I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for…
Greetings you sexy mofos! We’re going to do a little babbling today touching on some breeding aspects that I think you’ll dig on. Reading about breeding in books comes across a lot more complicated than it needs to be, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, you should know about some technical aspects, but with a little patience and some observation you can discover the magic of breeding your own cannabis.
There are a couple of things I want to hit big on today. First, it’s always about trying to nudge the odds in your favor, and all of the rules regarding genetic recombinations are more like guidelines, because Mother Nature will always surprise the shit out of you. You will also be looking to identify marker expressions. Specific things like stem shape, or leaf vein pattern, or petiole shape/coloration, etc. Always note these special marker expressions on any plant you find to be worthy of breeding. I’ll tell you more below…
Natural Born Killer Breeder
I just want to hit on this aspect of breeding/selecting really quick here. As growers, all of us know how your growing space becomes a big factor, and we always want just a little more space for one more cloner, or six more plants, or whatever. If you are breeding, the space factor becomes very pressing, very quickly. You must summon your inner “natural born plant killer” and kill (cull) all those plants you have deemed unworthy. This is hard to do, but having too many plants crammed into too little space results in sub-par conditions, sub-par plants, and sub-par products; any random dork can do that—lesson: Don’t be a dork.
Let Me Throw Some Genetic Subtleties at You
I would always advise you not to use selfed, or feminized genetics to breed with. They will work usually if they are bred well, but your probabilities of encountering sexual mutations rises, leading to hermaphroditic expressions. Myself, I always avoid this like the plague.
Be an artisan connoisseur breeder goddamnit! Heh heh, seriously folks, don’t we have quite enough commercial breeders these days pretty much dialing in some monochrome high types? They flower fast and big, the high resin potency hits you fast, doesn’t last very long, and makes you super stupid while it does—LoL—Don’t get me wrong here, I love that type of cannabis, sometimes. 95% of the cannabis varieties that flower in 8 weeks are exactly that same high type.
There are so many awesome variations to the ride in the wide wild world of cannabis. I love South African strains like Rooi Bart, Durban Poison, and these are some great genetics to breed with. The high-type is almost always what I call the roller-coaster ride type. It hits you slowly, about 15 minutes after smoking it, then sends you on a serious energy laced ride that increases and decreases over the course of a few hours. I find this caliber of cannabis to be absolutely divine.
Some Breeding Terms
- Hybrid – the offspring resulting from cross-breeding of different plants or animals. Pretty self-explanatory regarding cannabis. So, if you took something like an AK47 and a White Rhino and crossed them, the seeds you would get would be hybrid plants. Hybrids are usually tough and vigorous with great resistances; of course, this is very dependent upon the quality of the plants/genetics used in the cross. Let’s say you name this cross “White 47” for the examples below…
- F1, F2, F3 etc. – F1 stands for Filial 1, the first filial generation seeds/plants or animal offspring resulting from a cross mating of distinctly different parental types; F2, F3 and so on are as like, when inbreeding siblings down the line, along the same generations. So, regarding the Hybrid “White 47” above, more technically speaking (and accurately) your “White 47” would be an “F1 Hybrid” generation. Growing out those hybrids, then (in)breeding them again, using only those sibling offspring (inbreeding) would give you White 47, F2 Hybrids, and so on.
- Genotype – The genotype is the thing that cannot be seen by most. The genotype is the genetic constitution of a cell, a strain/variety, an organism, or an individual. So, for our purposes here, the genotype will refer to the total genetic make-up of a strain, a plant, or a hybrid line of genetics; i.e. the total genes in the “White 47” F1 Hybrids would be the White 47 genotype.
- Phenotype – (pheno) A phenotype is any observable characteristic or trait of a plant: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, or behavior. Observable being the key part of that description. When I use pheno or phenotype, I will as a rule be talking about a unique plant or strain, that is discernible visibly. One of the most common mistakes I see with breeders is their inability to distinguish a genetic influenced pheno from an environmentally influenced pheno.
- Expression –I use this term to broadly refer to anything you can observe regarding cannabis plants, from growth behavior, to high-type, flavors, yields, whatever. In most cases I will be using it with regards to expressing its genetic make-up (or genotype) in whole or part. It can also mean an environmentally influenced expression, but I will make those references clear.
- Truebreeding – A truebreeding batch of seeds comes from (basically speaking) an inbred line, as above regarding the F1, F2, etc. generations when inbreeding. Truebreeding status can happen around f4 or f5 when all the offspring of your plants (f4s or farther) will they themselves produce uniform looking, growing, maturing, and smoking plants just like the parents were. Often, I will use IBL (inbred line) to essentially mean the same thing. F1 hybrids are also often very close to truebreeding.
Let’s say you are hunting for something super special to clone and save for yourself, and you have 20 seeds of White Russian (WR), that is long IBL, for example. Let’s say 18 sprout and 9 of them are females. Percentage-wise I would usually count on about 20% of the females to be weaker regarding expressions I wanted, or just weaker genetically. So about 2 females will fall into this category, watch for them.
Likewise, I would expect about 20% of them to be superior. Superior individuals can be misjudged easily by newer breeders. They might look sad, so they are judged as inferior. In reality, they are ravenous due to their vigor, and are simply “starving” while in the same sized containers and getting the same amount of water and food as the others. Watch for them.
Once you have found the superior plant(s) note carefully the expressions of the plant. Superior plants (and weaker plants) will always carry marker expressions that are not only unique to them, and this could be leaf shape, petiole shape/coloration, pistil coloration, and the list is humongous. You will also find these marker expressions to ride along dominant when breeding with this female, in the offspring that best represent the female breeder you’ve chosen. This saves massive time and space in the future when selecting from these offspring. Familiarity is the word—wink.
Patience is a Virtue when it Comes to Yields
Last but not least, adding something to your masterpiece, like larger yields, can be done to some degree over the course of a few inbred generations, simply by selecting females that yield a little larger than the rest. Weigh all your final yields per plant when selecting, you will always find individual females that will yield a little more or a little less in any generation of IBL.
If you start out with a hybrid, and you cross two different cannabis varieties, and then inbreed for your target female(s), the F2 generation is where you will want to do your most skilled selection(s). You will normally find fairly broad differences regarding phenotypes in the F2 generation of any hybrid.
L8r G8rs, REvski Out!
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.