Many things can affect your grow of the cannabis plant. Feminized seeds can save you the time and expenses of sexing the plant resulting in shorter grow times and less materials used. One thing that can affect your grow (and especially your feminized cannabis plants) is hermaphrodites.
What is a hermaphrodite marijuana plant?
Hermaphrodite marijuana plants develop both male and female flowers. While it is a natural feature of the cannabis plant, it is an undesired trait when growing marijuana for consumption, since there is a great chance to obtain a plant full of seeds, what seriously reduces the quantity and quality of the final product.
Hermaphroditism can have 2 origins: genetic and environmental.
- Genetically, some marijuana strains are more sensitive to hermaphroditism than others. This can be explained by the genetic origins of the strain – Thai sativas, for example, usually reach a high percentage of hermaphrodite plants – or also by the technique used when producing seeds (GA3,…).
- Regardless its genetic sensitivity, a marijuana plant can also become hermaphrodite by the influence of stress. When it feels that the flowering conditions are too hard, hermaphroditism is an effective and natural way to shorten this period, pollinating its female flowers with the pollen of a few male clusters (usually called “bananas”).
Stress, that highly increases the risk of hermaphroditism, may have several causes, such as:
- Changes in the photoperiod, specially interruptions of the dark period during flowering
- Too much heat (>27°C aproximately), wrong environmental conditions
- Harvesting too late, when the grower misses the deadline for harvesting his/her plants
- Mechanical stress: broken branches, damaged roots, pruning during flowering,…
- Irrigation issues (lack or excess)
- Insects, mites, diseases…
- Thermal stress (irrigating plants with cold water…)
- Use of phytotoxic products (pesticides, fungicides…)
More likely than not, you will not get any hermaphrodites cannabis plant from your feminized seeds.
The two things that can cause hermaphrodites in the cannabis plant are an environmental stress or a genetic tendency. Some strains of feminized cannabis plants have a genetic tendency to be hermaphroditic and some strains have an extremely rare amount of occurrences. Seed from a reputable breeder will have a rare amount of genetically caused hermaphrodites. If you have multiple hermaphrodites in your garden then it is most likely an environmental issue that caused them to get hermaphroditic. If you have just one hermaphrodite it is most likely caused by genetics. Some strains have a tendency toward being hermas. Doing some research on the strains you plan to purchase will help make sure you don’t pick one of those strains. There are many strains of the cannabis plant with extremely stable genetics.
How to avoid hermaphrodite plants?
To avoid hermaphrodite marijuana plants, the main rule is avoiding any kind of stress during their flowering period, so we limit the risks as far as possible. Pruning and staking of the plants should be performed during their growth and/or pre-flowering stage (stretch), before the buds start developing.
In order to lower the chances to get hermaphrodite plants, you should: mantain good environmental conditions in your growing space, a perfect hygiene, regularly monitor your timers , check your plants for insects and mites, water them regularly with a balanced nutrient solution. At the end of flowering, carefully check the trichomes so you don’t miss the harvest deadline.
When you have to decide which marijuana strains to grow on your next crops, carefully read any comments from other growers on the chosen strains, as well as seedbank advices and recommendations on them, so you have all the information about these seeds and can better avoid those strains with hermaphrodite traits in their genepool. Actually, if there are too many comments about the hermaphroditism of a specific strain, the breeder him/herself often withdraws it from the market.
Regular cannabis seeds are known for being less sensitive to hermaphroditism than feminized seeds, although this is not an axiom, we must carefully chech our plants for male flowers whatever the type of seed we are growing.
What to do when we find hermaphrodite marijuana plants?
As we mentioned before, it is very important to carefully check our plants for male flowers from the beginning of flowering. During the flowering period, these male flowers are easily observed due to their yellow colour and banana shape. We will also check for mites or insects, as well as molds, so we avoid the most common cannabis pests .
If a plant shows male and female flowers from the beginning of flowering, unfortunately we will have to eliminate it immediately from the growing space. Otherwise, it could pollinate the entire crop, transmitting the hermaphrodite trait to the offspring.
When the plant becomes hermaphrodite at full flowering, we have 2 options:
If the plant only produces few male flowers, we can remove them with a pair of tweezers (sterilized with alcohol), spraying water on them – water sterilizes pollen – and then watching for new bananas.
If the plant produces numerous male flowers, we should eliminate it from the growing space.
Finally, if a marijuana plant becomes hermaphrodite at the end of flowering, we should harvest it as soon as possible, before the male flowers release their pollen.
Did you find seeds in your cannabis harvest?
If you find seeds in your harvested buds and there is not any male plant near your growing spot, it is because there was at least one hermaphrodite plant in your crop. Those male flowers that were not removed released their pollen next to the female plants. Unfortunately, once pollinated the plant focuses its energy on producing seeds, instead of producing new flowers.
As we already mentioned, these seeds coming from hermaphrodite pollen will mantain this undesirable trait, so it is recommended not to grow them.
Hermaphrodites are used to make feminized seed
Feminized cannabis seed is often made by introducing a hermaphrodite to a number of female plants. This is usually achieved by using hormones to invoke one or more of the females to generate male organs. The resulting seeds will be predominantly female or feminized seed. Feminized seed is an extremely economical choice for growing cannabis plants. Feminized seeds will have a 85% to 99.9% chance of being female. Non-feminized seeds will have a 50% to 70% chance of being female. In most cases you will not have any hermaphrodites. If you do end up with hermaphrodites, it is most likely from some environmental shock. Shorter grow times and less maintenance are a great reason to use feminized seeds. Feminized seeds can streamline your grow process by not wasting time determining sex and does not waste resources on male plants. A stable grow process without wild fluctuation is the best plan for maximum yields of your cannabis plants and will almost guarantee you do not get hermaphrodite.