How To Tell if Your Cannabis Seeds Are Good or Bad

Viviane Schute        

Cannabis enthusiast and student of the art of solventless extraction


Breeders work hard to create optimal cannabis cultivars for growers and solventless extractors. The true value of their work is contained within the seeds, which carry the healing powers of the cannabis plant. Farmers and extraction artists bring it forth. Starting with high quality seeds is a vital first step. 

When we talk about the importance of using good seeds, we’re addressing the physical condition of the seeds, not the genetics they hold. Fortunately, visual inspection can give us clues as to the viability of cannabis seeds, and help determine if the seeds are good or bad. 

Starting with bad cannabis seeds can result in low germination rates, throwing off the grower’s production schedule and leading to extra expenses. Not to mention the disappointment and frustration of dealing with duds. 

Not only do cannabis seeds vary in physical appearance between different cultivars, they can vary drastically between plants of the same cultivar. They can even vary within the same flower of a single cannabis plant. 

Let’s take a look at some of the cues which indicate whether cannabis seeds are good or bad. 

Signals To Look for When Assessing The Quality of Cannabis Seeds


  • Color 
  • Size and Shape 
  • Sheen 
  • Age 
  • Origin 
  • Buoyancy

What are The Characteristics of Good Cannabis Seeds?

Cannabis seeds can vary quite a bit in color, from green to brown. The color we want to see is a healthy brown color, which can range from light to dark brown. Sometimes, seeds that have been in a package for a long time can turn darker in color. Patterns that resemble tiger stripes or turtle shells are common in good seeds too.


Size and Shape
Good cannabis seeds can come in a range of sizes, from small and compact to larger and more bloated. Genetic makeup can dictate the size of seeds, but higher levels of calcium and magnesium can also increase seed size.  

Regarding the shape, a good cannabis seed will have a teardrop shape. Good seeds are rounded at one end and tapered at the other. 

Good cannabis seeds possess a waxy sheen. Healthy seeds have a shimmer as if they’re polished with some wax. 

In nature, cannabis seeds are dispersed during the autumn season through animal activity, then germinate the next spring. The ones that don’t germinate within those few months will die. So, it’s best to use seeds within one year.  

To test for age, squeeze a cannabis seed between your fingers. A young and healthy seed will feel firm and won’t give in to the pressure. 

Professional breeders and seed banks carry the best cannabis seeds. They have the expertise and the resources to consistently produce high quality genetics and harvest the best seeds for growers to germinate. Expect high germination rates with exceptional cannabinoid and terpene content from these outstanding genetics and healthy seeds.

Good cannabis seeds sink in water after a couple hours of floating. Drop your cannabis seeds in a glass of water and if they sink after 1-2 hours, they are good. 

What are The Characteristics of Bad Cannabis Seeds?



Beware of cannabis seeds that take on green coloration. Greenish hues are a sign that the grower or breeder harvested the seeds too early. Since they didn’t get the time to fully mature, these seeds might not germinate. 

Size and Shape
Bad cannabis seeds can come in a variety of sizes. It’s hard to tell a bad cannabis seed from size alone.

Seeds that are not teardrop shaped, meaning rounded on one end and tapered at the other, may be bad. Beware of seeds that are flat or shaped not like a teardrop, as this can be a sign of a genetic defect. These bad seeds will likely have germination issues and produce disappointing plants. 

In contrast to the waxy sheen of healthy cannabis seeds, bad cannabis seeds appear dull in comparison, lacking that nice shimmer and shine. A matte finish on a cannabis seed is a bad sign. 

Avoid using cannabis seeds that are more than a year old, as older cannabis seeds may be bad. To check for age, squeeze the cannabis seed between your fingers. If the seed collapses under the pressure, feels squishy or even cracks, it’s not good. 

Unlike seeds created by expert breeders, seeds that grow unintentionally in cannabis flowers are probably not good. When a grower finds seeds randomly growing in their flowers, it’s normally a sign of bad growing practices. You can consider these bad seeds.

Bad seeds will remain floating in a glass of water, even after several hours. While good seeds sink after 1-2 hours, bad seeds will keep floating. If seeds are still floating after a few hours, consider them bad. 

How To Properly Store and Preserve Cannabis Seeds

Cannabis seeds can go from good to bad, but not the other way around. So properly storing your cannabis seeds for up to a year is key. Avoid heat, light, humidity, and oxygen. Storing seeds in a cool, dark, low-humidity room inside of a sealed glass jar is ideal. 

Don’t expose the seeds to rapid changes in temperature either, as this can ruin them. 

Colder temperatures do in fact decrease the rate of decline in quality. Beware of storing seeds in the refrigerator, as the inside of a refrigerator often has high humidity. A freezer is better, but normally not necessary. 


Cultivating cannabis begins with the fundamental choice of selecting good seeds. Factors such as color, size and shape, sheen, age, origin, and buoyancy offer valuable insights for growers seeking to maximize their quality resin yields.

Choosing quality seeds is not only about ensuring high germination rates but also about producing plants with desirable cannabinoid and terpene profiles. And when you have good cannabis seeds, be sure to properly store them. By safeguarding seeds from heat, light, humidity, and oxygen, growers can extend their viability and maintain the potential for successful future harvests. 

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What role does seed color play in determining seed quality?
Seed color provides crucial insights into the maturity of cannabis seeds. While a healthy brown color is ideal, greenish hues may indicate premature harvesting, leading to potential germination issues. Patterns resembling tiger stripes or turtle shells in brown seeds are often signs of good quality.

Can the size and shape of cannabis seeds dictate their quality?
Yes, the size and shape of seeds matter. Good cannabis seeds typically have a teardrop shape—rounded at one end and tapered at the other. While genetics influence size, higher levels of calcium and magnesium can also contribute to larger seeds. Seeds that deviate from the teardrop shape may signal genetic defects and potential germination problems.

Why is the sheen on cannabis seeds an important indicator of quality?
A waxy sheen on cannabis seeds is a positive sign, reflecting their health and vitality. Seeds with a shimmering appearance are considered good quality. In contrast, dull or matte finishes may indicate poor seed health and could lead to disappointment during germination.

How long are cannabis seeds viable, and why does age matter?
Cannabis seeds are best used within one year to ensure optimal viability. Squeezing a seed between your fingers can help assess its age; a firm and resistant seed is likely young and healthy. Older seeds, indicated by a collapse under pressure or a squishy texture, may result in lower germination rates.

What is the significance of seed origin in determining quality?
Professional breeders and seed banks are reliable sources for high-quality cannabis seeds. Their expertise and resources contribute to consistent production of top-notch genetics. Seeds found randomly in cannabis flowers, often a result of poor growing practices, are less likely to be of good quality. It is advisable to choose seeds from reputable sources for optimal results.


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