Even before there were any major developments regarding the genes of cannabis plants, many people enjoyed growing cannabis and engaging in the natural process of the plant. In recent years, however, feminized cannabis seeds have become increasingly popular and are now often more in demand than regular cannabis seeds. But does this also mean that they are better? And what exactly is the difference between regular and feminized seeds? In this article, we’re going to examine the biological characteristics of both types of seeds to find out.
The gender of the cannabis plant
As the name suggests, the gender of the cannabis plant is what differentiates regular and feminized cannabis seeds. As with many other types of plants (such as willow and yew), some cannabis plants are male and some are female. As it goes in nature, plants exchange genetic information with each other. This results in the seeds and future plants having traits from both parents. This mating and reproduction process ultimately causes a strain to slowly but surely improve from generation to generation.
What are regular cannabis seeds?
With this knowledge, it is probably clearer what we mean by regular cannabis seeds. With “regular” plant seeds, there is about a 50% chance that they will be male or female. Intersex plants also occur, but are quite rare. So you generally don’t need to worry about this when growing these seeds. If you want to determine the gender of your plants, then you have to wait until they start to grow. Initially, males will have small, green pre-flowers that are oval in shape. You can also wait longer to see if they develop pollen sacs. This is in fact a much clearer sign that they are male. The disadvantage of this is that until then you must provide them with nutrition and spend your precious time on them. This may be for nothing if they turn out to be male. Therefore it is better to pay attention to the green, oval pre-flowers. As soon as you see these on a plant, remove this male plant as soon as possible (unless you plan to use such plants to develop new species). This is because if you wait too long, they will pollinate your females. This will eventually lead to a lower yield. You will, however, get a whole load of seeds that you can use for a new cultivation.
Regular autoflowering cannabis seeds
Most regular cannabis seeds develop according to a photoperiodic schedule. This means that they move from the growth phase to the flowering phase based on the number of light hours. This is not the case with autoflowering cannabis seeds. These will flower without depending on changes in the number of light hours. They still need a lot of light during their life cycle, but you don’t need to reduce the number of light hours to ensure that they move from the vegetative phase to the flowering phase.
What are feminized cannabis seeds?
We now know what regular cannabis seeds are, but what are feminized seeds? With regular seeds, you have an equal chance of the plants being male or female, but feminized cannabis seeds produce almost exclusively female plants. It is always possible that there is a male among them, but this chance is very small. Feminized seeds are not ideal for breeding. On the other hand you can be more or less sure that you will not have to cull any plants. What’s more, just like the female version of regular seeds, they will almost certainly provide the ideal size and yield if you take good care of them.
Feminized autoflowering cannabis seeds
As with regular seeds, there are also autoflowering versions of feminized cannabis seeds that are the opposite of photoperiodic cannabis strains. As with all autoflowers, as long as you expose them to enough light feminized autoflowers will automatically go through their entire growing cycle. So it does not matter if there is a shift in the light schedule or not. In this respect they develop in a similar way to the regular variety. However, with feminized seeds you don’t have to worry about identifying the males in the short period before pollination takes place. Because of this, feminized autoflowering seeds have become much more popular than the regular variety.
Regular cannabis seeds versus feminized cannabis seeds
We have now discussed the definition of both regular and feminized cannabis seeds. Therefore, it is now time to find out in what other areas they differ.
Regular cannabis seeds
Before you even put a seed in the soil, there is already a difference: price. Regular cannabis seeds are in fact cheaper than the feminized variety. This is because regular seeds are much more common. Moreover, on average only half of the seeds you buy will produce the desired bud-producing plants. In addition, the differences in price depend on the demand for a strain and the quality of the seed.
As for the plants that produce viable buds (i.e., the female ones), you can count on a good yield if you take good care of them. However, as we mentioned earlier, on average only half of the regular seeds develop into a female plant. For comparison; with ten regular seeds the final yield is probably lower than with ten feminized cannabis seeds. In addition, if males pollinate your female plants, the yield will be even lower across the board.
If you’re going to grow these seeds you should remove the males during the growing process before they pollinate your females (or you should want to cross them with another good parent: a female plant). If you don’t do this, your females will produce far fewer buds than they normally would. All their energy is then spent on developing new seeds. If however you cull male plants early on in the process then your grow can continue uninterrupted. With enough water and nutrients, you can just make sure that the females eventually offer the ideal size and yield.
Since regular cannabis seeds are not genetically modified, the genes of these plants are generally stable. As we will see later, this is not true of feminized seeds. The modification required to ensure that these produce primarily female plants has caused their genes to become less stable over the generations. This is not something you need to worry about when growing with regular seeds.
Because regular cannabis seeds are genetically stable, you can also take healthy and reliable cuttings from the final plants. The genes are relatively unaffected, so you can be confident that the seeds will grow into strong, lush cannabis plants. Cloning a feminized mother plant, on the other hand, is much riskier.
Finally, it is much easier to use regular seeds for breeding. This is because there is already a natural ratio of female to male plants. You can therefore put them together, let the males pollinate the females and get a whole load of new seeds with which you can start a new breed.
Feminized cannabis seeds
What you will probably notice is the difference in price between feminized and regular marijuana seeds. Feminized seeds are significantly more expensive than the regular variety. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the effort required to produce feminized seeds results in a higher price. Secondly, you can be sure that almost all of the seeds will produce smokable buds. This gives you much more value for your money per pack.
Because probably every seed in a pack of feminized seeds is female, the yield is automatically twice as big compared to regular seeds of the same strain. This is not always true, as one in a thousand feminized seeds will become a male plant. However, this chance is so small that you can generally count on twice as many buds.
Since you hardly have to worry about culling male plants when growing feminized seeds you need to put significantly less effort into the growing process. And all the water and nutrients you use will ultimately ensure a healthy harvest of viable buds. So you get more value for your money.
Price aside, everything we’ve discussed so far shows that feminized seeds can actually offer growers much more. However, there is one major drawback: genetic stability is less. If you manage to get seeds from your feminized plants at all, you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to continue growing them. The genetic modification required to produce feminized seeds makes them genetically unstable. It’s not so much that you can’t successfully grow the seeds, but their offspring have a lot of trouble germinating. And when they do start growing, they look nothing like their parents and don’t yield nearly as much as the first generation.
In addition, you will find that cloning feminized plants is not as smooth as taking cuttings from marijuana plants that have emerged from regular seeds. This is for the same reason that growing seeds from feminized plants often fails: unstable genes. The seeds of regular plants do not undergo genetic manipulation, which is the case with feminized weed. This makes the latter much less likely to produce robust offspring.
Since there is only a one in a thousand chance that a seed is male and you are dealing with unstable genes, it is virtually impossible to use feminized seeds for breeding. If that’s your goal then you’re better off using regular seeds.
Are regular cannabis seeds better than feminized seeds?
With everything we’ve discussed, we’re sure by now you’re wondering what our answer is to the question: which seeds are better? Regular or feminized? As we discussed, this depends entirely on what your goals are as a grower. Are you trying to develop new strains and want to get started with seeds/clones of your plants? If so, regular seeds are the right choice, as their genes are much more stable. In addition, regular seed packs contain males that you can use for breeding. But do you want to obtain useful buds of high quality? Then we recommend you go for feminized seeds.
Is it better to buy regular or feminized cannabis seeds?
We close this article by answering one more question: is it better to buy regular or feminized cannabis seeds? As we just said, you should first think about your personal goals as a grower. Still, we think it’s important for every cannabis grower, especially those with experience, to become familiar with breeding. However, we also wish you lots of buds. That is why we recommend that you try both strains. After all, you will only really know what kind of grower you are once you have given both options a chance!