How long after my male plants start showing flowers will it take to produce seed? I know that the males are less potent than females, but I really need the seeds. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Seeds are produced on female plants. Once a male plant starts to flower, developing pollen sacks, it will take about two weeks for the first viable pollen to be released. Once released, male pollen must land upon receptive female pistils. The microscopic pollen slides down to the base of the female pistil where it fertilizes the ovule, located deep within the protective seed bract. Once fertilized, the union of the pollen and ovule develops into an embryo and later a seed. This union grows into a seed that is viable about five or six weeks later.
Harvest ripe seeds when they are well-formed, hard and fully developed. In general seeds are dark or mottled, however some may be tan in color. But in general, tan seeds are immature.
One of the simple pre-germination tests I use to discern viable seed is to squeeze it lightly between my thumb and finger. If the seed is hard and strong, it is probably viable.