How to Breed Cannabis
Posted by DaVinci Staff on Dec 14th 2021
Breeding involves combining male and female plant gametes to refine the genetics of two plants or strains. Breeding two different strains often result in the hybrid taking characteristics from both parents. Breeders breed different strains to strengthen the resultant variety, combine strain traits, or enhance specific features like higher yields, distinctive aromas, and potency, among many other desirable characteristics.
The genetic component is essential when growing and breeding Cannabis. Plant breeding is a fundamental process of growing Cannabis. Equally, it's highly technical and is typical on a commercial scale or individual level. With the increase in legalization of cannabis and vaping, breeding is becoming more popular.
Important Aspects to Understand About Breeding
Cannabis plants can be either male or female. Consumers of Cannabis are mainly concerned with female plants that generally produce the sticky buds that we all know and love. However, the male cannabis plants are equally crucial for the breeding process, as they are needed to pollinate the bud-producing females. Therefore, always choose a male that will complement the traits of the female.
Breeding cannabis can be as complicated or straightforward as the breeder wants it to be. Depending on how much time one has for the breeding process, the new strain can be entirely different from what's currently on the market. With the increased use of different varieties, some may ask, can you overdose on Cannabis?
The new breeds can arise through crossbreeding, backcrossing, or phenotypic variations.
Backcrossing is essentially the process of cross-pollinating the new strain with itself or its original parent. Creating a homozygous inbred strain strengthens the genetics and stabilizes the phenotypic traits. In addition, backcrossing allows for desirable genes to get passed down throughout the generations with very few differences, enabling a breeder to store genetics for long periods while also working on other strains.
This is the breeding of two different cannabis plants. Crossbreeding of plants is done to attain an offspring that features the best of both parent plants. Some growers opt to crossbreed plants that offer stability and abundant growth. Other growers do so to try and improve the terpene count, increase cannabinoid production, achieve a specific high or obtain a distinctive flavour. The cannabis plant inherits its characteristics from both parent plants. Natural hereditary factors play into crossbreeding, so there is no proper way to determine precisely which parts the offspring will inherit and which ones they won't.
The Phenotypic Variations
The phenotype of a plant is the physical appearance of the plant's genetic makeup. The genotype determines it, but there can also be significant phenotype differences when the genotype is almost the same. The phenotype influences smell, taste, colour, shape, and potency. It is always the phenotype that is at work. The phenotype of a plant can be determined and affected by the plant's growing environment. A plant that produces a set of phenotypes with a lot of variety is heterozygous. With Cannabis, you typically want homozygous seeds. These are the ones that have the same set of genes. Homozygosity ensures that a plant will consistently produce the same sources with the same genetic makeup over and over again, ensuring that buyers and consumers will get the same genetic makeup continually.
After a strain is crossed, a breeder will select which phenotype of the new strain they like best. For large-scale growers, they want to choose the best phenotype for mass production.
Differences in phenotypes can manifest as variability in size, resin production, colour, and so on. Strains can also vary in their chemo-type; this refers to the chemical constituents that they manufacture. For example, one plant might have higher levels of a specific terpene, whereas another may have slightly higher levels of CBD. Thus, it will bring about variations in CBD versus THC anxiety.
Although backcrossing is a tried and tested way to stabilize cannabis genetics, excessive backcrossing can cause some issues. By inbreeding plants to such a degree, any recessive genes that produce undesirable traits will also strengthen and pass down to all plants of subsequent generations. Growers should select genetics that suits their specific requirements if they intend to create a particular product or grow a plant that produces elevated levels of that compound, be it a cannabinoid or terpene.