From Seed to Weed: The Long, Strange Life Cycle of Hemp

July 9th, 2018

Anyone who knows the hemp industry knows that growing healthy cannabis plants is a long and careful process. At Innovative Separations, our team of experienced hemp cultivators and CBD extraction professionals are dedicated to sticking to this process — ensuring the all-natural growth of all cannabis plants we grow. In doing so, we must be fully knowledgeable of all stages in the life cycle of hemp. With that in mind, we are breaking down these stages — from the earliest seed until the moment flowers are ready for oil extraction.

Seed to Germination

If anyone ever tries to tell you that seeds are seeds, take that advice with more than a few grains of salt. Selecting seeds that have a real chance of vegetating is the first vital step in the growing process. We recommend looking for those which are dry, hard, and brownish in color. Soft white or green seeds will almost always fail to vegetate and waste precious time.

The germination process of a seed will typically last from one to two weeks. In this time frame, it is important that the seed gets plenty of water to ensure that it will grow. The first thing to look for is the cracking of the seed, which will allow the first cotyledon leaves to emerge and take in sunlight. From here, the roots will begin to take hold, allowing additional fan leaves to grow. After about a week, your plant should be moving swiftly into the seedling stage.


The seedling stage, which lasts anywhere from two to three weeks, should see further growth of leaves which are close to the familiar cannabis leaf shape. However, the important difference is that these leaves will have fewer fingers than what you might expect. This is how to gauge the growth of the plant. As the leaves develop more fingers, it grows closer toward the vegetative stage of its life.

Vegetative Stage

For the next three to eight weeks, the plant remains in the vegetative stage. This is the time frame which the plant experiences the most growth and requires significantly higher amounts of water. Cannabis plants in this stage will benefit from healthy soil which is rich with nitrogen. Additionally, as the plant approaches the next flowering stage, it should become apparent whether it is male or female due to the presence of hairs (female) or pollen sacs (male).

Flowering Stage

Next comes the flowering stage, which will last from six to eight weeks. Once the plant is seeing fewer than twelve hours of sunlight per day due to the changing season, buds will begin to appear. Once the buds appear to be in full bloom, they should be ready to harvest.

Harvest Stage

Finally comes the harvest stage. When the plant has flowered, it’s important to choose the right time for harvesting, as it will affect the taste, weight, and potency of the buds. The best indication that the time to harvest has arrived comes from the color of the hairs, which will turn a reddish-brown color. From here, the trichomes of the plant should change from clear to a cloudy color, meaning that they are ready to go.

Once the flower has been harvested, they need to dry for a period of time before they are ready for use or extraction. It is vital that the flowers have enough time to dry, or an entire year of work could go to waste. From here, our team of extraction experts will take the cannabis and prepare it for oil extraction. If all best practices in the growing process have been followed, the plant should yield a high-quality product with more uses than you could possibly think of.

To learn more about Innovative Separations, our process, or the uses of CBD oil, call 800-787-0018.

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