Ask Ed

I have been storing some seeds in a film canister in my desk drawer. Are they still alive or have they died?


Some of the seeds are probably still alive if the room (and the desk drawer) were kept at room temperature (72 degrees F) or lower. Seeds die faster when kept at higher temperatures.

The conditions favoring seed viability are darkness, cool temperature and low humidity. Seed life is extended dramatically by storing them in a refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below. For very long-term storage, seeds can be kept in a freezer. Thawing and refreezing can damage the seeds so make sure to thaw them only when ready to plant.

To prepare your seeds for planting, soak them overnight in a 1% hydrogen peroxide solution. Plant them about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch deep in sterile planting mix or hydroponic medium and water with a seed starting solution. Keep the seeds moist but not so wet they don?t have contact with air.


Does lighting affect the curing and drying process? Does hanging the plant upside down while curing affect the quality of the finished product?


Bright light degrades THC so it?s always recommended that marijuana be cured and dried in a dark or dimly lit space.

Growers often hang plants upside down to cure and dry. The large fan leaves hang over the buds. This slows the drying process, which leads to a smoother smoke. It is also a convenient way to store the drying plants while allowing air to circulate between the branches.

Hanging the plants does not increase potency. When the plant is cut, no more THC or other cannabinoids are produced. Resin doesn?t flow down the plant stem to the buds. THC is produced on site in the glands during the plant?s growth phases and doesn?t migrate to other parts of the plant during harvesting.

Drying the plant whole is only one method of curing and drying. Many growers prefer to cut the plant and manicure the buds while they are still wet. When the branches are still moist, the glands are pliable and less likely to cascade off the plant.


How do I convert THC to the active form from the inactive? If I heat it up to about 230? F, or 106? C will it activate?

Trevor T.,

THC is produced extra-cellularly in the gland membrane and held in a relatively inactive form THCA or THC acid. The THCA molecule contains a carbonate ring that is weakly bonded. When the carbonate tail is removed the molecule becomes much more active. Carbonate is COOH, one carbon atom (C), two oxygen atoms (O) and one hydrogen atom (H). You may have noticed that the two oxygen atoms and single hydrogen atom seem familiar. It?s the formula for water.

Drying the grass releases the water molecule from the bond. Residual carbonates are released shortly before the burn, as the cannabis heats up.

Activating cannabinoids to be ingested is of more concern. Without heating, many of the water molecules will retain their weak bond with the carbon atom, keeping the cannabinoid inactive. Heating the cannabis above water?s boiling point of 212? F or 100? C breaks the bond quickly. However, a lower temperature, 100? F or 33? C will provide enough energy for the bond to break, although it takes longer. A cooler room with very low humidity will also destabilize the bond, gradually causing the water to move from the carbon atom to the air.


Is there a list of what alleles are dominant to others? I want to know what will show up when I cross my parents.


No genetic map of cannabis has been published. We know that some characteristics are dominant. These include:

UPRIGHT ? prostrate

Crosses of prostrate plants with upright plants resulted in upright plants in the fi rst generation. A few of the F1?s showed more bushiness than the upright parent. However, the allele for prostrate growth is recessive.

AUTO-FLOWERING ? light-regulated

Crosses of pure auto-flowering ruderalis with light-sensitive indica and sativa plants resulted in auto-flowering F1?s. Almost all of the F2 crosses were autoflowering as well. This indicates that several genes are involved.

Most characteristics seem to share dominance. They are both expressed in the progeny. An example is leaf shape. Indicas have a webbed leaf. Sativas have long, thin leafl ets. The hybrid shape is an intermediate between the two. Other characteristics in which different versions of genes, called alleles, have shared or partial dominance include:

THC-CBD ratios

Shared dominance was proven in crosses of Hortifarm single cannabinoid varieties carried out in Raphael Mechoulam?s lab. A single cannabinoid variety is one in which a single cannabinoid – for instance, is expressed but the other cannabinoids are not produced by the plant. Two single-cannabinoid varieties, each expressing a different cannabinoid, were crossed. The progeny produced reduced amounts of each of the two cannabinoids, indicating they shared their expression of cannabinoids. Although environmental conditions affect potency, they do not affect the ratios of cannabinoids, which are genetically determined.

Time to maturity

Crosses of fast maturing plants with slow maturing plants result in plants with an intermediate ripening time.


Plants pick up odors from both parents. The stronger odor seems more dominant, but the progeny is often less pungent than the smellier parent and more pungent than the less smelly one.


Crosses of tall and short plants result in F1 plants of middle size.

Leaf, plant and bud formation

F1 crosses show characteristics of each parent. This includes bushiness and branching patterns.

The book Marijuana Botany by Robert Clark has more detailed information on this subject.


What could happen to me legally if my employer drug tested me and it came up positive for THC?

Newhall, California

Your employer could fire you for a confirmed positive drug test. Another possibility is that you could be required to attend drug treatment in order to keep your job. Your employer could also retaliate against you by going to the police.

If you were reported to the police, the information would probably be ignored. It would not be strong enough for the police to obtain a warrant because the informants couldn?t pinpoint when you were in possession. However, it could trigger an investigation including surveillance of your residence, searching through your garbage, talking to neighbors and trying to entrap you using the ?knock and talk? technique.

It?s improbable that your employer would report you to the police or that the police would investigate you based on that tip. Improbable, but it likely has happened more than we know.


Can exposure to marijuana plants have an impact on drug testing? I was recently working in a garden. I?m scheduled to have a drug test in a week. I was wondering if this past weekend?s activities would have any negative bearing? I have abstained from inhaling anything for three weeks now and feel that after four weeks most THC will have left my system. Is this correct?


You need not worry. You have a low level of THC metabolites in your system after abstaining from use for a month. Little THC is absorbed through the skin. However, you probably breathed in some glands when you were gardening. Drug tests are calibrated to detect recent use. Your abstaining has allowed your body to eliminate almost all of the suspect substance.


Is it possible to clone a plant once it is in fl owering? Should I cut the bud part away or leave it? What light cycle should I use? Can I root the cutting in water?


Cuttings can be taken from plants when they are flowering. The cuttings will root whether they are kept flowering or forced into vegetative growth by extending the lighted period each day to at least 18 hours. Cutting the bud off will not shorten the time it takes for the cutting to root or to revert to vegetative growth. The cutting can be rooted in the same way as vegetative cuttings. If you choose to root it in water, keep the water temperature at 72-74˚F. Change the water every few days. Once you see root initiation, use a diluted flowering formula to promote root growth for about a week, then the cutting should be ready to plant. When transplanting, make sure to keep the soil moist. Switch to a vegetative formula to promote leaf growth.


I am an experienced grower. Recently I moved into a new house and set up a closet system similar to the one in my old house. I ordered new stock of Jack Herer seeds from Willy Jack, which is a strain I have had success with before. Out of ten seeds, six sprouted and two were female. I took cuttings from the better looking female. They were flowered at six inches in six-inch plastic pots with a good organic soil mix and pruned to one main cola.

The plants grew vigorously, showed no deficiencies, and appeared to be definitely more indica than the previous Jacks I had ordered. They formed large buds but were sparsely populated with trichomes and the single blade leaves did not have their normal coating of trichomes. Neither the Jack?s somewhat piney smell, nor any marijuana odor was present. More trichomes appeared as the flowers matured but they were still sparse and small. At 70 days about half the trichomes had turned amber so I harvested them.

As I suspected, they weren?t too good. There is not 1/10th the THC present as was in the previous Jacks I grew. On the dried buds the trichomes are so small that they look like fine granulated sugar as opposed to a crystalline gland.

I am really at a loss here. These are beautiful plants in every respect except resin production. I am ready to chalk it up to bad genetics. Though I have had success with the exact same seeds before, Willy Jack?s JH is an F2 to start at best and since I only had two females to choose from I may have lost the genetic lottery.

What do you think?


I agree with your assessment. The sparse, small trichomes were the result of genetics rather than cultural practices. Vigorous healthy plants are likely to approach their potential. These plants just weren?t programmed to be big trichome producers. You lost in the Jack genetic lottery.

Jack Herer was originally produced by Sensi Seeds. It is a combination of unstabilized hybrids so there is quite a bit of genetic diversity within the Jack complex. I hesitate to use the word ?strain? because the plants are too variable. A pack of Jack seeds is likely to produce plants that vary from indica to sativa.

You purchased seeds from Willy Jack, a breeder who probably started with Sensi Seed genetics and then selected from it. However, Jack is still unstable and you are unlikely to find a duplicate of your lost genetics. Discard these plants and start with new seeds.


I have some plants in the flowering stage. If I put them outdoors in June will they continue flowering or will they revert to vegetative growth? If they won?t continue to flower under full days of summer sunshine, is it possible to cover them with a lightproof container or tarp for part of the daylight period in order to keep them flowering?

Will N.,
Maui, Hawaii

Maui is at the 20th latitude, still fairly close to the equator, so there is not that much variation in day length between summer and winter. On the longest day of the year, June 22, it is 13 hours, 24 minutes from sunrise to sunset. On December 22, the shortest day of the year, daylight hours are 10 hours 36 minutes from sunrise to sunset.

A 10 1/2 hour dark period is long enough for most varieties of marijuana to continue flowering. However, late flowering varieties might revert to vegetative growth for a while, until the days grow shorter. On July 22nd the dark period is 15 minutes longer. Some varieties will flirt with vegetative growth for a few weeks but are soon triggered into flowering by the lengthening dark period.

To assure that the plants continue to flower, they can be covered daily with large containers or blackout tarps that are totally opaque and allow no light to enter. White/black polyethylene is ideal for this. Place the tarp over the plants at the same time each day so the plants receive a total of 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness. For instance, in June the covering can be placed over the plants about 1 1/2 hours before sunset, and then removed in the evening or early morning. As the night lengthens, keep the day length at 12 hours by shortening the time the covering shields the plants from daylight.


I use Serenade?. The label says it is safe to use up to the day of harvest, is that true for cannabis? The label also says in case of ingestion seek poison control. Does it harm the taste of final product or is it toxic when it?s burned on cured herb?

Breeder J.,

Serenade? is an organic fungicide effective against powdery mildew and grey mold, and is registered with OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute). Its active ingredient is the QST strain of Bacillus subtilis, a bacterium that attacks a wide range of molds, but is not at all interested in you.

Serenade is considered very safe and has a zero hour re-entry interval, meaning you can safely enter a room just after it has been sprayed. The reason that it may not be safe to swallow is that there are inert substances mixed in with the active ingredient which may not be healthy to ingest. I have found the product to be quite effective and easy to use. It doesn?t seem to affect the odor or smokability of the bud. I waited several days before harvesting after use.


Do you have any advice for people looking to bring stuff on a cruise ship? My wife and I are going from Florida to the Bahamas and back. We?d like to bring some stuff with us, but we don?t know what the deal is with customs and the like. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Joe M.,

Don?t take pot on the cruise. The odor is easily recognized and not tolerated by management. You can?t smoke in the cabin because the port windows are sealed. Outdoors there always seem to be other people around. Instead of herb take edibles or tinctures. They are unnoticeable to all and still keep you high. If you must smoke, do it in the bathroom of the cabin and bring an ionizer with you to eliminate the odor. As much as you might wish to keep any unused herb or cookies, abandon them rather than trying to pass through U.S. Customs with them. The quarter-ounce or dozen cookies are not worth the risk-toreward ratio.


I am planning to try a DWC grow, starting from seed. How should I start the seeds off before putting them into DWC? I want to avoid rockwool cubes.

Gary B.,

Deep water cultivation, or DWC, is a technique in which there is a constant flow of water over a medium such as sand, gravel, lava rock or horticultural clay pellets contained in pots. The flow of water creates a film of nutrient/water solution over the planting medium. At the same time, roots have plenty of access to oxygen because of the large spaces between the aggregate.

DWC systems generally use an air bubbler pump that pushes a trickle of water to the top of the container from the individual reservoir below, however, they can be constructed using a central reservoir. The containers are placed in a raised tray. The water from the reservoir is pumped to the containers using a submersible pump and a network of tubing. It flows through the containers then drains into the tray and back to the reservoir.

To germinate the seed in the container something must support the seed in place, so it doesn?t fall to the bottom. You can make a little ?nest? in the planting medium using peat moss, coir or tissue paper. The seed should be covered with 1/4-inch of planting medium and kept moist until it germination.


My problem is a small mite that is attacking the roots. I use hydro rocks in baskets that are irrigated using an automatic drip system. After the mites attack the white roots turn brown and root growth stops although the top still looks okay. Under a 45x microscope the mite?s eight legs look like tiny clear crawling spider mites. What are they?


They are root mites that suck the juices from the root and harm it in several ways. They use its energy supply, weaken it and make it more susceptible to disease and attack by other pests and diseases, and they can be vectors for various diseases.

It is unusual to see a root mite infection indoors in a hydroponic system. You should try to figure out how they arrived at the garden to guard against re-infection.

There are several steps to take to rid the garden of these dangerous pests. First, introduce endomycorrhizae to the garden. These microorganisms colonize the root cells, forming a symbiotic relationship. They provide some protection against predation and help the root absorb nutrients. This will not rid the roots of mites but will invigorate them and make them somewhat more resistant.

There are several organic pesticides you can use that work well against mites. Although many populations of the twospotted leaf mite have developed resistance to pyrethrum, this insecticide/miticide may be effective against root mites. It will not kill the eggs so it should be used every three days for a total of five applications. Pyrethrum is concentrated from a plant closely related to chrysanthemums. It has no reported effect on warmblooded animals but is dangerous to fish and reptiles.


I am growing a strain called Afghanica from seed (mainly Indica) and have the plants under a 24-hour light regimen at present. How long should they be kept under this regimen before I begin to force fl owering? Is it simply a matter of preference for the size of plant I want to grow, or are there physical signs I should be looking for? Thanks for your help.

Paul O.,

Outdoors, given ample room and time to grow and fertile soil, plants approach their potential without pruning or interference, growing in an incredible number of shapes ranging from prostrate, to bushy to upright. Their height ranges from about 3 feet to over 25 feet tall.

Indoors, the plants retain their growing characteristics. Growers prune their plants to make them conform to the style of growing they prefer. For instance, plants that grow upright with little branching are sometimes ?pinched? at the tip, removing the growing tip. Two branches will grow in its place. Excess branches are sometimes removed from bushy plants.


At what temperature does THC oil boil? What temperature should I set my vaporizer at?

Michael G.,

THC has a boiling point of 200?C (392?F). However before the THC boils, other parts of the oil evaporate and boil.

Here are some important temperatures: At 21?C (70?F) the most volatile terpenoids start to evaporate, lending a pungent odor to the air.

At 31?C (87?F) the less volatile terpenoids start to evaporate, lending the air even more pungent odors.

At 39?C (102?F ) vir tually all of the terpenoids undergo evaporation fairly rapidly.

At 50?C (122?F) THC-Acid decarboxylates as the water molecule held in the carbonate form evaporates. This activates the THC.

At 66?C (150?F) Cannabidiol (CBD) melts and starts to evaporate.

At 185?C (365?F) Cannibinol (CBN) boils.

At 200?C (392?F) THC boils. Clear vapor from a vaporizer.

Vaporizer thermostats are notoriously inaccurate. To vaporize all the terpenoids and cannabinoids, adjust the heating element at the highest level before the air turns cloudy, which indicates smoke and a burn.


How can I tell when a working HPS or metal halide bulb is ready for retirement? I?ve read that the bulbs emit less light over time. If the amount of light declines gradually, I might not notice. Should I mark the bulbs with the date I put them into service? How long do the bulbs last?

Merrick, New York

Both metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps lose light intensity with time. Figure that they will lose between 20% and 35% of their brightness when used constantly for a year. Lamps that are turned on and off daily for flowering show more wear per hour of use, but because they are on only half the time, they lose their brightness over a longer period of time. Metal halide lamps also change color in unpredictable ways as they age. Some lamps from the same company turn more blue, while other turn more red.

In California the cost of electricity is approximately $.17 per kilowatt. A 1000- watt lamp uses between 1100 and 1200 watts depending on ballast. That costs between $67 and $73 per month to run. After 6 months the bulb loses about 10% of its intensity. Over the next 6 months it will lose at least another 10%. The total cost of lost light is between $8.55 and $10.95 a month in lost light, but more importantly, it costs 15% of the crops? growth and ultimately, 15% of its yield. If a garden has a moderate yield of about a pound and loses 15% to lower light levels it will lose about 2.4 ounces.

To see graphic evidence of the difference between new and six monthold lamps, compare their brightness side by side. You will be impressed with the difference.

The solution is simple. Change your lamps every six months.

Readers with grow questions (or answers) should send them to Ed at: Ask Ed, PMB 147, 530 Divisadero St., San Francisco, California 94117, USA You can also email Ed at [email protected], and send queries via his website at: All questions featured will be rewarded with a copy of Ed?s new book, Best of Ask Ed: Your Marijuana Questions Answered. Sorry, Ed cannot send personal replies to your questions.



  1. slayer on

    there will not form a chemical bond between water and THC. But THC does dissolve in water in very moderate amounts (2g per litre at 20°C). It dissolves a lot better in non-polar solvents however since it is itself non-polar. similia similibus solvuntur (like dissolves like). so it’s probably the smartest to keep using water in your bong which is very polar. if you add some salt it will be even more polar. by the way, you should have googled this question!

  2. slayer on

    under the heading decarboxylation it says: “When the carbonate tail is removed the molecule becomes much more active. Carbonate is COOH, one carbon atom (C), two oxygen atoms (O) and one hydrogen atom (H). You may have noticed that the two oxygen atoms and single hydrogen atom seem familiar. It?s the formula for water. Drying the grass releases the water molecule from the bond. ”

    unfortunately this is ridiculously wrong:

    1.decarboxylation is the loss of a molecule of CO2 (carbondioxide) from the THCA molecule, not of water.

    2.COOH is not carbonate but a carboxyl functional group.

    3.water has the formula H2O and not HO2 as the above reasoning suggests.

    the person responsible for these mistakes should correct them.

  3. Anonymous on

    Does THC bond with oxygen molecules in a water pipe?