When cultivating dioecious plants that are either male or female, it is important to keep an all-female crop from converting themselves to males. This phenomenon is called hermaphroditism. It is a common sign that a plant is way too stressed out.
Plant Hermaphroditism Causes
There are three main reasons why plants experience hermaphroditism.
- Light leaks or wrong light timing especially in the first few weeks of flower
- Unstable genetic breeding (poor quality seed)
- Extreme stress from heat, root restriction, lack of nutrients, or lack of water
How to Prevent Plant Hermaphroditism
- Buy reliable high-quality genetics
- Control the environment and prevent extreme conditions and rapid changes
- Your dark period must be 100% lightproof (seal cracks in doors, tarps, plastic, 100% complete light-proofing)
What to do if Plant Herm?
If you find plants producing pollen sacs and flowers (hermaphrodites), or if you see plants producing only pollen sacs (males), immediately remove them from your growing area and dispose of them. If you want to keep male plants for breeding purposes, they need to be totally separated from other plants and you need to be mindful that pollen can spread through your ventilation system and on your clothing. Be sure to wear protective coverings or designated clean clothes when working with plants, and ensure air filters are changed regularly and are rated to prevent pollen from spreading. Another important way to prevent pollination is to thoroughly clean your cultivation space in-between crop cycles and spot clean during growing periods.
Outdoor growers face a growing challenge to prevent pollination. With more and more people growing short-day specialty crops outdoors, it is easy for your neighbor's genetics to travel over to your crops through the wind. This can lead to a significant loss of income due to reduced product quality. Greenhouses are a leading solution to preventing cross-pollination and getting top dollar for your harvest. While greenhouses with roll-up sides for natural ventilation still leave an opportunity for pollen to get in through the wind, they still offer some physical barriers to reduce this risk. Opting for mechanical ventilation in a "sealed" greenhouse gives the most protection from cross-pollination and is still more economical than growing indoors. Greenhouse growing helps you maintain genetic fidelity, prevent males, hermaphrodites, and seeding, and can increase and preserve the value of your crops!