Today we will talk about hermaphroditic strains, a disease many growers suffer, that is consequence of absurdities made by others. Unfortunately the word hermaphrodite is included in cannabis dictionary, as it happens more often than expected, throwing away efforts, money and specially time. Today we will talk about some strains known for its high tendency to hermies, and also about where all these trending appeared in cannabis seed market come from.
What does hermaphroditic strains mean?
As many know, cannabis plants have two differenced sex (male and female). These sexes are the reason why cannabis growth has survived for centuries, and the main reason because today we can enjoy this amazing plant, that gives us pleasure and happiness.
Unfortunately, the concept hermaphroditic appeared in the equation many decades ago, and we should pay attention because it is the reason of many problems for growers indoors and outdoors.
The definition of hermaphrodite (in living organisms) means that it has both sexes in one and only individual caused by a somatic or phisic anomaly. This definition then means that a hermaphroditic plant shows both sex organs (from a male and from a female).
This detail, that could not alarm to those foreign to cannabis cultivation, is the worst fear of cannabis growers, who don’t want to hear a thing about strains with this mutation.
Problems of strains with high hermaphroditic tendency
The mean problem for cannabis growers is that only cannabis females are accepted for consume, as those are the only ones that produce flowers with high content of THC, CBD… This circumstance, discovered many years ago, showed that a female that had not been pollinated by any male reached higher levels of THC, than those that had been fertilized with pollen, that focus all their energy in form the seeds.
Even though when talking about preservation of cannabis it could not happen without the pollination occurred in a natural way, in recreational and medical use of this plant the higher benefits are got when pollination does not occur.
Is at this point when we realize the huge problem it means the appearance of a female that also develops male flowers, because if not detected with time, it might ruin the whole crop due a uncontrolled pollination. This problem, already big enough, when added to the genetic domination of this trait transmitted generation to generation, makes non viable the use of those seeds (in a percentage high enough that makes almost impossible to find a single seed that does not develop this trait).
Underground industry and cannabis breeding
Most of the readers know that cannabis legalization (in some countries) is very recent, what made many growers had been working in secret, being very discreet to keep their favorite genetics. This is the case of great names in cannabis history like Breeder Steve (Spice of Life), Savid Joseph (Dj Short), Nevil Schoenmakers, Simon (Serious Seeds), Soma (Soma Seeds), Howard Marks, Scott Blakey (Shantibaba), Davit Watson (Sam the Skunkman), Robert Carroll, Subcool or Old Ed among others. The illegal consideration of cannabis did not stop them (thank god it didn’t), so they bred most of the actual cannabis comercialized strains (in its own state or taking part in a crossing becoming new strains). From their hands many strains were born, now familiar to everyone: Northern Lights, Skunk, Haze, Blueberry, White Widow, besides other hybrids that domesticated landraces to make them growable indoors and outdoors.
From all that industry in the shade many growers have taken profit all around the world, using their seeds to get crops they had never imagined.
Breeding, selection and crossing
As we previously said many of today’s strains come from a previous development, that become unforgettable individuals that now are part of cannabis history. In our opinion the best quality of quoted breeders is their capacity of selection and crossing to get a strain that presents those desired certain characteristics by everyone. This detail is specially important in times where it wasn’t impossible to analyze samples in laboratory, so it all fell on breeder’s choices when deciding which male or female to use. Even though select and keep a female can seem an easy thing, the reality is that likes of every grower can create huge differences in which individual to be selected (some could think it is awesome and other may think it isn’t). To these personal likes of what does it mean a good female we should add an extra difficulty of selecting a good male (that won’t be smoked, so it is difficult to know what does it transmit to the offspring). In addition the qualification of illegal cannabis has had for years has caused that many valued individuals had been lost, by neglect, due to pests o by police bustings.
Hermaphrodism and its scene appearance
Hermaphroditism (or monoecious plants) can have 2 origins: genetic or environmental.
From a genetic point of view, some genetics are more susceptible to hermaphroditic traits than others. In example it is known that a high hermaphroditic strain is Thailand sativa.
The other possible factor, the environmental, shows us how more than a tendency genetic, a cannabis plant could herm under high stressing conditions. These conditions are usually related to difficulties in plant’s evolution, causing an internal change in plants, that react forming male flowers (besides female flowers). Some of the most known factors that might cause stress are:
–Change in photoperiod: Interruptions, alterations or lack of stability in dark period of plants, specially along flowering stage.
–Extreme heat: Constant high temperatures (over 30ºC).
–Late harvest: Notoriously exceed the harvest window period.
–Structural stress: Conditions that could harm structure of plants (stems, roots, prunnings…).
–Hydric stress: Due to lack or excess of irrigation. Can also be caused by the use of too cold or too hot water.
–Nutrient overdose: Specially when too much phosphorus or too much potassium is used to feed plants.
–Use of toxic products: Pesticides or plant growth regulators.
Hermaphroditic strains or with high hermaphroditic tendency
Some believe that hermaphroditic strains can only derive from feminized seeds, but nothing further than reality, as even though some techniques used to get feminized seeds may cause high percentage of hermaphrodism in offspring, these traits can also be transmitted in crossings where a true female and a true male match.
In today’s market we can find many strains with high tendency to hermaphroditism, from which most of them have share the same factor: An individual selected from an involuntary pollinations in a growing space, in which an environmental stress derived in a growroom full of female flowers filled with seeds. The grower, who didn’t want to get rid of those seeds, used sprouted them and selected one that, in the bast scenario, didn’t herm, but was transmitter of those traits, so it carries this tendency to all its offspring.
Up to date we have described some of the factors that may cause our plants show hermaphroditic traits, but… Which strains are known by showing these traits?
Blueberry: It is not new that Blueberry was one of the first strains known for its hermaphroditic tendency (inherited from its possible parental of thailand sativa). Dies this mean all Blueberry plants will show this trait? No, but it does mean that this is a susceptible strain that suffers it under certain adverse environmental factors.
Kush strains: Even though it’s true that kush strains don’t necessary have to present this hermaphroditic trait, most of the existing hybrids got crossing two or more sub-species of kush has become in a tendency in this group that is not negligible.
Gorilla Glue: This amazing strain, from which all growers have heard about by many reasons, is of those strains born from an uncontrolled environmental pollination occurred in a growroom. This origin has created a love and hate relation with growers, who know about its high tendency to herm, causing many crops full of seeds.
How to avoid a strain turning to hermaphrodite?
As we mentioned some strain do not depend on environmental factors to herm, but ¿what happens with strains with high hermaphroditic ratio? The solution if we work with one of these strains is to stress them as less as possible, specially along flowering stage, so the risk possibilities will be reduced to the minimum expression.
The first thing in these cases would be to keep environmental conditions the most optimal possible, work with hygiene, paying attention to your timers. Another key point is to keep our plants free from pests and disease, and maintain the feeding schedule under control to avoid possible nutrient-locks.
It is also recommended to proceed with a research previous to purchase of seeds: Even though many seedbanks do tests before releasing a new strain, there isn’t a better test than many growers (with different conditions) growing the same strain, sharing their results. Even though it won’t be always a strain fault, if many growers have problems when growing a strain, maybe it is better to stay away from it to save problems. At the same time, if a breeder (or seedbank) detects high hermaphroditic strain in their catalogue probably he will remove it from market and stop selling it.
How to proceed if we find hermaphroditic strains in our garden?
Arrived to flowering stage in our garden it is specially important to daily check our plants looking for possible hermaphroditic traits (male flowers). These flowers can be easily detected due its characteristic yellow color and its banana shaped form. If one of our plants gives symptoms of female flowers and male flowers in early flowering stage the best we can do is to remove that plant immediately (and chop her down). In case of detecting one of these plants in mid. flowering stage we can act in two ways:
– In cases where plants produce few male flowers we can proceed to remove them one by one and keep the plant controlled for future appearances. Always before removing those bananas is better to spray plants with water to avoid the pollen contained in the bananas to be released when removing.
– If a plant produce large amounts of male flowers we recommend to immediately remove it from the garden and chop her.
It can also happen that these hermaphroditic traits appear at the end of the flowering period, moment in which the best decision is proceed to a flushing (if it has not been done yet) y harvest them as soon as possible to avoid any male flower evolution that could release pollen.
What happens if I find seeds in my crop?
If you have already harvested your plants, your flowers are dried, and you find seeds in your cannabis, the most probable thing is one of your plants hermmed on you. Some of the male flowers from this hermaphroditic strain formed released pollen enough to fertilized partially other females, what derived in seeds in your flowers.
As we commented the low (almost null) viability of these seeds (due carrying hermaphroditic traits) we can do two things:
Assume that every nug we grind will contain seeds that we will need to take apart and throw away before consuming the weed.
Use all that crop with seeds to get resin extracts: Iceolator (water hash) or rosin, so we will get a top quality product, free from seeds.
We hope our explanations and tips help you when choosing a new strain to grow, and to detect possible hermaphroditic strains in your garden.
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