When chromosomes of a cannabis plant pair with another the plant will evolve and create a new genetic lineage that is a genetic copy of both parents. With the advancement of seed banks and nurseries, obtaining great genetics is easier now than ever. Knowing what traits will likely enhance an existing strain comes down to a number of things. Below is better explained what to consider when breeding for enhanced progeny.
Reasons For Hybridization
There can be a number of reasons why a grower may choose to breed one variety of cannabis with another, and it may not always be cannabinoid driven. Of course, a huge part of the commercial flower market is heavily focused on how to produce the highest THC and terpene profiles. But, there are other fundamentals that should be considered such as structure, rooting ability, wind-resistance, mold-resistance and ability to fight pathogens, improving yield, increasing flowering time, trichome structure, CBD profile, how easy it is to train, and terpene count. These are the types of things that should be at the forefront of any enthusiastic breeders mind.
When two highly stable varieties of cannabis are successfully crossed they will produce progeny that will be ranked as hybrid vigor. The term comes from when characteristics of a new lineage show improved traits over the original parental-line, and the desired traits (such as the ones mentioned above) become more prevalent. This is a wonderful time for a breeder (when working with solid stock) to produce brand new cultivars that enhance flavor aspect, aroma profile, cannabinoid profile, and many other areas.
Breeding For Outdoor Plants
A large number of growers across the globe enjoy the luxury of growing outdoors. The sun provides a bandwidth of nutrients that plants require including UVA-UVC. Outdoor plants will usually produce better-smelling plants and arguably produce the largest sized buds. Where you live will define the characteristics of your first generation progeny.
Plants grown in the mountainous region of southern Spain, for instance, will receive sunlight all day. This part of Spain is closest to Africa, and known to have higher than average UV levels and strong winds that can blast during the night. The air is also very dry, so at the end of summer, the evening temperatures can drop significantly in a short amount of time.
Bearing this type of environment in mind, one would need a strain that’s sturdy enough to handle strong winds. You’d also need a strain that’s tough enough to withstand long, dry hot days. But regardless of where you grow, you’ll have to understand the climate of where your plants are growing up to eight or nine weeks ahead of time. So if you know that temperatures drastically drop three months from when you start the growing process, it’d be smart to work with a strain that flowers within eight to nine weeks. Ideally, though, you’d want this strain to be durable enough to handle colder weather and windy nights, in case it’s left out longer.
Indicas are fine-tuned for this type of weather. The reason is because these strains like the hot and cold of dry mountainous climates. The climate in southern Spain, for instance, is very similar to California’s climate. So many of the strains that grow well outdoors in the Golden State will also grow well in climates like the south of Spain. But be open to making modifications! Being flexible is key to understanding your plants.
Keep in mind, however, that during cold and wet periods is when pathogens from surrounding areas can enter a garden. The last thing any grower wants is to lose a crop to mold or powdery mildew, as the flowers will not be safe to smoke due to contamination.
The Stages of Breeding
At the point of knowing which parental lines you want to cross, the next step of evolution will be the first generation (F1) progeny. From this group of seedlings, you will find the most desirable traits from your previous strains. You will also find the most uniform, consistently matched plants.
Usually, a breeder will have a good idea by the F1 stage of the best possible direction to go down. In other words, the breeder will be able to use the original parental male pollen on an F1 female, or vice-versa, and use the pollen from a F1 male to cross with the original parental female used. This is known as backcrossing, and is often a way to limit the diversity and lock in certain characteristics in order to produce the most consistent plants in terms of structure, leaf pattern, flowering time, overall resistance to pathogens and disease, cold weather, how easy it is to clone, flower production, terpene profile, resin cover.
Top Tips On Starting A Breeding Project
- Make sure you know in advance the reason for crossing your parent plants. You should have a short list of desired characteristics that cover every aspect of how your plants may need to adapt to their environment.
- Note that breeding for advanced yields alone is not always the best way to take on a breeding project, unless the only goal you have is to hit targets and grow nothing but large yielding plants. The goal should always be quality over quantity, though.
- Growing in small-sized pots will allow you to maintain small plants, that can be easily labeled and cataloged. It is better to have a large number of smaller sized plants and to work on this scale, rather than large sized plants with a small plant count.
- Test the flower of each and every plant you grow–based on what your capabilities are logistics-wise and in terms of practicality, of course. Working with 20 to 50 small plants will narrow down the keepers without being too demanding on your resources or labor.
- Always make sure you label pots and do not lose track of what plants were which. There is nothing worse than a mislabelled clone or a general disregard to the clinical approach that should be taken when breeding cannabis.
- Until you know that your F1 progeny is what you want, work on producing small numbers of seeds. Female plants only require very small amounts of pollen in order to fully pollinate an entire plant from head to toe.
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