The sex of a plant is determined by its genetics before germination even begins. With the sex genetically encoded, there is no way to make a male plant female, or a female plant male. There are techniques that can be used, however, to encourage a male plant to display female characteristics. These techniques require the use of chemicals, such as ethylene , to prompt a hormonal response from the plant.
“When you see a pollen sac, you will know that a female plant is turning male,” says Perlowin. “Oftentimes, you can tell before the pollen sack becomes a problem. You should examine the plant from the very bottom of the plant to the top. It is easy to spot when the pollen sacs are at the top of the plant, but be sure to examine if there are pollen sacs at the bottom.” Male plants additionally grow taller than female plants as they mature and have thicker stems and fewer leaves.
Elevated levels of female hormones in male cannabis plants can trigger female flowering development. The technique is more effective when applied to male plants that have not yet formed mature flowers. It’s also vital to bear in mind that many male marijuana plants are hermaphroditic plants, and distinguishing true males can be very difficult.
Can you turn a male plant female?
Herming can occur when female plants experience conditions of environmental stress. “Female plants don’t actually turn male, they become hermaphrodites,” says Bruce Perlowin , CEO of Hemp, Inc . and seasoned cannabis cultivator. “You have a female plant that develops both reproductive parts so it can pollinate itself.” A hermaphroditic plant, by definition, contains both female and male sex organs .
“Herming can also definitely be a genetic problem, but it is not cultivar-specific,” says Perlowin. “You can get the same cultivars from different seed companies, and they will yield different results.” Reputable breeders are more likely to competently sort and select seeds from genetically robust plants with desirable traits.
Like all plants, however, cannabis has an inherent drive to procreate by propagating seeds. One way that the plant achieves this is by herming, when female plants become hermaphrodite to self-pollinate. The tendency to herm means that growers must take extra care to minimize any stressors that may cause the plant to perceive a threat and change its sex.
Female plants usually take several days longer than males to develop pistils or female sexual organs. The pistils look like small green seed pods and have white v-shaped stigmas, or thin hairs, which extend from them. Female plants are generally shorter, denser in foliage, and broader than their male counterparts.
The females produce fibre that is rough, which is more suited to making things like canvas and other types of rough textile.
Allowing a male plant to grow to the stage where it produces cannabinoids will put your female plants at risk. If the male releases pollen and fertilises the female flowers, the plants will cease resin production and start producing seeds instead. Therefore, the risk far outweighs the benefits of smoking male plants, unless you have no other choice.
Eliminate those male plants that flower too early, and rid yourself of those that autoflower. Plants that flower at unexpected times may have a higher chance of becoming intersex.
USE YOUR MALE PLANTS TO MAKE A HEALTHY CANNABIS JUICE OR TEA
You can either throw the plants directly onto the soil using the crude chop and drop technique, or add them onto your compost pile to accelerate their decomposition through the magic of aerobic microbes.
But the benefit of keeping male plants goes beyond these criteria and really serves a greater purpose. Eliminating male plants poses a great risk to the healthy diversity and therefore, sustainability of cannabis as a whole. A similar example can be observed with bananas and other selectively bred plants. By breeding them into a few commercially-appealing types, bananas as we know them are now on the path to extinction. The same has already happened with corn and wheat.
Male cannabis plants are normally seen as something undesirable, at least if you ask the average cannabis grower. No one wants their precious crop accidentally pollinated and then ruined, as we’ve learned will happen if we don’t separate the males from the females early on. This negative stigma and the hassle associated with male plants are the reasons that feminized seeds have gained popularity. It’s true, they do make things easy on the grower.
Don’t use males that grow especially fast or tall. Most of the time, these plants may be lacking when it comes to the quality of their bud.
Your germination problems are also due to the fact that they were bagseed. It’s usually compressed and stored in a way that kills the seed. Seeds need to be stored in a cool, dry place to stay viable.
Bagseed plants are notorious for self-pollinating (hermiphrodite) late in flowering. Generally, the outdoor commercial weed isn’t pollinated with males (which are culled), but by hermi-females that are harder to see. This results in hermi-seeds. It’s very hard to find a reliable female from bagseed.
There’s nothing wrong with growing some bagseed. Hopefully you got some decent smoke and learned a lot. In the future, any seeds you buy from a breeder are going to seem like a breeze!