Can Stress Cause Hermaphrodite Plants?
Ordinarily, cannabis is a dioecious plant. That means one plant typically produces either male or female flowers, not both. However, unlike some plants, cannabis plants can also develop a condition known as hermaphroditism, in which female plants develop male reproductive organs and can become self-fertile or even pollinate the rest of the crop.
That’s bad news for serious growers who pride themselves on producing high-quality, seedless sinsemilla buds. However, hermaphrodite plants, or “hermies,” aren’t born that way. That means there are a few steps growers can take to reduce their chances of losing otherwise productive female plants, or even entire crops, to hermaphroditism and its detrimental effects.
What Are Hermies?
Hermaphroditism occurs in both wild and domesticated marijuana plants. It can also occur in regular seeds and autoflowering seeds. Those unusual specimens that become hermaphrodites usually start out female, then develop the pollen sacs typically associated with male plants later in life. This makes hermies a particular nuisance to growers who want to produce seedless buds since they often appear well after the male plants have already been removed from the garden or grow room.
Causes of Hermaphroditism
It’s a well-known fact that stress can cause hermaphroditism in marijuana plants, but it’s not the only risk factor for developing hermies. Some strains of marijuana are also more prone to this problem than others. Most notably, Sativa thai weed seeds are known for their high sensitivity to hermaphroditism.
The fact that some strains are more prone to this problem than others doesn’t mean growers should avoid them entirely, but those who choose to grow strains known for producing hermies should keep a careful eye out for signs that their female plants are developing male traits. They should also take active steps to ensure an optimal growing environment since any plant can become a hermie under the wrong conditions.
How Stress Causes Hermaphroditism
In the wild, male and female cannabis plants grow in close proximity to each other to facilitate pollination. Like all plant and animal species, the main biological imperative of cannabis is to reproduce. Thankfully, the absence of male plants alone isn’t usually enough to induce hermaphroditism.
Feminized seeds only become hermies in response to sub-optimal growing conditions. If the plant senses that it will be difficult to produce flowers in a certain growing environment, it may begin growing male pollen sacs in order to self-pollinate and shorten the flowering period.
When plants develop hermaphroditism early in their grow cycles, it doesn’t usually cause too much of a disruption. Growers who use regular seeds instead of feminized varieties should be on the lookout for male plants during the vegetative stage, anyway, so they usually notice them early enough to avoid pollination.
Unfortunately, female plants can develop male traits at any time, including in the flowering stage. If your triangle kush seeds develop a plant that ‘hermies’ a few days before harvest, it doesn’t usually cause any problems. The pollen sacs won’t be able to develop sufficiently in time to pollinate the flowers, so it won’t affect the yield. However, growers need to be vigilant about checking their plants throughout the rest of the flowering stage so they can take action as needed to protect their crops.
Avoiding Stress-Induced Hermaphroditism
Although every female plant has the capacity to develop male traits built into its DNA, there are a few things growers can do to reduce the risk of crop loss associated with hermie plants. Thankfully, the same preventative steps that should reduce the risk of hermaphroditism will also help to ensure a heavy yield of potent buds. Here are a few environmental factors to consider:
Light Intensity and Duration
Photoperiod disruptions can cause hermaphroditism in indoor grows. This is especially true if growers interrupt the dark period during the flowering stage. The best solution is to block out all light entirely during the dark period.
If growers have no choice but to enter their grow rooms during the dark period and they know that in advance, they can take another preventative step. Installing green lights allows growers to see their way around without disrupting marijuana plants’ photoperiods. marijuana seeds and Plants cannot absorb the wavelengths that produce green light, which is what causes them to look green, to begin with, so growers who install them don’t have to worry about disrupting their plants’ light cycles.
Air Temperature and Thermal Stress
For pot seeds for sale on our website, It’s best to keep the grow room temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the flowering stage. If the air temperature climbs too much above 80, it can cause heat stress, which increases the chances of one or more plants developing hermaphroditism.
It’s equally important to avoid thermal stress, both in soil-based and hydroponic systems. If the temperature is 80 degrees, use water no colder than 60 degrees.
Some level of mechanical stress is desirable in heavily managed grows, as it can increase yield. However, excessive mechanical stress such as broken branches and damaged roots can increase a marijuana plant’s chances of developing male traits.
Novice growers should stick to low-stress training techniques that gently bend and shape the branches instead of breaking them. All growers should avoid pruning their plants during the flowering stage, as that’s an almost sure-fire way to increase their risk of hermaphroditism.
Marijuana plants need plenty of water to grow and thrive. Don’t keep the soil completely saturated, though. It won’t just increase the plants’ chances of developing root rot, but will also increase their risk of hermaphroditism. After the seedling stage, your kush or blue dream strain plants will want to slightly dry out in between watering days when growing in soil.
Disease and Pests
Healthy plants with good genetics that get plenty of water and nutrients are better able to withstand pests and disease. The extra stress imposed by these issues can cause a weak plant to turn hermie in an effort to ensure its chances of reproduction. Unfortunately, so can using phytotoxic products like chemical pesticides and fungicides. Growers should focus on ensuring that their crops are healthy enough to resist insects and disease on their own instead of resorting to using harsh chemicals.
There’s nothing wrong with feeding plants. In fact, using a plant food developed specifically for marijuana plants in either the vegetative or the flowering phase is the best way to ensure a good yield. It’s important to follow the feeding instructions given by the manufacturer, though. Over-fertilizing can cause elevated stress levels and leave female plants prone to developing male traits.
Waiting too Long to Harvest
If female flowers are left unpollinated for too long, the plants may start developing pollen sacs in an effort to become self-fertile. Once the stigmas and trichomes have changed color, marijuana plants have reached maximum THC production and are ready to be taken down. Putting off the harvest any longer will only lead to a lower potency product and an increased risk of hermaphroditism.
Growing Clones from Old Mothers
Ordinarily, growing clones from a successful mother plant is a good way to ensure that the crop is female. If the mother has been growing for too long, it may start producing hermie clones. Whether they’ve purchased their clones from other growers or rooted them themselves, growers shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security and should still check for signs of hermaphroditism.
Even growers who are careful about providing optimal environmental conditions may still wind up with a few hermies in their crops as a result of strain genetics or just plain bad luck. They should be diligent about checking their crops for signs of hermaphroditism. They’re pretty easy to spot if growers know what to look for.
Mixed-sex plants are sometimes referred to as true hermies. They produce male and female parts that grow independently on different parts of the plant. Look for pollen sacs growing on different nodes from the female flowers, with their characteristic V-shaped pistils. True hermaphroditism is usually caused by genetics, which is why good growers never breed plants that show hermaphroditic traits.
True hermaphrodites need to be removed from the grow room as soon as possible. If the pollen sacs reach maturity, they will release pollen and fertilize the female flowers of nearby plants, or even the same plant. This will reduce yields and create seedy, low-quality buds.
Some growers choose to remove individual pollen sacs instead of entire plants. That’s really only a viable option for growers who only have one plant to worry about. Commercial and serious hobby growers should never risk unintentionally pollinating the rest of their crops, especially since these pollen sacs can continue to form throughout the flowering stage. So, if given some cbd seeds for growing take note that these could very well be a mixed-sex assortment requiring close monitoring.
To make matters more complicated, not all hermies are mixed-sex plants. Some produce flower buds that exhibit both male and female traits. The pollen sacs that form on mixed-sex buds are sometimes called bananas, or “nanners,” because of their characteristic color and shape.
Unlike normal pollen sacs, which are round and grow at the leaf nodes, bananas are elongated and either yellow or green. They usually grow in bunches and can be found right in the middle of female buds.
Bananas are harder to control than pollen sacs. Instead of waiting until the plant reaches maturity to release their seed, they can start fertilizing other plants in the area almost immediately. The reason they can do this is that bananas are actually the stamens of the male plants, which produce pollen and are typically surrounded by the pollen sac. Growers who find male or mixed-sex plants in their crops can open up the pollen sacs to find these same stamens, or bananas, inside.
A few nanners aren’t a big deal. They might create a few seeds, but they’re unlikely to pollinate the entire crop and can be removed from the plant using sterilized tweezers. Some growers also spray water on the male flowers, as the application of water can sterilize pollen. Most don’t feel that it’s worth the risk and remove the entire bud.
If a plant has a big banana problem, pull it immediately. A few buds on other plants might still develop seeds, but removing the hermie plant should reduce the chances of serious crop losses. It can be hard to pull a plant that would otherwise be producing viable, if seedy, marijuana, but growers who hesitate stand to experience substantial reductions in quality and yield.
When premium seed grows healthy and then turns nanners late in the flowering stage, it’s better to harvest the entire crop early than risk pollination. High-quality, seedless sinsemilla is more potent, better tasting, and more valuable as either a commodity or a personal crop.
Harvesting early isn’t always a bad thing. The late flowering stage brings an increased risk of bud rot and insect infestations, especially in outdoor crops or poorly regulated indoor grows. If the buds are close to maturity, harvesting a few days early won’t affect potency, although it may lead to small crop losses. That’s still better than losing an entire crop to unintended pollination or, even worse, mold or bugs.
Are Hermies Ever a Good Thing?
The short answer to this question is yes. If growers know what they’re doing, it can be beneficial to grow one particular type of hermaphroditic female plant.
When female plants produce bananas as a result of delayed harvest, it creates viable seeds that contain no male genetic information. These seeds are all but certain to produce more female plants. Plant breeders sometimes force hermaphroditism to produce feminized seeds in a process known as rhodelization.
Unless they actively plan to save feminized seeds for next year’s crop and have already designated a different room or garden for favored hermies, growers shouldn’t bother saving plants that develop bananas immediately before harvest. Just cut the plants early and accept a slightly smaller yield.
The Bottom Line
Stress can, and often does, cause hermaphroditism. This can be a huge headache for growers, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as they check their plants regularly throughout the vegetative and flowering stages, even novice growers should be able to identify hermies in time to take action and save their crops. Providing plants with optimal lighting, nutrients, water, temperatures, and other environmental conditions can also go a long way toward preventing hermaphroditism in addition to improving overall plant health. Browse our extensive catalogue today and buy medical marijuanas seeds that are guaranteed to germinate and develop into your favorite genetically-authentic strains!
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