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Grow Q&A: Breeding Your Own Strain

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Dear Dan, I have a question about marijuana breeding. I’ve always wondered how growers can crossbreed plant to get special hybrids. I understand the concept of mother and father plants but not the acts that are committed to achieve what you desire. I’d like to start a seed bank one day so thanks for any tips! – Zach

Dear Zach,
Breeding marijuana isn’t as simple as crossing good male and female plant stock and making seeds from the result. Creating new and better cannabis varieties requires careful selection for the traits you’re interested in keeping within your gene pool. Choosing males and females with the desired attributes, growing out their progeny and then selecting from the offspring separates the real breeders from the “closet hacks” or “pollen chuckers.”

The process of making seeds itself takes time and patience as well. A male plant must be grown to near maturity. The male flower will then be ready to release pollen. That pollen is collected and sprinkled onto a female plant in the early stages of flowering (between the second and fourth week is optimal). The female will then go into seeding mode and begin using it’s energy resources to form beans inside her buds. Soon the seeds will swell and become visible. The female is then harvested and dried. The seeds will drop out or be sifted from the flowers for collection. 

Now the truly important part begins. Grow out as many of the seeds as possible and choose the best females for future pollination. Repeat this process as necessary until you have a stable genetic line. Always choose the phenotypes that appeal to you and anyone else lucky enough to smoke your personal pot strain.

Remember to always do your homework. I suggest starting on this road by learning about Mendel and his pea pods and then moving on to Robert Connell Clark’s “seminal” book on the subject “Marijuana Botany: An Advanced Study of the Propagation and Breeding of Distinctive Cannabis”, Greg Green’s more recent, “The Cannabis Breeder’s Bible: The Definitive Guide to Marijuana Genetics, Cannabis Botany and Creating Strains for the Seed Market” and “Dank: The Quest for the Very Best Marijuana: A Breeder’s Tale” by Subcool. Good luck!

Have a grow question? Ask away at deardanko@hightimes.com

(Photo courtesy of Dinafem Seeds)

 

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