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[Guide] How to assess if your cannabis seeds are fresh and of good quality

Posted on 6. May 2019

Cannabis seeds retain their freshness for at least 2 years if stored properly (and much longer under optimal conditions). Then they will start to dry out and lose their energy and germination capacity.

But how do you judge whether a cannabis seed is old and of low quality, or whether it is the opposite? We will give some guidelines for this.

Each seed has different aspects and expressions, which are reflected in size, shape, colour and last but not least – cannabis variety. In this context, it is important to note that care must be taken in handling the seeds. First, because they are small and hard to find if you drop them, and second, it is a good idea to wash your hands before handling to avoid harmful chemicals on the seeds – if you are a smoker, for example nicotine residue.


The good cannabis seed

How is the visual expression? Does it look healthy and fresh?

Fresh and healthy seeds will usually be grey, brown or black with unpredictable markings in the form of dark spots or stripes. The surface of the seed will be covered with a thin layer of wax that reflects slightly when held up to the light.

A large seed is also a sign of health, as it must be assumed that it has grown to full maturity. However, some cannabis strains produce quite small seeds, so this is not a guaranteed indicator.

If in doubt – and it is possible – check what you should expect from the seed variety’s appearance in terms of. shape, colour and size. Contact the manufacturer to find out what you should expect.

The bad/doubtful cannabis seed

How is the visual expression?

If at first glance you can see that it is green or white, this is a clear sign that it has not been allowed to develop to full maturity. The seed may be germinable, but will develop significantly slower and less vigorously.

If, on closer inspection, the seed has cracks, broken lobes or otherwise has physical defects, this is also a sure sign that it is of low quality. This indicates that the seed is many years old, or has not been stored properly and has therefore exceeded its shelf life; it has simply dried out.

If you suspect that the seed is too old, press it – lightly and gently – between your thumb and forefinger. It should feel firm and hard. If it gets crushed or cracks, it means it’s bad (and worthless to begin with, so don’t be afraid to “break” them).


“The float test”

NB. This test will initiate the germination process and is therefore not suitable if you want to save the seeds afterwards.
Fill a glass with water (preferably demineralised/ distilled/ spring water) and place the seeds in it.

Then you just have to observe whether they float or sink to the bottom. Seeds that continue to float on the surface are probably not fresh, while seeds that sink to the bottom probably are.

Patience is required, however, as it often takes 1-2 hours or longer for them to sink. It’s not unusual for cannabis seeds – even very high quality ones – to have a super-sturdy seed coat, which can take a long time for water to penetrate and sink in.

NB (again). This test causes the fresh seeds, which have sunk to the bottom, to initiate the germination process.


The easiest and most reliable quality test

It’s simply sprouting them. Of course, this requires living in a country where it is legal to grow cannabis seeds, and having the time to wait for the results.


Buy only from seed banks with a good reputation

Here at Nordland we only work with seed banks we know personally, and therefore have the certainty of taking great pride in super quality and fantastic genetics – exactly as advertised. That way you know exactly which cannabis seed you are dealing with and that the quality is top notch.

The alternative – buying from a private individual or less reputable seed bank – can of course be really good (and cheap), as well as having great genetics and quality. The vast majority of the time, however, there is not the same genetic stability and quality production as with professional growers. It is therefore a particularly good idea to check the conditions before buying.