The fate of weed seeds in the soil has been an area of much research in recent years. Most studies have focused on the seeds that successfully produce seedlings since these are the seeds that cause immediate problems for farmers. In most studies, annual emergence typically accounts for 1 to 30% of the weed seed in the soil. Thus, the majority of seeds found in the soil seed bank fail to produce seedlings in any given year. I love seedless weed. It’s just so easy. But now, instead of grumbling on the rare occasions when I find a marijuana seed, I get excited. When and if you find seeds in your flower, there are several options for utilizing them in ways that do not involve a trash can.
Fate of weed seeds in the soil
The fate of weed seeds in the soil has been an area of much research in recent years. Most studies have focused on the seeds that successfully produce seedlings since these are the seeds that cause immediate problems for farmers. In most studies, annual emergence typically accounts for 1 to 30% of the weed seed in the soil. Thus, the majority of seeds found in the soil seed bank fail to produce seedlings in any given year. The fate of seeds that fail to germinate and emerge is poorly understood. While some of these seeds are simply dormant and will remain viable until the following year, others are lost due to decay or consumed by insects or small animals. This article will describe results of an experiment that monitored the fate of seeds for the first four years following introduction into the soil.
Methods: Seeds of velvetleaf, waterhemp, woolly cupgrass and giant foxtail were harvested from mature plants during the 1994 growing season. The seeds were cleaned and counted and then buried in the upper two inches of soil on October 21, 1994. Two thousand seeds were buried within a 3 sq ft frame to allow recovery during the course of the experiment. Weed emergence was determined by counting seedlings weekly during the growing season. Emerged seedlings were pulled by hand after counting. In the fall of each year one quarter of the soil within a frame was excavated and the remaining seeds were extracted and counted. Corn or soybeans were planted between the frames during the course of the experiment to simulate agronomic conditions.
Results: The emergence patterns of the four species were described in an earlier article (see emergence patterns). The fate of the seeds (emergence, loss or survival in soil) during the first four years after burial is shown in Figure 1. In the first year following burial waterhemp had the lowest emergence (5%) whereas greatest emergence was seen with woolly cupgrass (40%). Total emergence over the four years ranged from 300 seedlings (15% of seed) for waterhemp to 1020 seedlings (51%) for woolly cupgrass. More than three times as many seedlings emerged in the first year than in subsequent years for velvetleaf, woolly cupgrass and giant foxtail, whereas 140 waterhemp seedlings emerged in 1996 compared to only 100 in 1995.
Figure 1. Fate of seeds during the four years following burial in the upper two inches of soil. Two thousand seeds of each species were buried in the fall of 1994. The area in white represents the number of intact seeds present in the fall of each year, green represents the total number of seeds that produced seedlings during the four years, and the blue represents the total number of seeds lost. Buhler and Hartzler, 1999, USDA/ARS and ISU, Ames, IA.
Seeds of the two grass species were shorter lived than those of velvetleaf or waterhemp. At the end of the third year (1997) no grass seeds were recovered. Somewhat surprising is that waterhemp seed was more persistent than velvetleaf in this study. Velvetleaf has long been used as the example of a weed with long-lived seeds. In the fourth year of the study four times more waterhemp seedlings than velvetleaf emerged and four times more waterhemp seed than velvetleaf seed (240 vs 60) remained in the seed bank.
For all species except woolly cupgrass the majority of seeds were unaccounted for (the blue portion of the graph) in this experiment. Determining the fate of the ‘lost’ seeds is a difficult task. A seed basically is a storage organ of high energy compounds, thus they are a favorite food source of insects and other organisms. In natural settings more than 50% of seeds are consumed by animals. The importance of seed predation in agricultural fields is poorly understood, but recent studies have shown that predation can be a significant source of seed loss. Another important mechanism of seed loss likely is fatal germination. This occurs when a seed initiates germination but the seedling is killed before it becomes established. Fatal germination probably is more important with small-seeded weeds such as waterhemp and lambsquarters than with large-seeded weeds, but is poorly understood. A better understanding of the factors that influence seed losses might allow these processes to be manipulated in order to increase seed losses.
So what does this mean as far as managing weeds in Iowa. First, consider how the methods used in this experiment might influence the results. The seeds were buried in the upper two inches of soil, the zone most favorable for germination. Most long term studies investigating the persistence of seeds have buried the seeds at greater depths than used here in order to minimize germination. If the seeds were buried deeper one might expect less emergence and greater persistence since the seeds would be at a soil depth with less biological activity. If the seeds had been placed on the soil surface it is likely that there would be more predation, less emergence and shorter persistence.
The results indicate that the seed bank of giant foxtail and woolly cupgrass should be able to be depleted much quicker than that of the two broadleaves. Maintaining a high level of weed control for two years should greatly diminish populations of these weeds in future years and simplify weed management. Unfortunately, a single plant escaping control can produce more seed than was introduced to the soil in these experiments, thus the seed bank can be rapidly replenished any time weed control practices fail to provide complete control. Finally, over 50% of velvetleaf and waterhemp seed was lost in the first two years following burial. However, significant numbers of seed of these species remained four years after burial. This will make populations of these two species more stable over time than those of woolly cupgrass and giant foxtail.
Doug Buhler is a Research Agronomist at the National Soil Tilth Laboratory, USDA/ARS, Ames, IA.
What To Do If You Find Seeds In Your Weed
When I lived in the Midwest, I would drive 70 miles each way to buy weed. I would buy whatever strain my dealer had. And I knew I’d end up with a lot of marijuana seeds.
Like most smokers, I wanted as much smokeable bud as possible, and seeds always felt like a net loss. I couldn’t smoke them. I couldn’t use them to grow my own plant (not in Indiana, anyway). So I threw them away.
After moving to Boulder, I almost forgot about seedy cannabis.
I would stop by Karing Kind dispensary every week or two, buying anywhere from an eighth to an ounce, and over the years I have found fewer than five seeds in my weed.
Pounds and pounds of clean-grown, top-shelf bud… five total seeds. That’s an incredible track record!
But as I’ve come to appreciate, finding seeds in your weed doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The occasional seed hardly affects how much flower you have to smoke, and with a little effort it has the potential to turn into your very own pot plant. Hooray! Free weed!
I still love seedless marijuana. It’s just so easy to grind and smoke. But now, instead of grumbling on those rare occasions when I find a seed, I get excited.
Seed Be Gone: Top-Shelf Cannabis Grown With the Best Available Methods
The plants grown in Karing Kind’s garden are carefully monitored and cared for. Male plants are removed prior to pollination, and female plants are nurtured to reduce stress, which limits the occurrence of self-pollinating hermaphroditic plants.
This all goes to ensure the bud you buy is as potent and dense as possible, with limited stems and almost no seeds. And that means more smokeable marijuana.
Of course, after more than a year without finding even a single seed in my cannabis, I began to rethink my resistance to seedy weed.
After all, Colorado residents are allowed to grow their own cannabis plants for personal use… shouldn’t I be actively hoping for seeds that I could try to turn into my own source of top-shelf marijuana?
Are Cannabis Seeds from Recreational Dispensary Bud Worth Growing?
Who wouldn’t want a chance at growing their own marijuana, especially when you know you’re getting a favorite strain and what potency and effects you can expect?
But seeds you find in store-bought weed are not the same as seeds that have been stabilized over time. In some cases, seeds won’t maintain the potency, yield or fragrance of the original plant. This potential change in quality is why many growers prefer to use clones.
That doesn’t mean you should just throw out seeds you find!
It’s still a free cannabis seed with the potential to produce a high-yielding plant you couldn’t grow otherwise. No, it might not end up being an exact clone of the strain you found it in. But when you’re starting with top-shelf bud, even a slight shift in the next generation’s quality will yield potent, flavorful flower.
Try to get your seed to sprout, and give it time to flower before deciding whether to maintain that plant or move on to greener pastures.
What Do Viable Marijuana Seeds Look Like?
The only sure way to know if a seed is viable is to try to germinate and see if it sprouts.
Generally speaking, viable seeds are darker and relatively hard. Even if a seed is pale and easy to crush between your fingers, however, it’s worth trying to get a sprout before giving up on the seed as nonviable.
What’s the Difference Between Seeds You Find and Seeds You Buy?
When you buy seeds from a trusted breeder, like those sold at Karing Kind recreational marijuana dispensary in Boulder, you can expect they will carry the same properties of the “mother” plant. That’s because these seeds have been carefully stabilized over generations.
The seeds you find in store-bought marijuana flower aren’t even supposed to be there. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the seeds you find… there’s just a little more room for variations in the quality and yield of the plant the seed grows.
Even when buying seeds from trusted breeders, there isn’t any guarantee your plant will exactly mirror the mother plant. Your growing method, soil, temperature, lights and dozens of other factors can all impact the yield, smell and potency of the plant.
Learn more about how to set up your home grow , and let us know in the comments if you have turned any “unwanted” seeds into your very own cannabis plant.
To Seed or Not to Seed…
The only time I have a green thumb is after eating lime jello. I once managed to kill a cactus. If I’m going to try my hand at growing something again, it may as well be with free cannabis seeds.
Because of their attention to detail and careful growing methods, you aren’t likely to find seeds in the flower you buy at Karing Kind. Just pure, top-shelf marijuana. But i f you do find a seed, why not see how it grows? You could end up with your very own cannabis plant and a free, ongoing supply of top-shelf flower.
Or – if you want to ensure the most bud for your effort – you can buy stabilized seeds from Freeworld Genetics for pickup at Karing Kind in North Boulder.
While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available.
What Can I Do With Weed Seeds
When and if you find seeds in your flower, there are several options for utilizing them in ways that do not involve a trash can.
As cannabis consumers, you may occasionally find seeds in your bud due to hermaphroditism, stressed plants, light pollution, inexperienced growers, or just the luck of the draw. Before you call the dispensary and ask to speak with the manager to complain, relax. Don’t panic, either.
Seeds in your weed means that the buds have been pollinated — either from another male plant or from the plant’s own hermaphroditic male clusters (those dreaded banana-looking growths). When you buy feminized, autoflowering store-bought seeds, they are hand-selected and almost always better than random seeds found in bud by accident. This is because there are higher chances that the seeds will yield female end products. Regardless, when and if you find seeds in your flower, there are several options for utilizing them in ways that doesn’t involve a trash can.
Leading cannabis horticulturist Ed Rosenthal, who has grown and experimented with cannabis his whole life, was able to lend a hand. When we asked Rosenthal what the best course of action is in the event that you come across seeded cannabis, he told MERRY JANE, “Be sure to pick out all of the immature seeds. You don’t want to smoke those. And set aside the healthy mature seeds for later, which may be worth growing.”
The larger, darker, viable seeds are distinguished in appearance from the smaller, whitish, immature seeds, which are a little harder to find inside the bud. Seeded cannabis is generally lower quality than top-shelf sinsemilla, but it’s best used in edibles, says Rosenthal. This is because all seeds will be removed in the process anyways.
Now that you have picked out your seeds and separated them from the cannabis, there are a lot of different things you can do with them. Here are five ways novices can use leftover seeds.
Grow a Pot Plant
Why not test out your cultivation skills with a hobby plant grown in your window sill? While you shouldn’t expect a high yield, or even expert-level cannabis, experimenting with plants is fun. Look at master cannabis bonsai growers like Budzai or Bonsai Empire for inspiration. The possibilities are endless, and the stakes are low.
Spread a little love on your next hike in a hidden wooded area — Johnny Appleseed-style. Then, simply walk away. Let nature run its course from there! Who knows? You may start noticing flourishing wild patches of cannabis wherever you dropped them. Or, if you’re inclined, plant the seeds somewhere public, like a park, and see what happens. Just don’t take credit for this, as it’s likely a felony!
Return the Weed
Try to return the seeded weed at the dispensary. In almost every case, the budtender will say “no.” That would be like trying to return fruit at the grocery store. But seeded cannabis is weighed down by the seeds, making it lesser quality, so inform them of the sub-par cannabis and move forward.
Save Them and Eat Them
Can you eat cannabis seeds like hemp seeds? According to Quora, yes. They can be unshelled, shelled, or roasted. Like hemp seeds, there are some benefits, though not the same benefits as, say, an edible infused with THC and CBD. Rich in Omega -3 and Omega -6 fatty acids, eating seeds can help protect your brain. It may also help prevent mental health issues, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. Seeds are also rich in vitamins A, E, D and B, plus they are chock full of minerals like sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, and sulfur.
Sell Them (check local laws first. )
As a consumer there aren’t many ways to distinguish one cannabis seed from another. Reputable seed sources are trusted for their consistent quality, but buying seeds off the street is pretty much a no man’s land. Perhaps someone you know could use seeds for one purpose or another. Be careful, however, because the murky definition of the legality of cannabis seeds depends on what state you live in.
Ambitious Bonus Tip: Start a Seed Bank
Grab a journal like Gold Leaf’s grow planners, or take a more modern approach with a growing app like GrowBuddy. Those notebooks can be used for seed data, too. Jot down your notes, and store seeds according to the strain that you found them in. Mystery seeds are great for future experimentation!