Cannabis plants naturally produce either male plants that produce pollen or female plants that produce buds but hermaphroditism occurs too. Hermaphroditism occurs when plants both have the characteristics of both male and female plants. Feminized cannabis strains are even observed to be more subjected to hermaphroditism than regular strain ones.
Hermaphroditism in cannabis plants is either the result of either genetics or the environment.
There are certain strains of cannabis that produce more hermaphrodites genetically than the others. Genetically hermaphrodite plants are also called true hermaphrodites because hermaphroditism is in their genes, unlike the environmental hermaphrodites whose hermaphroditism was naturally or artificially induced. A good example of a true hermaphrodite is the Chocolate Thai.
Cannabis or marijuana plants are sensitive and some are even more sensitive than the others. That is why cultivators choose to grow them in controlled environments where water, airflow, temperature, sunlight, and other factors are easily controlled and the plants are protected from harsh natural elements. These controlled environments maintain balance in the physical surrounding of the plant that will result in greater yield in the plants’ 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 are changed. This is a big concern nowadays due to the popularity of feminized marijuana plants for cultivation. Feminized plants are more at risk of hermaphroditism especially the mother plants, which are kept in a stressed state for a long time by undergoing regular pruning in order to be cloned.
The male marijuana plant could become female and the female marijuana plant could become hermaphrodite whenever they are subjected to stress.
A marijuana plant is in stress whenever it is undergoing an event that threatens its survival. Being the off-rooted, dried or sudden change in its environment triggers a hormonal reaction by releasing ethylene. Sometimes this ethylene production gets suppressed and this results in a gender change in a last ditch effort of the plant to propagate its genes.
This natural reaction of marijuana plants to stress has been taken advantage of by marijuana cultivators with the chemical methods of applying silver thiosulfate or colloidal silver onto the body of a female plant in order for it to become male. Becoming male makes this plant produce pollen instead of buds and since this plant was originally female, there is an absence of the male gene making the seeds 100 percent female that will grow to become female plants.
There are positive stresses that affect marijuana plants positively which will result in a stronger and healthier plant. However, these environmental stresses affect marijuana plants negatively and may be easily overlooked despite the modern environmental control on most cannabis greenhouses. The following are 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 is being taken advantage of by the Rodelization method of feminizing cannabis seeds.
Pruning, root damage, off-rooting, breaking branches and others. Pruning is usually done on mother plants to be cloned.
Pests and plant diseases. You must be careful in introducing new plants to your greenhouse by having proper quarantine and inspection procedures.
Too much or too little moisture being provided 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 it is smoked.
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 and will pollinate your female plants without you knowing and the resulting plants will be most likely hermaphrodites too. This unplanned pollination might pollinate your female plants with other than the plant you want that has the characteristics you want. You might as well start from the beginning if you happen you have your female plants pollinated by a plant that does not give a good yield of plants that will 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, 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 and be ready for any contingencies such as power outages 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 producing 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.