Cross-pollination of hemp is the dreaded enemy of the feminized cannabis grower. Whether you are growing outdoor or in a greenhouse, pollen drift from feral hemp and sneaky males within a 20-mile radius can infiltrate your operation, seed your plants, and slash cannabinoid percentages. While growers can minimize the risk of pollination by checking their own crop for males and hermaphroditic plants, there is a high labor cost for a team to scan each and every row for an outdoor grow. And there is still the chance that one or two male plants go unnoticed and pollinate the crop.
1) If male hemp is left to pollinate female plants, they can become seeded causing cannabinoid potency to drop significantly leading to an inferior product. Seeds can be a huge problem when taking your product to market for two main reasons; (1) Seeded flower is unlikely to be sold as a high-quality smokeable flower. Buyers and consumers are looking for clean bud when it comes to smokeable flower. (2) Most extractors work on a toll basis, meaning they are paid per input pound. If your product is seeded, those seeds are added weight that you’re paying for which does not translate to your oil yield.
2) Seed breeders are attempting to protect cannabis growers from the pollination enemy through genetics. Oregon CBD is now offering “triploid genetics” - a sterile variety that cannot be pollinated and seeded by males. (For more feminized hemp seed recommendations, see our blog HERE). While these seeds are slightly more expensive, they can be a critical investment if you’ve had pollination issues or are looking to grow for high-quality smokeable flower.
3) Legislators are also making moves due to cross-pollination. In California, the divide between hemp and marijuana growers has caused regions to ban or limit hemp cultivation. Just last week, the infamous cannabis region of Humboldt County permanently banned outdoor hemp cultivation. The reason behind this decision was to protect marijuana growers from the cross-pollination from hemp farmers’ overlooked male plants. Ironically, the Humboldt ruling only allows cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC to be grown in the area, directly contradicting the federal THC allowance. Other states with buffer zone policies to reduce cross-pollination between cannabis growers include, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.