This article was originally published on 2Fast4Buds and appears here with permission.
Choosing the right seed requires more than just selecting Sativa or Indica, or even picking the right strain. Photoperiod, feminized, autoflower, regular- the varieties seem endless. In this article, Fast Buds will break down the differences to help you choose the best seed for your garden. Before we dive into exactly the differences between autoflowering, feminized, and regular cannabis seeds let's quickly run over what good cannabis seeds look like and how you can identify the best seeds of the bunch.
1. HOW TO IDENTIFY HEALTHY CANNABIS SEEDS THAT ARE READY FOR GERMINATION
Here at fast buds we always ensure that every single one of the seeds is perfectly mature and ready for germination. But, not every seed-supplying company is as careful with their products. You can tell a lot about the maturity and health of a cannabis seed by simply looking at it. Ganja seeds can vary a bunch in appearance ranging in terms of color, shape, and size. When it comes to color, seeds can range from the light greenish through to dark brown color with a tiger-striped appearance. The lighter the color of the seed, the earlier it has been harvested. These lighter-colored seeds will often have a much softer outer shell and can be easily squished between your fingers. To ensure the best chance of germination you should be looking for dark brown seeds. While ready to plant cannabis seeds do not always present a tiger stripe or turtle shell pattern and can just be a uniform dark brown, mature seeds usually show some sort of patterning.
Seeds that have been packed away for months on end will usually show a darker brown appearance and this can also be affected by oxidation and lighting conditions. The size of a seed does not give you very much information about the healthy seed. Weed seeds can range from very small to rather large depending on which strain has produced them. The shape of the seed gives us much more information. You should be looking for a teardrop-shaped body that is around and at one end and pointy at the other. Healthy seeds also usually come with a waxy outer coating, whereas immature or unhealthy seeds will look dull under the light. And then there's the float test. If you place seeds in a cup of water and leave them for two hours, all the healthy seeds will sink to the bottom.
2. AUTOFLOWERING SEEDS
These are Fast Buds specialty, and the easiest kind of seed to grow. To start, all of Fast Buds' autoflower seeds are feminized (sometimes referred to as autofem), meaning they'll grow into high-THC bud-producing plants. What separates auto seeds from plain feminized seeds is how fast they can grow and flower. All cannabis plants grow in two main phases, vegetation, and flowering. Vegetation is where the plant builds up its frame to support large flowers. Flowering is where plant puberty kicks into gear, and those sticky buds start popping. If growing regular or feminized seeds the transition from vegging to flowering is controlled by light.
The plant remains vegging so long as it receives around or more than 18 hours of light. Once that number drops, the plant switches mode and kicks bud-production into high gear. If these seeds are grown outdoors, the Earth's axis controls the light and plants will begin to flower as the days become shorter during the late summer and fall. If grown indoors, the grower can control this light schedule to enter flowering only when they choose to do so.
Autoflowers will grow and flower under any light cycle.
Autoflower seeds are different. They enter flowering according to their pre-programmed genetic clock, usually three to four weeks after germination. This gives them the shortest lifecycle of any variety of cannabis seed. Strains like Fast Buds' Blackberry can grow to full maturity in nine weeks. Growers who want to harvest quickly, or perform multiple harvests each year, prefer autoflowers.
For example, Fast Buds' growers in certain equatorial countries live in climates so wet and rainy that the growing season only lasts three months. Feminized and regular cannabis plants die before they can reach maturity. Autoflowers, on the other hand, can easily grow from seed to harvest in three months. The growers contacted Fast Buds to tell us about their situation, and we set them up with a variety of seeds from our catalog, including LSD-25, Girl Scout Cookies, and CBD Crack which can all be harvested before the rainy season.
Another advantage is that growers can stagger autoflowering grows to harvest every three to six weeks. Regular and feminized seeds require that vegging and flowering plants be kept in separate areas, as they have very different lighting requirements. Many growers don't have the space to keep their plants in two different tents. Autoflowers can be kept in one tent regardless of where they are in their lifecycle. Say someone had room for four plants in their indoor-area. By planting one seed a month, they could ensure they harvest every four weeks without fail- AKA the eternal harvest. For a more in-depth explanation, don't miss our All About Autoflowers series. Part one describes what makes autoflowering cannabis special. Part 2 goes over the advantages and disadvantages of growing autolfowers. Finally, part three discusses the history and breeding of these new and novel seeds.
3. REGULAR SEEDS
Regular seeds are, as you might imagine, normal seeds you'd place in the ground, just like any other plant. Regular seeds are the most stable variety available, allowing growers to craft the perfect environment for their plant. Their predictability makes them the seed variety of choice for those who absolutely must grow the same crop every time. This stability comes with a price. Regular seeds are produced by pollinating female cannabis plants and collecting the seeds. However, half of those seeds will grow into male plants, which produce none of the THC-rich flowers we're looking for.
Regular seeds will often produce a 50/50 female and male offspring.
After germinating regular marijuana seeds, cultivators must wait for these unproductive plants to express male traits and then destroy them. Males left in the same space as females will pollinate them, ending flower production early. Since regular seeds require growers to sacrifice half of their crop, they have to plant twice the number they need. This extra labor is just not worth the extra genetic stability for many, particularly those with limited space planting for personal use.
4. FEMINIZED SEEDS (FEMINISED FOR YOU COMMONWEALTH FOLK)
In order to avoid sacrificing half of the seeds they germinate, many growers opt for feminized seeds, which almost always grow into healthy, female adults. How are these seeds created? When left in a stressed and in a single-sex environment, cannabis plants will start expressing traits of the opposite gender. So a female cannabis plant can produce pollen to fertilize itself. These seeds produced by these self-pollinated females only contain DNA from the mother, and will grow female, like the mother.
Feminized seeds will grow into female cannabis plants.
All this gender-bending and self-polinization takes its toll. In order to create feminized seeds, breeders select plants from lines that are prone to expressing hermaphroditic traits, which can appear in their offspring. So, while you won't need to sacrifice half your plants if you grow feminized seeds, you may end up with a hermaphroditic plant that can fertilize and destroy your whole crop if you don't remove it from your tent or garden.
5. ARE AUTOFLOWERING SEEDS RIGHT FOR YOU?
We'll leave you with one last advantage to consider. Autoflowering plants grow shorter than other varieties. Instead of a tree, they often resemble a bush. This makes them perfect for those with limited space who value discretion. A one meter tall Fast Buds' Blue Dream'Matic is much easier to tend to in secret than its two-meter tall regular or feminized cousins.
Regardless of your situation, we hope this guide helps you choose the right seed for your tent or garden. Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive a 20% discount on your first order, and stay up to date on the latest deals from Fast Buds: American Autoflowers.
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