Strains of the Future

(Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

Dinafem Seeds was started by Professor OG in 2002 as a project to create high-quality seeds that were different from those coming out of Holland at the time. In January of 2004, Dinafem became the first professional breeder of feminized seeds in Spain, just as the popularity of feminized strains was exploding. Dinafem strains like Critical+, Moby Dick, Original Amnesia, Haze Automatic, and many more changed the grow game and introduced a new blend of the finest Dutch, Spanish, and Californian genetics for an entirely different flavor and terpene profile.

Dinafem’s next innovation was to develop autoflowering strains with greater potency and bigger harvests. Some of its latest autoflowering strains, such as Moby Dick XXL Auto, Cheese XXL Auto and Bubba Kush XXL Auto, yield as much as regular seeds. The advantage of these autoflowering strains is that they typically have a life cycle of only 70 to 90 days from planting to harvest and can be grown during different seasons and in difficult climates.

Dinafem is constantly challenging the prejudices that exist about feminized and autoflowering strains. The prevailing view among some growers is that feminized strains are weak and that autoflowering plants produce smaller yields of less potent buds. But Professor OG has delivered vast improvements in both areas over the years. These days, the yield and strength of Dinafem’s Auto XXL strains rival and sometimes surpass those of their regular and feminized counterparts.

Auto-flowering plants tend to stay short and stocky. (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

As the Professor tells me, “The results speak for themselves. Outdoors, the Amnesia Auto XXL can produce between 60 and 170 grams per plant. With respect to its dimensions, in optimal conditions, the plant can reach 170 centimeters [over 5 feet tall]. In Canada, a medical producer using our OG Kush Auto in a greenhouse has managed to produce, with 80 plants, a total of 17 kilos—212 grams per plant—in just 75 days!”

Professor OG and his team of breeders have decades of experience, and they’re always looking for innovative ways to improve the gene pool using their elite library of cannabis genetics. To that end, the Dinafem team have their own on-site laboratory featuring the latest gas-chromatography equipment. The results of this testing shape all of their breeding decisions and, most importantly, their newest and most exciting development: CBD-rich versions of popular strains like OG Kush, Haze, Amnesia and Cheese.

Professor OG predicts that cannabidiol—the cannabinoid popularly known as CBD—will change the world of marijuana as we know it and lead us into a new paradigm of legality above and beyond even the obvious medical benefits. All of Dinafem’s CBD-infused strains have a minimum THC/CBD ratio of 1-to-1, and some, depending on the growing conditions, can reach 1-to-2 and even 1-to-3. But those still pale in comparison with the seed bank’s Dinamed strain, specifically bred for the highest CBD level possible, which comes in at an unprecedented ratio of 1-to-25!

Critical Cheese (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

I was granted the rare opportunity to speak with Professor OG at his headquarters in the Basque Country of Spain to obtain a firsthand understanding of Dinafem’s origins as well as the breeding techniques that his team used to develop autoflowering genetics capable of producing 170 grams per plant. We also discussed the future of cannabis genetics and the influence that CBD will have on newly legal markets. The following are excerpts from our wide-ranging discussion:

Where does your passion for the plant come from?

I was fascinated by nature and biology at a young age, and I really enjoyed investigating—collecting bones and feathers, buying Gerald Durrell’s books and naturalist guides. I was captivated by seed catalogs and wanted to try everything. This interest in zoology and plants slowly evolved into a focus on botany. At the same time, during my adolescence I tried alcohol, but I didn’t like it that much. However, shortly after, when I was 16, I tried cannabis—and yes, I did like it. That same year, at 16, I started growing my first plant on my mother’s balcony. Then I produced my first guerrilla crops with seeds from Nepal and Colombia. At the age of 19, I moved to London and, in addition to improving my English, I got all the literature there was on cannabis at the time. I studied books like Marijuana Botany by Robert Connell Clarke obsessively. It was the year 1992, and almost nobody cultivated cannabis in Spain, but I already knew a great deal about the subject.

Amnesia CBD (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

After London, my next stop was Amsterdam, where I discovered the legal industry. Going into a grow shop for me was like being in a museum. It was in the early ’90s, at a time when the Dutch scene was still on the rise and things were very open. In Holland, I saw the future of legal and professional cannabis.

When I came back from Holland, nobody in Spain was growing indoors. I joined Captain Ozone, a grower friend of mine—and currently part of Dinafem’s technical team—and we soon mastered all forms of cultivation. Together with him and others, I began to work with modern strains that we bought from catalogs and began experimenting at making seeds.

Above all, we liked outdoor and guerrilla growing because we loved to be in nature, both in the mountains and in horticultural gardens where, in addition to cannabis, we cultivated absolutely any kind of edible and ornamental plants.

Feminized Blue Thai results from cross between Blueberry and Thai Skunk. (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

Did your interest in feminized seeds start at this time?

In 1996, while studying agriculture, livestock, floriculture, horticulture and management of an agricultural enterprise, I began experimenting with feminized seeds. In the book Marijuana Botany, there was a brief mention of just a few phrases about how to create feminized seeds with gibberellic acid. The possibility of creating seeds that were all feminine immediately caught my attention. Due to my curious and restless nature, I gave it a try. It didn’t work for me, but this is very significant: There were no feminized seeds on the market yet, no one sold them, and although a Dutch bank had started testing, nobody knew anything about them yet … but I was already experimenting with them.

What does it take to set up a seed bank—and why feminized seeds?

To set up a seed bank, you need to have elite genetics so that, when you cross these parent plants, the resulting seeds are above average. These elite genetics, which still form part of Dinafem’s genetic library today, have been safeguarded by Captain Ozone and other members of the team for all these years. Blueberry is 16 years old, White Widow is from 1998, and Critical and Jack Herer are from 2001.

When we started, the few feminized seeds available on the market had a tendency to hermaphroditism, and often the genetics used were not of the best quality. But the feminized market was on the rise. I knew that we could improve the quality of seeds—above all, I knew that these types of seeds were destined to dominate the market because of the productive advantage that they meant for the home or commercial grower. Today, feminized seeds represent more than 90 percent of the market in Europe.

Seeds from within female flowers after pollination from a male. (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

In addition to a complete genetic library of elite plants, what makes the difference, from a breeding point of view, between Dinafem and other seed banks?

Patience and continuous improvement. For breeding, it’s important to start with large quantities of seeds. On the other hand, we apply an extreme selection process that begins at the seedling stage. In this first selection, we usually remove almost 80 percent of the plants. This allows us to select according to their strength. A protocol is always applied to remove individual plants that have unwanted mutations. Any seedling that has the least defective trait is removed from the selection.

During the flowering period, more characteristics are expressed—for example, hermaphroditism. These hermaphrodite plants are always removed. Parallel to this protocol, as the process develops, the plants that don’t reach the average requirements in terms of size and production are discarded.

We make our final selection according to the quality of the flower, which basically means maintaining the characteristics of the mother plant as much as possible. During the visual test, we look at both the size and density of the flower along with its amount of resin. The olfactory test is very important as well. The results of the chemical analysis from our in-house laboratory provide us with our biggest advantage in our selections. In some plants, we look for high concentrations of THC, in others to be CBD-rich, and in others the balance between both cannabinoids.

How does your laboratory contribute to traditional breeding?

The laboratory, also known as Dinalab, just turned five years old, and it’s a key element for the development of our genetics. Originally, we started it as a secondary project, in collaboration with two cannabis associations, to analyze samples from [Spanish cannabis] clubs and inform them of their cannabinoid content. In the meantime, we began to use these instruments for the breeding of autoflowering plants and to know our strains thoroughly.

Soon we realized that the chromatograph was a very useful tool for breeding. For example, in three generations we saw how autoflowering plants with less than 10 percent THC increased to 15 or 20 percent. We started using the laboratory for autoflower breeding, developing strains such as Bubba Kush Auto and OG Kush Auto. Chemical analysis is very useful in improving the lines. In addition to reporting on cannabinoid levels, the analysis allows for better knowledge of genetics—for example, structuring the distribution of the chemotypes in a strain can help us to determine the state of the base material, whether it is an F1, an F2 or an F3.

I recommend 20 hours on and four hours off throughout both the vegetative and flowering times for our autoflowering strains. At 18/6, we’ve seen much more stretching and long distances of stem between nodes and branches.

Tell me about your new line of CBD-rich strains. Is it possible for an OG Kush CBD to taste and yield like an authentic OG Kush?

CBD-rich strains have strong medicinal properties. (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

Yes. It is not an easy task, but we are working to achieve it. The genetics from which almost all CBD strains that currently exist come from have a very sweet citrus flavor: mandarin, lemon, orange and cherry. That’s why most CBD-rich strains have this kind of flavor profile. We’re trying to change this by creating pure CBD-specific pollinator mothers with the traditional flavors of Bubba Kush, OG Kush, Amnesia, Cheese, Critical+, etc. With CBD, we are going through the second round of hybridization and improvement selections, and we’ve already achieved good results creating strains that taste like the originals, but with a high percentage of CBD.

What’s your take on the benefits of CBD beyond just the known medicinal ones?

In the future, people will probably consume more Bubba Kush with THC and CBD than Bubba Kush with THC only. The super-potency of current strains is a consequence of the black market. When cannabis becomes legal, the market will show a demand for milder strains. Marijuana is expensive because it’s risky and dangerous to grow it. And because it’s expensive and dangerous to buy, the person who buys it wants maximum power.

Fields of auto-flowering Amnesia in Morocco. (Photo by Dinafem Seeds)

Cannabis is going to be a mainstream product and, as such, it will have to become a product for all audiences. In this sense, strains containing only THC will face some difficulties, because their side effects are sometimes too strong for the majority of the public. The side effects of CBD-rich strains are very small compared to pure THC ones, thanks to the neuroprotective effect of CBD.

What is Dinafem’s goal for the next five years?

Our goal right now is to consolidate ourselves as world leaders in the advanced breeding of strains with a high organoleptic value and enriched with CBD. Thanks to our extensive library of elite genetics, which includes the best European, Californian and autoflowering strains, we’re producing the best and most complete catalog of CBD-enriched strains. Breeding is a slow activity and requires constant work and investment, but we believe that the advantage we’ve gained will be maintained or even expanded in the future.

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