How to Tell if Cannabis Seeds are Good or Bad
Ultimately, you can use the senses of sight, feel, taste and smell to determine whether cannabis seeds are good or bad. You want to make sure you don’t have seeds that have been hastily processed, or damaged for some other reason.
To find out if you have duds (seeds with a low germination rate that will never be ready to plant) or winners, whether you have seeds that will actually sprout or remain permanently dormant, apply these senses to your investigation.
Use a Magnifying Glass to Give the Sight Test
- The best seeds are big and fat with a rounded shape
- The rounder and fatter, the better likelihood that they will sprout.
- The biggest and the chunkiest seeds are the best. They are well fleshed out. The surface should be glossy and hard, with a slight sheen.
- They are dark in colour (usually brown, black or grey). If they are light, white, or pale green, they were harvested way too early and they are probably immature, not good, and unlikely to sprout.
- If they are pale and dusty they are probably old. The older they are, the slower they will germinate.
- The darker the colour, the more likely they are to grow and produce more weed. The dark shell means they came from better quality weed.
- There is a caveat, however. If they are too dark—deep purplish, that means they’ve been dyed and that’s not good.
- Also, beware if you see a white dusty powder on the bud—that is fungus—powdered mildew.
One key as to whether you own healthy cannabis seeds is to look at whether they have slightly lighter stripes. Good seeds are dark with lighter stripes or brown or black spots all the way around. Often, the healthy ones have stripes that resemble lightning, or have a tiger stripe appearance, and a distinctive colour pattern. Take your magnifying glass and look at the stem. If it is furry, that means there is mould from too much moisture—probably because it was bagged too early.There are so many different seeds, bruce banner seed is just one that will do the trick and help you in the long run.
That being said, however, you cannot always judge a seed by its color alone. It can look fantastic, but you need to know what is inside. If you crack a seed open and it is oily and has a musty taste, it is going bad. If it is black inside, that means it’s fermenting and won’t germinate. If you crush it in your hands and you smell salt, it’s unflushed. If the bud is flushed, it means the roots are absorbing salt and nutrients.
Once you have separated the good seeds from the bad via the sight test, touch and feel your seeds as you continue your investigation .
The Touch Test
Lightly squeeze a seed without crushing it. If it crushes easily, it probably will not grow well. As you feel it, there should be no small cracks or holes. If they have small cracks or holes, they probably will not sprout. They should not be crinkled or cracked. If they’re not cracked, you know they are intact. If it holds up under the feel test, it will survive the germinating process.
The Float Test
Good quality seeds will sink – so apply the float test. (Note that you should only do this when ready to germinate). Put them in a cup of warm, distilled water for two hours. If they sink, they’re good. If they float, they are premature, and they probably won’t grow and so are unusable. Healthy seeds are heavy enough to sink.
If you think you have good quality cannabis seeds that have fully matured (that would be seeds with a growth rate of 85%), and are pretty sure you have a great batch of high-quality seeds that are not immature or damaged by the environment, but you’re still saying to yourself, “How do I know for sure I’m going to get a good yield?”, try germinating them.
The last resort test is to just plant it and see if it grows. The ideal temperature is 75 degrees. Good seeds should push up in three to six days. If you don’t want to plant them, you might want to use the paper towel method. Put them in a damp paper towel between two plates, keep the humidity high, and wait two days.
Why your Cannabis Seeds Haven’t Germinated?
If you have been unlucky and some or all of your cannabis seeds haven’t germinated, there is usually an easily identifiable reason. Germination isn’t just about your seed cracking and a taproot appearing, it’s about the transition of a seed into a very small but viable cannabis plant. So let’s start at the beginning.
How long did you soak your seeds in the water?
Did they sink to the bottom of the glass before transferring them to the moist paper towel? Seeds that are still floating are unlikely to have absorbed sufficient water to successfully germinate. If you leave your seeds in water for too long the taproot will not form and the germination process will grind to a halt. Once you have transferred your seeds do the damp paper towel over the next few days.
Did you ever let any parts or all of the paper towels dry out?
At the earliest stages of germination, the smallest of errors can have major consequences. Similarly, the paper towel mustn’t be steeped in water. The taproot grows naturally as it searches for water. If it’s too easy to find it just won’t grow if your water has loads of additives such as copper and chlorine this can poison your plants while handling the seeds with dirty hands can also poison them.
Make sure you either wash your hands with a non-toxic soap wear latex gloves or use tweezers. The next thing to check is the temperature of the seeds. The optimum temperature to keep them good for germination is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 21 degrees Celsius. If the seeds are too cold they just won’t germinate even. If everything else is perfect.
The owners and members of the Cannabis Clubs claim: “The roots of the plants don’t like light and the same applies to the taproot and subsequent roots that will develop when your seeds germinate. Almost total darkness is ideal for germinating seeds even though.”
It is hopeless for growing seedlings it is interesting to note that it is certain wavelengths of light that affect germination and it is the blue length that tends to corrupt germination, while red wavelength promotes germination. You will also have to take into account when you bought your seeds. While cannabis seeds can remain viable for a large number of years if stored in perfect conditions. They can be ruined in a couple of weeks if not stored correctly.
Finally and unfortunately it is a fact of Mother Nature that not all seeds will germinate. Some will be duds and this is out of our control.
How to Tell if a Cannabis Seed is Good
Got a cannabis seed, but you’re not sure if it’s any good? No worries. By the end of this article you’ll know everything you need to get started.
The legality of growing cannabis varies depending on where you live in the world. Know your laws.
What to Look for in a Healthy Cannabis Seed:
You can tell a lot about a seed’s health just by looking at it. Here are a few different things you should look for when deciding if a cannabis seed is good or not.
- Darkened Color – Good cannabis seeds will be brown, black, and/or gray. White or green seeds are immature and unlikely to sprout. Your seed should also have stripes or spots all the way around.
- Waxy Coating – A healthy seed will have a thin waxy coating around it. This coating should appear to have a slight sheen to it.
- Hard Shell – You should be able to lightly squeeze a seed without it crushing. If a seed crushes easily between your fingers then the seed is likely dead or weak and will not grow well.
- No Cracks – Inspect the entire seed to make sure there aren’t any small crack or holes. This will most likely cause the seed not to sprout.
Ways To Test Cannabis Seeds
Now that I’ve gone over a basic guide for what to look for I’ll give you a couple of ways that you can test your seeds.
Test Method #1: Floating Seeds in Water
This is a great test that works for many different seeds – not just cannabis. Take your seeds and drop them in a cup full of warm (not too hot) water then wait a couple of hours. If they sink then they’re probably good to go. If they won’t sink then they are probably dead and won’t grow.
Note: Only do this if you’re ready to germinate your plants. Otherwise, it could harm your seed. I cover germination in a later section.
Test Method #2: Just Go Ahead and Try to Germinate the Seed
I know this seems obvious, but it really is the best information I really could give. If you really want to know if a cannabis seed is able to germinate then go ahead and try germinating it – what do you really have to lose? Not quite sure how to germinate a seed? No worries. Here’s a quick guide:
How to Germinate a Cannabis Seed
Germinating a seed simply means getting the plant to sprout from the seed. It’s the first step in your cannabis seed’s journey to a full grown plant. There are several ways to go about this.
One way is to simply plant it in your soil and see if a plant pops up. It’s old school, but no one can deny its simplicity. Plant the seed about 1/4″ deep and wait.
Another way is to put the seeds on a damp paper towel. Make sure the paper towel is damp, but not soaking wet. If it dries out you can add a few drops of water to the paper towel. Leave the paper towel in a dark place. The amount of time is going to vary among strains. Some may take only 2 days while others could take longer. Continue to check them once a day.
How to Tell if a Cannabis Seed is Male or Female
Unfortunately, there is no way to know if a cannabis seed is going to be male or female simply by looking at it or doing a simple test. This is a bummer since most people don’t want male cannabis plants in their garden.
If you want feminized seeds then you’ll have to buy them from a reputable seed bank. Make sure they say feminized – if they don’t say it then they probably aren’t.
If all you’ve got is a bag seed then the only way to find out if it’s going to be male or female is to grow it.
Can My Cannabis Seed Go Bad / Expire?
The short answer is yes, but if you store your seeds properly they can stay viable for years and years. Moisture, UV degradation, and extreme temperatures could all affect the quality of your seeds.
If you plan to store your seeds for a long period of time make sure to keep them in an airtight container in a dark area. Ideally, seeds should be stored in a climate controlled area (like inside your house instead of in a shed or garage. One study showed laboratory-sealed cannabis seeds were still viable after 19 years.
It’s nice to know what to look for, but in the end the best test is just to put it in soil. If you’re using bag seeds then you never really know what you’re getting anyways. If you’ve bought your seeds from a legitimate seed bank then you shouldn’t have to worry about it.
10 Markers of a Quality Marijuana Seed
If you’re looking to start growing your own marijuana, the first place to start is with the seed. What should you look for? How can you tell a good cannabis seed from a dud? Chris Bond tells us.
So, you’ve decided to grow your own marijuana from seed. How do you know if those little, round nuggets in your hand will grow up lush and produce beautiful, productive buds? How do you know if they are duds? While ultimately the genetics will determine the destiny of those little weed seeds, and proper care will help them to realize their full potential, there are some markers you can assess to see if what you have is quality seed, indeed.
What to Look for in a Cannabis Seed
While all cannabis seed is not identical in color, there are some consistencies. Healthy, viable seed will be light to dark brown in color. Seed that is light green or even whitish in color is underdeveloped and should be tossed out. Healthy seed will also have a burled or turtle shell-like pattern on its seed coat.
A quality cannabis seed will have a waxy, protective coating. Seeds that appear dull are probably not as viable and should be avoided if given a choice.
Quality cannabis seed will look like a plump teardrop. Flat or misshapen seeds will not likely produce quality plants.
Quality seed will be firm. Cannabis seed should have a strong seed coat protecting the pre-emerged life inside. Any seed that is tender, pliable or squishy should not be planted; poor results will follow if attempted.
Size is relative, but if you are able to compare several seeds at once, the higher quality seeds are larger. When it comes to seeds, less is more. The fewer seeds that comprise any given amount, an ounce or a gram for example, is generally an indicator of higher quality seeds. The biggest seeds within a species generally have more energy stored within them and have a greater potential to mature into a productive plant. Note that indica strains tend to produce larger seeds than sativa strains so make sure the comparison is made among like seeds.
Weight often goes hand-in-hand with size, but heavier seeds are generally of higher quality than lighter ones. The older a seed gets, the more potential loss of moisture and nutrients, reducing its overall weight. Damaged seed, which has been cracked can potentially lose those same necessary qualities.
#7 Float test
Quality seeds will sink in water. In glass or vessel, place room temperature water deep enough to full cover the volume of seeds to be tested. Place your seed or seeds in the water. After a couple of hours, anything still floating, should not be considered a quality seed. Soaking seeds will allow moisture to cross over the protective membrane and signal the seed that it is time to grow. As such this test should not be performed if the intent is to store the seeds after testing as it may render otherwise quality seed unviable if not meant to be immediately germinated afterwards.
You may not have access to see or have verified information on the storage conditions of seeds, but if you can find this out, it is critical to maintaining quality seeds. While cannabis seeds can be viable for over 10 years in some instances, the best seed in terms of productivity is not more than 12 to 18 months old. It should have been stored in dark, cool and dry conditions to prevent mold or the onset of any fungal issues. Storing in a freezer can prolong seeds as well, essentially suspending time.
#9 Age at harvest
This is another aspect you, the buyer may not be privy to. Quality seed is harvest when fully mature. If seed was collected before the plant was able to load as much stored energy into it as possible, then that seed will be starting out life in a deficit. Color, as referenced above can be an indicator of whether or not a seed was harvested at the appropriate time.
You get what you pay for and a cannabis seed is not exempt from this maxim. Quality seeds are not cheap (at least when compared to other agricultural seeds). This isn’t to say that inferior seeds can’t be overpriced, but if you find cannabis seeds proclaiming excellent genetics for sale at a price that seems too good to be true, caveat emptor.
This is not meant to be a definitive list, as new varieties of cannabis emerge on the scene all the time that may have “normal” traits that would otherwise be viewed as deficiencies in other strains. As always, do your homework, ask other growers who know and buy your seeds from a reputable source.