Do you know what a “phenotype” is? Have you ever heard of a “pheno hunter?”
If your thinking along the lines of Dog, The Bounty Hunter, you are WAY off!
Phenotypes are traits you can see on the outside. Genotypes are traits on the inside that you cannot see.
In this case, we are talking about pheno hunting cannabis. When growers “pheno hunt,” they are seeking out the best physically visible traits amongst a select amount of the same seeds and narrowing down the selection they have until they acquire their “keeper” clones of a plant, which they will use for future growing and breeding projects.
What sets HSH Nevada apart from other dispensaries or commercial grows is that they sign a contract with breeders and acquire their stock to pheno hunt rooms full of one strain—to find the best possible representations of a specific strain they are hunting, instead of purchasing the breeder’s stock, going through a few seeds and letting the growers decide what they should keep.
Todd Weatherhead, born and raised in the town of Reno, Nevada, started growing cannabis on his window seal in college. He lived and farmed up in the Emerald Triangle part of Northern California for a few years as well. He has cultivated cannabis using a variety of methods—indoors, light deps and outdoors, all using either organics or hydroponics.
At HSH, they pheno hunt in a 20,000 square-foot facility in Reno, and they are still expanding.
Some of the breeders they have pheno hunted are: Exotic Genetics, La Plata Labs, MTG, Brothers Grimm, Dungeon Vault Genetics, Mosca Seeds, Mota Rebel, Ocean Grown Seeds, Sin City Seeds and a few others. HSH Nevada has partnered with Brothers Grimm and MTG seeds and have pheno hunted batches of up to 800 seeds of a single cultivar.
When pheno hunting, they look for smell, trichome production, trichome size and overall yield. Weatherhead judges the flowers on taste and efficacy to ensure the highest quality gets out to the patients. Quality control is something that should not be taken lightly in this industry. Ensuring you have a high quality, good representation of the products getting pheno hunted at HSH is important.
It is important for the pheno hunts to happen because no one wants to consume what they do not like. Narrowing down and weeding out the runts from the potential contenders—all the way down to one or two phenotypes of a cultivar—can be difficult sometimes. There’s almost alway something, at least one trait from every plant, that you might like, but the goal is to find the cut that has just about everything you want in one plant.
After you make your selection of the specific clone you want to keep, it’s up to you to decide what direction you want to keep going after you’ve found your keeper. You can keep running rooms full of the same clones. pass her out to your friends or keep working the line, creating S1’s (feminized copies of a clone-only cultivar crossed back onto itself) or making F2’s (the second filial generation, which is made up of offspring(s) resulting from a mix of two F1 individuals of the F1 generation. The F2 generation).
Take you best F1 clone-only female, cross it to your F1 male and keep trying to narrow down and lock in specific traits further down the line. It seems like lots of work, but all that hard work surely pays off in the long run!!
As time goes by, they will be running through many other strains as well. HSH Nevada has one of the best facilities in the state to allow them to do such a large scale pheno hunting operation. Whole rooms dedicated to one strain, all from seed, might be the way to go!
It’s so much work finding the best pheno in a large hunt, but once you’ve found a keeper, thats when you start to have lots of fun showing her off to the world. Starting from seed is usually the best way yo go, and generally ensures the utmost cleanliness compared to taking in potentially hazardous clones from a unknown source.