How Long Do Cannabis Seeds Last?
When it comes to growing your own cannabis, there’s a lot to learn. You’ll pick up most of the information as you go. One of the most common questions for growers is “how long do cannabis seeds last?” The answer is not always clear.
June 29, 2020
Keep in mind that there is no concrete answer for how long cannabis seeds will last. In fact, the only guarantee is that it depends on many things. Storage, the specific strain, and other factors will affect the lifespan of your seeds.
Marijuana seeds last the longest in the refrigerator
As with many things related to growing cannabis, there is some debate about the best ways to store seeds. There is also plenty of debate surrounding how long they will last in any given storage space.
Leafly says that seeds must be properly stored to prevent mold or pathogens from spoiling them. They should be stored in a cool, dark place and can be used within 16 months. If you’ll be waiting longer than 16 months, it’s best to put them in the freezer to use in the future.
However, some suggest that seeds can last for years when stored in a cool, dark place. Like we said, there is plenty of debate surrounding best practices for growing weed. If you have stored your seeds in a cool, dark place for a long time, examine them thoroughly and be cautious. Expect to lose more seeds as time goes on, though. The longer they sit in storage, the more likely it is that some won’t germinate.
So, to be on the safe side, it’s best to refrigerate or freeze your seeds for long-term storage.
If they’re not stored in a cool, dark place, and are instead stored in regular conditions, they will last significantly less time. Some sources suggest they will only last a few months in regular conditions. If you don’t plan to use your seeds in the near future, it’s best to store them somewhere cool and dark to prevent pathogens and mold.
As a general rule, try to use your cannabis seeds within the first three years of obtaining them. Five years is considered very old for seeds. The quicker you can germinate and use your seeds, the better. In fact, the longer you wait, the less likely it is that the seeds will germinate at all.
What factors affect cannabis seed longevity?
First of all, try to keep your seeds in their original packaging if possible. This will prevent them from being exposed to light or other no-nos. If they’re already out of the packaging, that’s okay. Keep them in a sealed container, in a dark, cool place. Or sealed in the refrigerator or freezer.
It’s not necessary to freeze your seeds, but some people prefer to freeze them instead of refrigerate them. If you don’t open your freezer as often as you open your fridge, it may be logical to freeze them instead. This will prevent frequent temperature changes and potential light exposure.
Additionally, too much or too little humidity and the presence of oxygen can also affect the longevity of your seeds. Keep ‘em cool. Keep ‘em dark.
And don’t forget genetics and quality. Some seeds will just fare better than others because they are higher quality and more durable.
What happens when cannabis seeds are stored improperly?
If seeds are exposed to light or rapid temperature change, this can trigger a number of events that will damage their longevity.
First, it can trigger them to use up their nutrient stores before they should be used. This means when it’s time to germinate, they won’t have enough nutrients. Exposure to high humidity can trigger fungi growth.
Here’s some more information about how humidity can affect cannabis seeds, courtesy of Royal Queen Seeds.
If the storage space has an 8-9% level of humidity, it may eventually attract pests and insects. Once it hits 12-14% humidity, it’s possible for fungi to grow inside and outside of your seeds.
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When humidity levels reach higher levels, around 18-20% humidity, the seeds will begin to sweat. Once you’ve reached 20-30% humidity, it’s a good idea to store your seeds. Around 40-60% humidity will lead to germination. You don’t want this if you’re not using your seeds yet. And finally, 80-100% humidity will cause seeds to drown and wilt in less than a day.
Best practices for storing your cannabis seeds
If you don’t plan to wait a long time, you can store your seeds in a cool, dark place. However, if you want to be extra certain they will survive, refrigerate or freeze them.
When you refrigerate or freeze your seeds, you need to protect them from your regular use. You don’t want your seeds getting exposed to light and temperature changes on a regular basis because they’re in your fridge. So, store them in the device you use less often (or better, a second fridge you rarely use) to prevent frequent temperature changes.
The best way to store them in a refrigerator or freezer to keep them in a nice, airtight container. Ziplock bags are a good choice because you can squeeze most of the air out and create a tight seal over your seeds. But don’t stop at the bags. Once you’ve sealed them in a ziplock bag, you’ll need to put it inside a darker bag or container. This will prevent deterioration from light every time you use your fridge.
It is possible to expose your seeds to excess moisture if they’re improperly stored in the refrigerator or freezer. If you don’t plan to leave them for long, you can skip the fridge and store them in a dark, cool zone. But if you do use the refrigerator to store cannabis seeds and want to make sure they don’t get too much moisture, you could add a little bit of uncooked rice to their container. Some growers suggest this will absorb excess moisture and prevent the seeds from deteriorating.
As with many things cannabis and gardening, different people like to use different methods. What works for you may not be someone else’s cup of tea.
But when it comes to storing seeds, you need to be careful. It’s crucial to keep them in an environment that prevents them from getting damaged and losing their ability to germinate.
The best way to store your seeds will depend on many factors. Assess how long you plan to leave them for, the quality of the seeds, and the storage spaces you have available before deciding how to store them. And good luck!
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