The six pillars of a cost-effective cannabis seed germination at scale

Ask ten large-scale cannabis growers about their preferred germination method and you might get just as many different answers: moist cotton pads, seedling trays, soaked in water, directly in soil... Some might even explore different methods depending on the type of plants to be grown as well as the production scale. Regardless of the chosen method, the end goal for any grower is to save money and time by ensuring the highest germination rates. This comes with careful planning and close attention to detail. Dutch Passion supplies and supports many licensed cannabis producers with seeds. Here are the company’s findings from 30+ years in the cannabis seed business.

Growing cannabis from cuttings vs seedlings
When you have searched painstakingly through hundreds, or possibly thousands, of seed grown plants sometimes you find a few with genuinely elite properties. That may mean a golden combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, yield, speed and ease of growth. It makes sense for any large, licensed produce to use this as a mother plant.

That way, your seedlings have identical growth patterns, nutritional requirements and care plans. If you’re growing thousands of plants annually for demanding buyers, taking identical cuttings from an elite mother has obvious attractions.

Despite this, many licensed producers routinely grow cannabis from seed. Often feeling that seed-grown plants grow faster and with more vigour in their conditions. The justification for choosing seed-grown plants is easier if the seed supplier has good genetic control with minimal phenotype spread. Planting seeds is easy and for some growers it saves time & money vs running/staffing a mother room with clones.

Ultimately, whether a producer prefers to operate from a base of clones, seeds (or both) often depends on the style of grow operation and the personal preferences/experiences of the Head Grower and their team.

Sourcing your cannabis seeds with caution
Often personal experience plays a large role in the choice of seed supplier. Nothing quite beats working with predictably consistent seeds from an experienced supplier that you know you really can rely on. Conversely, having a nightmare with unstable genetics is one way to avoid a particular brand of seeds forever.

The reputation of your seed supplier is often an influencing factor. Does your seed supplier show cannabinoid and terpene analysis from their strains? Do they have sufficient experience as a leading seed supplier? Do they employ full-time cannabis geneticists to continuously improve seed production methods and the genetics?

What kind of germination process do you use? Let Dutch Passion know by doing this super short survey here

A few prestigious cannabis cups, preferably collected over a decade or two (rather than a recent smash and grab at a local seed fair) is often a sign that your seed supplier takes their craft very seriously. You can grow from autoflower, feminised or regular seeds. Dutch Passion are often still most fondly remembered by the cannabis community for inventing feminised cannabis seeds back in the 1990s.

Understanding the genetics you are working with
When growing autoflower seeds, suppliers often recommend that the auto seeds are grown in their final containers, without numerous repeated transplanting into progressively larger containers.

That’s because autoflower genetics crash rapidly through their life cycle in around 75 days, they don't really have time to spend adapting to each new container. That's why many large-scale auto growers often germinate seedlings directly in their final containers. Or they germinate the seeds and quickly place them in their final grow containers.

When growing feminised seeds, you have more flexibility. You can decide the length of the vegetative stage and pot up into larger containers as often as you wish.

Germinate seeds in a humid environment (never soaked)
There are, of course, many ways to germinate cannabis seeds. Dutch Passion have monitored and tried them all. The method with the highest germination rates seems to be the moist cotton pad method. This is where cannabis seeds are germinated between two cotton pads, like make-up pads, but without any additives to the cotton pads.

These pads are lightly sprayed with water to moisten them and are kept moist until the seeds germinate in a couple of days. Note that the conditions should be moist, but never soaking wet. Soaking conditions eventually cause the root to rot if insufficient oxygen is present.

Other germination methods include soaking the seeds in a glass of water for a day and then planting them in moist substrate (soil, coco etc.). Some people will plant seeds directly into soil or fibre glass cubes. Each grower tends to use their own germination method. But if you're looking to get the very best seed germination rates, try putting your seeds between a couple of lightly moistened cotton pads for 2-3 days.

Monitoring your grow environment the right way
Serious growers know the importance of keeping consistent conditions for seedlings and not stressing them. The first week or two of the cannabis seedling’s life is crucial. ‘Burn’ your cannabis seedlings with excessively strong nutrients and you may have permanently stunted them. Expose your seedlings to full strength PPFD light levels too early and they may be damaged for good. Temperature extremes will also limit the ability of your seedling to develop healthily.

Monitoring and controlling your grow room to allow stable, optimised conditions is the best way to ensure healthy development. Your cannabis seeds are a relatively minor expense in relation to the value of your final crop. Nevertheless, the efficient grower will try to get maximum value from their cannabis seeds and aim for the highest germination rates.

Know how and when to fertilize cannabis seedlings
Cannabis seedlings need very little nutrition. One of the more common errors, even occasionally from licensed producers, is over feeding.

The logic is simple enough, it’s an attempt to get faster growth. But the delicate seedling roots and biochemistry can only cope with very dilute nutrients. When growing in large containers of soil you may not need to add any nutrients for a couple of weeks, water may suffice initially.

When growing in, e.g. hydroponics, you need to use nutrients with great care. Err on the side of caution and steadily increase your nutrients, backing off at the first hint of overfeeding.

For serious growers, quality seeds really are the best foundation
The difference between the best cannabis seeds and the cheapest seeds is usually just a few dollars per seed. Choose the best seeds you can get from a supplier you know you can trust and get the best germination rates you can!

Cannabis seed quality is one area of your life where you don't need to compromise. Always prioritise the quality of your seeds and use reliable germination methods to get the best value from your seed investments.

Remember that the most expensive seeds are not necessarily the best. But the cheapest seeds are often best avoided. They usually have low quality genetics with little stabilisation. Choosing your seeds is never easy but get your cannabis genetics right and you have the best possible foundation for a killer harvest.

What kind of germination process do you use? Let Dutch Passion know by doing this super short survey here

For more information:
Dutch Passion
Hoogoorddreef 133
1101BB Amsterdam
0031 (0)20 567 39 00    

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