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A Spanish term meaning “seedless,” sinsemilla refers to cannabis grown without seeds. In the wild, cannabis grows seeds along with buds so when it dies, it will grow again the following year. Growing sinsemilla cannabis was adopted in the 1960s and ‘70s to produce buds without seeds for consumers, by only growing bud-producing female cannabis plants and not allowing them to get pollinated.
History of sinsemilla
Cannabis can be male or female, and in the wild males pollinate females, which then produce seeds. The genetics of both male and female plants are passed down to the seeds, so that when a female plant dies—cannabis is an annual, growing and dying each year—it drops seeds, which grow into new plants the following spring.
Only female cannabis plants produce buds, so when they are pollinated, seeds grow with the buds. Sinsemilla, or “seedless” cannabis was grown to keep seeds out of female plants so they only produce buds. To grow sinsemilla cannabis, male plants are discard or moved away from females before they develop pollen sacs and can pollinate females. This allows female plants to focus their resources on bud production instead of seed production.
Growing cannabis with seeds is beneficial for the natural evolution of the plant. Plants naturally evolved within their environment, picking up traits and characteristics that helped them better survive their environment.
Benefits of sinsemilla
Before sinsemilla became a standard practice among cultivators, there was a good chance weed you grew or bought had seeds in the buds. Bud with seeds are generally considered lower quality—seeds lead to a harsh smoke.
With sinsemilla, the cannabis plant can divert all its energies and resources on producing buds, instead of seeds. This leads to better quality and higher potency buds, and also higher yields because there won’t be seeds in the buds. The difference in potency is so drastic that when consumers first started smoking sinsemilla, they thought it was a different species of cannabis.
What is the History of Sinsemilla Cannabis?
Before and during the 1970s, cannabis in the United States came in primarily two forms: as hashish and cannabis buds. Dried cannabis flowers imported to the United States from Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, and Thailand, among other places, were wild-grown and minimally processed. Primarily known as marijuana by authorities and regulatory bodies, and referred to as grass, pot, and reefer, among many nicknames for the plant by everyone else, this cannabis had copious amounts of seeds. As domestic cannabis production in the United States began to take off in the 1970s, it was discovered that culling male plants before maturation so as to avoid any pollination would result in seedless buds after harvest.
It is not known who first coined the term sinsemilla, but it is theorized that both the cultivation method and the name originated in the southwestern United States. Due to the inherently higher THC content of seedless cannabis than seeded, this product was popularized as a new and potent type of cannabis. The misconception spread that sinsemilla and marijuana were completely different varieties of cannabis, and not the reality that they refer to the same plant simply grown with different cultivation techniques. This dichotomy between the two was used in anti-cannabis propaganda to spread the notion that cannabis was getting stronger, and therefore would allegedly begin to represent an even greater mental health concern to youths, thus needing to be eradicated.
As cannabis consumers realized the advantages that seedless cannabis had to offer (ease of smoking, increased potency, etc.), cultivators increasingly produced more and more sinsemilla. Breeding techniques were developed that allowed growers to grow seedless cannabis for distribution, while selectively pollinating particular branches of the healthiest females) in the crop with pollen from a separate crop of selected male breeding stock. Seeds secured from a few pollinated branches, if carefully germinated to assure a high success rate, can sow a crop for the following year. Advances in greenhouse technology led to the popularization of indoor cannabis cultivation, which further facilitated the production of seedless cannabis, as male and female cannabis plants could be grown adjacently, but in airtight containment to prevent unwanted pollination. The advent of feminized seeds facilitated hobbyist growing by allowing a grower to directly plant a crop of all-female plants sown from purchased, “feminized” seeds, without the need for complex breeding programs.
Where does the word sinsemilla come from?
In the past, long before cannabis cultivation in the West was established, cannabis and hash were almost exclusively imported. Dried flowers usually came from Mexico, where cannabis was grown in the wild without the care and tech of today’s grow operations. A lot of the imported “grass” had plenty of seeds in it, so it wasn’t really what one would consider quality bud.
Once breeders found out that separating male plants from the females resulted in seedless buds of much better quality, we never looked back.
It is thought that the word sinsemilla was coined in the 1970s, around the time when cultivation started ramping up in the US and Europe. Here it was used to differentiate seedless weed from the poorer stock. As the “new” weed was indeed better and more potent, this gave rise to the misconception of sinsemilla being a different, very strong variety of cannabis.
Truth was, of course, that it was still the same weed from the same strains. The only difference was in how it was cultivated. What’s more, this alleged new kind of powerful cannabis fuelled anti-cannabis propaganda, as weed suddenly became more “dangerous” in the eyes of the establishment.
The Biology of Sinsemilla: Why is it More Potent?
The development of the sinsemilla growing technique sparked an increase in potency of market cannabis for two reasons. Not only does seedless cannabis contain more THC, but its advent and spread also were the first time selective breeding was used to choose specimens for their increased potency.
The exact biological mechanism describing the increased potency of seedless cannabis from seeded has not been properly studied in a rigorous, scientific manner. However, an understanding of the descriptive botany of cannabis has provided a sound explanation for this phenomenon.
Female cannabis plants begin to flower when the days get shorter in the late summer. The amount of time it takes from the first sign of showing flowers to when they are fully ripe and ready to harvest in the fall is commonly referred to as its flowering period. Wild-grown, fertilized cannabis plants produce seeds during this time, and eventually drop them and die as temperatures cool in the fall. However, unfertilized cannabis lives longer and continues to produce flowers for up to a month longer than if it were fertilized. Vegetative growth of the stem and leaves would have ceased at the beginning of the flowering cycle, so all further growth happens in the buds, which become larger and more developed.
In addition to the extra lifetime of unfertilized female cannabis, the extra available metabolic energy that would have otherwise been dedicated to seed production is also thought to be a factor for the increase in potency. Cannabinoids are a component of the sticky oleoresin that forms on the outside of the bracts, the part of the anatomy which holds the seeds. It has been postulated that a lack of hormone-directed metabolism for the production of lipids and proteins in the seed will cause an amplification of the other, existing metabolic pathways: cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid biosynthesis.
The increased cannabinoid production in sinsemilla is very clear when looking at available data that tracks cannabis potency from the last 20-30 years. According to an Archival Report from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the main factor driving the increase in potency of cannabis in the United States is the increase in the proportion of high potency seedless relative to seeded cannabis.
Edible, nutrient-dense cannabis seeds are sought by small, foraging animals.
In the wild, cannabis has adopted the survival strategy of producing the maximum amount of seeds it can before death in the hopes that enough remain to sow the next generation the following spring. The seeds can make up to 50% of the mass of a dried, seeded cannabis bud, which represents a significant hardship for distribution and consumption of seeded cannabis.
For consumers, seeds are a nuisance that require users to meticulously pick through the buds by hand. Smoked seeds create an unpleasant flavor reminiscent of a coal-fired stove.
Sinsemilla means a plant has never been pollinated. Pollination is great for passing on traits and creating more plants in the future; however, it can also be a bad thing, and here’s why:
Pollination causes marijuana plants to use their energy to create numerous seeds for reproduction instead of quality, potent flowers.
For many marijuana growers, the ultimate goal is quality. You want potent trichomes, visible resins, high THC and, of course, great taste and aroma. The sinsemilla growing technique increases your chances of cultivating just that.
Once again, you can prevent the production of seeds by preventing pollination. Males pollinate females, so you’d want to avoid growing males.
The easiest way to avoid males is by planting feminized seeds indoors. These seeds will only produce female plants. You could also plant feminized seeds outdoors, but guaranteeing your females won’t get fertilized is tricky, since male plants can contaminate and pollinate females up to an entire mile away. It is much easier to stop male plants from pollinating females in a closed environment.
Not sure if you have a male plant in your garden? Read this detailed guide on plant reproduction to learn how to identify the sex of your plants.
Growing sinsemilla weed takes more effort, but in the end, it is worth it. Plus, when combined with strong genetics, you can produce highly potent, flavorful weed. Here are some feminized seeds that I recommend for sinsemilla growing.Gorilla Glue Autoflower by ILGM seeds require very little maintenance to produce compact plants with potent buds. The 50/50 Indica Sativa hybrid can produce up to 26% THC levels. Plus, because the plants are so compact, they are perfect for small spaces. Since it is an autoflowering plant, it will grow fast; however, this autoflower isn’t lacking on the THC. It also resists most of the common mildews and molds, making it perfect for first-time sinsemilla growers.
Gorilla Glue Autoflower is a mixture of Chocolate Diesel and Chem’s Sister that delivers an uplifted yet relaxed mood.MK Ultra seeds grow into plants that produce extremely powerful couch-lock effects combined with a cerebral high. With THC levels up to 21%, this 50/50 hybrid is perfect for days when you have nothing better to do but enjoy your high. This easy-to-grow award-winning strain produces average-sized plants that flower quickly.
MK Ultra is a cross between G-13 and OG Kush.
LA Confidential seeds produce Indica dominant hybrid cannabis plants with THC levels that can reach 25%. This strain is an easy-to-grow mixture of OG LA Affie and Afghani super strains. Although it’s one of the world’s simplest strains to grow, it does best with the SCROG (screen of green) technique. Users can expect to experience a mind-soothing, body-calming type of euphoria, and its often used at raves.
How Common is Sinsemilla?
During the 1970s, most marijuana had seeds. Nowadays, it is hard to find anything but seedless marijuana. To produce marijuana without seeds most growers either grow sinsemilla marijuana or go through the painstaking process of removing the seeds before they sell their harvest. Even if you are consuming marijuana without seeds, that doesn’t mean it is sinsemilla. Once again, the difference is the growing technique. Sinsemilla marijuana is grown without seeds and, as a result, tends to have a higher potency and more terpenes.
For many people, the only way to know if you are truly enjoying sinsemilla is to grow the weed yourself, and why wouldn’t you? The process isn’t difficult if done indoors, and if you start with feminized seeds, it’s almost foolproof.
Plants that don’t produce seeds tend to produce higher amounts of trichomes, leading to more potent weed.