Starting With Seeds
Posted by Matt Leonetti (he/him) on 25th Jan 2022
Getting started growing cannabis can be an overwhelming experience with so many resources and genetics available worldwide. The aspiring budhead has countless cultivars to choose from, with almost every flavor and terpene profile imaginable.
When I started cultivating in the 90s, there was no internet full of seed banks, clone companies, and thousands of seed options. We had underground networks of friends sharing what they could from bag seeds - collected from any bag of quality cannabis - or friends who may have traveled to California or Amsterdam and brought back legitimate cuttings. These were our initial sources of seeds and clones. A lot has changed since then!
From a legal perspective, selling seeds still exists in a gray area. Technically, seeds don’t contain THC, just the genetic code to produce it. So in that sense, even a seed which will someday grow THC cannabis is legal “hemp,” since it contains less than .3% THC.
This is why so many seeds are labeled as hemp, bird seed, or “novelty items.” They’re hiding behind the legal loophole. At this point, while the legalization wave is breaking over our heads, I still don’t see anyone going after seed sales.
Any cultivar will generally do well inside, but outdoor growers need to choose genetics for their region.
So, how do you choose what seeds to grow and from what breeder? I think the most important question to consider is your end goal. Are you growing for big yields? Do you want to be a small boutique breeder that focuses on more complex terpene profiles? There's no right or wrong answer, but these questions will help you to define your starting point. What you want to get out of this experience should be the largest consideration. And most importantly, are you growing indoors or outside?
Not all cultivars will do well outside. Some plants are bred for a specific region and climate, and won't do well elsewhere. For example, a plant grown and bred in the Oregon countryside, may not do well in say the hot humid climate of Florida. Any cultivar will generally do well inside, but outdoor growers need to choose genetics for their region.
The caveat for indoor growers is that they need to consider their size and height limitations. You don’t want to try growing a plant intended to hit 10’ tall in a room with 6’ ceilings. Generally speaking, wide-leaved cultivars (aka indica) tend to be shorter and more stout than thin leaf cultivars (aka sativa) and are usually better suited to most indoor situations where height is a concern.
When I started out, we had a much smaller community of breeders like Jack Herer, Neville, and Sam the Skunkman who took the time to grow thousands of plants, select a few winners, and use those as parent plants in their future work.
Another issue to contend with is knowing which breeders and seed banks to trust. When I started out, we had a much smaller community of breeders like Jack Herer, Neville, and Sam the Skunkman who took the time to grow thousands of plants, select a few winners, and use those as parent plants in their future work. These breeding projects took years, and the end results were stable, tested, and unique plants, which comprise the building blocks of many currently available cultivars.
These days, there are literally thousands of breeders, so march forward with caution. Just as you’d put effort into researching which cultivars you’d like to grow, do that same work on the breeder. Read their bios, their history, get as much info as you can. Check out their social media handles and see the posts and feedback.
It’s also important to understand their process, and whether they’re growing hundreds or thousands of plants to find the best of the lot (known as phenohunting) or simply crossing two different cultivars with different characteristics, and then releasing the first generation - commonly known as F1s.
In the end, remember that the foundation for a good grow is good genetics.
Every breeder will have different reasons for why they keep one plant over another, but some of the criteria include terpene profile, disease resistance, finishing time, and cannabinoid profile.
Don’t forget to pay attention to cost. Cannabis seeds don’t have standards for pricing, and can run as low as $40/pack all the way up to hundreds if not thousands for certain cultivars.
In the end, remember that the foundation for a good grow is good genetics. The more informed you are, and the more effort you put into your research, the more likely it is that you’ll find what you want and need, and feel comfortable with your choices.
On a closing note I’ll share some of our favorite breeders, which include ThugPug Genetics, Fresh Coast Seed Co, Humboldt Seed Company, Lucky Dog Seed Co, JinxProof Genetics and CSI Humboldt. If you’re looking for seed banks, we like Platinum Seed Bank, Neptune Seed Bank, Deeply Rooted, and Seeds Here Now.
As it happens, if you’re interested in anything from the Humboldt Seed Company (www.humboldtseedcompany.com), we are a legally approved retailer, and would be happy to fulfill any requests. Availability decreases the closer we get to spring so don’t wait. Order soon so you can plant a seed, grow cannabis, and share some smiles!
Seeds are defined as hemp seeds as they contain .3% THC or less. Please check with your state as laws vary state to state to make sure that the purchase and delivery of hemp seeds is legal in your area.
Photos by GreenForce Staffing and Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash