Germinating seeds is the first step in growing cannabis plants. Germination is not an activity to be taken lightly; it is a delicate moment in which the seed is coming to life. There are some important factors that need to be considered and some methods that may be useful to be aware of. In this article we will try and take a look at everything you need to know about hemp seeds and their germination.
Here is what we will explore:
- What is a hemp seed: characteristics and composition
- What is germination and why is it important?
- Germination techniques
- Environmental factors
- Germination percentage
What is a hemp seed: characteristics and composition
Hemp seeds are produced by Cannabis Sativa and are regularly used in the production of cannabis plants, which in turn are used both for fibre production and for the production of inflorescences, cannabinoid products and hemp biomass.
First of all, it is important to bear in mind that the only way to grow cannabis plants legally is to purchase certified hemp seeds. This will also ensure that the cannabis seeds we are investing in meet specific quality standards, including high germination percentage, varietal purity, genetic stability and other factors that will make a difference to the yield and quality of the final product.
Cannabis seeds are also the main raw material for the production of hemp seed oil and other edibles based on this plant. This specificity is due to the fact that hemp seeds are a very nutritious food, which can be used in low-calorie diets or diets aimed at lowering cholesterol and strengthening the immune system.
Hemp seeds are made up of complex carbohydrates, a protein fraction (the seeds are made up of 25% protein, in a combination in which all 8 of the essential amino acids for protein synthesis are present, which is important for cell renewal) and a certain amount of fatty acids. Fatty acids make up about 35% of the total, but they are polyunsaturated fats, i.e. good fats and lipids.
The fatty acids found in hemp seeds include Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids capable of slowing down cellular ageing and counteracting oxidative stress.
Cannabis seeds are also very rich in vitamins, the supply of vitamin E is remarkable, to put it mildly, along with the presence of minerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium). Finally, hemp seeds are rich in fibre and are particularly good for the intestine, a nutritional component that is useful for the proper functioning of the bowel.
Due to all these properties, hemp seed oil, which is the main derivative of hemp seeds, has been among the most sought-after and purchased oils by consumers for the last ten years. It is purchased by those who want to prevent inflammation in a natural way, by those who want to tackle hypertension and stress, but also by those who just want to include a vitamin and antioxidant supplement in their diet.
It is usually taken twice a day as a seasoning on food or in a recipe instead of seed oil (other seed oils...) Due to its protein profile and richness in essential amino acids, hemp seed oil is often used as a supplement in vegan diets.
In general, hemp seeds, even when not yet active, are living organisms and should therefore be stored and handled with the utmost care.
We have seen how important the seed is as food, but there is also the possibility of using the seed in other ways, such as sowing it to obtain the plant. It depends on what we are sowing for: do we want to harvest flowers? Or material for extraction? Hemp for fibre?
Depending on the type of plant and the type of cultivation we are setting up, the hemp plant may produce more inflorescences or more seeds.Before planting the seeds, make sure you use clean tools and have everything you need on hand to plant them during germination.
What germination is and why it is important
Germination is the earliest growth stage of cannabis plants and all plants in general. It begins when the seeds are placed in their ideal environment and made active, and ends when the very first roots and leaves of our future hemp plants can be spotted (germination is a stage in the plant cycle where the seed comes out of its dormant phase; the seed enters the germination phase under the right environmental conditions, such as water content, oxygen and temperature).
This is the moment in which the seed begins to germinate and pull out its first tiny roots.
This is an important stage because it could influence the future health of the plant. For this reason, before being planted to germinate, seeds should be handled as little as possible and care should be taken to observe strict hygiene rules.
Depending on the variety, the germination phase can last from three days to two weeks and it is important to monitor the condition of our seeds every day, check the temperature and humidity and move them swiftly to a light source as soon as the seeds begin to germinate. It is also important not to wait until the roots are over 6 cm before moving the cannabis plants into larger pots.
If at the end of germination we have tiny cannabis plants that are totally healthy and have grown in their ideal environment, we are more likely to see the plants perform at their best in the vegetative and flowering stages.
The germination percentage (which we will discuss in more detail in one of the following paragraphs), i.e. the final yield of our hemp seeds, depends on a combination of elements including environmental factors, germination techniques and adequate monitoring of the hemp seeds during their first growth stage.
Cannabis seeds, unlike other types of seeds, are particularly delicate. Before planting the seeds in the soil we have prepared for growing our cannabis plants, we need to germinate our seeds in an environment that is ideal for them.
There are several ways of germinating seeds, and they are all valid. The important thing is to respect the instructions and handle your cannabis seeds carefully and hygienically. Let's take a look at the main germination methods for hemp seeds:
Germination method in soil:
You need potting soil that is preferably free of fertilisers but rich in natural nutrients. You will need a recipient, a small pot, but also egg cartons; just make holes in it (there are also special kits available).
Fill the container with soil and then make a small hole of about 4.5 mm with your finger or a clean pencil. Place the seed and cover it with soil. (The depth of the hole can be 10 mm or more; the seed is placed in the hole and covered with soil, without compressing it too much).
At this point, after watering with a spray, all that remains is to place the plant in a safe place protected from draft. It is important that the temperature remains constant at approximately 20° to 26°C (17°C at night, not below, and 23°C during the day).
The soil should be kept moist, but it is important not to over-water. Within two weeks, but probably sooner, you will start to see small stems emerging from the soil. When they have reached 3 cm, you can transfer your future cannabis plants into larger pots. At this very early stage of growth, it is best not to add any extra nutrients to the soil.
Water germination method:
This method is a little faster than germinating in soil; the seeds should start germinating in two or three days, but could take up to a week.
Simply put a few seeds in a glass, fill with water at room temperature (around 22°C) and place away from drafts or temperature fluctuations.
It is necessary to keep the water clean, changing it about every two days. Keep an eye on your seeds, as soon as you see them sprout, wait for the small roots to reach 4-5 centimetres and very gently transfer them to the target soil.
Whether soil or hydroponics, it is necessary to plant the sprouted seeds in larger pots. Again, avoid adding any nutrients. The water and nutrients contained in the seed itself will be sufficient.
(This method involves some risks: with excessive exposure to water and the handling required in transplanting, the seeds run the risk of drowning or being damaged).
Paper towel method:
to germinate seeds with this method, the hemp seeds must be placed between two moistened paper towels (kitchen paper towels are perfect).
Once the ends of the napkins are closed, place the bundle containing the seeds in a closed plastic bag or under a small glass or plastic case (any suitable container). Make sure to keep the napkins sufficiently moist and place in a dark place away from temperature fluctuations. In about a week the seeds should germinate, but this could also happen on the third or fifth day.
The seeds have to be monitored because as soon as the roots start to grow, they have to be gently transplanted into larger pots. It is best to avoid the roots getting longer than 5 centimetres because they could get stuck in the paper towels or get damaged.
Some people use two cotton pads instead of two dampened napkins. The principle is the same. The right humidity and temperature must be maintained and care and delicacy must be used when picking up the hemp seeds before transferring them.
For this method, the same "risks" exist as for the glass of water method; the seeds are handled excessively and there is a risk of damaging them or, again, there is a risk of using too much water and causing the seeds to rot. Caution!
Stone wool method:
Rockwool is an inert and particularly draining substrate, which is excellent for germinating seeds because of its ability to keep the roots well oxygenated. You can find rockwool in the form of cubes.
The rockwool cubes must first be moistened. At this stage it is important to keep an eye on the pH value, which should be slightly acid to counteract the tendency of rockwool to become alkaline. Once moistened, simply make a 5.6 mm hole in the cube and place the seed inside.
The ideal environment for the cubes is a small greenhouse in which you can maintain the same good level of humidity, around 80%. Within two weeks you will start to see your cannabis plants grow. At this point, you can transfer them to larger pots, keeping them directly in the cube, which does not harm the health of the plant in any way, but rather helps the roots to grow in a healthy way throughout the growth phase of the plant.
Rockwool protects the plants by allowing them to be safely transferred into larger pots; the difficulty is immersion in water with a low pH level.
Whichever method of cultivation you have chosen, once they have sprouted and the roots have reached 4-5 centimetres, the seeds should soon be planted in larger pots, either directly in the target soil or in the hydroponic preparation you have made ready for them. During this step, it is obviously important that the roots are pointing downwards.
It is best to avoid touching the root, in any case it is important to use sterile gloves or tweezers and possibly have very clean hands. The young Cannabis plants should be planted in their new site about one inch deep; within a few days to two weeks, your seedlings should start to grow.
If the three indispensable environmental factors are respected, any of the methods described in the previous paragraph will help us to germinate our hemp seeds.
Let's have a closer look at what we can never stop paying attention to:
- The temperature: it is essential that it is kept constant throughout the germination phase. The ideal environment is a temperature of between 20 and 26° C, while drafts and excessive exposure to heat must be avoided. This does not mean that in an indoor situation one should not change the air, quite the contrary. Oxygenation promotes germination.
- Humidity: to ensure that our seeds germinate, humidity should also be kept constant between 80 and 85% at least in the first few days of the growth phase. A small greenhouse or as we have seen in the case of the paper towel method, a plastic bag could be useful.
- Light: Cannabis seeds don't need it in the very first growth phase, but only from the moment they start to germinate. At that point, in a timely manner, we will place our cannabis seeds in a well-lit place or use a soft artificial light to help them continue their growth phase in the best possible way.
It is important to monitor our cannabis seeds throughout the growth phase so that we can intervene if necessary. It may be useful to keep a sprayer handy to keep the humidity high in case of excessive dryness. It is best to choose a sheltered place, away from doors and windows.
The germination percentage is one of the European standards that must be met in order to obtain certification that hemp seeds are suitable for cultivation.
Standards indicate that seeds should have a germination rate of 70 to 80%. Our seeds achieve a 95% germination rate.
This is because we know how crucial this factor is in terms of productivity. By germination percentage we mean the ratio between the amount of seeds we buy and plant and the number of seeds that manage to finish the entire growth phase and actually turn into cannabis plants.
Buying hemp seeds with a high germination percentage means you have a guarantee in terms of productivity and the final yield of your crop.
We have designed two new varieties of hemp seeds, extremely stable and pure, with a 95% germination level.
They are two certified varieties, which differ in the active ingredient at their core, one genetic is a source of cannabidiol (CBD), the other of cannabigerol (CBG); both are designed to give the maximum in terms of productivity and product quality.
Here is an overview of the two new genetics:
With a very high cbd percentage (5-8%), ideal for cannabis cultivars intended for biomass extraction, it has a highly sought-after terpene profile.
It is a genetic that is well suited and gives its best for biomass processing. It is a very hardy genetic that adapts easily to outdoor cultivation but can also be grown indoors or in a greenhouse. It can easily grow even in very cold climates and very low temperatures.
This is a new cannabigerol (cbg) genetics, one of the new major discoveries in the world of industrial hemp.
CBG is a key cannabinoid in the growth phase of the cannabis plant. It has only recently been discovered by both the scientific community and certain industrial sectors, such as pharmacology, food and cosmetics.
Enectarol is a certified variety with a cbg percentage of around 6%, a great novelty for the world of hemp biomass, which until now has only had varieties with up to 3%.
It is twice as strong as the other genetics because cannabigerol has a naturally stabilising function during the plant's first growth phase. It is well suited for outdoor cultivation but can also be grown indoors and in greenhouses.
Both Enectaliana and Enectarol meet all standards for extraction biomass production, offering a much higher active principle content and a great exception among the varieties designed for biomass extraction.
It is from these varieties that we extract our hemp biomass.
We design our genetics according to the highest European quality standards and cultivate our cannabis plants according to strict guidelines based on precise cultivation techniques.
All our products are natural and certified and our hemp seeds are carefully stored so that they are always fresh and ready to be planted.
An online debate to talk about hemp cultivation: