Immature Weed Seeds

Looking for information regarding seed germination? Whether you're a novice or an advanced cannabis grower, this is the guide for you. Information for the Cannabis Industry: How Tax Applies to Immature Plants, Clones, and Seeds Cultivation Tax The cultivation tax does not apply to the sale or transfer of immature plants,

Tips & Tricks For Seed Germination

Looking for information regarding seed germination? Whether you’re a novice or an advanced cannabis grower, this is the guide for you. High Times Cultivation Editor Nico Escondido answers all of your grow questions in his weekly Nico’s Nuggets column.

The Question: What Can You Tell Me About Seed Germination?

I have a very technical question regarding seed germination, and I know you are just the man to ask. I have a friend who holds a PhD in plant physiology, and he once told me that plant seeds can be “turned on and turned off,” such that they germinate at a rate of 100 percent, or not at all.

For the life of me, I cannot remember how exactly he said to do this, and I have lost contact with him for the time being. I thought I might try my luck with you. Any info on this subject is appreciated! Thanks and keep up the good work my friend!

The Answer: Seed Germination Basics & Technical Theories

Thanks very much for writing in with your excellent question—and for your faith that we might be able to provide some insight! I think I have an idea of just what your friend was talking about when he described turning a seed “on and off” in terms of germination.

Seed Germination Basics

To start, we must first understand that not all cannabis seeds are viable for germination. Seed viability can be determined by the seed’s size, color, moisture content and age.

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Young, immature seeds have very low rates of germination. These seeds are smaller and look very pale or white in color.

Bigger, plump seeds that are darker brown in color, with black tiger-like stripes are usually good bets for higher germination rates. Seeds that need to be stored long-term (more than six months) should be kept in the proper conditions—in an airtight container and in a dry, dark and cool place.

To germinate seeds, there are quite a few easy propagation methods.

Perhaps the simplest is to place the seeds between two moistened paper towels and lay them flat on a tray or plate. Keep the tray on top of a warm appliance or mild heat mat, regularly moistening the paper towels. After a few days, you will see the root tips begin to sprout.

If the seeds are being difficult, you can try floating the seeds in a glass of water for a day to help soften them up. Some advanced growers even use mild soap solutions, razor blades and plant hormones to increase germination rates on old or heirloom seeds.

Advanced Seed Germination

All of that being said, there are some more technical theories on plant seed germination that have been tested. And while some of these theories have been proven using specific seed varieties, it is not known if these techniques work on all plant species.

Perhaps the most well-known theory on turning seeds “on” and “off” for germination involves the flowering signal that triggers hormones in plants to fruit or flower. These same signals can also be used to trigger germination—or render seeds nonviable.

These “signals” are really the absorption of specific light frequencies.

In flowering plants, leaves of the plant pick up these frequencies, usually in a specific order and duration, which then triggers the release of hormones within the plant that alters the plant’s biological functions.

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The Phytochrome Red (Pr) pigment in plant leaves that absorbs red light from the spectrum, in wavelengths between 660 – 760 nanometers (nm), is the first signal caller. The pigment called Phytochrome Far Red (Pfr), which absorbs red light at 760 – 800 nm, is the second signal caller.

Much in the same way that these leaf pigments trigger flowering, seeds—with just a single flash of light at these frequencies—can also be turned “on” and “off” for germination.

When red light at 660 – 760 nm hits a seed and then is immediately followed by a flash of red light at 760 – 800 nm hitting the same seed, the seeds will not germinate. Reverse this process, and the seeds will germinate at a very high rate, if not in totality.

Trials with cannabis seeds have indicated that this works for the cannabis plant species; however, in certain subspecies of cannabis (and strains containing diverse and hybridized genetics), the results were less than certain.

Still, many savvy breeders and seed producers have incorporated these techniques into their practices with good success. Conversely, it has long been suspected that Customs & Border Control agencies, as well as other law enforcement agencies, have also practiced these techniques on cannabis seed shipments across international borders, though that conspiracy theory seems a bit far fetched.

Information for the Cannabis Industry: How Tax Applies to Immature Plants, Clones, and Seeds

Cultivation Tax
The cultivation tax does not apply to the sale or transfer of immature plants, including clones or seeds. The cultivation tax is imposed on cultivators for harvested cannabis that enters the commercial market; however, the definition of “enters the commercial market” specifically excludes immature plants and seeds.

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Excise Tax
Immature plants, clones, and seeds are subject to the 15 percent cannabis excise tax when sold at retail. Nurseries may sell immature plants, clones, or seeds to another cannabis licensee. However, a distributor is required to transport the cannabis from the nursery to the licensee and when the immature plants, clones, or seeds are sold or transported to a retailer, the distributor is also required to collect the 15 percent cannabis excise tax from the retailer based on the average market price of the immature plants, clones, or seeds. The retailer is responsible for collecting the cannabis excise tax from their retail customers when the immature plants, clones, or seeds are sold at retail.

Sales and Use Tax
Sales tax applies to the retail sale of immature plants, clones, and seeds. Sales and use tax does not apply to a cultivator’s purchase of immature plants, clones, and seeds when the products grown from them will be resold as part of the cultivator’s regular business activities. The seller should obtain and keep a valid and timely resale certificate from the purchaser as support that the sale was for resale. For information on sales for resale and resale certificates, see publication 103, Sales for Resale.

This email is intended to give you an overview of how tax applies to immature plants, seeds, and clones and does not address all requirements for the cannabis industry. For additional information, we encourage you to read our online Tax Guide for Cannabis Businesses, or contact the CA Department of Tax and Fee Administration.