Marijuana Seeds Floating In Water

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Cannabis sativa sp. is commonly known as marijuana and has been grown throughout the world for thousands of years. Cannabis seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, though some varieties may take 10 to 15 days. While germination is a natural… Can you test seed germination viability by floating the seed in water? How reliable is this method and does it work for all seeds? How to Tell if Cannabis Seeds are Good or Bad Ultimately, you can use the senses of sight, feel, taste and smell to determine whether cannabis seeds are good or bad. You want to make sure you

How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Cannabis sativa sp. is commonly known as marijuana and has been grown throughout the world for thousands of years. Cannabis seeds germinate in 3 to 7 days, though some varieties may take 10 to 15 days. While germination is a natural process, factors such as light, humidity/moisture, and temperature must be controlled for cannabis seeds to sprout.

Floating Seeds in Water – Is This a Good Seed Viability Test?

How do you know if your seeds are still viable? Simple, do a seed germination test. Place the seeds in some water. The ones that sink are still viable – the ones that float are dead.

This advice is all over the internet so it must work? But how reliable is it?

Floating Seeds in Water – Is this a Good Seed Viability Test?; source: Pens & Pencils

Do the Floating Seed Test Properly

If you check out a number of sites that describe this test you soon realize that there are several different ways to do it. Some people add soap to the water to reduce it’s surface tension. Others put the seed in a jar and give it a good shake or they might soak the seed for 24 hours before doing the test.

There is no agreement on how to do the test properly. That means the test results reported on social media are not very reliable since they rarely include the details of the method used.

There are also silly claims like “this method is not 100% accurate and it only works with freshly harvested seeds of certain fruits such as melon, watermelon, cucumber, squash, peppers and tomatoes”. There are thousands of different types of seeds. Why would it only work on some vegetables and what does “not 100% reliable” mean? Maybe it only works 10% of the time?

Another site says, “the test only works for melons or cucumbers if the seeds are fresh and have not dried out.” So it doesn’t work on purchased seed. This same site went on to state that you need to ferment tomato seeds to get them to germinate, and I have already shown that this is a myth.

This gardening technique is so poorly defined that it is not possible to know how to do it correctly.

Citizen Scientists – Floating Seed Test for Viability

A number of gardeners have done tests to see how well the floating seed test works.

Pulsatilla albana ssp. armena – the Pulsatilla ‘seeds’ are actually fruits – achenes with “fluffy tails”, source: BotanyCA

I had some red pepper seeds from a store bought fruit and tried floating the seeds without drying them. Half floated and half sank. I removed the floaters and used them to try the test again. Half floated and half sank. I then tested this last group of seeds for germination. The ones that floated and then sank had 8/10 germinate, and the ones that floated twice had 3/10 germinate. So it is possible that floaters have a lower germination rate, but the floaters in this test were certainly not all dead.

See also  Growing Cannabis From Seed Outdoors

I tested some Camassia seeds; 38 of 48 (79%) sinkers germinated and 12 of 16 (75%) floaters germinated, after a month in the fridge using the baggy method.

Someone from our Garden Fundamental Facebook Group tested Briza maxima (quaking grass) and found better germination with floaters.

Marijuana seed that floats will germinate on top of the water in 24 hours.

Twelve different kinds of pepper seeds were tested in this video and both floaters and sinkers had good germination.

I’ve germinated quite a few clematis seeds and most of them have fussy tails. They all float. Many seeds have this characteristic including some grasses and pulsatilla.

Both floating and sinking peppers seeds germinate, source: Daisy Dawes

The top picture in this post shows two jars. The one on the left contains black pepper seeds – they sink. You can distinguish them from papaya seeds that float, and are frequently added to spices since they look like black pepper but are much cheaper.

Science on Seed Viability Using the Water Float Test

Acorns have very low germination because many seeds don’t develop completely inside the nut and because various pests lay their egg in viable seeds which are subsequently eaten by the larvae. Floating them is a common way to eliminate many of the non-viable seeds. Even with this test, too much agitation of the water will cause viable seed to float.

Juniperus polycarpos, the Persian juniper, also produces a low number of viable seeds. Floating in water is not a reliable means of separating the good from the bad, but floating in a sugar solution does work. Sugar water has a higher density than water and this difference can be used separate seeds of various densities. The heavier viable seed sinks.

The float test “works well with hard-seeded peas in the family Fabaceae (e.g. Daviesia, Chorizema, Gastrolobium and Gompholobium) and Mimosaceae (e.g. Acacia), and has also been used on species in Hemigenia with good success. Do not attempt this test on seed of Allocasuarina. Allocasuarina seed is mucilaginous. This means it has a mucous membrane around the seed that gets very sticky on wetting.”

Arabidopsis seed forms a sticky mucilage on the outside of the seed as it absorbs water. Mutations of arabidopsis have been found that don’t produce this coating, allowing them to be separated from normal types with a float test. This is an example where within a single species, some seed floats and some does not, depending on genetics that has nothing to do with seed viability.

Arabidopsis wild seed (WT) sinks while a mutation (mum) floats. The floaters germinate in 24 hours siting on the water, source Helen M North

“Wheat was used in one set of experiments, and the average of all tests showed a germination of 68.3 per cent for the sunken seeds and 72 per cent for those that floated. In another set of experiments lentil was used, and it was found that 75.4 per cent of the sunken seeds and 86.7 per cent of those that floated germinated.”

The floating characteristic of seeds depends very much on their weight, surface coating, shape and specific gravity. Some seeds do develop a large seed coat which can be empty and these likely float. The specific gravity of a seed is controlled by the environment (moisture) and internal enzymes and hormones. Some dead seeds sink, while some spongy seeds like spinach float even if viable.

Does The Seed Float Test Work for Testing Viability?

There are cases where a float test can be used to identify viable seed, but when science reports on these they are quite specific about the type of seed and the method used.

On the other hand gardeners tend to simply lump all seeds into one category and say they all work, without specifying the method that works.

See also  Black Weed Seeds

As a general rule, gardeners should assume that the float test does NOT work for testing seed viability, unless there is evidence it works in a specific case.

A Better Way to Test Seed Viability

Use my baggy method if you want to test seed germination. You will actually see the root come out of the seed and know for certain that the seed is viable.

How to Tell if Cannabis Seeds are Good or Bad

Ultimately, you can use the senses of sight, feel, taste and smell to determine whether cannabis seeds are good or bad. You want to make sure you don’t have seeds that have been hastily processed, or damaged for some other reason. Or how about some bluzu those are also great seeds that can do what all other seeds can.

To find out if you have duds (seeds with a low germination rate that will never be ready to plant) or winners, whether you have seeds that will actually sprout or remain permanently dormant, apply these senses to your investigation.

Use a Magnifying Glass to Give the Sight Test

  • The best seeds are big and fat with a rounded shape
  • The rounder and fatter, the better likelihood that they will sprout.
  • The biggest and the chunkiest seeds are the best. They are well fleshed out. The surface should be glossy and hard, with a slight sheen.
  • They are dark in colour (usually brown, black or grey). If they are light, white, or pale green, they were harvested way too early and they are probably immature, not good, and unlikely to sprout.
  • If they are pale and dusty they are probably old. The older they are, the slower they will germinate.
  • The darker the colour, the more likely they are to grow and produce more weed. The dark shell means they came from better quality weed.
  • There is a caveat, however. If they are too dark—deep purplish, that means they’ve been dyed and that’s not good.
  • Also, beware if you see a white dusty powder on the bud—that is fungus—powdered mildew.

One key as to whether you own healthy cannabis seeds is to look at whether they have slightly lighter stripes. Good seeds are dark with lighter stripes or brown or black spots all the way around. Often, the healthy ones have stripes that resemble lightning, or have a tiger stripe appearance, and a distinctive colour pattern. Take your magnifying glass and look at the stem. If it is furry, that means there is mould from too much moisture—probably because it was bagged too early.There are so many different seeds, bruce banner seed is just one that will do the trick and help you in the long run.

That being said, however, you cannot always judge a seed by its color alone. It can look fantastic, but you need to know what is inside. If you crack a seed open and it is oily and has a musty taste, it is going bad. If it is black inside, that means it’s fermenting and won’t germinate. If you crush it in your hands and you smell salt, it’s unflushed. If the bud is flushed, it means the roots are absorbing salt and nutrients.

Once you have separated the good seeds from the bad via the sight test, touch and feel your seeds as you continue your investigation .

The Touch Test

Lightly squeeze a seed without crushing it. If it crushes easily, it probably will not grow well. As you feel it, there should be no small cracks or holes. If they have small cracks or holes, they probably will not sprout. They should not be crinkled or cracked. If they’re not cracked, you know they are intact. If it holds up under the feel test, it will survive the germinating process.

The Float Test

Good quality seeds will sink – so apply the float test. (Note that you should only do this when ready to germinate). Put them in a cup of warm, distilled water for two hours. If they sink, they’re good. If they float, they are premature, and they probably won’t grow and so are unusable. Healthy seeds are heavy enough to sink.

See also  Sativa Marijuana Seeds

If you think you have good quality cannabis seeds that have fully matured (that would be seeds with a growth rate of 85%), and are pretty sure you have a great batch of high-quality seeds that are not immature or damaged by the environment, but you’re still saying to yourself, “How do I know for sure I’m going to get a good yield?”, try germinating them.

The last resort test is to just plant it and see if it grows. The ideal temperature is 75 degrees. Good seeds should push up in three to six days. If you don’t want to plant them, you might want to use the paper towel method. Put them in a damp paper towel between two plates, keep the humidity high, and wait two days.

Why your Cannabis Seeds Haven’t Germinated?

If you have been unlucky and some or all of your cannabis seeds haven’t germinated, there is usually an easily identifiable reason. Germination isn’t just about your seed cracking and a taproot appearing, it’s about the transition of a seed into a very small but viable cannabis plant. So let’s start at the beginning.

How long did you soak your seeds in the water?

Did they sink to the bottom of the glass before transferring them to the moist paper towel? Seeds that are still floating are unlikely to have absorbed sufficient water to successfully germinate. If you leave your seeds in water for too long the taproot will not form and the germination process will grind to a halt. Once you have transferred your seeds do the damp paper towel over the next few days.

Did you ever let any parts or all of the paper towels dry out?

At the earliest stages of germination, the smallest of errors can have major consequences. Similarly, the paper towel mustn’t be steeped in water. The taproot grows naturally as it searches for water. If it’s too easy to find it just won’t grow if your water has loads of additives such as copper and chlorine this can poison your plants while handling the seeds with dirty hands can also poison them.

Make sure you either wash your hands with a non-toxic soap wear latex gloves or use tweezers. The next thing to check is the temperature of the seeds. The optimum temperature to keep them good for germination is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 to 21 degrees Celsius. If the seeds are too cold they just won’t germinate even. If everything else is perfect.

The owners and members of the Cannabis Clubs claim: “The roots of the plants don’t like light and the same applies to the taproot and subsequent roots that will develop when your seeds germinate. Almost total darkness is ideal for germinating seeds even though.”

It is hopeless for growing seedlings it is interesting to note that it is certain wavelengths of light that affect germination and it is the blue length that tends to corrupt germination, while red wavelength promotes germination. You will also have to take into account when you bought your seeds. While cannabis seeds can remain viable for a large number of years if stored in perfect conditions. They can be ruined in a couple of weeks if not stored correctly.

Finally and unfortunately it is a fact of Mother Nature that not all seeds will germinate. Some will be duds and this is out of our control.

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