Seeds are a little nugget of genetic material than can hopefully grow into a plant. And like all other genetic material, it doesn’t last forever! Although seeds can be viable for quite years and years after they’re first produced, the chances of them successfully germinating goes down over time (and old seeds also tend to take a lot longer to germinate than fresh ones). The resulting seedlings are also more likely to be slow growing. But sometimes they sprout like they were born yesterday!
Note: Although the hardiness of the seed was likely important in the wild, cannabis growers have been breeding plants for generations to make good buds, not seeds! We growers strive to provide an ideal germination environment that lets almost any seed germinate successfully. As a result, we haven’t been breeding for seed hardness. Just like a teacup poodle hasn’t been bred to be strong, cannabis seeds haven’t been bred to be strong. They have other qualities we love
This is mostly because it’s tough to pinpoint when the seed itself is the actual problem. Most growers will blame themselves for a problem that shows up in their grow long before they assume it’s the seeds.
Bag seeds you randomly find in your buds aren’t supposed to be there, so that means that the genetics are a toss-up. Even if the seeds started with good parents, there’s no telling how high or low the quality will be. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to grow it… Some growers win the genetic lottery, but many others lose out.
After you’ve done this test, you need to germinate the healthy seeds. At this point, they will have absorbed water, which can damage the seed if you don’t germinate it at this point. Incidentally, germination is the final test for your seeds.
One way around this is to purchase feminized marijuana seeds. In theory, all seeds in a feminized bunch will be female – unless you buy from a disreputable grower. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell whether a plant is male or female simply based on the seeds.
The complete guide…
Method #3: The Water Test
The sign of a bad seller is that their seeds are consistently old, dead, and covered in powdery mildew. That said, don’t be too harsh on a seed bank if a couple of their seeds don’t work from time to time when they’re generally reliable.
If the seed cracks under slight pressure, then it’s unusable. It’s likely to be past its sell-by date.
How to Test Cannabis Seeds
Cannabis seeds are surprisingly beautiful. They have a mottled brown appearance with patches of light and dark, and sometimes gorgeous tiger stripes. The seeds are also quite shiny if you view them close enough.
Strong seeds, however, have a better chance of germinating and growing into a healthy plant.
Marijuana seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place such as a basement or in your refrigerator. They should be in an air-tight container and must stay dry. Putting a cotton ball in with the seeds before storage can help suck up any extra moisture (this is why you often see little bits of cotton in seed breeder packs).
Heat and moisture ‘signal’ to cannabis seeds that it’s time to sprout, so as long as you keep the seeds in a dry, dark environment they can remain viable for years. I have heard cases of seeds sprouting after being in storage for 5 or even 10 years. However, you will notice that older seeds take longer to germinate than fresh seeds and a few of them may not sprout at all. As time goes on, fewer and fewer of the seeds will successfully germinate.