Last Updated on 7 months by Max
Cannabis breeding is known as a process that creates strains we consume- like humans creating other humans; and involves purifying to strengthen strains, combine strain traits, enhance specific characteristics like higher yields, specific aromas, potency, and many other things. It’s a very long, technical, and repetitious process and though I am around the plant every day- I sought out a professional.
The topic of cannabis breeding is one that needs insight from the pro’s. I write about cannabis and all subjects regarding cannabis, but I am heavy on sitting down with breeders and cultivators to get the specifics of the plant. In this one, I did just that with Reparation Seeds: providing access to genetics and knowledge through building communities.
Rew, leads the brand in all things cannabis genetics with a speciality in genetics for northern climates. Reparation Seeds, is focused on equity through access, and speaks from hands on experience; “Over 15 years ago I rented a room off Craigslist in a sleepy little town in Humboldt County that I would later learn was deep in the heart of the Emerald Triangle of Northern California.”
Before we get into the Q & A, hear from Rew regarding their experience:
“I partnered with my Humboldt Mom to grow at Healing Heart Meadows. She has been in Humboldt since the 70s and was an avid seed and plant collector. We popped thousands of seeds that year and flowered out over 600 plants from seed of crosses we had made and received from other incredible breeders such as: Coastal Seed Co, Rebel Grown, Homegrown Natural Wonders, and many more. The crosses we made that year have led to the development of a lot of the varieties that I am able to offer folks.”
Reparation Seeds has cultivated major strains like: Pot of Gold, Arcata Trainwreck, Sweet Purple, Romulan, Mr. Nice, and Sour Diesel. For those interested in learning all about breeding cannabis genetics, the Q & A below will be very beneficial to you.
The Process of Breeding Cannabis Genetics- Q & A with Reparation Seeds
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- 1 The Process of Breeding Cannabis Genetics- Q & A with Reparation Seeds
- 1.1 Tell us more about your work and experience in the cannabis mecca- the Emerald Triangle.
- 1.2 Did the concept of Reparation Seeds come from this experience?
- 1.3 Let’s get into cannabis breeding and genetics; what is the general process for creating a new cultivar?
- 1.4 How long does it take to create the cultivar?
- 1.5 Let’s talk phenotypes- what are 3 things people should know about pheno hunting?
- 1.6 From creation to curing- how long would you say the process takes and does it depend on hemp- CBD vs. marijuana- THC? Please explain.
- 1.7 In Closing
Tell us more about your work and experience in the cannabis mecca- the Emerald Triangle.
“I was blessed with the privilege and the opportunity to work with incredible genetics and to develop my seed collection within the incredible community of the Emerald Triangle. From there I took an opportunity to work on a five acre farm in central California in Salinas. We were cutting 10k clones a week of some of the most incredible cuts available. This was the year the Gelattos launched, back when they had numbers, before those numbers became names such as: Acai, Mochi, and Larry Bird. I took those genetics back up to my spot in Humboldt and crossed them with Venom OG from Humboldt Seed Company, Willys Lebanese CBD, and many others to make sure I could later explore these possibilities and share them with the world.”
Did the concept of Reparation Seeds come from this experience?
“I became acutely aware of the fact that the folks most affected by the war on drugs had not had the privilege or access to the things I had learned or the genetics I had access to. From this came the idea of Reparation Seeds, a project where I could continue to breed genetics that had commercial viability as well as create a giving back program to share my access to information and genetics; Thus my focus on Equity Through Access. I provide free seeds, knowledge and resources to folks including sponsoring their medical card appointments.”
Let’s get into cannabis breeding and genetics; what is the general process for creating a new cultivar?
“The best place to start creating a new cultivar is with at least one parent plant that you know well. This way you have an idea of desirable characteristics you are looking for in the offspring. This is normally your female plant.
So let’s say you have a clone of Apple Fritter and you have seeds of Apple Fritter x Runtz; you select your favorite male based on: scent, structure, internode spacing, and any other desirable traits you may see being expressed in the male.
You take the pollen from the male and apply it to your Apple Fritter female in flower. I do this between days 14 and 21 of flower while the hairs are all white and starting to look like Guy Fieri’s hair.
From here it is 4-6 weeks until the seeds are ripe and you can harvest them. You sprout these seeds, select the best females and males, cross them to each other, and keep working the line crossing the crosses to themselves to stabilize desired trait expressions as your dominant phenotypes.”
How long does it take to create the cultivar?
“It can take years to create a truly stable cultivar, where all seeds sprouted produce similar plants. In the F1 and especially the F2 crosses, you can get a lot of variance which is great to hunt down special plants for mothers but is less desirable at a commercial scale.
As you continue to stabilize the genetics to get F4s and F5 crosses, you will get more consistent phenotype expressions with less variation and this is where a new cultivar starts to take shape.”
Let’s talk phenotypes- what are 3 things people should know about pheno hunting?
- Trust your gut, if a plant speaks to you and ticks boxes for what you- then it’s one worth exploring.
- Even in stable lines there are variances in phenotypes and sometimes you need to flower out your 2 or 3 favorite phenos a few times before one shows you something that makes her more special then her sisters. I had three phenos of T-1000 by @CSI_Humboldt A, B & C. I liked them all for structure and smoke but A was a slow rooter for cloning and took a while to grow so I tossed her to the ducks. A year after that I left B & C out in the barn unattended and unsprayed in November to stress test them. After months of neglect C broke out with powdery mildew and had grown into B. C became completely covered and B didn’t have a spot on her. She became my keeper. I call her B-1000 (t-1000 reparations seeds cut). I am currently using her in breeding projects with Royal Kush 47 by Emerald Mountain Legacy.
- Though it’s awesome to be able to explore hundreds of seeds per cross, this is not always the option so if I want to hunt a larger batch of seeds but need to narrow it down quickly, I toss 20% of the remaining plants at each stage of transplant based off the traits I can see at that stage.
- Seeds sprouted in paper towel: I toss the overly vigorous ones (fastest tend to be male) and the seeds that are extra slow to sprout. Out of 10 I keep 6-8
- If I keep 8 and plant them into plugs for the next 7-10 days, I then toss the weakest of these before I transplant into 4” pots.
- They spend about 2 weeks in 4” pots. At this point you have your best 5-6. You pick the best 4 and plant them into 3 or 5 gallon pots to flower them out.
- Make sure you take clones of all 4 before you flower them out. Any that show male if using regular vs feminized seeds can be tossed.
- Watch them grow and let the plants show you what they can do.
- Now the decision is yours if any make the cut or if you want to keep a mother for future crops.
From creation to curing- how long would you say the process takes and does it depend on hemp- CBD vs. marijuana- THC? Please explain.
“The time can vary depending on how stable you want to make the genetics and what you are hoping to find or create. From seed to jar- the quickest is around 4 months: to plant a seed and veg it out- 6 weeks, 8 weeks of flower time, and 2 weeks to dry cure and trim. This will give you an idea and let you explore individual plants.
From this point you and your team would evaluate your favorites and decide if any are worth scaling up production from the clones you kept. This can be another 4 month process to get enough clones to run a room to get more production metrics. From here you may pick one to scale up for commercial production or you may go back to hunting to find something that better suits your needs.
Breeding the CBD lines can be more precarious as if you get too much THC in the lines then the flower can test “hot” (too much THC for hemp) and then if its cultivated under a hemp license it would have to be remediated, destroyed or transferred into the Adult use market.
Depending on which cannabinoid ratios you are trying to isolate in genetics and what traits are most important to you is what really determines how long it takes but be it hemp or adult use cannabis the times it takes varies anywhere from 6 months to 5+ years depending on desired outcome.”
We hope this provides you a starting point for cannabis genetics breeding. Please share with us below, what you learned in this piece, that you didn’t know before. We would love to hear from you!