Developing your own seeds can save you money in the long-run. It could also lead to the next strain taking the cannabis world by storm. Many classic hybrids were stumbled upon by home-growers. The potential for such discovery makes this an exciting hobby. At the very least, creating your own strains is the mark of a high-level connoisseur. Our overview of the process for strain breeding will help you get started on a growing setup for strain creation!
HOW TO SELECT PLANTS FOR BREEDING
A seasoned stoner will have their own preference for what qualities they seek in cannabis. Maybe you have a slight preference for the relaxing calm of a classic indica; maybe you prefer the energetic buzz of a sativa. Many cannabis strains are hybrids that combine these two properties—and numerous others. It may not be as simple as combining two of your favourite strains and seeing what happens. If you can think in terms of the traits you enjoy, you can find plants that will pass them on. Often, landraces will be reliable plants to breed for their resilience. Keep in mind, you should also consider terpenes and flavonoids, as these are what determine the flavour, smell, and colour of your specimen.
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.
BEST OPTIONS FOR SMALL-SCALE BREEDING
Many hybrids rely on a ruderalis plant thrown into the mix. This is because they have the endurance to grow in the wild, while also flowering much quicker than the usual plant. So if you want an autoflowering variety of your favourite strain, it often works to breed it with a ruderalis specimen. On the other hand, finding proper, pure landrace seeds can be difficult, unless you have the money for a strain-hunting vacation. It is also worth bearing in mind that breeding together just any two cannabis plants will have variable results. These are termed “polyhybrids” and are unlikely to produce a stable plant.
A method that is increasingly popular for its effectiveness is called “backcrossing”. It could be considered a form of incest, since it involves breeding a plant with one of its parent plants. Typically, a plant cloned from the cuttings of a first generation female is bred with a male donor. The resulting plant is then bred with another clone of the original female. The plant resulting from that may again be bred with a clone of the original female. This process is often repeated a few times before the female plant traits are dominant in your new hybrid. This can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but should be manageable for experienced growers with more space. Let’s look at backcrossing in more detail.
1. HOW TO BACKCROSS CANNABIS PLANTS
Since backcrossing is the most reliable approach to breeding hybrids, read up and be clear on what it involves. The simple explanation is that by breeding plants with genetics close to each other, there will be a more stable strain with customised characteristics. Throughout this process, one must keep the male and female plants separate. This is to avoid pollen from the male plant reaching the female plant too soon. You will know it’s time to collect pollen from the male plant when its pollen sacs open up.
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.
THE BENEFITS OF BACKCROSSING FOR DOMINANT AND RECESSIVE TRAITS
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.
This BC1 plant is then bred with the recurrent parent to form a BC2, which itself is bred with the recurrent parent once more to form BC3. This iteration of the plant should reinforce the dominant traits you sought.
This is different however from breeding homozygous recessive plants. These can be identified after an additional round of sib-mating or open pollination. These plants can be segregated to form an F2 generation of plants. These plants are also bred with a recurrent parent following the same steps as before until you reach a BC3F2 plant. This can be grown out, sib-mated, and from there, another F2 population can be bred again. These can be bred as you wish, but now they contain 93.7% of genes from the recurrent parent.
2. BREEDING YOUR OWN STRAINS WITH POLLEN
Holy Seeds Bank pollen gives professional and amateur breeders alike access to genetics of the highest quality. With only the best provenance assured, all offspring will inherit superior characteristics developed by knowledgeable breeders. Not having to grow and maintain males or create feminized pollen frees up time and space for more female plants.
A single ampule of pollen can be used to create seeds on select individual buds on a number of different females. Or, several types of pollen can be used to fertilise different buds on a single female. Remember to tag and label plants and branches clearly to keep track of family trees. With enough pollen to create 250 seeds in each ampule, a whole new catalogue of strains can be created in the home garden. Pollen is an exciting new way to customise a unique personal library of exotic and potent cannabis.
Pollen is easy to apply using a soft brush, Q-tip, or even the tip of your dry finger. Touch the pollen to the pistils of a chosen bud during weeks 4–5 of flowering; this is peak florescence, and fertilisation is guaranteed. The pistils quickly wither, the calyx seam closes, and a seed starts to form—which will be ready after a minimum of 45 days. The next great fluke could be just around the corner in any home garden—a mystical mutant that could go down in cannabis history like Skunk, NL, or GG.
HOW TO STABILISE YOUR STRAIN
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.
We cannot stress enough that the more you invest in your growing setup, the better chance your plant will succeed. You must have a sanitary environment with proper lighting and ventilation. You must be precise in altering your lighting setup. You may choose to be more precise in your pollination process by using a paintbrush and sterile gloves to apply pollen gently to your female plant. Here at Zamnesia, we can help you put together the best growing setup and advise you on the stability of your plant. We are happy to help. After all, your seeds might be the next big bestseller if they’re good enough!