Cannabis plants are either male plants that produce pollen or female plants that produce buds but also there is hermaphroditism that exists. It is when plants possess characteristics of both male and female plants. Feminized cannabis strains are even observed more vulnerable to hermaphroditism than regular strains.
Hermaphroditism in cannabis plants is either the result of genetics or the environment.
There are certain strains of cannabis that produce more hermaphrodites compared to others due to it’s genetics . Genetic hermaphrodite plants are also called true hermaphrodites because hermaphroditism is in their genes unlike the environmental hermaphrodites. These were naturally or artificially induced to transform. A good example of a true hermaphrodite is the Chocolate Thai.
Cannabis or marijuana plants are sensitive plants yet some are even more so than others. That’s why cultivators choose to grow them in a controlled environment where water, airflow, temperature, sunlight, and other factors are easily checked and adjusted. They will also protect plants from harsh natural elements. Controlled environments are able to maintain balance in the physical surroundings of the plant which will surely result in greater production of buds and seeds.
Environmental stresses in cannabis plants could either kill it or turn them into hermaphrodites. Whenever their internal balance, chemistry, and required nutrients changes suddenly this happens. This is a big concern nowadays because of the popularity of feminized marijuana plants for cultivation. These plants are more at risk of hermaphroditism, especially the mother plants, as cultivators keep them in a stressed state for a long time undergoing regular pruning in order to clone.
The male marijuana plant could become a female and the female marijuana plant could become hermaphrodite whenever they are subject to stress.
A marijuana plant is in stress whenever it undergoes an event that threatens its survival. Being off-rooted, dried or any sudden change in its environment triggers a hormonal reaction by releasing ethylene. Sometimes this ethylene production also suppresses and this results in gender change, as its last ditch effort to propagate its genes.
Marijuana cultivators take advantage of this natural reaction of the marijuana plants to stress by using chemical methods of the application of silver thiosulfate or colloidal silver onto the body of a female plant for it to become a male. This process makes this female plant turn to produce pollen instead of buds. Since this plant was originally female, there is an absence of the male gene in it making the seeds 100 percent female.
There are stresses that affect the marijuana plants positively which results in a stronger and healthier plant. However, there are also environmental stresses that affect marijuana plants negatively that are easy to overlook despite the modern environmental controls on most cannabis greenhouses.
The following are the negative environmental stresses:
- Excessive heat or cold especially the ambient air and water supply.
- Interruptions of any kind during the flowering period. Even by slightly changing the light cycle is stressful to the plants.
- Allowing cannabis plants to flower for too long and harvesting too late. This is the exact phenomenon that takes place with the Rodelization method of feminizing cannabis seeds.
- Pruning, root damage, off-rooting, breaking branches and others. Pruning is usually done on mother plants during cloning.
- Pests and plant diseases. You must be careful in introducing new plants to your greenhouse by having proper quarantine and inspection procedures.
- Providing too much or too little moisture at any time. This may be the effect of any changes in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning of your crops.
- Pesticides and other toxic chemicals. One must avoid pesticides as much as possible as it affects the quality of the cannabis especially when smoking it.
IS HERMAPHRODITISM BAD?
We all know very well that in marijuana cultivation, it is most ideal to have more female than male plants in a greenhouse and hermaphrodites are definitely not welcome.
Hermaphrodites often look like a female because they have flowers but these will pollinate your female plants without you knowing, resulting in plants that will most likely be hermaphrodites too.
This unplanned pollination may happen to your female plants other than the plant that possess the characteristics you desire. You might as well start again from the beginning if this happens to your female plants who will produce plants that do not have good yield and have almost useless seeds.
If ever you discover a hermaphrodite cannabis plant and they have turned into hermaphrodites near the end of their flowering cycle, then you may still harvest as much of the cannabis as possible.
PREVENTION OF HERMAPHRODITISM
- The first thing that you could do is to maintain the best environment for your plants. Be ready for any contingencies such as power outage or equipment malfunction in the ventilation and others.
- Ensure water quality and sufficient nutrients for the plants.
- Maintain hygienic conditions to avoid plant diseases.
- Select strains or species that are not naturally prone to produce true hermaphrodites.
- Inspect your plants carefully as you may unknowingly have a hermaphrodite. in the midst of your crop. Discard these immediately to protect your crops.