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Four Hacks for Germinating Old Cannabis Seeds

When your old cannabis seeds don’t want to pop, one of these four techniques could come to their—and your—rescue. Aging seeds are more difficult to grow than fresh ones and we’ll explain what you can do to help germination.

The older a cannabis seed gets, the harder it is to pop. But hard doesn’t mean impossible. If you’ve been saving your seeds for a rainy day and it finally started pouring, these tips could help you get most, if not all, of your old beans to germinate.

1. PRE-SOAK WITH SUPPLEMENTED WATER

As cannabis seeds age, their protective outer shell hardens and prevents water from passing through. Unless the tiny, dormant embryo that lives inside the shell detects moisture, it doesn’t know that the conditions are right to sprout. As a first step, pre-soak your old cannabis seeds for about 12 hours to see if that does the trick.

To improve your chances, use carbonated water and/or add one of these supplements that help with water absorption. Fulvic acid and most boosters also give your seeds a light dose of nutrients.

  • Fulvic acid
  • Germination booster
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gibberellic acid

Keep the water warm, but not too hot. Aim for around 22°C. Avoid direct sunlight, and keep an eye on the glass. Do not soak seeds for prolonged periods, more than 24 hours can deprive them of oxygen and make them drown.

PRE-SOAK WITH SUPPLEMENTED WATER

2. SCARIFICATION

Scarification, or scuffing the shell, can also help water pass through an older seed’s tough outer shell.

To scarify your seeds, line a matchbox or other small container with sandpaper. Drop the seeds inside, shake vigorously for 30–60 seconds, then remove. You may not notice much of a difference, but the small micro-abrasions are sometimes enough to let water breach the shell and trigger germination.

SCARIFICATION

3. REMOVE THE RIDGE

The seed’s shell is made up of two pieces, with a seam going all around. The side that’s raised more than the other is the ridge. A hardened ridge can make it difficult for the seed to open. To remove the ridge, run a sharp blade along the ridge on both sides. Handle gently and it should come off without damaging the inside of the seed.

Removing the ridge not only makes it easier for the seed to open, it helps with water absorption.

REMOVE THE RIDGE

4. SLICE THE SEED

In a life or death situation, surgery may be the only option. Meaning—only do this if nothing else has worked because this technique ruins as many seeds as it saves.

  • Remove the seeds from any moisture and allow them to dry out completely.
  • Use a sterile scalpel to slice into the seed at the seam and open it slightly.
  • Try to germinate it again.

SLICE THE SEED

THINGS TO REMEMBER

If you’re going to keep seeds more than a year or two, proper storage will dramatically increase the chances of late-stage germination. Place them in an airtight container. Put the container in a refrigerator set at 6–8°C with 20–30% relative humidity. If excess moisture is a concern, add silica gel packs to the container.

As you proceed through these steps, the risk of damaging your seeds past the point of recovery increases. Between each suggestion, give them a few days to a week to germinate. Allow the outside to dry each time to prevent rot. Do not try all or multiple techniques at once.

In the future, consider growing your seeds before they get a chance to get old. They’re not cheap, so letting them go bad is a waste in all kind of ways.

As cannabis seeds age, germination success rate decreases with each passing year. Use these tips to revive your old beans.

How To Be A Hero And Rescue Old Marijuana Seeds For Germination

As they say, not all heroes wear capes, and absolutely zero of them toss old seeds.

Germinating old seeds can be difficult, if not impossible, if it’s not done exactly right. That being said, it is possible. So before you toss those marijuana seeds that you’ve been keeping at the bottom of an old baggie, be sure and give this a read. But, let’s just start with how to store seeds the right way, so you won’t have to bust out those superpowers next time.

You might find yourself asking “How long do marijuana seeds last?” This is a great question, and the answer almost solely depends on the methods of preservation. Depending on how you’ve stored your seeds, they can essentially last indefinitely.

Storing Seeds

In order to store seeds correctly, you’ll have to provide them with a cool, dry environment. The idea here is to prevent the seeds from trying to germinate before you’re ready to stick them in the ground. Light, water, and heat are all things that help seeds sprout, so it should come as no surprise that you’d need an almost total absence of these things in order to store seeds for long periods of time.

One of the best, and most readily available, places to store seeds long term is to stick them in a refrigerator. Ideally, you don;t want to freeze the seeds, as any moisture that may be contained inside can crystallize and harm the future seedling. So, keeping them at a cool 6-8 degrees Celsius (42-46º F) is far better than a deep freeze. That will pretty much obliterate the heat element.

To discourage any light from getting in, place the seeds in an opaque container. While it’s unlikely that the seeds will enjoy much sunlight in your crisper drawer, placing the seeds in a small container means that you can more readily control their immediate environment. On top of shutting out light and excess moisture, place small bags of silica gel in with the seeds. This will help prevent any excess moisture build up, effectively keeping your seeds viable for extended periods of time.

Bring Out Your Dead

Okay, so maybe you didn’t have that information on hand when you scored your last round of seeds. Not to worry, there are quite a few clever, science backed tricks that you can employ to revive your little glory bombs. The problem with most old seeds, whether stored properly or not, is that as the seeds ages, it’s shell hardens. This makes it extremely difficult for water to get inside the seed to help your little seedlings grow and emerge. The best ways to reinvigorate old seeds is to find clever ways of penetrating their heavy duty shells.

Soil Method

Tried and true, Mother Nature seems to know what she’s doing. This method is pretty much how it’s done with just about any type of plant, not just marijuana seeds. Essentially- you plant the seed. Water. Wait. Pretty straightforward.

Wet Paper Towels

This is a pretty common practice used to germinate almost any seed. Take a few moist paper towels and place the seeds you’d like to germinate on top. Place a few more moist towels on top of the seeds and seal in a container. Keep the container somewhere it will be warm and get a bit of light. Seeds should germinate in about 72 hours.

Water & Hydrogen Peroxide

For stubborn seeds, place them in a glass of water with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide for about 24 hours. The hydrogen peroxide will help break down the outer shell and get water into the sprout where it’s needed. Once the seeds are done soaking, take them out of the mixture and rinse, then follow up with the soil or paper towel method.

Water & Fulvic Acid

Another way to coax the shell to break down a bit is to add some fulvic acid to your original water source. A concentration of about 10ml/L is suggested. Fulvic acid is a natural component of healthy soil. It’s an organic polymer that is extracted from humus. It helps further facilitate the breakdown of the marijuana seeds outer shell and also encourages healthy plant growth.

Scoring

When all else fails, you may need to score (scratch or cut) the outer surface of the seed by mechanical means. This can be achieved in two ways: With sandpaper, or a steady hand and a sharp knife. If you’re going the sandpaper route, line a small container, like a matchbox, with fine grain sandpaper. Pop your seeds, around 30-60 at a time, and shake the container for a good three minutes. For the knife method- use an extremely fine blade, such as found on Exacto knives or scalp to create a shallow cut in one side of the seed.

When you’ve finished scoring your seeds, follow up with the soil or paper towel method, and be the marijuana seed hero we’ve always needed.

before you toss those marijuana seeds that you’ve been keeping at the bottom of an old baggie, be sure and give this a read. But, let’s just start with how to store seeds the right way, so you won’t have to bust out those superpowers next time.