If you’ve ever browsed cannabis strains online in search of something new, you may have noticed terms like cross and hybrid and parent. And while you can probably guess that terminology like that is related to plant breeding, we’re taking things a little further with today’s post. Here’s what to know about the fascinating horticultural art that is cannabis cultivation, plus a new strain alert from your friends here at Kynd Cannabis Company.
Cultivators of cannabis can have a few different end games in mind when they breed plants. Maybe they’re hoping to strengthen or refine a specific strain. Maybe they want to improve or heighten certain desired characteristics. Maybe they’re trying to create an entirely new strain. But no matter the intended outcome, the process begins in the same way – with a male plant and a female plant. It’s the females that create those sticky buds, but the male plants are important too. Without them, there would be no pollination process.
While there are many, many variables to consider, at its simplest, cannabis breeding looks like this. The parent strains go into a breeding chamber, which is simply an enclosed space that will keep the right pollen in (and outside pollen out). One male plant can successfully pollinate dozens of females, so one male is all you need. Within a few weeks of its flowering phase, the male plant will develop pollen sacs. When the pollen releases, it will move through the air and land on the nearby female plants, which will then develop seeds and buds. It’s these seeds that will contain the genetics of both the female and male plant, and they can be harvested and eventually grown on their own.
The entire process, from breeding to starting seeds to the final cured product, takes longer than you may think. Each stage, or cycle, is roughly 70 days, and that includes the process of choosing the parent strains, the breeding process and the seed cultivation. The curing process, during which the seeds become the final product with all necessary genetic information, is roughly 14 to 21 days. Growing the first batch of seeds is another 70-day cycle, and then time must be spent finding and selecting the plants with the desired traits – strength, vigor, internodal spacing, stem aroma, etc.
Now, here’s where things get really interesting. Cannabis strains created from cross-pollination like this will all have unique attributes from both parent strains. Every single seed really is a special little snowflake, with its own expression of traits, and those traits are largely dependent on the growing environment. We call those traits a plant’s phenotype.
Sure, there are defining characteristics for the cannabis strains you know and love, but things like temperature, soil type, time of harvest, nutrients, light, distance to light, and other conditions will all impact a specific plant’s characteristics. That’s why plants of the same strain can still have a surprising amount of variability in their appearance and effects. It’s one of those nature-vs-nurture things, and it’s especially evident in the world of cannabis cultivation.
It’s a fascinating industry, and as the pro-cannabis tide continues its turn, more and more barriers are lifting. That means an ever-growing recreational market with a nearly limitless selection of new strains.
And Speaking of New Strains…
We can’t go into specifics quite yet, but we can alert any MROG fans out there that we have something in the works that you’ll find exceptionally delightful. We’re also close to releasing a killer throwback strain with an aroma that’s as old school as it gets. Stay tuned!