Learn how to identify quality marijuana seeds in order to start your cannabis grow in the best way possible.
By Royal Queen Seeds
“When it comes to seeds, Royal Queen Seeds knows what they are talking about. I have a longstanding relationship with this company which has been supplying quality seeds since 2007. We’re similar in that we are constantly evolving and always striving to improve the cannabis plant and our relationship with it. For Royal Queen, this translates to constantly aiming for more evolved and stable genetics. They also possess a passion and enthusiasm for growing weed and want to share what they’ve learned with the world, regardless if it’s their genetics you are working with. Here they’ve provided some great tips for starting off your grow with the best seeds possible.”
With the exception of clones, all cannabis plants start life as a humble seed. Under the right conditions—and with a little bit of love and care—these tiny packets of genetic material emerge into mature, aromatic, and sticky specimens. Just like any investment, selecting high-quality weed seeds results in superior outcomes. Marijuana seeds of a higher caliber boast better germination rates, better genetics, and improved yields.
As one of Europe’s biggest seed banks, Royal Queen Seeds understands the viability of seeds and offers some tips on how to tell if your marijuana seeds are good. There are several boxes that growers can tick to boost the odds of starting with premium seeds, from sourcing them from reputable supplies to visual assessment and easy DIY tests.
Whether you received seeds from a friend, found some in the bottom of a bag, or purchased a pack from a seed bank, these tips will show you how to pick the best from the bunch and get your next grow off to the best possible start.
You can tell a lot about the quality of a cannabis seed just by looking at it. Weed seeds vary a lot in appearance, ranging from green to brown in color. They also display diversity in their shape and size, with some specimens being small and spherical, and others large and pointed.
Cannabis seeds from different strains display different characteristics when they mature into plants. As poly-hybrids with plenty of genetic variation, most modern cannabis plants exhibit unique traits depending on their genetic lineage. Breeders select desirable tastes, smells, and effects from parent strains, which are then passed down to the progeny. The shape and size of seeds also change slightly as new hybrid varieties are born.
Marijuana seeds from the same plant—even from the same flower—can feature different visual characteristics as well. Just as two human siblings possess different hair and eye colors, heights, and personalities, each cannabis seed possesses its own genetic variation, from the subtle to the obvious. The sheer amount of variation among cannabis seeds means that even good-quality seeds differ in appearance. However, there are a few telltale signs buyers can look for to set the good weed seeds apart from the bad.
Healthy and viable cannabis seeds feature a brown color that varies from a light shade to a much darker one. Some seeds are more uniform in color, whereas others feature multiple shades and tiger stripe or turtle shell patterns.
Any seed that falls within this color range shows promise. Changes of color within this spectrum occur primarily due to genetic factors, but environmental variables also play a role. Some seeds take on a darker tone after being packaged for several months. Humidity, lighting, and oxidation also lead to a slight shift in appearance.
Marijuana seeds start to become questionable when they present a green coloration. Green hues are a sign that the grower harvested their seeds too early. This vegetative look means the seeds didn’t get the time they require to develop properly, placing them at a higher risk of not germinating.
Healthy cannabis seeds come in all shapes and sizes. Some cultivars produce small and compact seeds with very little room between the outer shell and the immature cotyledon leaves nestled within. Despite their small size, these seeds are completely viable when they feature other indicators of good health, such as color and age.
Other healthy seeds take on a large and bloated appearance. Sometimes this results from their genetic makeup, in other circumstances high levels of calcium and magnesium can bolster seed circumference.
Despite differences in size, healthy cannabis seeds share a similar shape. They display a tear-drop body—round at one end and tapered at the other. Seeds that stray from this consistent shape may possess a genetic flaw. Seeds that are exceptionally flat or misshapen may undergo issues with germination and produce subpar plants.
After learning the indicators of size and shape, you might still be thinking: What do good weed seeds look like? Well, the quality of their shell also helps to signal how good future plants may perform. Healthy seeds boast a slight shimmer on their shells, as though growers have polished them with some wax. Unhealthy seeds look dull and matte in comparison. If you have the choice, opt for waxy seeds with a sheen to improve your results.
In nature, cannabis plants grow, produce seeds, and then return to the earth each year. The seeds disperse through animal activity. The lucky ones emerge from the soil the following spring, while the others perish. Ideally, growers choose seeds less than a year old when it comes to sowing. These fresh specimens germinate fast and are less likely to run into trouble over a shorter duration of storage.
We’ve all heard tales of archaeologists sprouting 1,000-year-old seeds found in Egyptian tombs. While cannabis seeds don’t possess such extreme longevity, growers often experience success cultivating seeds from two to three seasons past. However, young cannabis seeds offer the best option when it comes to viability, germination rate, and healthy plants. But, how can you tell the age of a weed seed?
Simply use the sensation of touch. Place the seed between your thumb and index finger and give it a squeeze. Young and healthy seeds will feel firm, and won’t give in to the pressure. Older seeds may feel slightly squidgy, and old and dry seeds may even crumble or crack—they lack the moisture and nutrient content of younger specimens.
When asking yourself the question of how to tell if a weed seed is good, you need to consider where it came from. There remains a huge discrepancy between the quality of cannabis seeds from a reputable seed bank versus those found in the bottom of a mediocre bag of weed.
Professional seed banks spend a lot of time, money, and effort breeding high-quality cannabis genetics. These specimens churn out seeds with a high germination rate, and the subsequent plants deliver outstanding cannabinoid and terpene profiles alongside excellent yields.
Seeds found in buds obtained from your local dealer are likely of much lower quality. In general, finding seeds in flowers reflects poor growing practices. On top of this, you likely have no idea how old these buds really are. Stick to seed banks known for top-shelf genetics. Check out their reviews, and see how much data they disclose regarding each strain to confirm you’re in good hands.
Once you’ve analyzed the seeds at your disposal, you can run one final check to determine their quality. The float test enables growers to set great-quality seeds aside from questionable ones. Simply fill up a glass with water and drop your seeds into the fluid. Return to the experiment 1–2 hours later. The seeds that sink are healthy and ready to germinate. Now that they're wet, place them straight into the soil and begin the grow, as storing wet seeds can result in rot. Floating seeds are often deemed unhealthy, and some growers refuse to use them.
Large-scale growing operations don’t have time to analyze every seed for quality. Likewise, home growers with a small number of seeds don’t risk much by simply germinating all of their seeds to see how things go. Ultimately, placing your seeds into the soil and watching them emerge into seedlings serves as the best way to identify seed quality. Place them into a segmented seed tray and watch them rise. If any seeds refuse to germinate or produce gangly or deformed seedlings, you’ll know which specimens deserve your time and dedication.
cannabis seeds, Cannabis Research, Cannabis germination, ed rosenthal, royal queen seeds