Personally, I do not recommend using this method as a way to identify gender. I believe all the other methods are much more accurate and depend less on needing experience! Can I Make a Breeding Program Using Just Female Plants and Feminized Seeds? Yes, it’s possible to use just female plants and feminized seeds for further breeding, with one major caveat. Without careful and thorough testing, it may be possible to accidentally select for cannabis plants that tend to herm (make male flowers or pollen) and cause seedy buds when you don’t want them to.
For each possible “mother,” clones should be grown in several different environments and tested thoroughly to make sure that the mother plant does not have any tendency to make pollen naturally in normal or stressful conditions. It’s okay if plants grow pollen sacs if induced chemically since that is very unlikely to happen in someone’s garden on accident, but you don’t want plants that will start growing male parts on their own without chemical induction. Thorough testing of plant hardiness is always important when breeding, but it may be especially important when breeding feminized seeds together. Are there other reasons I should avoid breeding seeds without males? The most common reason growers say you shouldn’t do this is because it’s “unnatural” or doesn’t “seem right.” Some growers say you need male plants for genetic diversity. I’ve also heard growers say that the resulting plants will be weaker, sterile, less potent and once someone even told me that resulting plants “will be worse in every way.” As of yet I haven’t seen any of these claims backed by actual personal experience, or any real-life examples showing why using feminized seeds is not a viable way to breed new strains.
To those who say this type of reproduction just doesn’t seem right, the evolutionary strategy of plants using only female and hermaphrodite plants to breed is actually pretty common and is known as gynodioecy . One example of a plant that only reproduces this way is a flower found in Canada and the US called Lobelia siphilitica , also known as the Great Lobelia. Obviously this reproduction method isn’t exactly the same as artificial feminization since the pollen production is caused naturally instead of induced chemically, but examples of gynodioecy show that a female flower-based breeding population can exist in the wild even when no plants are purely male. The Great Lobelia naturally reproduces using only female and hermaphrodite plants. This is similar to the cannabis feminization process because it results in a population of plants that all primarily grow female flowers, with no pure male plants. When it comes to genetic diversity, the ability to cross out to thousands of different cannabis strains allows you to dramatically increase the gene pool without using male plants. So those are my answers to the common objections of a feminized seed-based breeding program, however I am just a theory-crafter when it comes to this topic. It certainly seems possible that a feminized-only breeding program could run into unforeseen problems down the road, but as far as I know there isn’t any evidence of that so far. Although I have a few anecdotes from growers who have used only feminized seeds for a few generations, it would be much better to share information from someone who has conducted plenty of testing over several generations. We’d love to hear from you if you have bred more than a few generations using only feminized seeds and want to share your experience! What are positive aspects of breeding two feminized seeds together? Besides not having to worry about male plants in the next generation, the main advantage of doing this is you have a much better idea what you’re working with when it comes to producing the type of buds you’re looking for. When you’re growing a male plant, it has several genes it will pass to its offspring that has to do with how buds develop, but since it’s a male plant those genes aren’t expressed and it’s hard to figure out what they are. Historically, the way to learn more about the “hidden genes” contained in a male plant is to breed it to several well-known female plants, and see how the offspring compare to each other. The genes that don’t come from the known mother plant are assumed to come from the male. Another way of going about this is to take several clones of the same well-known female plant, and breed them with many different male plants to see which ones produce the best offspring. After testing with several pairings, you start to get an idea of the hidden genes a male plant has to offer to its female offspring. This time-consuming process of documenting and identifying good male plants is why proven stud male plants are one of the most valuable and closely guarded types of clones available today. But the process of finding the right “father” is a little different when you start with two female plants. In this case you already know quite a bit about the genes of both parents because you can just look at and test the buds of both plants directly. This allows you to pinpoint desirable genes with less guessing and much less time spent growing out and cataloging plants! In nature, male plants are very effective at increasing genetic diversity by ensuring cross pollination. With only purely male and purely female plants, every resulting seed will have two different parents. Another big advantage in the wild of having separate female and male plants is sexual specialization.
In other words, plants are able to evolve male and female traits separately, so each type of flower can become more specialized at its unique “job.” However, this isn’t the only successful breeding strategy for plants. In fact, only 6-7% of plants have completely separate male and female plants like cannabis plants do (known as dioecious plants). Most plants grow some mix of male and female flowers on each plant, with different combinations offering different evolutionary benefits. You might enjoy this scientific article if you want to learn more about the evolution of sex determination in plants and animals: Sex Determination: Why So Many Ways of Doing It? And although most cannabis strains (at least the good ones) display either purely male or purely female flowers, there are some wild populations (and some strains of hemp) that regularly produce plants with male and female parts on the same plant. When it comes to artificial selection for breeding new strains, the grower is in charge of cross pollination, so there’s no need for the plant to specialize in male parts. Pretty much the only thing most growers care about is how female flowers develop. So (unlike in nature) growers have the freedom to choose plants that improve female buds without even having to consider how it might affect male plants. Can feminizing seeds result in hermaphrodite plants?
If you do it the wrong way then feminization can lead to plants with an increased chance of herming. However, with a well-tested and well-bred feminization program, one of the main goals is to breed out any plants with hermaphroditic tendencies that show up under normal conditions. When you buy feminized seeds from trustworthy breeders, you can count on the fact that every plant will end up growing only female flowers and that’s it. This is a relatively big topic with a lot of controversy so I wrote a whole article about it if you want to check it out! Can I pollinate the same plant I collected the pollen from?