The evolution of cannabis genetics around the world is at a pinnacle. And with many advancements in breeding projects, the technology to produce feminized seed is now a reality. Producing top quality seeds is easier said than done, however. High Times sat down with Professor OG (not his real name) from Dinafem Seeds, a renowned European seed bank best known for their feminized, auto-flowering, and CBD seeds, and talked to them about breeding projects, working with CBD lines, upcoming releases, and how popular feminized seeds are across the pond.
High Times: Can you tell us a bit more about yourselves and how long you have been a seed bank for?
Professor OG: Dinafem was born in 2005 as a collective project by a group of old-timer growers and breeders. We had been growing, experimenting, and creating new strains since the late ‘80s, always looking for the best, the most unique and special genetics. At some point around 2001, we realized that some strains we had produced were far better than many seed strains from Dutch seed banks that we were retailing in our grow shops, and we decided that it was time to create our own seed bank.
How are female seeds made and can you explain more about your breeding facilities?
We use selected elite clones to produce the seeds, always the same clones, to ensure maximum stability. The facilities are indoor rooms equipped with carbon filters and fans to control the spread of pollen and make sure there is no cross-pollination. Climate control is very important to keep the plants dry and warm, especially for the pollination process.
To obtain a feminized seed, we cross a female plant clone with another female plant clone. The process is done by making one of the female plants change her sex so she can produce pollen, and then we pollinate the receiver female plant. Both plants are female and therefore both are giving female XX genes to the offspring.
What are the three main benefits that a grower can take away from using feminized seeds?
The main benefit is that feminized seeds guarantee that the resulting plant will be female, so the grower does not have to waste time and energy in a male plant that will have to be discarded at a later stage. Also, with a 100 percent female population, the grower doesn’t have to worry about undesired pollination, which guarantees high-quality sinsemilla buds.
Not all feminized seeds are equally safe because sometimes there are seeds that produce hermaphroditism or even male plants. That’s because the mother plants have to be carefully selected to avoid hermaphroditic traits.
In Europe what is the correlation in the marketplace between regular and female seeds?
When they first emerged in the industry in the year 2000, feminized seeds had quality problems and sexual instability with lots of hermaphroditic plants. We were selling those to our customers in our grow shops and we could see that a lot of those customers refused to try them because of a bad reputation arising from said instability.
However, we soon produced feminized strains that were 100 percent safe, so we knew right then that they would take the market. More companies popped up, and eventually, the feminized seeds became more popular until they were the norm rather than the exception, to the point that they have relegated regular seeds to a mere 10 percent market share.
How stable are feminized seeds and what type of desired characteristics can a grower expect in terms of diversity?
You can expect fairly stable populations with our seeds. Our selection of elite clones is crossed and tested for homogeneity in order to discard the mixes that provide excess genotype variation. But you’ll still be able to find an exceptional plant in terms of resin, production or terpene content, assuring you’ll find some good keepers for the future.
We can’t speak for other companies but it’s true that not all the feminized seeds are as stable and there are very different qualities on the market. So feminizing genetics is a powerful tool that works great when used properly but it is not a guarantee for a 100 percent stability. It depends on the breeders work.
Can you tell us about how you test your plants for terpenes and cannabinoids, and where this is done?
We collect samples from every single plant of a given population, and then analyze them to have a complete picture of that strain– both during the breeding process and when the commercial seed is tested. We built a private lab for our internal needs right in the middle of the company HQ, equipped with all the necessary machinery and run by a team of two specialists: a pharmacologist and a chemical analyst. The process is quite detailed and not simple, needs a lot of skill and practice to be mastered
What is your advice to anyone who wants to learn more about terpenes and cannabinoids?
We encourage it. We recommend to look for scientific papers and publications and to follow our blog where we post articles sharing all our knowledge and expertise, as well as the work we do in our laboratory. That is a field that will be intensely developed in the next 10-years, and instead of talking about cannabis like a single entity people will understand that there are dozens of different profiles with very diverse effects and properties.
How popular are the American strains in Europe and is this something you find a big trend?
Definitely. Since a few years ago, American genetics have taken the market over because of their mind-blowing flavors and potency, especially the ones coming from California.
Sadly there aren’t many people or companies making good breeding work in Europe, while in the states there are many commercial growers making different crosses and selections. Seems like this trend will continue for the following years.
You work with many CBD varieties. Can you tell us more how you started breeding with CBD lines and the history behind that?
A few years ago, we realized that CBD had great potential and we believed in it, so we made an all-in bet for this cannabinoid. We began an intense breeding process crossing legendary genetics with our pure CBD elite line, always analyzing the results in our laboratory. We were convinced that as cannabis becomes more accepted by the mainstream public the offer of low-psychoactivity strains would have to increase because there will be lots of people interested in strains that provide a mellow calming effect instead of the super high-potency that so far has been attributed as the main trait of recreational cannabis. Seems like time is proving us right and we are focusing on being market leaders in that regard.
What is the best way to explain the different cannabinoid ratios (such as 1:1, 2:1) for those who are new to medicinal cannabis and the culture in general?
These ratios refer to the THC / CBD levels of the cannabis strains. A ratio of 1:1, for instance, means equal levels of the two cannabinoids, as is the case of our OG Kush CBD (10 percent THC and 10 percent CBD).
The more THC, the higher psychoactivity. Lower THC means less psychoactivity.
What direction is Dinafem taking CBD varieties at the moment and what are your plans for 2019 regarding CBD-rich hybrids?
We have been working on this field for a bunch of years now. And in this time we have managed to produce strains that are absolutely unique in the sense that the morphology and flavors of the new CBD creations mimic exactly the original strains they are based upon. We will release some pure CBD clone strains with partner companies in Switzerland and Italy and so far the problem is they can’t produce enough of it. We will also have a few CBD-rich seeds with unique flavor released soon!
Finally, where can our readers follow you on social media and do you have anything exciting coming up?
You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook @dinafemseedsofficial; on Twitter @Dinafem, and also on our YouTube and Vimeo channels. Or just access the contents on our blog and tv channel by visiting our website. We are about to release our new catalog, which is essentially a collection of the most demanded American flavors, like Cookies among others.
Looking at a seed can I tell if it is male or fomale