If you’ve ever looked into growing your own marijuana – legal or otherwise – you’ve probably come across the term “feminized seed” at least once or twice. These seeds are a staple of cannabis farmers everywhere, and they’re especially helpful to home growers. But what are they?
Why do growers use feminized seeds?
First, some background. Plants, including cannabis, come in three genders: male, female, and hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodites carry features of both male and female plants and, in some cases, are able to pollinate themselves.
Normally, a male plant produces pollen that is lifted to a female plant by wind, birds, or other carriers. The pollen would then allow the female to produce seeds. Some of those seeds would be male, some female, and the cycle would continue down the generations.
Feminized seeds provide more plentiful, stronger cannabis
But there’s a critical problem with this approach to cultivation. Female marijuana plants produce much more, and much more potent pot than male plants. Males are good for producing pollen, but they’re not ideal for producing good product.
Feminized seeds allow farmers to short-circuit the whole process and produce only female plants. It should be noted though, that feminized seeds are not the same as female seeds. They are “feminized” and come from a hermaphrodite plant.
The idea behind feminization is to stress a female plant to the point it becomes a hermaphrodite and begins producing pollen. Once that happens, the plant can pollinate itself, and the resulting seeds are feminized. Again, they’re not female, though growers and others often use the word.
Instead, these feminized seeds are designed to produce female plants. The process isn’t perfect, so males are possible, but they’re rare. That means more marijuana for growers, more THC, and more profit.
Feminized seeds widely available
Feminized seeds are widespread in the cannabis industry, both on the legal market and the black market. These seeds were once much more expensive than regular seeds, but prices now rival those of the regular variety.
Feminization isn’t original to weed. It was designed as a method of growing crops and other plants more efficiently. It’s an easy cycle to maintain, since feminized seeds can be stored and grown under normal conditions and require no special care.
No genetic engineering is involved
But it’s important to bust one common myth about feminized seeds: They are not a form of “genetic engineering.” There is no genetically engineered or modified marijuana anywhere on the planet, urban legends notwithstanding. And even if there were, most claims about the supposed dangers of GMOs are themselves the product of conspiracy theories.
Rather, these seeds result from selective breeding, a central tenet of all agriculture for thousands of years. Plants are crossbred or grown under special conditions in order to produce the most useful offspring. Selective breeding involves no “tweaking” of DNA or “unnatural” changes to plant biology.
So who should use feminized seeds? Well, almost anyone can benefit from them, but they’re especially helpful for medical marijuana patients and other home growers. They take the male plant out of the equation, making it possible to grow only plants that produce good bud, rather than growing and cross-pollinating multiple plants.
Professional cultivators tailor their seeds to their needs, but feminized seeds are easily the most popular variety among small growers. Best of all, they come in almost every conceivable strain – assuming you can get your hands on them.