The majority of people who grow cannabis do so to harvest female marijuana flowers. Cannabis plants are dioecious, and only female cannabis flowers produce the chemical compound THC, which is the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s signature psychoactive effect. Male cannabis plants are responsible for producing pollen that fertilizes the female plants, triggering them to produce seeds.
Female marijuana plants that contain seeds are less desirable for consumption. That is because developing these weed seeds takes valuable energy away from flower and THC production, making the flowers less potent. One male cannabis plant can fertilize thousands of female plants, so growers are always looking for ways to eliminate the chances of growing a male plant before it’s too late. One of the most innovative ways that growers have been able to reduce or eliminate the presence of male cannabis plants is by developing feminized seeds.
How to Tell Male Cannabis Plants from Female Cannabis Plants
Most of the time, when California or Montana growers choose to grow their plants from seeds, they have a 50% chance of ending up with a male marijuana plant. Because of this, they will need to take measures early to identify these plants and remove them before they produce pollen sacs.
Identifying the gender of a marijuana plant early can be tricky as they do not tend to show it until the flowering stage, which is already too late. There are some critical differences between male and female plants to watch for, including the following:
Female Cannabis Plants
Female plants are easy to recognize. The female flowers will bloom later than the flowers on a male cannabis plant. Female flowers resemble sacs and have white, feathery stigmas growing out of them. These stigmas are the “hairs” that turn brownish-orange towards the end of the plant’s flowering stage. The sacs will eventually bloom into cream-colored flowers, and the white stigmas that protrude from them are meant to catch pollen produced by male plants. Stigmas will develop on the elbow where a stem grows from the central stalk, or a smaller stem grows from a larger one.
Male Cannabis Plants
Male plants mature much faster than female plants, and that rate maturing is an excellent way to determine the plant’s gender. During the vegetative stage, male plants will be about two weeks of growth ahead of female plants, which is so the males can drop pollen on the female plants. The flowering stage of a male plant can happen as much as one month sooner than it does for female marijuana plants. This helps growers identify male plants before the females have a chance to produce flowers and get pollinated.
Male plants are usually more straight and less bushy than female plants. They have thicker stalks and flowers towards the top of the plant, whereas females will have flowers all over. Male plants have flowers in green, tightly packed clusters, as well.
When opened, male marijuana flowers have several long, slightly curved objects in the center that look similar to a bunch of bananas. They may start off looking similar to female buds, but once they open, they will reveal a pollen sac.
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