When we try to rescue old seeds genetics or we try to start our project with seeds that have difficulty germinating food and the environment will be very important factors for proper development. Learn how to germinate marijuana seeds on your FIRST try! Reach 100% seed germination rates by using our step-by-step tutorial. Sprouting old marijuana seeds is difficult, but not impossible. Here’s how to do it and, in the process, save yourself some seed-buying money.
Germinating Old Cannabis Seeds
The seeds are made up of a hard outer shell and an embryo that is inside the hard shell. It contains a large amount of genetic material, within that small object is the future of the organism. And like animals, the fate and end result of the seed depends almost entirely on how it is treated in its early stages of life. Food and the environment will be very important factors for proper development. But this becomes more noticeable when we try to rescue old seeds genetics or we try to start our project with seeds that have difficulty germinating.
THE INHIBITION OF GERMINATION
For millennia farmers have collected the seeds and stored them under favorable conditions until the next sowing season, thus ensuring their survival through the winter. The germination inhibition mechanisms that allow seeds to survive winter before germination are often lost with domestication. Seeds of wild varieties tend to germinate slowly and unevenly due to natural adaptation to climatic fluctuations from year to year, while seeds of domesticated varieties germinate quickly and evenly. The wild characteristic of germination inhibition is no longer an advantage in a domesticated variety. Today’s farmers prefer and choose rapid and uniform germination.
All seeds are alive when they come from their mother plant. There is a plant in every seed and as long as it is alive the seed will grow even if they are old. The reason that older seeds do not germinate well is that the shell has become too hard and water cannot penetrate the shell, this process known as imbibition is the beginning of the germination process. To germinate seeds that are difficult to start or that have problems germinating you have to have a little patience. Since a seed can take between three days and three weeks to germinate.
HOW LONG ARE OLD SEEDS VIABLE?
Three important things affect the viability of an old seed: Age, Seed Type and Storage Conditions. All seeds remain viable for at least one year and most will be viable for two years. The germination rate of the seeds will start to decrease after the first year and especially if the storage conditions have not been good. The external appearance can give us some key information to know the age of the seed. A dark and bright color, which is perceived when the seed is exposed to light, will indicate that the seed is still viable. When the seeds are old they crack or fall apart when pressed.
We use sterilized gloves and tweezers to touch the seeds. To improve the chances of success it is essential not to touch the seeds directly with your hands. Touching the seeds with your hands could contaminate them with pathogens, fungi or bacteria that could unfortunately spoil your seeds.
The type of seed affects how long a seed remains viable. Some seeds like corn or peppers will have a hard time surviving beyond two years. Beans, peas, tomatoes, and carrots can remain viable for up to four years. In our case, the seeds of indica strains remain viable for less time than the seeds of sativa strains, even taking an average of between 2 to 5 years of viability. In some cases it has been possible to germinate cannabis seeds with more antiquity, up to 7 to 10 years, but it is the least likely since it depends 100% on the last factor.
Without doubt the most influential factor is the storage conditions. The old seeds will stay viable for much longer if stored carefully. Ideally, they should be stored in an airtight, opaque plastic container along with silicon gel to reduce humidity. The perfect conditions are between 6 – 8º C and a relative humidity between 20/30%. These conditions must be kept constant and without variations over time in order to achieve maximum effectiveness and viability in our seeds.
THE GERMINATION OF OLD SEEDS
As long as the small latent embryo that lives inside the shell does not detect moisture, it will not know that the right conditions exist to germinate. This process is called imbibition or initiation of germination. If the seeds have been stored for a maximum of 2 years, they should not give us any problems in the germination process. But the longer the seeds have been kept, the older they will be and the harder the shell will be. This complicates and lengthens the germination process as moisture will take longer to penetrate the shell.
Due to the risk of losing genetics, at Tropical Seeds Co we have developed and used several techniques that help the old seeds in this process and will maximize the number of individuals that we will have available for our project. To improve the chances of success it is essential not to touch the seeds directly with your hands. Touching the seeds with your hands could contaminate them with pathogens, fungi or bacteria that could unfortunately spoil your seeds.
One of the most popular techniques among growers is to hydrate the seeds by soaking them with water. You have to watch out with this technique since it has some limitations to consider when putting it into use. First of all, it is important to bear in mind that if we use water for human consumption, it will contain chlorine and other chemicals that could affect our seeds. If we want to favor this process, it is advisable to use 000 ppm water and try to keep it between 20 and 24º C avoiding direct light throughout the process. It is convenient to know that acidic Phs favor imbibition, so a Ph of 5.5 will help our seeds to start germination in a more optimal way.
The most important limitation of this technique is given by the time that the seeds can be submerged without reaching oxygen deprivation, approximately 24 hours after being submerged. To prevent the seeds from being drowned, it is good to add Oxygenated Water (Hydrogen Peroxide) at a rate of 1ml per liter. Other supplements can also speed up the germination process. Adding to the water Root Stimulator, CO2, Gibberellic Acid GA3 (0.1%) or Fulvic Acid (5ml / L) contributes to the absorption of water, you can also provide a light dose of nutrients without exceeding an EC of 0,4.
HOW CAN GIBERELIC ACID (GA3) HELP US?
Gibberellic Acid is a hormone that occurs naturally in plants. This acid promotes growth, regulates development, and stimulates plant cells, as well as increasing the germination rate of old seeds as it interrupts the dormancy period. We can find this acid on the market in a purified form as a white crystalline powder and soluble in ethanol.
To prepare our Gibberellic Acid solution we will need the following materials:
- 0.1 grams of Gibberellic Acid
- 5 ml of Isopropyl Alcohol 70% Ethanol
- 95 ml of water 000 ppm
- Useful for mixing
- Opaque pot
Since it is a very powerful hormone, it is applied in low concentrations. Take the 0.1 grams of Gibberellic Acid and dissolve them in the 5ml of Alcohol. Once it is dissolved, you just have to add the solution to the 95 ml of water and let it rest for 2 hours. This resulting solution is 100 ml at a proportion of 0.1% Gibberellic Acid. As long as we keep this solution in a cool place and without exposing it to light, it can last for several years without losing effectiveness.
START GERMINATION IN THE PERFECT WAY
Although some expert growers manage to keep for several days until the seeds have sprouted the perfect conditions of the hydration process with the old seeds soaked; adding Hydrogen Peroxide, changing the solution every few days, maintaining the temperature, etc. This would not be the most recommended due to the difficulty involved and because in the event of any problem, it could affect all the seeds at the same time. We recommend that after the first 24 – 36 hours the seeds be transferred to a germination tray with an opaque lid.
It is the classic technique of the two plates placed in the shape of a UFO but taken to the extreme and for that we must be totally careful with the hygiene and sterilization of the materials that we are going to use. If we are going to use kitchen paper to make the seed base, it is advisable to look for recycled paper, white paper contains chlorine and other chemicals that could affect germination. We will always use sterilized gloves and tweezers to touch and move the seeds, it is important to keep in mind that the less you touch the better. So I recommend that you be delicate but confident when it comes to grabbing the seeds.
The idea is that the old seeds remain in the germinator until the germination process is advanced enough for the seeds to be transferred to the substrate. As we have said previously, each seed will take its time in this process. For this reason, hygiene and conditions of high humidity and stable temperature are now more important than ever. Any failure can cause the rapid development of a fungus or pathogen that would end the life of our seeds. Before the appearance of any problem, we will have to be quick and as soon as possible remove the seeds that have had the problem. In addition, we will change the paper inside the germinator for a new one and we will place the remaining seeds again so that they continue the process.
With this technique and changing the paper for a clean one every few days it should be relatively easy to keep some old seeds in the germination process for up to one or two weeks, enough time for the seeds that were in better condition to come forward. But if all else fails, you still have the ability to scrape the shell off with sandpaper, creating micro-abrasions that will let more water into the embryo. And although it is not the most recommended, as a last hope we can still open the shell very carefully, leaving a small opening through which now, surely, water will enter the shell and hydrate the embryo.
THE LAST STEP
At this time, with the maximum number of seeds showing their roots, they can pass to the final final substrate where they will develop the first weeks of life. We like to follow the rule of less is always better than more. We will hydrate the substrate slightly before the seed is transferred with the root down without burying it too much, you can perfectly leave the seed sticking out of the substrate. If you also only use between 25 to 50% of the pot with substrate, we will avoid in the first stretching of the plant that it is too outside, simply as it grows we will bury the trunk until the pot is completed.
If the number of old seeds that have germinated is small, it is always more convenient to use a greenhouse for the first days until they show the cotyledons, at which time they can receive direct light without problems. In the case of having many seeds, it would be convenient to maintain a very high relative humidity during the first days around 80% and a ventilation and soft light. Gradually as the first real leaves begin to show, at which point we will increase the ventilation and the amount of lumens.
And we leave a final think… Do you think that the current genetic decline is negatively affecting the reputation of the seed bank sector or the way the sector respects the grower is negatively affecting genetics? Thinking back … Breeders who never raised a male? 10 new hybrids per season? Bulk quality at outrageous prices? Really … is this what the public asks for or is this what is offered? It gives a lot to think about.
No matter what type of seed you are trying to germinate, the quality of your seeds can make it even better. Explore our seeds and feel free to contact us if you have any questions to [email protected] or our Live Chat. Continue reading another of our posts that may be of interest to you; The authentic cornerstone of Breeding: Local or Pure strains, The importance of Male Cannabis Plant, Unbelievable Bomb: 100 Seeds Packs.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
An in-depth guide on how to germinate cannabis seeds. Discover different techniques on how to germinate marijuana seeds to ensure a successful cannabis crop.
Everything has a beginning.
Cannabis seeds, like all seeds, must undergo the germination process before it can grow into a weed-yielding beauty.
Countless cannabis germination guides litter the internet. However, none go as in-depth as our seed germination tutorial. Read along to learn how to germinate marijuana seeds like a pro.
You’ll discover everything you need to know about the art of germinating marijuana seeds. From the necessary equipment to different germination methods and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.
The Chemistry Behind Cannabis Seed Germination
Cannabis seeds require the right conditions to sprout.
Without the proper temperature, moisture level, or oxygen saturation, weed seeds will not germinate. Although you can readily germinate seeds outdoors, nothing beats controlled germination indoors.
Let’s take a look at the three primary elements that influence the germination rates of marijuana seeds.
Water is the key player in the process of germinating marijuana seeds.
The outer-layer of the cannabis seed acts as a protective casing that provides a two-fold defense — prevent damage to the inner embryo and prevent minimal moisture from premature germination.
However, if the marijuana seed is saturated with water, it will eventually absorb the moisture and kick-off the germination process.
Once the embryo activates through water saturation, it requires oxygen to jump-start the respiration process. Oxygen fuels respiration, which unlocks food stored within the embryo.
After the respiration process, the embryo consumes the food stores, which in turn produces energy. Energy is the necessary product that propels the germination stage onwards.
Even if cannabis seeds have access to water, oxygen, and energy, it’s all for nothing unless it has access to warmth.
As long as cannabis seeds experience 72-78°F during the initial germination process — they’ll burst forth from the ground and spread their primordial leaves under the sun or artificial light.
The three most important elements for successful weed seed germination
Why It’s Important to Germinate Weed Seeds Indoors
At its core, the germination process lays the foundation of cannabis plants.
Overall, marijuana plants will underperform without proper germination techniques compared to those that experienced ideal conditions during the germination process. Therefore, it’s always best to harness an indoor environment when germinating marijuana seeds.
What to Look For Before Germinating Marijuana Seeds
Before you begin the germination process, there are a few things you must look for.
Let’s take a brief look at each.
Damaged Marijuana Seeds
Ordering feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds online is the best way to acquire top-shelf genetics.
The seeds, however, may experience a few bumps on the road during the shipping process. With this in mind, you must look over each seed to ensure there isn’t any damage.
As long as each weed seed is undamaged, the germination process will be smooth.
The Cannabis Seed’s Age
Next, it’s a good idea to write down the date on each seed pack once received.
By doing so, you’ll have a clear understanding of a seeds’ age. Like all things, cannabis seeds lose their luster as the years go by. Cannabis seeds may remain viable for decades. However, germination rates decrease over time.
Therefore, you should only germinate seeds that are properly stored for a maximum of 6-months.
The Cannabis Seeds Color
Lastly, you must check the cannabis seed’s color.
Cannabis seeds come in different sizes and exhibit various markings across the outer seed coat. However, the seed’s color is an excellent indicator that represents seed maturity.
In other words, light green to pale white seeds are immature and are likely unviable. Therefore, always make sure that your cannabis seeds are light to dark brown color before germination.
Take a close look at the seeds that you receive for damage or discoloration
Should You Use a Seedling Heat Mat?
Many new cannabis cultivators ask if they should incorporate a seedling heat mat into the equation.
Although seedling heat mats are excellent tools to ensure fast germination, they are not always necessary. Seedling heat mats work by producing a gentle warmth that won’t rapidly dry cannabis seeds during the germination process.
However, they may be overkill if you utilize them during hot days, such as those during the summer months. Alternatively, they are essential during colder months during the winter. Therefore, you can choose to harness a seedling heat mat based on the time of year that you choose to germinate marijuana seeds.
Three Easy Methods To Germinate Cannabis Seeds Indoors
Now that you have a broad understanding of germinating marijuana seeds let’s get some weed seeds poppin‘ with a few different step-by-step tutorials.
You’ll have a better idea of which germination technique to choose once you’re done reading this section.
1. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds in Soil in Five Easy Steps
If you want to germinate weed seeds au natural — there’s no better option than using soil.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to germinate cannabis seeds in soil:
- Feminized or autoflowering cannabis seeds
- Eco-friendly “starting” container
- Heat mat (optional)
As you can see, the list above isn’t extensive in the least. In other words, germinating marijuana seeds in soil is incredibly affordable.
First, fill an eco-friendly starting container with soil.
The golden rule? Don’t pack down the soil. Remember, the soil you choose must exhibit a loamy consistency. Hardpack soil does not allow proper water drainage and oxygen circulation, which, as you learned previously, are critical components for the seed germination process.
Furthermore, if you choose to use a heat mat, place the eco-friendly containers on top to warm the medium adequately.
Label each container.
The last thing you want to do is forget what seed you placed into each container — especially if you’re germinating multiple cannabis strains at once.
Now, it’s time to sow the cannabis seed.
Create a small hole that’s roughly 0.25-inches (6mm) deep. Gently place the seed inside the hole and cover it. It does not matter which direction you put the seed — believe us when we say that the seed and gravity will sort things out.
It’s important to note that each eco pot should contain a single cannabis seed.
Gently pour a small amount of water into the area where you buried the cannabis seed.
At this point, you must ensure that the cannabis seed never dries out. Once the germination process begins — there’s no turning back. Therefore, allowing cannabis seeds to dry will guarantee inadequate germination or premature death.
Ultimately, you must monitor the soil and continuously apply water until the seed sprouts.
The final step is patience.
The moment the seed is planted, most beginners ask: how long does it take to germinate cannabis seeds, or how can I germinate my seeds fast?
Healthy cannabis seeds typically break the surface within 2-4-days. Older seeds, however, may take upwards of 12-days to sprout.
The germination phase is an incredibly vulnerable moment for cannabis seeds. Therefore, Do not — we repeat — do not dig up the seed to “check on it.”
This is what you can expect after you successfully germinate your cannabis seeds in soil
2. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds Using Paper Towels In Five Easy Steps
One of the most popular germination techniques is the paper towel method.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need for this low-budget method:
- Feminized or autoflowering seeds
- Dinner plate
- Paper towels
- Spray bottle
- Heat mat (optional)
Now that you’ve gathered the necessary supplies let’s get crackin‘.
Place two to three sheets of paper towels on top of a clean dinner plate. If you decide to use a heat mat to increase the temperature, place it under the dinner plate.
Label the dinner plate with the name of the cannabis strain of choice.
Place up to 10-seeds per plate.
You must make sure that a minimum of 1-inch adequately separates the seeds.
Spray water on the seeds until the paper towels are completely saturated. Once done, place a new layer of 2-3 paper towel sheets on top of the seeds. Use the spray bottle to soak the new paper towel addition.
Remember: the paper towels must always remain saturated with water. If allowed to dry, the cannabis seeds will fail to germinate.
The germination process should occur within 24-48-hours. After 48-hours, gently peel back the upper paper towel section. If the seeds germinate, you will see cracked-open seeds with an emerging radicle.
At this point, it’s time to move the germinated seed to its new home with a pair of tweezers. This final step requires extreme care because the radicle is fragile, and if broken, the embryo within will die.
Be careful when you use the paper towel method and make sure to label each plate
3. How to Germinate Marijuana Seeds Using Rooting Cubes in Five Easy Steps
Germinating weed seeds with rooting cubes is the ideal method for beginners and professionals alike.
Overall, rooting cubes provide the ease of the paper towel method and the soil technique’s efficiency. Let’s take a look at everything you need to when germinating marijuana seeds with rooting cubes.
- Feminized or autoflowering seeds
- Rooting cubes
- pH 6.0 water
- Rooting tray
- pH meter and pH up or down
- Heat mat (optional)
First and foremost, place the rooting cubes in the rooting tray. If you decide to use a heat mat, place the tray on top.
Next, label each rooting cube or tray with the appropriate name of each cannabis strain.
Use a pH meter and pH solution to achieve a pH of 6.0.
The amount of water you pH depends on the number of rooting cubes. Start with one cup of water if you are germinating less than ten seeds.
Germination cubes require a pH of 6.0 because they are typically made from peat moss, rockwool, or other soilless-based mediums. Therefore, a pH of 6.0 will ensure the best possible results once the seed germinates.
Each rooting cube is equipped with a pre-made hole.
Place one cannabis seed per hole. You may tear off a small piece of the substrate to cover the opening. Once done, saturate the rooting cube with pH 6.0 water.
You must make sure that the rooting cube never dries out. Remember, cannabis seeds must remain moist until they sprout to the surface.
Once again, patience is the final step when you learn how to germinate cannabis seeds with rooting cubes. Overall, cannabis seeds may emerge from the rooting cube within 2-4-days. However, germination may take as long as 7-days.
There are a lot of rooting cubes to choose from, but the germination process remains the same
How to Germinate Old Cannabis Seeds
Now that you understand how to germinate healthy cannabis seeds let’s quickly discover how to germinate old marijuana seeds.
As you become infatuated with the world of cannabis, you’ll soon begin to stack an extensive seed collection. Don’t worry; we’re all seed hoarders at heart because there are so many incredible cannabis genetics out there.
Eventually, however, you’ll notice that you have more than a few old cannabis seeds. Luckily for you — all is not lost.
Here’s our tried and true technique to give your old seeds a boost during the germination process.
Cannabis Seed Scarification
Scarring cannabis seeds is incredibly simple.
All you need is a nail file or a piece of sandpaper. Use the file or sandpaper across the surface of the seed in question. You do not need to use an immense amount of force, but instead, a few good scrapes to scar the seed’s outer shell will do.
The point of seed scarification is to allow water to penetrate the seed coating easily. By doing so, the embryo receives a jump start that initiates the germination process.
Once the seeds are scarred, you may choose one of the three above mentioned techniques to complete the germination process.
A few readily available tools to get your cannabis seed scarification done
The Best Way To Germinate Marijuana Seeds
Now that you’re done reading this guide on seed germination — which method will you choose?
The soil, paper towel, and rooting cube methods are all tried-and-true and provide excellent germination rates. Remember, cannabis seeds are an investment, and you must use the best germination method possible to ensure a healthy cannabis crop.
You have one chance to germinate each seed the right way, and by using this guide, you’ll make each seed count.
The Good Germin’: How To Germinate Old Weed Seeds And Bring Them Back To Life
Before there were marijuana clones and mother plants, there were marijuana seeds, the foundation of the cannabis industry. And here’s some big news for you: The price of quality marijuana seeds is going up while availability is going down.
If you were waiting to buy seeds of the famous, scintillating heritage or landrace marijuana strains we’ve been featuring, now’s the time. I’ve been tracking seed prices of quality strains sold by reliable cannabis seed resellers, and I’ve found that in the past year, prices have gone up an average of 30 percent.
Now, let’s talk about the challenge of germinating old, stale, or otherwise defective marijuana seeds.
No matter if you get your marijuana seeds from seeded buds (sometimes called bag seed), from seed resellers, from friends, or from dispensaries, seeds from different strains can show substantial variation in size and minor variation in shape. What you should be concerned about are seeds that don’t look like the seeds in the main photo accompanying this article.
Properly bred, dark-colored and patterned marijuana seeds like the ones in the above photo are seeds that by far possess the highest germination rate and produce plants with the most vitality and performance.
But if your cannabis seeds are pale, green, gray, shrunken, split, dried out, misshapen, poorly marked, or possess a hazy sheen (kind of like old wax that dried on a car before it could be buffed out), then those are defective cannabis seeds. Take a look at the below photo, which shows defective cannabis seeds that are far less likely to germinate.
Green, split seeds and seeds that aren’t properly shaped (mature cannabis seeds should look like miniature footballs) are immature seeds that didn’t fully ripen before the buds they were forming in were harvested. These seeds are a waste of your time.
Seed defects develop if your seeds have been stored improperly, or if the seeds are more than 4–5 years old. Also, if you get cannabis seeds from the less-reputable resellers, you might receive old or otherwise defective seeds. I’ve seen growers who eagerly awaited their seed order, only to be disappointed when they tore into seed packs to discover easily identifiable duds.
In many cases, the disreputable seed seller won’t refund the order or send a replacement order, and the would-be grower is left with a mixture of acceptable-looking seeds and defective ones.
Seeds that are grayish and sheeny are old seeds, and likely desiccated. Old seeds sometimes split or crack. If seeds of any shape are pale, light brown, gray, split, or cracked, they’re defective. But you may be able to salvage some of them so they grow out into plants that yield buds.
Tried And Tested Methods For Getting Old Seeds To Germinate. But Do These Methods Work?
Growers offer many tactics for germinating old seeds, and I’ve tried all their suggestions. I want to emphasize from the outset, if cannabis seeds are grossly immature, they’re unlikely to ever germinate, and it’s not worth trying to. For that reason, the following germination suggestions are for seeds that were allowed to mature and ripen fully before they were harvested.
Method 1: One of the most generic suggestions for germinating old, stale seeds is to soak them in reverse osmosis water pH adjusted to 6.1 for 24–48 hours, before placing the seeds into a rockwool cube, rapid rooter, peat pot or other germination media.
Result: I’ve seen no benefit from this suggestion.
Method 2: This one is rather extreme and time consuming. It involves scraping off the outer layer of the seed, sometimes including the shell itself, exposing the embryo and cotyledon, which are usually white, gray-white or greenish-white.
You then place the unshelled seed material into your regular germination media. Obviously, this is a severe tactic, and you shouldn’t expect it to work. But if the alternative is to not germinate the seeds at all, it’s worth a try anyway. If it doesn’t work, you’ve lost nothing. If it works, you’re a winner.
Result: It worked for me about 15 percent of the time I tried it on old seeds.
Method 3: Another radical tactic is to manually split one side of the seed shell, narrowly exposing the embryo and other internal material that is usually protected by the hard outer shell. The split seed is immediately placed in the usual germination media.
Result: My success rate for this tactic has also been about 15 percent.
Method 4: Over the years, I’ve seen companies offer “old seed soak kits” that allegedly contain special materials that stimulate old seeds to germinate. I contacted those companies and asked for third-party test data and ingredients information so I could ascertain if its products have any validity. Strange that the customer service reps refuse to provide information beyond vague, meaningless verbiage such as, “Our product contains bio-catalysts.”
They also refused to provide product samples. I have to tell you, if a hydroponics manufacturer or seeds producer isn’t confident enough in their products to provide samples for testing, this is an indication that their products are no good.
Result: Grower friends of mine bought several brands of “old seed soak” products and found them to be no more efficacious than soaking old seeds in pH-balanced reverse osmosis water, or just putting unsoaked old seeds into germination media.
If “seed soaker” products contain anything useful at all, it would likely be gibberellic acid, which has been used to treat marijuana seeds to induce germination, vitality and female gender.
Method 5: I’ve done experiments with stale, old seeds using a gibberellic acid pre-soak (i.e., adding gibberellic acid to get the soak solution to 100–150 parts per million), pH adjusted to 6.1, versus reverse osmosis water at pH 6.1.
Result: I had a marginally better germination rate from the gibberellic-treated seeds.
There are other experiments you can conduct if you have old seeds and you want to see if there’s any hope for them. Experiment with using seedling heat mats at a slightly higher temperature than for fresh marijuana seeds. Another tactic is to place the seeds less deep in germination media than you normally would, at about 1/4 inch (normal depth is about 1/2 inch).
You can try placing a T5 high-output fluorescent lamp over them even before they germinate, as if the light can coax them back from the dead like Jesus did with Lazarus.
Of all these methods, one thing’s for sure: Always use proper germination techniques, materials and procedures, regardless of the condition of your marijuana seeds.
Old Colombian Gold: After Germination, More Challenges
If old, stale seeds germinate at all, it usually happens several days after fresh seeds germinate. Expect fresh seeds to sprout 1–5 days after you start trying to generate them. But I’ve seen old, stale seeds that germinated after 13 days.
Even if you manage to coax defective seeds to germinate, you still have some challenges. Here’s an example of what I mean…
I had rare seeds given to me back in 2011. They were allegedly pure Colombian Gold genetics sourced from a lid of partially seeded buds in the early 1980s. Proper storage for cannabis seeds is in an airtight container in the non-freezer part of a refrigerator, and that’s where these had been since they were sourced.
The person who gave me the seeds said the last time he’d grown them was 2003. He had a 50 percent germination rate, but the strain was too difficult to grow outdoors where he lived due to climate conditions and because his locale’s high latitude is the wrong growing condition for a tropical sativa like Colombian Gold. After that failure, he put the remaining seeds back in the refrigerator and forgot about them.
I didn’t expect much from those old seeds. They were so tiny, about the size of a pinhead, and were pale gray, with that sad, dull sheen that characterizes old or dead cannabis seeds.
Still, Colombian Gold is a valuable strain and I had an indoor grow room I could easily control to give that rare heritage strain the environment it needed in which to thrive. I soaked the seeds for 24 hours in reverse osmosis water to which I’d added a very tiny amount of the vitamin B booster B-52, which is useful whenever you have stressed plants or seeds.
I planted 17 seeds about 1/4-inch deep in rockwool cubes and kept the seedling heat mat at 80°F. After five days, I saw no germination. But at day seven, one seedling popped its head above the cube, and by day 11 I had five Colombian Gold seedlings.
Five seedlings aren’t enough for a grow op, so I started fresh seeds of other sativa strains. Those seeds germinated in three days or fewer.
I measured performance of the Colombian Gold seedlings against the seedlings grown from fresh seeds. Two of the Colombian Gold seedlings were mutants — their early set of true leaves failed to develop properly, and the next sets showed the same mutation, so I terminated them.
One thing to expect from stale, old seeds: They often show mutations. Also, expect weak growth and dullness. The three remaining Colombian Gold seedlings popped their heads above the rockwool, developed 2–4 sets of normal leaves, then stalled.
As the seedlings from other strains gained height every day and their leaves grew larger, the Colombian Gold seedlings went into suspended animation. I tried giving them varying doses of light intensity and wavelength. I kept them on the seedling heat mat. After three weeks, when seedlings from fresh seeds were nearing a foot or more in height, only one Colombian Gold seedling had grown taller, but it was still several inches behind the fresh-seed seedlings.
I ended up keeping only one Colombian Gold female. It never had the vigor, root development, bud development, stalk sturdiness or harvest weight that fresh seeds of the same strain would have yielded.
This poor little female clearly lacked vitality from its earliest days, and generally plants grown from old seeds often have to be babied along. This means giving them extra doses of vitamin B, less light intensity than the other plants in the garden, more staking and other structural supports, more carbohydrates (like Bud Candy and Microbial Munch), and more potassium silicate (like Rhino Skin) to strengthen their weak stalks.
These compromised plants lack vigor, and may take longer to mature and develop in both grow phase and bloom phase. They might have hermaphroditic tendencies, weak stalks, insufficient root development, or be especially prone to spider mites, gray mold, pythium root rot and other attackers.
I had to baby that Colombian Gold, but she rewarded me with authentic sativa buds that were long, thin, and a beautiful golden color. The high was stellar and very 1970s-ish.
If the plant had been stronger and more vital, I would have kept it as a mother plant or waited until I had suitable male pollen before breeding her. But she was an experiment, the seed she came from had lain dormant for too long, so her adult life was feeble. I was lucky to get any nice buds from her at all.
Mind you, old and stale seeds aren’t always a dead end. I’ve had nine-year-old marijuana seeds that sprouted within seven days and grew out to be lovely, strong, heavyweight marijuana plants. And those seeds had been stored in a plastic bag inside a sock in a drawer in someone’s bedroom!
The message here is that if you have defective seeds that are immature, don’t waste time on them. But if you have old seeds, there’s little harm in trying the tactics I’ve discussed to see if you can grow out any of them. You might be able to get rare genetic treasure from old marijuana seeds, which makes it worth the effort to try to germinate them.
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