Marijuana chemical smell

A question from a fellow grower:

Dennis, I ordered seeds a month ago and got them about 10 days ago. I used the water glass method, and once they opened put them in wet paper towels to grow tails. That produced about 8 seeds with tails in about 4 days. Good results – I had ordered 10.

The peat pellets were also watered, expanded, and LEFT uncovered in a kitchen cabinet most of the time the seeds were progressing – about 5 days. Monday I planted the seeds w/tails in the (one week old) pellets, watered well, and covered the tray with its plastic lid.

Tuesday morning there was a bad smell – a kind of ‘chemical’ smell – coming from the pellets so I moved them into low light and fresh air without any cover. The first seed poked thru that day and 2 more the day after. (Tuesday, Wednesday)

However that ‘chemical smell’ has not left the peat pellets and there’s very little progress this morning (Thursday). It’s hard to describe this smell, it reminds me of some liquid chemical like flormalgahide? – very different compared to the smell of real earth. This unnatural pellet odor is probably not good for the seedlings. 3 seeds did take off quick this week but that may be due to the root growth they had going into the pellets Monday.

What do you think? Is there anything I can do at this point to move what I have - 3/4 very little starters - out of the pellets? I may lose even the four I have if I don’t do something. I’m open to ideas…

I’m thinking the smell might be more ammonia and a decomposition smell, maybe from keeping the pellets too wet, too long. Most pellets I’m familiar with have you wet them only right before putting a seed or seedling in it, not have it sitting around wet for a long period of time.

The only thing I can think of is to let the pellets dry out a bit before re-watering them. Hopefully the micro-biome at the roots will not be too far gone with too many unhealthy anaerobic bacteria and the roots won’t die of something like pythium.

This is a tough one. Peat really should not turn bad. Even if wet early, I cannot see them doing anything aside from drying out. It could just be a contaminated lot of pellets. Something that happened at the factory, and was not noticed.

iI agree with MacG on the fact that I have never used peat pellets until I was ready to place seeds in them, and that is what I do if I use peat pellets. I follow directions and when ready; I place a seed directly into the pellet and let it germinate. Wish I could help more. :frowning:

Yeah, having them sit wet before might not have contributed to the problem, especially as you don’t mention noticing any smell then. I’m still leaning towards the smell being ammonia and other decomposition smell for the same reasons, too anaerobic of conditions in the peat at the roots. But it could be like Latewood says a well, maybe a bad batch of pellets or they got contaminated in some way. But all things being equal and most likely, I think the smell is from ammonia due to decomposition at the roots and anaerobic bacteria.

Letting them get dryer might only have them dry out as Latewood said. The only other thing I can think of to increase the dissolved oxygen at the roots and/or get rid of some of the anaerobic bacteria is try flushing them with a dilution of some H2O2, or try carefully washing the peat off the delicate developing roots and transplanting them into a good low nutrient starting soil or potting mix that has a lot of good microhaze microbes in it. If they still look alive and viable, they could very well be completely rotted out by now.