How Long Do Cannabis Seeds Last

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Weed seeds can survive in the soil for years before they germinate and grow. Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point. Do seeds go bad? Let's find out! When it comes to growing your own cannabis, there’s a lot to learn. You’ll pick up most of the information as you go. One of the most common questions for…

How long do weed seeds survive in the soil?

CORVALLIS – Weed seeds can survive in the soil for years before they germinate and grow, according to Jed Colquhoun, weed specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Why should home gardeners care?

“If you combine the longevity of seeds in the soil with the fact that weeds such as common lambsquarters can produce over 500,000 seeds per plant, the incentive to hand weed your garden becomes much greater,” said Colquhoun.

“Prevention is the most effective form of weed control,” he said.

Here are some basics on weed seed biology:

Undisturbed weed seeds tend to persist longer than seeds subjected to periodic tillage. Weed seeds in deeply worked soil tend to last longer than seeds in shallowly worked soil. Seeds deep in the soil are “stored” below the germination zone.

Grass seeds tend to be less persistent than broadleaf weed seeds.

The number of surviving seeds of most weed species declines rapidly the first year. But thereafter the rate of weed seed decline slows. Some seeds can persist for decades.

As many as 130 million seeds per plow acre were found in a Minnesota study.

Different species of weeds have seeds that last varying numbers of years in the soil. The scientific literature provides some information about seed longevity, including:

  • Brome grass seed seldom lasts more than two years.
  • Annual ryegrass – up to nine years.
  • Perennial ryegrass – up to three years.
  • Annual bluegrass – up to about five years.
  • Wild oats – three to six years, but longer in deep soil.
  • Jointed goatgrass – three to five-and-a-half years.
  • Barnyardgrass – up to 13 years.
  • Quackgrass – up to four years.
  • Common velvetgrass – 10 years or more.
  • Mustards – are long lived. Seeds excavated from a monastery in Denmark were dated to be 600 years old and 11 of them germinated. More commonly, mustard seeds last for decades.
  • Lambsquarters – may last up to four decades.
  • Russian thistle (tumbleweed) – short lived, most live only a year.
  • Wild carrot – several years.
  • Curly dock – more than a decade.
  • Canada thistle – more than two decades.
  • Field bindweed – more than 50 years.
  • Leafy spurge – at least a few years.
  • Common groundsel – most die within a year.

Scientists found lotus seeds in Manchuria that germinated after over 1,000 years, said Colquhoun.

Do Cannabis Seeds Go Bad?

M any pot fans are starting to look into growing their own supply. After all, how hard can it be? Nature does it all the time, and it doesn’t even have any grow light options other than the sun. While you may not be producing showroom quality nugs, there’s a pride that comes with tending to your own garden and snipping buds straight off the branch. Plus, you can’t beat the price.

Plenty of online stores sell seeds so it’s pretty easy to pick your favorite strains to start. However, if it’s been a while since your seeds arrived and they’re not yet planted, you can forgive yourself for wondering if maybe you’ve waited too long. After all, how long do marijuana seeds last? Whether you are a cannabis fan who has just begun growing a couple of plants recreationally, or you are looking to test your green thumb for the first time, there is one question that’s going to come up at some point.

Do Marijuana Seeds Go Bad?

First off, marijuana seeds are the same as many other plant’s seeds. A waxy outer shell called the seed coat protects the embryonic shoot, stem, and root contained within, which are nourished by a nutrient-rich oil surrounding them. As long as the shell remains intact and the plant inside doesn’t dry out or get damaged, your seed can still grow into a cannabis plant.

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However, this shell will not last forever. Once it dries out and hardens the seed coat can crack and expose the embryonic plant to damage. Or the seed coat hardens to the point that it no longer lets in moisture. In both cases, the seed is no longer viable.

Of course, there is some debate in the cannabis community over how long do marijuana seeds last. Some growers claim that when stored in the ideal conditions, marijuana seeds can last anywhere from six months to a year after packing and still spout once placed in the soil. Other producers believe that marijuana seeds can last up to a decade if properly refrigerated in the right containers.

See also  How To Germinate Weed Seeds

Most seed producers agree that on average three to six years is a maximum for viability, and every day that the seed is stored drops the chances of it germinating just a little bit.

So how long do marijuana seeds last? In general, six months is the maximum if you’re looking for a nearly 100% germination rate. After three years, you’re looking at a germination rate of around 50%.

What constitutes “ideal conditions” for cannabis seed storage also depends on the genetics of that particular plant. Some cannabis strains produce a much hardier, longer-lasting marijuana seed that can last for years and still stretch their leaves once planted. Others produce seeds that need to quickly return to the soil.

How Marijuana Seeds Are Stored

In terms of long term storage for your marijuana seeds, there are four main factors to consider:

When it comes to how long marijuana seeds last, temperature is the main factor. In nature, heat tells the seed that winter’s over and it’s time to start sprouting. If your marijuana seed’s not in the soil, this means that the plant matter inside the marijuana seed will begin to germinate and then rot.

41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) is the absolute warmest you want your storage spot to be, with the sweet spot being somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are refrigerating your marijuana seeds, they’ll last the longest in a separate unit or a spot near the back. Every time you open your fridge you are changing the temperature which can harm the seeds over time.

Humidity

Humidity is also your enemy when it comes to how long your marijuana seeds will last. When a seed gets wet, it cracks open to allow the sprout and root out. This will let in rot if the seed isn’t planted. A humidity level of about 5% is the maximum you want to allow.

Light

Much like heat and humidity, light tells that seed to wake up because it’s time to spring forth.

In order to keep your seeds from going bad, it’s best to keep them stored in a dark container in order to avoid light. photo credit

By keeping your seeds in a dark or opaque container, they’ll keep dozing long term. Light can also damage the surface of the marijuana seed, which in turn will damage what’s stored underneath, causing your marijuana seed to go bad.

Besides being dark, for your marijuana seeds to last long term, you want to expose them to as little oxygen and carbon dioxide as possible. These gasses are what growing plants breathe, as well as the pests that consume them. If you’re refrigerating or freezing your marijuana seeds, make sure your container is as airtight as possible. If you can vacuum seal them, even better.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on planting in the next few months, regular mailing envelopes will do in a pinch. They’ll keep the marijuana seeds out of the light and dry, so all you have to do is store them in a cool place. Plus, envelopes make it easy to label your strains so that you can keep them separate.

How To Tell If Your Marijuana Seeds Are Still Healthy?

What should you do if you find some old seeds and have no idea how long they were stored? Maybe past you put them in a freezer bag in the hopes of keeping your favorite strain alive, or found a couple at the bottom of a baggie that the trimmer missed.

How do you know if your marijuana seed has gone bad, or if it’s healthy and viable to grow into a plant? There are four easy ways to check if your marijuana seed is still good.

Dark Color

If your seeds are dark brown, black, or gray, that’s a very good sign. The shell is intact and uncompromised, which means the genetic material inside has been kept safe.

Seeds should have a dark color. If seeds are still green they are probably not ready yet. photo credit

Viable seeds should also have stripes or spots all the way around. If the seeds are white or green, they’re most likely still immature.

Waxy Coating

Check if the seed still has a waxy coating. A healthy seed should have a slight sheen to it, as though it’s been oiled. This means the seed still can retain moisture.

Hard Shell

If the seed is still healthy, you should be able to lightly squeeze it without it crunching between your fingers. If the shell has no give and splits or splinters under light pressure, then your marijuana seed has gone bad and has no chance in the soil.

See also  Growers Choice Cannabis Seeds

Cracks or Holes

If there are any cracks or holes anywhere on the shell, your marijuana seed’s likely gone bad and will most likely not sprout. Bacteria and other harmful lifeforms can find their way into the seed, or it will dry out.

The True Test of a Cannabis Seed

Of course, the best way to test whether your seeds will sprout is to plant them and see. If some green shoots climb their way out of the soil after a couple of days or weeks, you’ve got your answer.

Storing marijuana seeds is a great way to make sure you always have your favorite strains on hand, as well as to keep yourself stocked up on plants for the long haul. Luckily, marijuana seeds can last for years as long as you make sure your seeds are cool, dry, airtight, and out of sight. There’s no better time than now to learn a new skill, so let’s see how green your thumb can get.

How Do You Tell If a Seed is Good or Bad?

If the seed is dark with stripes or spots all the way around, has a waxy shell that doesn’t crack when you give it a light squeeze, and doesn’t have any visible cracks or holes, it’s probably still good. If there are holes in the shell, it’s dry, or especially pale, your marijuana seed’s probably gone bad.

Do Autoflower Seeds Go Bad?

All marijuana seeds can go bad, including autoflower seeds. However, by keeping your seeds at a stable 38 degrees Fahrenheit and at around 5% humidity, as well as airtight and out of the light, your seeds may last up to 5 years or more.

How do you like to store your seeds? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Author

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as Medium.com, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

How Long Do Cannabis Seeds Last?

When it comes to growing your own cannabis, there’s a lot to learn. You’ll pick up most of the information as you go. One of the most common questions for growers is “how long do cannabis seeds last?” The answer is not always clear.

Cannabis seeds will last longer if they’re stored properly out of harm’s way. If you don’t know the best way to store your seeds, read on. We’ll answer “how long do cannabis seeds last” and give you some tips for getting the most out of your seeds.

Keep in mind that there is no concrete answer for how long cannabis seeds will last. In fact, the only guarantee is that it depends on many things. Storage, the specific strain, and other factors will affect the lifespan of your seeds.

Marijuana seeds last the longest in the refrigerator

As with many things related to growing cannabis, there is some debate about the best ways to store seeds. There is also plenty of debate surrounding how long they will last in any given storage space.

Leafly says that seeds must be properly stored to prevent mold or pathogens from spoiling them. They should be stored in a cool, dark place and can be used within 16 months. If you’ll be waiting longer than 16 months, it’s best to put them in the freezer to use in the future.

However, some suggest that seeds can last for years when stored in a cool, dark place. Like we said, there is plenty of debate surrounding best practices for growing weed. If you have stored your seeds in a cool, dark place for a long time, examine them thoroughly and be cautious. Expect to lose more seeds as time goes on, though. The longer they sit in storage, the more likely it is that some won’t germinate.

So, to be on the safe side, it’s best to refrigerate or freeze your seeds for long-term storage.

If they’re not stored in a cool, dark place, and are instead stored in regular conditions, they will last significantly less time. Some sources suggest they will only last a few months in regular conditions. If you don’t plan to use your seeds in the near future, it’s best to store them somewhere cool and dark to prevent pathogens and mold.

As a general rule, try to use your cannabis seeds within the first three years of obtaining them. Five years is considered very old for seeds. The quicker you can germinate and use your seeds, the better. In fact, the longer you wait, the less likely it is that the seeds will germinate at all.

See also  Cannabis Seed Development

What factors affect cannabis seed longevity?

First of all, try to keep your seeds in their original packaging if possible. This will prevent them from being exposed to light or other no-nos. If they’re already out of the packaging, that’s okay. Keep them in a sealed container, in a dark, cool place. Or sealed in the refrigerator or freezer.

It’s not necessary to freeze your seeds, but some people prefer to freeze them instead of refrigerate them. If you don’t open your freezer as often as you open your fridge, it may be logical to freeze them instead. This will prevent frequent temperature changes and potential light exposure.

Additionally, too much or too little humidity and the presence of oxygen can also affect the longevity of your seeds. Keep ‘em cool. Keep ‘em dark.

And don’t forget genetics and quality. Some seeds will just fare better than others because they are higher quality and more durable.

What happens when cannabis seeds are stored improperly?

If seeds are exposed to light or rapid temperature change, this can trigger a number of events that will damage their longevity.

First, it can trigger them to use up their nutrient stores before they should be used. This means when it’s time to germinate, they won’t have enough nutrients. Exposure to high humidity can trigger fungi growth.

Here’s some more information about how humidity can affect cannabis seeds, courtesy of Royal Queen Seeds.

If the storage space has an 8-9% level of humidity, it may eventually attract pests and insects. Once it hits 12-14% humidity, it’s possible for fungi to grow inside and outside of your seeds.

When humidity levels reach higher levels, around 18-20% humidity, the seeds will begin to sweat. Once you’ve reached 20-30% humidity, it’s a good idea to store your seeds. Around 40-60% humidity will lead to germination. You don’t want this if you’re not using your seeds yet. And finally, 80-100% humidity will cause seeds to drown and wilt in less than a day.

Best practices for storing your cannabis seeds

If you don’t plan to wait a long time, you can store your seeds in a cool, dark place. However, if you want to be extra certain they will survive, refrigerate or freeze them.

When you refrigerate or freeze your seeds, you need to protect them from your regular use. You don’t want your seeds getting exposed to light and temperature changes on a regular basis because they’re in your fridge. So, store them in the device you use less often (or better, a second fridge you rarely use) to prevent frequent temperature changes.

The best way to store them in a refrigerator or freezer to keep them in a nice, airtight container. Ziplock bags are a good choice because you can squeeze most of the air out and create a tight seal over your seeds. But don’t stop at the bags. Once you’ve sealed them in a ziplock bag, you’ll need to put it inside a darker bag or container. This will prevent deterioration from light every time you use your fridge.

It is possible to expose your seeds to excess moisture if they’re improperly stored in the refrigerator or freezer. If you don’t plan to leave them for long, you can skip the fridge and store them in a dark, cool zone. But if you do use the refrigerator to store cannabis seeds and want to make sure they don’t get too much moisture, you could add a little bit of uncooked rice to their container. Some growers suggest this will absorb excess moisture and prevent the seeds from deteriorating.

Final thoughts

As with many things cannabis and gardening, different people like to use different methods. What works for you may not be someone else’s cup of tea.

But when it comes to storing seeds, you need to be careful. It’s crucial to keep them in an environment that prevents them from getting damaged and losing their ability to germinate.

The best way to store your seeds will depend on many factors. Assess how long you plan to leave them for, the quality of the seeds, and the storage spaces you have available before deciding how to store them. And good luck!

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