Medpot Minstrel: Hydroponics Medical Marijuana

Friday, February 02, 2007


Sinsemilla: Unfertilized Virgin Females

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been lucky. From the fifteen seeds that I usually start with, six of them are bound to be females. Other growers have complained that all they’ve got is males and hermies (hermaphrodites—having the characteristics of both male and female).

I’ve placed my one-inch rockwool cubes onto a grid in a growing tray that has a humidity cover. I water sparingly, only when I feel the tops of the cubes and they have dried out.

Over-watering at this stage can cause root rot and damping off. Under-watering, on the other hand, will cause the tiny roots to dry up and die.

As the seed sprouts, white tap-roots burst forth and the first, seed or cotyledon leaves appear. The plant will eventually drop these, as the first true leaves make their appearance.

Needless to say, the tender, young cannabis plants are very delicate at this point, so they should be warmed and nurtured with care. If the temperature in your grow room is not up to snuff (around 75º to 80º F) it is a good idea to put a heating pad under your grow tray. Warn seedlings will grow up to be strong, potent plants.

I grow my fifteen seedlings under a fluorescent grow light, and leave it on for 18 hours a day. Any longer that that will cause spindly plants and is counterproductive. However, according to the owner of Dutch Passion Seeds, if you cut back and only give your plants 14 hours of light at this stage, you will encourage the formation of female plants.

Jorge Cervantes quotes Henk, the Dutch owner, in his “Indoor Marijuana Horticulture.” Other hints from Henk to get more female plants include increasing the amount of Nitrogen you feed your seedlings.

(Remember, only give your plants a weak solution of your basic fert at this time. Some growers recommend no food for the first two weeks, only a vitamin like B-52 or Organic B, and perhaps a weak solution of Voodoo Juice. Voodoo has a trace of Nitrogen in it, which might be enough for your seedlings at this very early stage.)

Other Henk hints: lower temperatures increase the number of females, as does high humidity. If you allow your growing medium to dry up too much, you’re encouraging the formation of males.

More blue light encourages females, while environmental stress results in more males being formed.

Why is there such a huge emphasis on growing females? The unfertilized female of the cannabis plant is known as Sinsemilla, which comes from two Spanish words meaning “without seed.”

There are many theories as to why unfertilized Cannabis females are so potent, but many of them border on romanticism. Scientifically, it has been proven that seeding reduces the life span of the plant not allowing enough time for THC to accumulate.

Seeding causes hormonal changes within the plant, which affect its metabolism. These changes probably cause an imbalance in the enzymes that control cannabinoid production. THC is only one of the cannabinoids that determine the potency of cannabis.

Sinsemilla plants continue floral production long after the fertilized plants have stopped. When the calyx is fertilized, it is suspected that trichome production stops. So female “virgins,” so to speak, continue to produce THC long after their seed bearing sisters have stopped doing so.

What I do to ensure untouched females is tough love. I discard the males. Now when you pay hundreds of dollars for seeds, discarding any of them is heart wrenching. But the pure, potent smoke of the Sinsemilla plants makes up for this sacrifice.

I could keep a male or two and fertilize one of the females in a controlled fashion, but to do so is a complicated process and things could go wrong. All my females could end up being fertilized and our medicine could end up being much less effective as a result.

How do I tell the males from the females? That’s a very good question. Female plants on the whole are shorter and have more branches. The leaves of female plants go all the way to the top, with many leaves surrounding their flowers.

Males, in general, have fewer leaves near the top and their flowering limbs have no leaves whatsoever. Many growers wait until flowers first appear, before being able to differentiate between a male and a female plant.

Before flowering, the only hint as to the sex of the plants is trends in shape. Primordial flowers first appear during the end of the vegetative stage along the main stem at the nodes.

Male flowers have a curved, claw shape, while female ones sport a symmetrical, tubular calyx, also known as a floral sheath. These are easier to recognize at an earlier stage, than the male primordial flowers.

With experience, each grower accumulates a certain intuitive sense as to which of his plants are females. Since I grow under only one light, I can’t take all my fifteen plants into flowering, especially if they’ve had a robust vegetative growth stage.

Have I ever been wrong about my choices? Thank heavens, no, but at times I do make the choice with trepidation. By the time I switch from Sensi Grow A & B to Sensi Bloom A & B. I usually have only six female plants firmly embedded in the clay pebble grow medium of my six hydroponic buckets.

But that time seems eons away right now, when I have yet to transplant my one inch cubes into three-inch rockwool cubes and then into six-inch pots. If there is one thing that growing a succession of seed to harvest cycles has taught me, it is patience. All in due time.

I keep discovering new things on the Advanced Nutrients Medical website. If you click on the Medicinal Growers Forum you’ll see a couple of banners. One of them urges you to become a Test Pilot for Advanced Nutrients and be rewarded with some exclusive offers. In December, you could buy a container of Big Bud and was given one for free.

January’s offer has to do with Clone It. You can sign up for the Circle Club newsletter with your e-mail address and be advised of these great offers as well as new products and developments.

Advanced Nutrients Medical is the only website that I find myself visiting time and time again. Call their technical help line and they’ll enlighten you about any growing question you may have.

posted by Wes @ 4:42 PM

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