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Marijuana Crossbreeding: How Strains are Created

While looking for exciting strains to try out or when simply educating ourselves on cannabis strains basics, we inevitably come across unique names, such as Jack Herer or Blueberry, among hundreds of others.

But what about the miracle of the very creation of a new cannabis strain

Getting to know more about how marijuana strains are created feels like entering a whole new dimension where one’s understanding of all things cannabis-related is greatly enhanced. Indeed, the know-how of breeding marijuana strains conveys a deeply accumulated magic, making you realize that you, too, could potentially create a marijuana strain of your own, by merging the genetics of some of your favorite cannabis strains.

And while the DIY approach to cannabis breeding does promises to turn you into cannabis grow pro ninja, the breeding process is actually not as simple as one might picture it at first.

Cannabis breeders put tons of knowledge into crafting a new marijuana strain, and it is only fair to truly appreciate their efforts, as well as the efforts of high-quality cannabis seeds retailers, since both make it possible for the average marijuana enthusiast or medical marijuana user to lay his/her hands on fantastic strains possessing strong genetics. It can take years for a new cannabis strain genetics to be fully refined, it also takes loads of patience, and nonetheless, genuine love for the herb. Cannabis breeding is not merely about cross-breeding two parent strains until one achieves the perfect blend of desired qualities. Instead, cannabis breeding challenges the breeder to tune into the very essence of the cannabis strains he or she is trying to merge into a new strain with an open heart and mind.

Cannabis Breeding Basics

When searching for cannabis seeds to plant in an indoor or outdoor marijuana garden, many growers prefer to stick with feminized marijuana seeds. Feminized marijuana seeds give way to female cannabis plants. It is only female cannabis plants that produce the healing, delicious buds both medical and recreational pot users equally cherish. In the meantime, male cannabis plants often tend not to get all the attention and admiration they fully deserve.

Male cannabis plants can be grown from regular cannabis seeds, as such seeds are known to give way to both female and male cannabis plants after successful germination.

Male marijuana plants are crucial for the process of cannabis breeding to be accomplished. A male cannabis plant needs to pollinate female cannabis plants. Only once pollinated by a male cannabis plant can a female cannabis plant produce plenty of seeds instead of plenty of dense, heavily trichomes-coated buds. Or, to be more precise, the pollinated female cannabis plant will produce plenty of buds (aka cannabis flowers), however, the buds’ bodies will be full of seeds and little plant material that is suitable to smoke or enjoy into whatever your favorite form of consuming cannabis is.

And while the pollinating properties of cannabis male plants are simply invaluable to breeders, these same properties are actually unwanted by most hobby cannabis growers who are more into filling their mason jars with fresh homegrown cannabis flowers rather than spending months, and ultimately, years, into refining a selection of homebred cannabis strains.

Now, let’s illustrate the cannabis breeding basics through examples.

For instance, if a grower wants to combine the best attributes of two cannabis strains, he/she could get down to merging their genetics by letting a male plant from cannabis strain A pollinate a female plant from cannabis strain B, resulting in a new strain AB. When White Cookies cannabis strain was created, breeders decided to couple two all-time favorites, legendary strains, namely White Widow and Girl Scout Cookies, in order to get the best of both worlds. Yup, breeders did manage to get the best of both worlds by bringing White Cookies strain to life, and that’s something we are truly thankful for! But what is the big deal with cannabis breeding anyway since basically, all you have to do is to let Mother Nature get things done once you grow a female and a male cannabis plant from seed, duh Without any desire to disappoint you, just as mentioned earlier, cannabis breeding is not as simple as it sounds at the very first mention.

High-Quality Cannabis Breeding: How to Breed Cannabis with Best Results

So, for those who might be wondering how cannabis strains are created, and/or whether it’s possible to become a cannabis breeder, here is a tidy outline of the cannabis breeding process. Once you are done reading through it, we bet that you will have a profoundly different outlook on cannabis breeding (or at least we hope that you will find something new and useful regarding high-quality cannabis breeding that you may have missed out learning about so far).

1. Selecting the strains for breeding.

This is probably the easiest step of the cannabis breeding (and crossbreeding) process, which is (mostly) about creativity. Which would be the best two cannabis strain that could be crossed together with an aim to refine the best of their genetics into a brand new cannabis strain is a matter of imagination and flair. For instance, when breeders came up with the idea of creating a new strain by crossing Jack Herer and Sour Diesel, Sour Jack strain was born. A magnificent combination of Bruce Banner and White Widow resulted in the creation of White Banner strain.

2. Letting the male cannabis plant pollinate the females in an enclosed environment.

It is good to know that a single male cannabis parent plant can pollinate tens of female cannabis parent plants. Male cannabis plants produce enough pollen to help their generations stand a higher chance of surviving, thanks to the ability of males to pollinate numerous females.

As a rule of thumb, the cannabis breeding process takes place in a breeding chamber. Despite the fancy name, a breeding chamber could be any form of the enclosed environment (even if this means a large, repurposed fridge). Of course, professional breeders who create new strains for quality cannabis seeds retailers to bring to the public to have access to a very well-equipped, top-grade breeding chamber as to satisfy the needs of large-scale breeding operations.

However, as mentioned above, a breeding chamber could possibly refer to an enclosed environment (something covered with cheap plastic sheeting could pretty much work like a well-functioning breeding chamber, as long as hygiene is kept high to help plants stand a higher chance of successful breeding). Modern-day cannabis breeders who are serious about what they are doing make use of a 100% sterile breeding chamber.

Quintessentially, a single male cannabis plant can pollinate successfully and thoroughly a maximum of 20 female cannabis plants in the breeding chamber (feel free to picture these estimated of 20 female cannabis plants literally covered in seeds after successful pollination, that’s how mighty a single male cannabis plant is!). Genetically speaking, it is always good to have only one single male cannabis plant per pollination attempt.

By the way, if you’ve ever failed to spot a male cannabis plant on time, you might already know that a single male could easily pollinate hundreds of females (which is exactly what happened to our team during a massive outdoor grow experiment). The very reason why it is considered that a single cannabis plant can pollinate best up to 20 females makes the thin difference between intentional cannabis breeding and non-intentional cannabis breeding. While there’s nothing bad with unintentionally learning more about cannabis breeding, it has little to do with applying for all your heart, attention, hard work, study, know-how, and open-mindedness towards strategically breeding the best new strain you are capable of, right

3. Maximizing the cannabis pollination process.

Many breeders allow the male and female cannabis plants in the breeding chamber to get into vegetation for several weeks or so, with a mind to helping the parent plants grow bigger. However, others choose to skip this step and directly introduce the female and male parent plants to a flowering light cycle of 12 hours of undisturbed light and 12 hours of undisturbed darkness.

In both cases, the pollination process can be successfully accomplished, though professional, large-scale breeders who are obsessed with crafting the highest quality seeds as possible prefer to let the parent plants spend a few weeks in vegetation.

After the first weeks of being introduced to its flowering cycle have passed, the male cannabis plant would grow pollen sacs. The breeding chamber, and in particular, the enclosed environment, is crucial because it assists in maximizing the pollination process by preventing pollen from the outside to get in, as well as by containing as much of the pollen released by the pollen sacs as possible.

Once the pollen is released from a male cannabis plant’s pollen sacs, it moves through the air until it lands exactly where a breeder wants it to land: on female cannabis plants, thus, pollinating them. In the living nature, it is the wind that disseminates cannabis pollen, carrying large amounts of pollen on very long distances, as highlighted in a preliminary study of pollen dispersal.

Many breeders choose to intentionally give Mother Nature some friendly assistance by shaking off some of the pollen and applying it to the female cannabis plants manually. In the absence of wind or proper air circulation ensured by suitable equipment in an enclosed environment, manual pollination is highly preferable.

4. Growing the pollinated female cannabis plants and collecting their seeds.

After being pollinated, female cannabis plants will continue to develop and flower, much like any ordinary, non-pollinated female cannabis plant will do. However, instead of merely growing delicious buds, pollinated cannabis plants will also grow plenty of seeds. These seeds will be contained within the buds and will express the genetics of both female and male cannabis plants to be.

Harvesting the seeds produced by the pollinated females generally takes place 3 – 4 weeks later from the typical flowering phase. That is to say, if you would usually harvest a non-pollinated female cannabis plant in Week 9, harvesting a pollinated female plant should happen at some point in Week 12 – Week 13, as this is when the seeds will be actually mature. Afterwards, the harvested mature seeds need to be stratified (or dried), so that they can be successfully grown on their own, somewhere outside of the breeding chamber. No, this definitely doesn’t mean that the breeding process is complete once you get to plant the harvested and dried seeds from your pollinated female cannabis plants. It just means that you are now one step closer to picking the best phenotype!

5. Understanding phenotypes and selecting homozygous seeds.

To ensure that the descendants of the cannabis parent strains are healthy and consistent, the breeder’s job does not end with germinating and planting the harvested seeds from breeding a selected male and female cannabis strains.

Before truly deserving to be considered a successful cannabis breeding adventure, a new strain’s genetics must be refined, which happens after many rounds (think in terms of many generations of cannabis plants).

To illustrate this better, once you have collected the seeds from your pollinated females, germinate, and finally plant them, they will give rise to different expressions of the effects and traits of their parent strains.

For instance, if you get to grow 20 new cannabis plants from your pollinated female cannabis plants’ seeds, 5 of these may showcase to have inherited the growth structure of parent strain A while 5 of these might resemble the growth traits of parent strain B. If parent strain A is a tall, lanky Sativa, then you might avoid for you new strain to exhibit the same growth structure by selecting to keep refining the seeds that have got to inherit more of the short, compact structure of their Indica parent B. It’s a grow after grow refinement of the genetic inheritance of a new strain, so the process can go on for several generations of cannabis plants until the perfect phenotype is selected.

Choosing a phenotype is like picking the one to spend your lifetime with (provided that breeding a new cannabis strain and picking a phenotype as part of the breeding process could be compared to romantic movie’s plot). You can picture the phenotype selection this way: seeds will possess various expressions of their parent strains. It is these various expressions that are referred to as phenotypes.

Now, here comes another slippery line with cannabis breeding. Choosing a phenotype is not enough! The first generations of cannabis plants that appear in the process of crossbreeding usually produce a set of phenotypes with widely (really very widely) varying traits. This type of cannabis plants is known to give way to heterozygous seeds.

Heterozygous seeds are not a reliable means to create a new strain that possesses excellent, consistent genetics. That’s why more generations of cannabis plants need to be cultivated until the breeder reaches a phase when he/she is capable of collecting homozygous seeds.

Homozygous seeds have the same set of genes. This means that homozygous seeds will consistently and reliably produce the same genetic inheritance over and over again. Thus, cannabis plants grown from homozygous seeds will exhibit the same genetic makeup.

It is thanks to the miracle of cannabis breeding how reputable cannabis retailers operate in order to provide cannabis enthusiasts with the invaluable opportunity to enjoy the same cannabis plant or seed again and again with the same consistency as in the very first trial of a particular seed to grow or favorite strain to indulge in after a long, tiring day.

How would you feel if you get down to snacking on a big pile of Bubblegum strain-infused weed pancakes to help you alleviate pain and stress, just to realize that your Bubblegum strain does not lead to the desired relaxing effects Quite disappointing, right Not to mention that in the absence of reliably crossbred strains, both recreational and medical marijuana users would be left at the mercy of coincidence and luck when it comes to choosing a strain that works great for the treatment of a particular condition or for particular recreational purposes.

With this in mind, whenever you check out an exciting hybrid strain to grow or indulge in, take the time to think about the seed’s long, fascinating journey into the big, wide world. Yes, bud buddies, being able to grow a new strain from seed is a privilege, despite the fact that we have become so overly bombarded with various cannabis seeds to choose from both online and offline that we have started to forget, as well as to often neglect, the massive, mammoth-scale efforts, and dedication of cannabis breeders and retailers globally. As you get to think of it, there would be no cannabis flowers on dispensaries’ shelves, nor dabs or other concentrates to enjoy if it wasn’t for something as tiny as the cannabis seed.

Finally, back to the White Banner strain example, when breeders were still in the process of this strain’s creation, they had to go a very long way before laying hands of homozygous seeds. More importantly, they had to work patiently and dedicatedly for finding the best phenotype, all for the sake of being able to keep the parent strains’ attributes that they love and to avoid the parent strains’ attributes that they didn’t want to be present in their future gemstone White Banner strain. Some of the early phenotypes grew rather taller than desired, and others grew more compact but they lacked the generous aroma of the parent strains at its best. So the breeders went for growing after grow until the right phenotype popped out. Simply fascinating, isn’t it

6. Backcrossing/inbreeding a cannabis strain.

Okay, so you may think that the miracle of cannabis breeding finally reaches its peak once a breeder has picked a male and female cannabis strain, then the breeder has crossed a male cannabis plant from strain A with female cannabis plants from strain B, harvested the resulting seeds, planted them, and went on for several rounds of growing generations of cannabis plants before finally getting that one phenotype living true to the breeder’s best expectations regarding the growth patterns and desired effects of the newly bred cannabis strain. Well, there’s actually one more crucial thing to do. The newly created strain must be backcrossed for the sake of strengthening its genetics.

Backcrossing a cannabis strain refers to cross-pollinating the new strain with one of its parents, or with itself. That’s exactly why backcrossing is, quintessentially, inbreeding a new strain.

Backcrossing is crucial for it allows the new strain to become as homozygous as possible. Backcrossing is the best way to strengthen a new strain’s genetics, and nonetheless, to strengthen its desirable characteristics, ultimately ensuring that these characteristics will be steadily passed on from one generation to another.

What a mesmerizing ride in the world of cannabis crossbreeding! Those tiny cannabis seeds one can fit in the palm of a hand, or those frosty, yummy buds we keep tightly sealed in mason jars to enjoy as and when needed, are so much more than what meets the eye at the very first glance! Experts work with passion and consistency for months, and even years, going through vital selection processes and decisions, digging into the unknown, all for the sake of growing, crossing, and backcrossing cannabis as many times as required before a new cannabis strain superstar becomes available for the wide public to enjoy to the fullest.

Video by:Lex Blazer – Cannabis Breeding Basics – Advanced Topic

Cannabis Breeding & How New Strains are Created: Final Notes

Cannabis breeding is a matter of patience and time. It does also involve a healthy dose of know-how, but most importantly, cannabis breeding is all about an individual’s (or a whole team of individuals’) sincere love, respect, and passion for the green medication.

A cannabis breeder, similar to a cannabis grower, is not born but is made through trial, error, and persistence.

To be a successful breeder, one must be willing to accept a lack of uniformity in the breeding process for generations of offspring. Not the least, a successful breeder must accept that reaching the gold standard of a new cannabis strain that truly deserves recognition, more than just a one-cross is needed.

Finding the best phenotype is a real hunt and a real quest, but it is also an adventure like no other. However, even when the best phenotype is found, a breeder must acknowledge that there is still a lot of work yet to be done, as a whole number of stabilizing backcrosses must be accomplished, too. But once the breeding process is finally accomplished, one would possibly get to experience an unparalleled feeling of wanderlust, of infinity, and serenity, similar to what the Creator up in the skies probably feels when witnessing red roses in bloom in the middle of a frosty white winter.

We truly hope that this article has helped you gain useful and meaningful knowledge, and nonetheless, insights, on cannabis breeding.