How are New Cannabis Strains Made?

It is extremely fulfilling to grow different marijuana strains, be it regular, feminized, automatic flowering, or CBD ones. With a variety of hybrids in the marijuana scene nowadays, it is hard to decide which one would make a great first strain for beginners, or which one would make a great collection addition for experienced farmers.

A great cannabis farmer and breeder do not only possess an amazing green thumb and growing knowledge but also know how and where the plants came from. In choosing the perfect strain to grow, it is essential to know the genetic history or lineage of a strain, so you have an entire idea of the possible results, and how to adjust your resources and techniques to grow it well. Failure to do so usually ends up in low yields and plants with a strange appearance.

New cannabis strains are created by breeding. You need to have one female and one male plant to be crossed to each other. Breeding is done to initiate the union of these two plants and blend its best characteristics. Aside from blending, it aims to enhance specific traits, stabilize, or create a better version of one or both of the strains. This results in a new strain with more potent effects, stronger taste and scent, stronger structure, and higher yields. It is also done to recreate an out of market strain. If you don’t have any idea of your plants’ history, there is a big chance of breeding a new strain of low quality.

Choosing Parent Strains

Choosing compatible male and female strains alone takes time. It could be months, and usually, it can even go up to years. That is how rigorous it is. The best parent strains are chosen according to the following traits:

  1. Vigor – This is the level of dynamism or energy a strain has which largely contributes to the amount of harvest
  2. Adaptability – This is the durability of the strain against the harshest weather conditions, temperature, and humidity levels.
  3. Resistance – This is the susceptibility of the strain to pests and plant diseases
  4. Maturity – The duration of growing the strain until harvest
  5. The ratio of calyxes and leaves production – This is related to vigor and plays a big role in terms of production and harvest
  6. Flower characteristics – This includes shape, size, color hues, amount of THC and CBD, terpene profile, flavor, scent, trichome production, resin production, bud quality, and persistence, and how long drying and curing will take. It is also related to vigor and ratio of calyxes and leaves the production
  7. Shapes of leaves – This contributes to adaptability and resistance, as well as to good ratio with calyxes.
  8. Size and height – This is related to adaptability and resistance. It also determines if a strain is good for indoor and outdoor growing.
  9. Recreational and medicinal effects – This is related to flower characteristics. Aside from a great appearance, this is the main factor a breeder should achieve for a new strain. The potency determines its success in the market.

A great breeder should have a keen eye to discern which strains are suitable for breeding. This is not only applicable to appearance, but a breeder should be able to identify the taste and smell that will go together, which ones will appeal to the market, and which undesirable characteristics should be eliminated. A great sense of taste, scent, and touch, years of experience, great observation, investigation skills, research skills, and patience defines a great breeder.

Breeding Techniques

New strains are bred through five different ways:

  1. Crossing – This is the most common breeding technique that we know of. One male and one female with the best traits are pollinated with each other. Phenotypes are also created.
  2. Inbreeding – This is more of an incest relationship, as it involves crossing the children of the crossed male and female with each other. It is done to stabilize the best characteristics. 
  3. Backcrossing- Once a strain is stabilized, it is crossed back to either of the male or female parent strain.
  4. Recurrent backcrossing – This is repeated backcrossing using the same strains to eliminate undesirable traits.
  5. Self-crossing – It is the process of pollinating a plant with itself to retain its best traits while stabilizing it at the same time.

Breeding Steps

After selecting the best strains to breed and the applicable breeding technique, the breeding itself begins. One male plant is capable of pollinating multiple female plants. The ideal light exposure is 12 hours of light and also 12 hours of darkness. To start the pollination, pollens are collected from the pollen sacs of a male plant. These pollen sacs are developed around the first few weeks of the flowering stage. The ideal light exposure is 12 hours of light and also 12 hours of darkness for better development.

Usually, the pollen from its sacs simply lands on the females and pollinate them. Thus, it is ideal to have separate grow areas for male and female plants to avoid pollinating by accident unless placing the male and female plants together was intended. You can help the males by shaking the sacs to land on the females. Having an enclosed breeding area is recommended, so no pollen is wasted.

If the male and female plants have separate grow areas, you may put a piece of foil or plastic cup underneath the pollen sacs to collect the pollen and sprinkle it directly on the female plants. You may also use a fine brush or pen cap. Putting labels is highly recommended, especially if you are breeding different males and females with each other. The pollinated female plant should be separated from the other plants unless the other female plants were pollinated by the same male plant.

A feeding schedule must be followed to ensure the female plants are receiving the right amount of nutrients. Nitrogen is highly required. A few weeks after pollination, seeds are developed. They start to appear in the calyxes. And there you have it: a new cannabis strain. The new strain seeds may now be germinated until maturity. It is important to keep records, as well as a clone in case a mistake was made in the growing process. This also makes it easier to think of a strain name according to its growth pattern.