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Feminized Hemp Seed

The Hemp Facts
April 14, 2022

Feminized Hemp Seed is a hot buzzword. But does it really merit being used or just making your hemp go hotter? 

Since 2018,  feminized hemp seeds the hemp industry has grown steadily. According to a recent Facts & Factors report, the U.S. hemp market will be worth $36 billion by 2026. It will also grow at an annual rate 34% between 2019 and 2026.

Both seed companies and growers have been searching for the next great genetics to increase farmers’ ROI. The term feminized hemp seeds, which is a new term, was born from this search.

What exactly is feminized hemp? And does the term make any sense in this industry?

Creating an Female Population

Feminized hemp seeds produce only female plants. Mike Scheffel, the managing director of policy & standards at the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA), says it is important to step back to see how this can happen.

He says that hemp is a naturally dioecious crop, which means it produces separate male and female plants. “A standard cannabis variety or hemp variety will yield approximately 50% female plants, and 50% male plants.”

This means that the female plants will produce female flowers and the pollen of the male plants will fertilize them to make seed for the next generation. To produce a male-only plant, however, you must first produce a masculinized plant.

If you fertilize a male plant with the female pollen, it only produces female plants. Depending on genetics and environmental conditions some plants might be monoecious. This means that they have both male or female flowers.John McKay is chief scientific officer at New West Genetics, and professor of plant evolutionary genetics at Colorado State University. However, this is not the ultimate goal of feminized Hemp seed. He hasn’t seen any other companies that sell seed that produces 100% female population.McKay states that McKay doesn’t use the term “feminized seed” because it makes no scientific sense. “We use monoecious, which refers to females that produce pollen and male flowers. Or gender skew, which is a deviation from the 50:50 ratio between males and females.

McKay says that not all varieties produce 100% feminized hemp seeds. However, McKay believes the terms “monoecious”, or “female skewed”, make more sense. “Feminized” is the current buzzword.

Problems With All Female Plants

There are some issues to be aware of when creating an all-female population.

One of the primary purposes of creating an all-female hemp population is to increase the CBD (or other cannabinoids) within the plant. The THC level can rise with increasing CBD levels.

The 2018 Farm Bill stipulated that hemp must not exceed 0.3% THC. Any hemp that exceeds 0.3% THC is considered “hot,” which means it is above the legal limit.

Scheffel says that THC and CBD are closely related depending on the genetics. You can’t grow hemp plants higher than 6-8% CBD to get high levels of CBD. However, the THC level must remain below 0.3%. Higher CBD levels tend to increase the THC content, which can cause the plants to heat up.

McKay mentions one important study by Larry Smart from Cornell University. This study was done to determine if environmental stressors could have an impact on the THC levels of hemp.

McKay states that the study didn’t show any effect of the environment on THC. It’s not surprising, it’s highly genetically controlled. The THC content in many American crops is high because so many seed sellers didn’t bother to get rid of the THC genes.

McKay also notes that there is a problem in the U.S. where some “feminized seeds” are not compliant with U.S. THC regulations.

Varieties that Match the Standard

Although there are some issues with feminized cannabis seed production in the United States, Canada has established strict regulations to ensure proper CBD production.

The CSGA created a new standard in feminized hemp seed certification.

Scheffel states, “We examined the demand landscape and found that while traditional hemp varieties in Canada contained some CBD, they were not bred by CBD-focused plant breeders.” “This growing interest in CBD seems to be an opportunity for segments within the hemp sector to create specialized hemp varieties.”

CSGA recognized the best way to create hemp that focuses on CBD production is by using feminized hemp seeds.

“Hexane has been legalized in Canada since 1998. We have established hemp seed production processes. However, we recognized the need to create specific procedures for feminized cannabis seed production.

With the assistance of an ad hoc group of plant breeders, CSGA reviewed many versions of a guideline paper. The final guideline document was used for the creation of standards and requirements that ensured companies could grow true-to-variety seed and not become “hot” crops.

A variety from Cannabis Orchards is one example of a hemp variety that has been certified according to these standards.

Cannabis Orchards’ new variety of feminized hemp seeds has a higher concentration of cannabigerol, (CBG). What makes it so unique? It is not detectable.

 This is to maximize farmers’ flower yield. It’s not psychoactive because it has flowers without THC, so you won’t experience those side effects. This allows you to focus on the medical and health side of things. 

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