Mature vs immature cannabis seeds

How to Identify Quality Cannabis Seeds

Like with any crop, a successful cannabis harvest starts with high-quality seeds but knowing how to identify the best ones can be tricky even for growers with years of experience. To help give you an idea of what to look for when preparing for your marijuana garden, here we talk about how to identify quality cannabis seeds on sight.

1. Appearance & Color

High-quality seeds have certain aesthetic qualities that set them apart from seeds that aren’t as healthy. The most viable seeds are brown, tan, or even black, as immature seeds are lighter colors like white, yellow, and pale green. Some people even claim that the best seeds feature dark spots or stripe patterns and that there should be a healthy sheen on the surface when held under light, like a fresh coat of wax.

2. Size & Shape

You can identify quality cannabis seeds by their size and shape, especially when you can compare several seeds side-by-side. The largest seeds with the most symmetrical round or teardrop-shape are the best quality, while immature seeds are small and often have an irregular shape.

3. Hardness & Durability

The best seeds have a hard outer shell with a smooth, uncracked surface, while undesirable seeds have soft surfaces that crinkle, crack, or crumble completely quite easily.

4. Age

If you know how old the (fully mature) seeds are you’ll be able to have a better idea of viable they are. Like all genetic material, seeds degrade over time, so freshly harvested seeds are often more viable than ones that are months or years old. You should store seeds in a cool, dark place (even a freezer) so they don’t rot or get mold.

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5. Float Test

The ​ “ float test” is an easy way to check if a seed is viable or not. It’s as simple as dropping a seed into just enough distilled water to see if it has enough mass to sink within an hour or two, and if it does, then it generally has a better chance of germinating than seeds that float. You should do this right before you plant the seed because the water saturation can cause it to mold or decay.

Choosing seeds to sprout-mature vs slightly immature

We all have a bias towards sprouting large dark brown tiger striped fully mature seeds. I’ve wondered whether this makes a difference, if the less mature, whitish seeds produce plants that are just as good. I decided to pay attention this year and record what happened. This isn’t a scientific study but it is my observations.

I found the less mature seeds were more likely to sprout seedlings with defects. Problems pushing out of their seed shells. Often the first couple sets of leaves would be deformed and asymmetrical. Germination rates were fine but slightly lower then from the fully mature brown seed.

Once the plants grew bigger, developed their 3rd, 4th, set of true leaves they were normal vigorous cannabis plants. Absolutely no difference in development or growth rate. I’m sure other people have tested this before but I couldn’t find any sources, it seems like something so basic would have been discussed more often.

My takeaway is that I’d still rather start from fully mature seed but it doesn’t make that big of a difference. If you have very few seeds of a strain and they are borderline mature you’ll want to baby them, maybe give them some help cracking out of their shells.

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As far as seed size goes, the best reason for a bias towards larger seeds is that larger seeds will produce larger bracts which will contain more resin glands per bract thus more resin. Large seeds are more likely to be from Afghan dominate plants, more oily fuel smell and wider leaves and chunkier buds. Smaller seeds are often from plants with narrower leaves, or plants with purple colors and fruit/sweet vs fuel/skunk. This is a huge generalization and can be proven wrong plenty of times but it seems to be the overall trend.