Hermaphroditism is the condition of having both masculine and feminine sexual organs at the same time. This particular situation has been shown to occur in animals – mostly invertebrates like snails, insects, and worms – and it can also happen to plants, including marijuana plants. This is a common and natural adaptation of the specie to ensure its survival as it has now the means of self-fertilization.
Nowadays, many cannabis breeders have crafted their strains to ensure that most of their seed production will produce at least 99% female flowering plants. The reason behind this is that the female plants have the highest level of THC concentration as well as cannabinoids needed to make the psychoactive effects.
Now, there are two reasons that can lead to this particular phenomenon in cannabis plants: On one hand, there is the genetic tendency of the strain, and then there is the environmental stress or variations on the other.
Some cannabis strains are more genetically sensitive to hermaphroditism than others. Thai Sativas and Blueberry are some samples of strains having a high probability of becoming hermaphrodites. This circumstance would have still been brought about by environmental shock many years ago, which was not detected on time. Thus, this particular genetic problem was transmitted from one generation to the next. The only prevention that cannabis growers can take when it comes to genetic issues is to buy from reputable cannabis seed banks known for their quality regular seeds.
Many cannabis experts believe that hermaphroditism can only come from feminized seeds. In the current case of having most of the cannabis seed production being feminized, the female plants are not able to find a male plant to fertilize them. This scarcity can cause hermaphrodites in cannabis plants.
How does hermaphroditism affect your marijuana production?
These hermaphrodite plants will lead to a lot of damage to an entire cannabis crop production due to uncontrolled pollination. This means that the female flowers will be fertilized, making them focus all their energies in forming seeds rather than producing new flowers and increasing their CBD and THC concentrations. This could easily flush months’ worth of work and effort down the drain. Additionally, if this condition is not detected on time and the plants are allowed to grow at free will, it will lead to the genetic domination of hermaphroditism in this specific cannabis strain and this undesirable trait can easily be passed down to the offsprings.
If you see any possibility of hermaphroditic traits in your cannabis plants, you have to remove them immediately from the growing space. Thus, the importance of conducting daily checks on your cannabis production from the beginning of flowering cannot be overemphasized. During the flowering period, hermaphrodite or male flowers are very noticeable as they are yellow in color and are shaped like bananas.
When Does Hermaphroditism Occur?
It is important to know that hermaphroditism can also happen at full flowering as well as at the end of the flowering period. During full flowering, the more plentiful these banana-shaped flowers are, the more serious the problem. If the plant produces a few male flowers, simply remove these flowers using a pair of tweezers and spray them with water. Washing them with water ensures that any pollen remnants disappear. However, if the male flowers outnumber the female flowers, it is crucial to eliminate the entire plant as soon as possible and away from the growing space, before the males release their pollens. Chopping off the entire plant also applies if the plant becomes hermaphrodite at the end of its flowering period.
If you have already harvested and dried your flowers and find seeds in them, you can assume that all the nugs have seeds. This means that each nug will have to be broken apart to get the seeds and thrown away. Talk about inconvenience.
The good news is that there are ways to lower or completely avoid the chances of having hermaphroditism in your cannabis plants. As previously mentioned, stress tends to increase the chances of plants becoming hermaphrodite. So generally, the rule is to avoid any kind of stress.
- Changes in photoperiod, including interruptions and alterations of the dark period or light leak especially during their flowering phase
- Wrong environmental conditions, including extreme heat that goes over 30 degrees Celsius
- Aspects of the normal care cycle, such as pruning during peak flowering phase, watering with the use of water that is too cold or too hot, etc.
- Exceeding the recommended deadline for harvesting the plants
- Over-feeding or overdosing on nutrients, including too much phosphorus and potassium
- Water incorrectly and introducing hormones at the wrong time
- Pests, including mites and insects, and diseases
- Use of pesticides and fertilizers
- Structural stress, including damaged roots during transplantation and broken branches
Generally, once the cannabis plant feels that the conditions for its flowering will be difficult, it will lead to the emergence of hermaphrodite traits.
A stable growth process and environmental condition with little to no wild fluctuations is the best plant to avoid hermaphrodite plants and maximize your yield. Maintain good hygiene and regularly monitor your timers. If there is a need to change something in the grow process, it is always best to do it gradually so as not to shock the cannabis plants.
At the end of the flowering, carefully check the trichomes to ensure that you do not miss the harvest deadline. Trichomes are small glands on the plants and when 50% or more of these trichomes have turned milky or translucent, it is a good time to harvest. Waiting too long and missing the harvest window will cause the plant to go on survival mode to pollinate itself.
Any cannabis cultivator understands the danger of hermaphroditism in their plants to their entire crop production. It is also vital to understand the importance of recognizing the signs of hermaphroditism. To avoid hermaphroditism, the plants should be inspected frequently and regularly from the start of the flowering stage.