how to grow hybrid weed plants

How to grow hybrid weed plants

In Colombia, cannabis grown in the highlands for centuries was a time-honored local art. These strains are adapted to a year-round equatorial climate without defined seasons. Drug traffickers smuggled this seed in quality commercial-grade marijuana to the states. This became the most widely available seed for breeding new strains for indoor cultivation, and Colombian genes can be found in many.

Southeast Asian strains were discovered during the Vietnam War, and to this day are the most potent. Adapted to a frost-free climate, plants there may become perennial. This makes them difficult to flower in other climate zones, so they are bred with short season, strong flowering Hindu Kush for greater adaptability. Those returning from the war brought these strains to California, where amateur breeding was flourishing.

Because each of these original strains are now coming together in the budding agriculture of cannabis cultivation, breeding is occurring at an even faster rate. Many hybrids are seedless and thus can only be propagated by cloning. When a great plant is selected and named, this is the only way to create a genetically identical plant. Cloning can occur with most propagation methods such as layering, or on a mammoth scale with microscopic tissue culture of plants. By and large, most of the major strains sold today are hybrids. Those listed as I/S mean characteristics of Cannabis indica dominate and vice versa, but this is highly subjective. Some dispensaries sell live clone seedlings and seeds of named varieties for those who wish to grow at home.

Because species are known to naturally cross-pollinate in nature, virtually all pot grown today descends from one or the other. Or, in the case of hybrids, both.

HERITAGE STRAINS

It is counted among the earliest cultivated crops. In prehistory, when cannabis transitioned from a wild plant to a desirable one for humans, it flourished in certain regions. The two original species utilized early on were Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Sativa is tall, leaves long, with smaller flowers held on top and a thin, shorter growing season. Indica is a shorter, wider plant, the leaves far more broad with flowering all along the stems. Indica is more adaptable to long-term residential cultivation due to its size-to-flower ratio.

Cannabis was among the first plants to be improved by selection. This is the process of choosing and planting seed of the best plants to concentrate certain characteristics. Ancient farmer landrace strains are the heirloom roots of modern breeding. They are the foundation of modern strains and hybrids based on the gene pool of these two relatively different species.

These heirloom strains from India, Mexico, Morocco and Southeast Asia stabilized in the cultures of origin for reliable seed cultivation. Early breeders in 1960s America sought to obtain the most isolated seed sources from these genesis areas as stock for hybridization. The more adulterated the culture though, the more adulterated the cannabis gene pool. Today, these original plants are hard to find and treasured breeding stock, when they are found by plant hunters in the field.

These heirloom strains stabilized in the cultures of origin for reliable seed cultivation.

Some of the original strains, considered phenotypes, have interesting stories that explain their value to the big picture. Each have been sculpted genetically for many characteristics, from disease resistance to flower size, potency or fiber quality. Amateur breeders first used the original strains in America to develop new hybrids. Modern breeders still seek these old-school named varieties for more pristine, undiluted original gene pools.

Cannabis breeding is still in its infancy compared to other homegrown vegetables or herbs. Yet like vegetables, it has yet to come into the garden. Once commercial growers pick it up as a garden plant, all the breeding will pay off in easy-to-grow hybrids and traditional heirlooms from around the world, and right around the corner.

How to grow hybrid weed plants

To do this, you need a male of one strain to pollinate a female of the other. Once pollinated, the female will then produce seeds that express the genes of both the male and female plant. Those seeds will be harvested and grown separately, and voilà: You have created a hybrid.

When the seeds are mature, they are harvested and stratified (or dried). “The secondary process of maturation happens after the plant is dead, and the seed needs to be stratified before it will germinate,” says Pennington. “In general, harvest for flower takes place three to four weeks before harvest for seed.”

The Basics of Breeding

Lemon Skunk also tends to grow extremely tall and has loose buds, whereas Super Silver Haze grows smaller and has denser buds. Through selecting specific phenotypes, a breeder can pick one that has the attributes they want to keep. In this case, a phenotype that has the structure and bud density of Super Silver Haze and the flavors and aromas of Lemon Skunk.

Phenotypes

But the process doesn’t end there. The hybrid strain that you buy at the dispensary has likely gone through many rounds—or generations—of breeding to strengthen its genes and to ensure that its descendants are healthy and consistent.

How to grow hybrid weed plants

Mendelian Inheritance Example – Incomplete Dominance

Note: Some growers will take a great female plant and cross it with itself via feminization to back-cross the single plant more effectively and quickly than by using its offspring. Some growers will also cross two different female plants, skipping the process of finding males altogether. Some growers are against using feminization as part of the selection process of a breeding program. These growers believe that by forcing female plants to make pollen sacs for feminization, you may be unintentionally selecting for hermies (plants that show both male and female plants). The jury is still out on what’s best, though many breeders have strong feelings either way. Most growers seem to agree that male plants are an important part of every long-term breeding program.

Here’s an example of a modern auto-flowering plant (Dutch Passion AutoMazar ↗) about 2.5 months from seed. This pic is just after harvest and the plant ended up producing about 4 ounces of high-quality bud.


Photo credit: b4faa.org original link

As growers breed together plants of known strains, they are able to develop new and interesting strains that carry the best traits from the parents. As time goes on, this process of artificial selection creates plants that look nothing like their ancestors.

Now there are numerous stabilized auto-flowering strains that are just as potent and beautiful as any other strains, and several breeders now also carry an auto-flowering version of their regular strains.

Here’s an example of two Ruderalis plants in the wild (pic taken in Russia)