horticulture, germination is a form of propagation that occurs in most plants. The process can be initiated by the absorption of water and oxygen, coupled with the seed’s surrounding temperature, light sensitivity and intensity, and humidity.

Before germination occurs, the seed does not have the required nutrients for plant growth. When the seed receives the nutrients and water required, then enzymes inside the seed are activated and the process of growth begins.

First, a root known as the radicle emerges from the seed which allows the plant access to water. Next, shoots, or plumules, begin to grow above ground, including the stem and leaves that harness the sun’s energy for further development.

There are several factors that can affect the germination process. Water and humidity are vital to germination because the seed must undergo imbibition to stimulate root growth. However, too much water can be a harmful because oxygen may not reach the growing seed.

Additionally, different seeds require different temperatures for optimum growth. Some only grow in cold temperatures while others require high temperatures.

Upon reaching the surface, plants undergo a light-dependent transformation called photomorphogenesis, so light intensity also affects the germination process. For example, cannabis seeds require warm temperatures and lots of cool light, often delivered artificially through the use of grow lights.

Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?

M any pot fans are starting to look into growing their own supply. After all, how hard can it be? Nature does it all the time, and it doesn’t even have any grow light options other than the sun. While you may not be producing showroom quality nugs, there’s a pride that comes with tending to your own garden and snipping buds straight off the branch. Plus, you can’t beat the price.

Plenty of online stores sell seeds so it’s pretty easy to pick your favorite strains to start. However, if it’s been a while since your seeds arrived and they’re not yet planted, you can forgive yourself for wondering if maybe you’ve waited too long. After all, how long do marijuana seeds last? Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point.

Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?

First off, marijuana seeds are the same as many other plant’s seeds. A waxy outer shell called the seed coat protects the embryonic shoot, stem, and root contained within, which are nourished by a nutrient-rich oil surrounding them. As long as the shell remains intact and the plant inside doesn’t dry out or get damaged, your seed can still grow into a cannabis plant.

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However, this shell will not last forever. Once it dries out and hardens the seed coat can crack and expose the embryonic plant to damage. Or the seed coat hardens to the point that it no longer lets in moisture. In both cases, the seed is no longer viable.

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Of course, there is some debate in the cannabis community over how long do marijuana seeds last. Some growers claim that when stored in the ideal conditions, marijuana seeds can last anywhere from six months to a year after packing and still spout once placed in the soil. Other producers believe that marijuana seeds can last up to a decade if properly refrigerated in the right containers.

Most seed producers agree that on average three to six years is a maximum for viability, and every day that the seed is stored drops the chances of it germinating just a little bit.

So how long do marijuana seeds last? In general, six months is the maximum if you’re looking for a nearly 100% germination rate. After three years, you’re looking at a germination rate of around 50%.

What constitutes “ideal conditions” for cannabis seed storage also depends on the genetics of that particular plant. Some cannabis strains produce a much hardier, longer-lasting marijuana seed that can last for years and still stretch their leaves once planted. Others produce seeds that need to quickly return to the soil.

How Marijuana Seeds Are Stored

In terms of long term storage for your marijuana seeds, there are four main factors to consider:

When it comes to how long marijuana seeds last, temperature is the main factor. In nature, heat tells the seed that winter’s over and it’s time to start sprouting. If your marijuana seed’s not in the soil, this means that the plant matter inside the marijuana seed will begin to germinate and then rot.

41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is the absolute warmest you want your storage spot to be, with the sweet spot being somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are refrigerating your marijuana seeds, they’ll last the longest in a separate unit or a spot near the back. Every time you open your fridge you are changing the temperature which can harm the seeds over time.

Humidity

Humidity is also your enemy when it comes to how long your marijuana seeds will last. When a seed gets wet, it cracks open to allow the sprout and root out. This will let in rot if the seed isn’t planted. A humidity level of about 5% is the maximum you want to allow.

Light

Much like heat and humidity, light tells that seed to wake up because it’s time to spring forth.

In order to keep your seeds from going bad, it’s best to keep them stored in a dark container in order to avoid light. photo credit

By keeping your seeds in a dark or opaque container, they’ll keep dozing long term. Light can also damage the surface of the marijuana seed, which in turn will damage what’s stored underneath, causing your marijuana seed to go bad.

Besides being dark, for your marijuana seeds to last long term, you want to expose them to as little oxygen and carbon dioxide as possible. These gasses are what growing plants breathe, as well as the pests that consume them. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your marijuana seeds, make sure your container is as airtight as possible. If you can vacuum seal them, even better.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on planting in the next few months, regular mailing envelopes will do in a pinch. They’ll keep the marijuana seeds out of the light and dry, so all you have to do is store them in a cool place. Plus, envelopes make it easy to label your strains so that you can keep them separate.

How To Tell If Your Marijuana Seeds Are Still Healthy?

What should you do if you find some old seeds and have no idea how long they were stored? Maybe past you put them in a freezer bag in the hopes of keeping your favorite strain alive, or found a couple at the bottom of a baggie that the trimmer missed.

How do you know if your marijuana seed has gone bad, or if it’s healthy and viable to grow into a plant? There are four easy ways to check if your marijuana seed is still good.

Dark Color

If your seeds are dark brown, black, or gray, that’s a very good sign. The shell is intact and uncompromised, which means the genetic material inside has been kept safe.

Seeds should have a dark color. If seeds are still green they are probably not ready yet. photo credit

Viable seeds should also have stripes or spots all the way around. If the seeds are white or green, they’re most likely still immature.

Waxy Coating

Check if the seed still has a waxy coating. A healthy seed should have a slight sheen to it, as though it’s been oiled. This means the seed still can retain moisture.

Hard Shell

If the seed is still healthy, you should be able to lightly squeeze it without it crunching between your fingers. If the shell has no give and splits or splinters under light pressure, then your marijuana seed has gone bad and has no chance in the soil.

See also  Dead Cannabis Seed

Cracks or Holes

If there are any cracks or holes anywhere on the shell, your marijuana seed’s likely gone bad and will most likely not sprout. Bacteria and other harmful lifeforms can find their way into the seed, or it will dry out.

The True Test of a Cannabis Seed

Of course, the best way to test whether your seeds will sprout is to plant them and see. If some green shoots climb their way out of the soil after a couple of days or weeks, you’ve got your answer.

Storing marijuana seeds is a great way to make sure you always have your favorite strains on hand, as well as to keep yourself stocked up on plants for the long haul. Luckily, marijuana seeds can last for years as long as you make sure your seeds are cool, dry, airtight, and out of sight. There’s no better time than now to learn a new skill, so let’s see how green your thumb can get.

How Do You Tell If a Seed is Good or Bad?

If the seed is dark with stripes or spots all the way around, has a waxy shell that doesn’t crack when you give it a light squeeze, and doesn’t have any visible cracks or holes, it’s probably still good. If there are holes in the shell, it’s dry, or especially pale, your marijuana seed’s probably gone bad.

Do Autoflower Seeds Go Bad?

All marijuana seeds can go bad, including autoflower seeds. However, by keeping your seeds at a stable 38 degrees Fahrenheit and at around 5% humidity, as well as airtight and out of the light, your seeds may last up to 5 years or more.

How do you like to store your seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Author

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

Dark vs white cannabis seed germination test

One common question from growers is whether white cannabis seeds or dark cannabis seeds have different germination rates. When you compare cannabis seeds you may have noticed that the seeds are rarely identical. Instead you may see a range of different sizes and colours. The differences in size, colour and appearance often produce debate among growers. Why do the cannabis seeds look different and do these differences result in slightly different growth characteristics in the plants which grow from them?

Dark vs white cannabis seeds germination

In the video below you can see a germination comparison. On the left hand side, you can see 9 white Think Different autoflowering seeds. On the right hand side there are 9 dark coloured Think Different seeds.

The autoflower seeds all came from the same batch, meaning that they were produced from the same parent genetics under the same conditions. Seeds were chosen simply on the basis of their appearance. 9 white cannabis seeds and 9 dark coloured Think Different seeds were selected. They were planted in moist (but never soaked) soil and a time lapse video was made.

Note that the white cannabis seeds on the left hand side were the first seeds to germinate, with 8 out of 9 seeds sprouting pretty quickly. In the end all 9 seeds germinated on both sides, which was a 100% score. In terms of white seeds vs dark seeds (cannabis), there was no difference in the germination rates.

Does the colour of your cannabis seeds really matter?

The time lapse video shows that the colour of your cannabis seeds doesn’t have any impact on their germination rates. The colour of the shell casing is simply not an indication of the type of genetics contained inside. Nor is the colour or appearance of the exterior of the cannabis seed a good indicator of any other property, such as the future plant sex, size or potency. Only the genetic material inside the cannabis seed really determines the types of result that you can expect.

Black cannabis seeds germination test results

The dark cannabis seeds (on the right hand side in the video) showed the same germination rate as the white cannabis seeds (left hand side). However, the white cannabis seeds appeared to germinate a little bit faster than the dark cannabis seeds.

White cannabis seeds germination test results

Can white cannabis seeds germinate? One curious result from the white vs dark seeds cannabis video was that the white cannabis seeds appeared to germinate slightly faster than the dark cannabis seeds. This is interesting, since the seeds all contain the same Think Different autoflowering genetics from a recent cannabis seed batch.

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One suggestion is that the white cannabis seeds may have a slightly softer shell, allowing the white cannabis seeds a slightly faster germination. The experiment was repeated twice more. On each occasion, the seed germination rates were the same, but the white seeds tended to germinate faster.

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The best ways to germinate cannabis seeds

Why are some cannabis seeds white and some black?

Even cannabis seeds produced from the same branch of a plant can have quite different appearances. Size, as well as shape and colour can vary. Some cannabis strains can produce seeds that have certain appearance characteristics. White Widow seeds, for example, can often be very small and pale. Frisian Dew seeds can have a slightly grey colour.

There have been many theories about how the size, shape and colour of cannabis seeds can affect the plants which they eventually produce. In reality, it’s the cannabis genetics inside the seed case which really determines the results that you can expect. The shell of the seed and the markings on it are purely cosmetic and don’t give any clues to the results you can expect.

In the years before Dutch Passion invented feminised cannabis seeds, people would often try to predict which seeds would produce female plants. Of course, this was impossible. But it didn’t stop people going to great lengths, even measuring the weight of individual seeds in an attempt to derive some knowledge from the seeds physical appearance/size.

Related:
What does the appearance of cannabis seeds indicate?

Is the colour of seeds a cosmetic difference only?

Some dark cannabis seeds have black lines on them (tiger prints), giving them a distinctive appearance. Other seeds have no significant patterns or markings on them at all. Dark black cannabis seeds can be occasionally seen.

You may also see light vs dark cannabis seeds produced from the same plant. But it’s important to note that cosmetic differences between the seed casing is not a factor which defines how the cannabis seeds grow or germinate.

The genetic material in the soft plant tissue inside the seeds is what really determines the type, size, sex and potency of the cannabis you will eventually grow. These genetics, along with the environment you provide, will control the terpenes, cannabinoids, yield and potency of your eventual cannabis harvest.

Why are some cannabis seeds white and some black? It’s just the way that nature has evolved. Seeds from all kinds of plants and trees show similar variations in their appearance.

What should you look out for in a cannabis seed?

Rather than looking at the appearance of a cannabis seed, you should focus more on the quality of breeding which has gone into the seed. Some growers think that only the largest, tiger-striped cannabis seeds will go on to produce the best plants. Yet some strains will never produce seeds like that.

Time spent researching your cannabis seeds and cannabis seed supplier is time wisely spent. Look for a seed supplier with a good track record in cannabis breeding. Preferably look for a cannabis seed supplier that has been around for a long time with a few cannabis cups and plenty of online reference grows for you to check out before you spend your cash.

Knowing whether you prefer e.g. a Kush, a THC rich vs CBD rich strain, a fruity strain or a Skunk strain is a good place to start. If the array of cannabis seed choices can seem overwhelming, the following article may help you select the best strain for you.

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How to choose the best cannabis strains for you

Once you have the best cannabis seeds for you, it’s worth ensuring you get maximum germination rates with a good germination method. The preferred Dutch Passion way to germinate cannabis seeds is with moist (but never soaked) cotton pads. If you spot any issue during the growth of your cannabis seeds, we highly recommend to refer to our illustrated guide featuring the key nutrient deficiencies and excesses symptoms and how to cure them.

White cannabis seeds vs dark cannabis seeds

We hope the germination video is a useful illustration of the fact that there is little useful information that can be conveyed by the colour or darkness of a cannabis seed.

Each cannabis strain can produce subtle differences in the size and appearance of their cannabis seeds. You can even expect to see differences between cannabis seeds produced from the same plant. Don’t worry about trying to read too much into cannabis seed appearance. Instead, do your research carefully and select the best cannabis seeds for your particular needs and your specific grow situation. Enjoy growing and good luck!