Feminized hemp seed is an increasingly popular buzzword, but is it worth using or will it just make your hemp more attractive?
The hemp industry has been growing steadily since 2018. By 2026, the U.S. hemp industry will reach $36 billion, growing at an annual rate of 34% from 2019 to 2026, according to a Facts & Factors study recently published. Growers and seed companies are looking for the next big genetics that will really explode farmers' return on investment. This search resulted in the term "feminized hemp seed", which may be new to you. But what is feminized hemp seed and does this term make sense for the industry?
Create a female population
In essence, feminized hemp seed only produces female plants. Hemp is naturally a plant dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female plants. A normal strain of cannabis or hemp will produce around 50% female plants and 50% male plants. Of course, this means that the female plants will have female flowers, and the pollen from the male plants will fertilize the female flowers to produce seeds for the next generation. However, to produce an exclusively female plant, one must produce a masculinized female plant.
At a certain stage of development, you want the female plant to produce male flowers and pollen, but it is still a female plant, and any pollen it produces will only have XX chromosomes. When you fertilize a female plant with this female pollen, the seed only produces female plants. However, depending on genetics and environmental conditions, some of these plants may occur as monoecious, that is, having both male and female flowers on the same plant.
Scientifically, we don't use the term feminized seeds because it doesn't make sense. We use the terms monoecious: females that express pollen and male flowers, or gender skew: deviation from a 50:50 ratio between males and females.
Since not all strains produce 100% feminized hemp seeds, the terms "monoecious" or "gender-biased female" make more sense, although "feminized" is the buzzword that has caught on. imposed.
The Problems of All-Female Plants
When creating an all-female population, a few problems can arise. For example, one of the primary goals of creating an all-female hemp population is to increase the CBD in the plant (or other cannabinoids). Unfortunately, when the level of CBD increases, the level of THC can also increase.
In the 2018 Farm Bill, one of the regulations outlined for hemp growers was that hemp must be below the 0,3% THC level. Any hemp tested and found above this 0,3% THC level is considered to be above the legal THC limit.
According to genetics, there is a strict correlation between THC and CBD. To get a high level of CBD while keeping the THC below 0,3%, you really can't exceed a CBD level of 6-8% for these hemp plants. The higher the CBD level, the more the THC level tends to increase, which causes the plants to heat up.
An important study to note is that of Larry Smart at Cornell University. The study worked to compare and see if there were factors of environmental stresses which could affect the THC level of hemp. The study showed that there was no effect of the environment on THC. This is not very surprising since it is a highly genetically controlled plant. In the United States, the THC content of many crops has been highly variable because many people selling seeds have not bothered to get rid of the genes that make THC.
While issues with the production of feminized hemp seeds are only emerging in the United States, Canada has been working on strict regulations to maintain proper CBD hemp production. The Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA), has created a new standard for the certification of feminized hemp seeds.
CSGA is mandated by the federal government, through legislation and regulation, as the seed crop certification body for Canada, therefore the standards that CSGA establishes are used for the certification of seed crops.
Since the legalization of hemp in Canada in 1998, we have implemented procedures for the production of hemp seed, but have recognized the need to develop specific procedures for the production of feminized hemp seed. We looked at the demand landscape, and while the traditional varieties of hemp in Canada contained some level of CBD, they had not been bred by plant breeders for CBD. This rapidly growing interest in CBD appears to be a potential opportunity for segments of the hemp industry to produce specialty hemp varieties.https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2021.718092/full
CSPA has recognized that the preferred mechanism for creating CBD-focused hemp is feminized hemp seed.
One such hemp variety that has been certified using these standards is a variety from Cannabis Orchards. The new variety of feminized hemp seeds from Cannabis Orchards has a higher level of cannabigerol (CBG) but the THC is undetectable. By feminizing this product, flower yield is maximized, which is beneficial because CBG is produced in the trichromes found in the flower of the plant or even in the leaves of the plant.
To maximize flower yield for farmers, seed feminization ensures that 100% of plants have a flower from which cannabinoids can be extracted. The fact that it is a non-psychoactive plant, as the flowers contain no THC, means that there are no intoxicating side effects. You can really focus more on the health and the medical side.