Hollow stems on male cannabis plants may indicate high THC-production in its offspring
Maybe it’s not every growers ambition to start their own seed company – and nobody’s saying you should. Though it can be pretty cool to create your own cannabis strain. Just imagine you’d be the one creating the next Tangerine G13 or Amnesia Haze – or another legendary, award-winning weed variety.
Selecting Parents For Your Strain
Crossing your female plant with late-blooming males will therefore retain the desired characteristics from your fem – instead of your cross turning into a copy of your male parent. If you’re serious about selecting the right male, make sure you have a separate room for them. As there you can leave them to flower longer, to discover more about their grow characteristics.
The trick to select the perfect male weed plant is to have good and above all trained senses. Because it’s up to you to see which male has the best growth and the most attractive (or present) aroma.
Because although you can grow male cannabis plants in the same room as female cannabis plants. It’s important to separate the males before their flowers open, releasing their pollen into the room, to avoid uncontrolled fertilization.
Take the strain Super Lemon Haze as an example. It’s a hybrid (or a “cross”) of Super Silver Haze and Lemon Skunk—these are the parent strains. At some point, the breeder decided that they liked some attributes of Super Silver Haze and some of Lemon Skunk and decided to combine the two.
This is intentional breeding—any grower who’s accidentally grown a male and pollinated a crop will know that one male can easy pollinate hundreds of females, filling your whole crop with seeds.
The Basics of Breeding
Backcrossing is a practice where a breeder will cross-pollinate the new strain with itself or a parent—essentially, inbreeding the strain. This makes the strain more homozygous, and strengthens its genetics and desirable characteristics, and also ensures that those genes continue to pass down from generation to generation.
You can also help along the pollination effort by shaking pollen from the male onto the females, or by collecting pollen from the male and directly applying it to the females. These female plants will continue to grow and flower, during which they’ll grow seeds (as well as buds). These seeds will express the genetics of both the male and female plant.
While browsing Leafly’s strain database, you may wonder what a cross of this and that strain is, what a hybrid or a backcross is, or what a parent strain is. All of these have to do with plant breeding—essentially, breeding a male and female plant to combine or refine the genetics of two plants or strains. Breeding two different strains often results in a new strain, or hybrid.
When it comes to THC or CBD, start with strains that have your preferred level of cannabinoid content. The process may take time to get to the levels you want. Even if your creation doesn’t reach the figures you’re aiming for, it may reach a perfectly satisfactory level with strong effects. It also increases your likelihood for success if the plants you’re breeding are known for strong genetics. A plant renowned for stability is often incorporated into breeding experiments. Landrace strains and small-but-sturdy ruderalis plants are often used. This brings us to the process of how you actually breed plants together.
Gathering the pollen requires skill and care. Secure a plastic freezer bag around the stem and shake it so that pollen lines the bag. This pollen is better used fresh, but can be frozen for up to a month if necessary. This pollen will be spread on the female plant, only when it reaches a delicate stage of the plant’s growth. Before buds start to develop on a female plant, there will first be distinctive white pistils. Seal your freezer bag around your female plant’s main cola. Gently shake and rotate so that the pollen is evenly distributed. Leave it sealed for two hours before shaking and rotating again. After another two hours, your female plant will be pollinated.
BEST OPTIONS FOR SMALL-SCALE BREEDING
A huge advantage to backcrossing through this method is its adaptability to different growing setups. This setup is easily replicable in an indoor garden with enough space. It will work best if you follow each step with care. Little mistakes along the way will diminish the improvement of traits in your crop. It is also worth bearing in mind that you can breed for properties from more than two plants through this method. You just have to make sure that each crop of backcrossing generations are bred in separate environments contained from each other.
If you follow the pollination process above, your female plant should produce seeds for a new plant. This will result either in the effects you’re looking for, or repeating this process until you’re satisfied. Your desired traits in terms of resistance to pests should be strengthened, alongside aesthetic and flavour properties. Once you have identified dominant traits you want from a pair of plants, designate a donor plant and a recurrent parent plant. Once you breed their resulting hybrid, breed that with the recurrent parent again. This forms a generation commonly denoted as BC1 by cultivators.
The booming cannabis industry has seen a proliferation of high-quality hybrids. Seed banks around the world are equipped with dedicated breeders creating novel strains all the time. Home cultivation has also produced previously unimaginable cannabis creations. Particularly in places that have legalized home cultivation, the breeding of new strains is now a viable hobby. If you have ever imagined a strain with your ideal qualities, or even your name on it, it is possible to do it yourself.