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It is of utmost importance to determine male vs. female cannabis plants and identify as soon as possible. Cannabis gender reveals occur gradually starting at the plant’s vegetative stage.
During this time, male and female plants develop pre-flowers (pollen sacs or flower buds). During the plant’s blooming stage, its female’s pre-flowers develop into mature cannabis buds, while the male’s pollen sacs pollinate female plants.
In this natural propagation of cannabis plants, both male and female plants play a unique role in the production of healthy and viable cannabis seeds and flower buds, respectively.
Here, we will show you how you can tell between male vs. female marijuana plants before it is too late.
Why Is the Difference So Important?
As a cannabis grower, the difference between a male and female weed plant affects the outcome of the crop’s yield and quality. Cannabis growers hoping to grow flower buds may end up with a “hermie” plant full of seeds if the female plant becomes accidentally pollinated.
Getting rid of male cannabis plants before they can pollinate your female plants can save your crop. Male plants can be destroyed or used for a variety of other purposes such as making concentrate, creating fiber, and breeding new strains.
Some growers may want both female and male plants to breed new and improved cultivars featuring a unique chemical profile. Strategically pollinating female plants with the desired male genetics and pheno hunting for the best phenotypes over a series of generations can produce stable strain genetics.
Choosing the right type of male and cannabis female plants can produce a new cannabis strain with characteristics of both genetics. In theory, growers could produce cannabis cultivars with a desired chemotype (cannabinoid and terpene profile).
What Is a Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plant?
Cannabis plants are dioecious, meaning they have male and female reproductive organs on separate plants. In some cases, cannabis plants can have both male and female sexual organs on the same plant, resulting in female plants with seeds.
Hermaphroditism in cannabis plants can have a variety of causes including:
- Genetics: Environmental stress can trigger hermaphroditic genes present in certain cannabis genetics.
- Feminization: Seed banks and breeders may use feminization to produce seeds that only grow female plants. However, improper feminization can result in hermaphrodites.
- Stress: Environmental stress such as changes in temperature, humidity, light, nutrients, growing medium, and pH, can trigger hermaphroditic characteristics.
A hermaphrodite plant can pollinate a female plant because it has both pollen sacs and flower buds. Some plants may produce yellow stamens, known as bananas by growers, around the flower buds, although they are typically found inside male pollen sacs. Bananas can release pollen without opening up like a pollen sac.
How to Tell the Difference Between Male vs. Female Marijuana
If you want to grow high-grade cannabis flowers, you need to monitor your plant's growth, particularly for the formation of its sexual organs. Identifying male and female plants early in its life cycle is better. Wait too late, and you may end up negatively affecting your yield.
Watch out for early signs of hermie plants. Cannabis growers can tell the difference between male and female weed plants, also known as sexing marijuana plants, after just a few weeks of growth from seed. Many growers wait until the flowering stage to begin looking for sexual organ formation.
Growers can start looking for early signs of male plants and early signs of female plants in the vegetative stage. Between weeks three and six, cannabis plants can begin to form their pre-flowers between their nodes, the area where the branches and leaves shoot out from the stalk.
- Male pre-flowers: Male pre-flowers look like little round balls.
- Female pre-flowers: Female pre-flowers will have a long and slender appearance featuring wispy and white, hair-like pistils.
Identifying the plant’s gender as early as possible. As a new cannabis grower, it can be difficult to tell between the two, but you can use your best guess to determine which weed plants to keep your eye on.
Cannabis Gender Testing Kits
Cannabis sex/gender testing kits are affordable and great for identifying the sex of your plant during the early stages of growth. Send in a small leaf sample to a lab and find out the sex of your weed plant in just a few days.
Tests are available for plants as young as one week old. Testing a baby weed plant, however, is not recommended. Many companies recommend testing around week three for a more precise result.
Male vs. Female Marijuana Plant Appearance
How does a male marijuana plant and a female marijuana plant differ in appearance? Male marijuana plants usually grow taller and faster compared to female plants. Male plants have more robust and sturdy stalks and fewer leaves than females. Female flowering plants tend to be bushier and shorter than males.
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Luis Cordova is a distinguished author, and renowned expert in cannabis cultivation, who possesses a Master's degree in Plant Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science. As a valued contributor to highly esteemed publications such as Cannabis Training University and Maximum Yield Magazine, Luis has emerged as a trusted source of guidance and knowledge in the cannabis industry. Having written thousands of informative articles, Luis is widely recognized for his comprehensive expertise on cultivating cannabis, both indoors and outdoors.