Cannabis Genetics 101: Stabilising a strain
Procedures to stabilise cannabis strains are poorly understood, even by breeders producing commercial strains. Stability refers to the variability and predictability found in the offspring of a parent generation: when a strain is unstable, variability will be high and predictability low; with a stable strain, the reverse is true.
Variability & predictability
Variability in this case refers to the range of different phenotypes that will express when hybridising two different strains; predictability refers to the expected distribution ratio of the different phenotypes. When crossing stable parents, Mendelian inheritance dictates that: 50% of the offspring will resemble both parents equally, 25% will express traits closer to the mother and 25% closer to the father.
Usually, breeders will stabilise a strain over several generations. First, a healthy mother and father are selected, and bred to produce hybrid offspring that will be of varying predictability depending on parent stability. Hence, if the mother and father are both considered stable, their offspring would be expected to express three phenotypes as outlined above.
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Stable vs. true-breeding
It is important to note that ‘stable’ does not equate to ‘true-breeding’. A true-breeding strain is one that will produce consistent offspring of one dominant phenotype (with few to no specimens unlike their siblings); in cannabis, these are usually found among the landraces and traditional cultivars. Further, breeders may use the term true-breeding to refer to single traits that will always recur (such as purpling or webbed leaves), rather than for overall phenotypic expression.
Mendelian inheritance at its most simple – 25% of offspring have the type AA, 25% are aa and 50% are Aa
Stable parents usually produce predictable, homozygous offspring, although with a greater degree of variation than found in true-breeding strains. However, if one or more parents is unstable, crossing them together results in a range of heterozygous offspring that can express any number of unpredictable traits, and which will not correspond to predictable Mendelian ratios.
The traits that are dominant in each parent are recombined to provide the genetic basis for the next generation. The initial crossing of two unrelated parents is known as the filial-1 (f1) hybrid. Usually, the best examples of the f1 hybrids will be crossed to produce the f2 generation, which is usually even more unstable than the f1.
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Crossing & back-crossing
With several generations of crossing together brothers and sisters from the same parents—selecting on the basis of desirable traits—a greater degree of consistency and therefore predictability can be achieved. Desired traits become dominant and will always appear, while undesirable traits are gradually eliminated from the gene pool and are no longer expressed.
For some traits, back-crossing plants to previous generations allows traits to become stabilised more quickly. Many breeders erroneously believe that some degree of back-crossing is necessary to stabilise any strain, but in reality this technique is only required for certain characteristics.
After crossing and possibly back-crossing for several generations, the desired traits should begin to express in all individuals. However, after many generations of essentially limiting and reducing the gene pool so that only desired traits express, the resulting paucity of genetic material can lead to a level of inbreeding that is detrimental to the overall health and sustainability of the strain.
Put simply, if two related parents both carry the same recessive allele, which happens to be defective or otherwise deleterious, the chances of two identical copies passing to the offspring are far higher than with unrelated parents. If two individuals carrying these faulty alleles then breed with each other, the undesirable trait will be dominant and breed true in all subsequent generations of the lineage.
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Outbreeding for improved diversity
For this reason, when strains begin to experience such severe inbreeding (known as inbreeding depression), it is common to introduce a new, unrelated father in a process known as outbreeding.
Inbreeding depression will occur more slowly if there is an abundance of genetic material from which to form new offspring. Therefore, with smaller population sizes, inbreeding depression can occur rapidly. This is especially common in countries with a strong cannabis-using culture that have not decriminalised the means of production, such as the Netherlands where small libraries are maintained due to risk of discovery.
Laws and regulations regarding cannabis cultivation differ from country to country. Sensi Seeds therefore strongly advises you to check your local laws and regulations. Do not act in conflict with the law.
47 thoughts on “Cannabis Genetics 101: Stabilising a strain”
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post with us.
Good afternoon Salvador!
Thanks for your kind words, you are very welcome!
You might also enjoy our article on Selecting Phenotypes: From Seed to Mother Plant
Thanks again, and have a great day!
You really do not understand the breeding process Do you.
This article explains a lot about why European cannabis strains SUCK.. They have no idea what they are doing!!
Good morning Wolf,
Thank you for your comment,
Really fantastic information can be found on site.
I’m commenting to let you be aware of what a amazing experience my friend’s child experienced checking your blog. She learned such a lot of things, including what it is like to have an amazing helping nature to let other individuals very easily know precisely some hard to do topics. You truly exceeded people’s expectations. Many thanks for supplying these warm and friendly, trusted, informative as well as unique tips on that topic to Tanya.
Well sounds like true grit.im going with mother nature and jamaica
99% of everything written here is crap. Get your facts straight.
Well said! Kudos
Wouldn’t feminized seed production count as back-crossing? Of course it would. How many generations before inbreeding depression sets in? 3? 5? Some growers are headed toward a brick wall.
Thanks for sharing this knowledge. Just getting a grasp on breeding. Lots to consider, track and log and “TIME”
Cant help but hear @MotherNatures points about Sun Rain wind Organic outdoor altruism but science doesn’t stop.
thanks for a great article
as far as breeding goes,can feminized plants pollen if there sprayed with the silver collidal spray and collected and then used to pollinate another feminized plant create only female seeds?in theory ..
Imagine that the plants are people.
First, you have sex with a sibling. F1.
Then, your inbred offspring do the same. F2.
And then those even more inbred offspring do the same again. F3.
Imagine how genetically superior we could all be, completely severed from Nature.
How beautiful. How potent. Really ??
Stabilized hybrid horticulture is a good example of how myopic, greedy and sick humans have become.
And yes, stabilized hybrid cannabis culture started here at Sensi Seed Bank. Yes, you are the experts.
I have been growing organic, open pollinated cannabis outdoors for 40 years, growing with Nature, not against it.
My weed is sweeter, higher and genetically stronger than any inbred mutant will ever be.
When you take away the Sun, take away the earth and the wind and the rain and abuse the sexual integrity of the medicine, all you have left is a drug that makes you even more stupid than you already are.
Nature knows best, You can work with it, selective breeding is natural, progressive. Engineering a genetic cul-de-sac is not.
So true. Nature took care, is taking care, and will always take care. Humans only pollute.
you are a toxic person
you are too…..if you think your not, think again.
Well said! Kudos
Working outdoors with landraces, with nature, is my preference – predictability, surprise, variation, observation, selection all satisfy and reward. Explore the flow.
Coot? is that you…? LoL love alonee
this article helped a lot towards my knowledge of breeding and creating a reliable strain with only the best genetics, I had a general idea but wasn’t sure. I’m going to be crossing some really bomb strains, like cup material
Talking of genetics becomes very complex. Although the mendelian square is a good ground to start, we are truly opening up a diverse selection of many different allele that are either closely related or situated upon differing loci upon the DNA strand. The combinations of these allele in pairing can either be expressed or switched off depending upon the allele itself. The back crossing becomes the stabilizing element, and even introducing a completely different strain can produce a hybrid of stronger growth and bigger yield. Creating a phenotype that breeds true having characteristics that are desired is a very lengthy process and careful thought along with detailed notes to review so as to deeper understand the process involved which is hidden in the genetic coding. Letting natural selection to take place without any human intervention then the phenotypes revert back to their original strains. I learn this from breeding show guppies.
I dont think ANY of you know what youre talking about. Great speculation though!!
send me your email bro, if you really do this and you’re good at it and you know about it we can help each other out. I breed the best strains and select only the best phenomes, mostly the afghan indica dominant phenomtypes of all my strains
Tony I have some landraces Afghani s there beautys,,also got an indica dominate strain thats insane Blueberry headband x Green Poison indica dominate..I m still learning the whole breeding thing but always looking to talk to good people..
Successive selfing and selection of desirable phenotypes that are as identical to the founding mother as possible works toward stabilizing a strain.
Each generation will carry less and less undesirable genetic characteristics as those that do show up are removed from the breeding project.
Once the strain is reduced to as near a true breeding line as one desires the project can be called complete.
If the breeder desires the near true breeding phenotype can be then back crossed to the original mother plant and the process completed again as many times as desired.
It should be noted that any out breeding or back cross to the original and desired phenotype will result in an increase in genetic diversity requiring additional breeder selection and removal of undesirable traits.
While this process involves much inbreeding, any negative results are likely to be easily identified and removed from future use. Once bad genetics are found and removed they are gone, this is ultimately a good thing.
hi Dear . i have question
if we have 2 Clones from 1 Single (superStrain)
and Trying to polinate one of them with using collodial silver for sexing with other one ? what is future results ? can this seeds apear Exactly as mother-father plants?
can seeds have genetics problems?
Thank you for your comment ? Unfortunately we cannot respond to grow questions on the blog, but we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask a thriving community of gardening fans for advice, share your experiences, and see if your question has already been covered. I hope this helps.
With best wishes
I have been growing cannabis for 15 years, received
about 30 seeds from a breeder friend o mine, most crap
seeds or died, 1 damped off small runt to darn, but the
3 seedlings I did grow are as follows. Plant#1 I broke the tap
root unfortunately, but has been fed organic liquid karma
i think has built a new tap root now, she is the best cannabis
strain i have ever seen in 15 years now, but is secret will not tell,
But i did name the strain CLEOPATRA is a pure indica though,with long fuzzy white hairs, at only 7 inches tall and
STINKS, will post up some photos
on the forums sometime, I AM THE ONLY PERSON WITH THIS INDICA
STRAIN OR TYPE OF CANNABIS, WHICH I BELIEVE IS EXTINCT, MOST
LIKELY EVEN THE NATIVE COUNTRY IT IS FROM DUE TO WARS ETC. Plant #2 She is a BERRY cocktail odor.they have been growin in 50% perlite,
and a 50% vermiculite mix I make myself, for ex. drainage,
Plant number #3 is a burnt rubber ORANGE, and is a MALE PLANT
BUT REALLY STINKS, AND ALL 3 STRAINS ARE SO CHRONIC.
AND ARE F-2 OR F-3, OR HIGHER? THEY ARE MY OLDEST SEEDS
FROM 4-5 YEARS SAVED FROM MEDICAL COLLECTIVES, THE
CROSSED BREED BY MY FRIEND, I PLAN ON STABLIZING,
ALL 3 PLANTS, THEY HAVE MISSING PARTS ON SOME LEAVES.
I TRIM THESE WITH MY CLIPPERS, and they seedlings
start growing some what more normal for themselves.
I will take cuts of all 3 strains, Cleopatra is my favorite,
because of the plants odor which as i said is a secret,
and is the strain i have been searching for 15 years now,
i have never seen so much resin in a cannabis plant like
these 3 strains just really old clone INDICA STRAINS,
JUST UNBELIVABLE QUALITY, I HAVE CROSSED A PURE
SATIVA MALE. WHICH WAS VERY TALL BUT SPICE ODOR
AND THE FEMALE DONOR PLANT WAS A PINEAPPLE, MOSTLY
SATIVA. ALL HAND POLLANTED BY ME, ON 1 BRANCH,
1 1/2 2 WEEKS INTO 12/12 -JUST SPRINKLED MALE POLLEN
AND MARKED W/PLASTIC BAG, AND
GARDEN TIE, TURNED ON MY FAN AT PLANT, 3 WEEKS
LATER SEEDS WHERE DONE, AND FLOWERS DONE AND NO MALE PLANTS LATER
ALL FEMALE AND DONE IN 2001-0R 2002 BEFORE PEOPLE
IN HOLLAND LEARNED-HOW TO FEMINIZE THEIR SEEDS?
I DO HAND POLLANTE THEM THROUGH, GREENHOUSE
SEED CO. LET THE MALE POLLANATE IN THE SAME ROOM,
MY MALE PLANTS WHERE OUTDOORS AND MY FEMALE DONOR INDOORS, UNDER MY
400 HIGH PRESSURE SODIUM VAPOR BULB.
I couldn’t get through the first few sentences before realizing this dude is delusional. Lol.
I think it was one long run on sentence, i didnt see any periods.
I sure hope that,” secret strain ” didn’t cause the psychosis
lol i started laughing when he SEAMLESSLY TRANSFERRED TO CAPS AND KEPT ON RANTIN’
Reading that tells me why my Cali connection GSC seeds are all so different. 6 seeds. 1 never cracked. 1 damped off (my fault), the other 4 are all totally different. CCs GSC seeds are crap! Beware!
I had a similar experience with Cali connection green crack. Phenos were all over the place. Most breeders don’t bother stabilizing their work and expect you to do the pheno hunting and cloning. I have only really had good luck with OG18 reserva privada. I’ve grown dozens of strains from seed and practically all of them have had multiple phenos.
It is so funny you guys actually arguing about stability, assuming the heredity mechanism is Mendelian.
~99% of the desired traits are quantitative, breeding and stabilizing is relevant in terms of populations, GWA, and is usually acquired by mass selection.
I am a grower out of oregon.Been growing for 20 years. Study cannabis botany for 5 years or more.I understood ur breeding medellain scale and it was thefirst time i saw that scale.u guys explained things well! Thank you!
Also this for ‘Why’. F2 is highly unpredictable n varied because it shows phenos of parents, grandparents plus great grandparents. F3-F5 wil also show recessive genes, once 7th generation is reached it should be fairly true-breeding providing good practice and selection is involved. If trying to create an IBL note taking and photos are a huge help.
Hey there, awesome read for those starting on a breeding project. Myself; i already understand most of that as am in the feild of horticulture, already have the basics of crossing and inbreeding and have successfuly done both producing both an F1 and linebreeding from stable IBL. Would like to see bit more on the outcrossing (namely using hybrids or ‘double-crossing’) and also on top crossing or ‘3-ways’.
How is an f2 that you choose a selected mother that will pass on desired traits become more unstable…..I’m sorry you choose a male that has similar traits then you would have a much more stable strain. “F2″&”F3” …..etc. Along with natural selection is how mother nature stabilizes strains…..wake up ppl and just observe nature
F2 and even subsequent offspring can easily be more unstable because that’s when recessive genes will appear. The first offspring of an unrelated pairing are F1 and if only one side carries a recessive gene it will carry on to a small percentage of the F2 generation. If both original patents carry a recessive gene it will show in a F2 generation but if only oneof the originals carries the recessive gene it won’t show in the F2 generation. So you’d have what you think to be a more stable strain until F3 and subsequent generations with low percentage of plants with wild genetic variants. It’s also a good way to find “hidden” recessive traits that you may desire in your strain but there is a give and take in every breeding between becoming more stable and inbreeding more recessive unwanted traits.
Basic nomenclature of cannabis genetics
Often, when it’s time to buy cannabis seeds, the beginner grower can quickly become confused by some of the acronyms that are written next to the name of the variety. Simply by learning some basic concepts you’ll be able to make the correct choice between seeds with the same name, but different acronym.
There is a big difference between acquiring a second filial generation (F2) or an IBL, even if we talk about seeds of the same variety. These differences will condition the growth pattern of the plants, and also the final product, so that it is almost essential to learn exactly what is the meaning of these acronyms to be more accurate in choosing which seeds to buy, saving ourselves deceptions and getting closer to our preferences.
Also known as landraces or purebreds, pure cannabis varieties have been the basis of cannabis breeding over the past decades. These species are endemic to a geographical area, where they have developed without having been crossed (hybridised) with other varieties. There are a large number of landraces from all around the planet, belonging to any of the three families of cannabis, C. sativa, C. indica and C. afghanica. Nepal is a good example; in this country different pure cannabis varieties (mostly narrow-leaved mixed use varieties) are grown and you can easily see the differences between genotypes based on the height above sea level at which they are cultivated.
Each variety expresses its genetic code (genotype) with a certain growth and flowering pattern (phenotype), so that pure varieties – with a purest genotype – show great uniformity, with just a few slight differences between phenotypes. We can expect very little variation between landrace specimens of the same variety, giving plants with very similar growth, organoleptic and psychoactive traits. Good examples of these varieties can be Hindu Kush (Sensi Seeds), Colombia Punto Rojo (Cannabiogen) or China Yunnan (Ace Seeds).
IBL or stabilized cannabis hybrids
The IBL acronym (in-bred line), means that the cross was made using plants with almost identical genotype (inbreeding). On the contray, outbreeding is employed to introduce new genes into the variety. Although it happens naturally, self-pollination is a common technique used by breeders to fix desirable traits and thus stabilise the genetic line, either with landraces or hybrids. In cannabis genetics IBL seeds should present a highly uniform growth. Classic IBL examples are Skunk and Northern Lights (Sensi Seeds) or White Widow (Greenhouse). There is a lot of work behind IBL’s like these, as a large population of pure specimens had to be used to select the correct parents. In addition, the breeder must fight against inbreeding depression, the result of crossing parents with very similar genetic information. The reward for this job made properly is a highly stable seed variety.
If we make a cross between two different landrace or IBL lines (parental A and B) with different genotypes, the resulting offspring will be the F1 hybrid, the first filial generation from the cross of the phenotype #1 (Parent A) with the phenotype #2 (Parent B). Commonly in this kind of crosses we will observe a very uniform offspring, depending on how stable the parents are, of course. The F1 hybrid between two pure varieties or IBL’s will show the so-called hybrid vigour – also known as heterosis or outbreeding enhancement – introducing new genes that will produce “better” specimens.
Varieties like Orient Express (Ace Seeds), Red Afro (Tropical Seeds) or Eddy from Original Delicatessen would be good examples of true F1 hybrid. Thus, we refer to the first filial generation of any cross as an F1, while the term “F1 hybrid” is used when the parents are different landrace or IBLs.
How to create a polyhybrid
When we cross two F1 individuals (whether landraces, hybrid or polyhybrid varieties), we obtain the second filial generation or F2, and so on with next generations, F3, F4, etc. The second filial generation often gives a more heterogeneous offspring than the F1; we can expect 25% to resemble parent A, 25% to resemble parent B and 50% will be a mixed expression of traits from both parents. As a consequence the stabilisation work must continue generation after generation ( F3, F4, F5…) until we find the generation that gives a uniform offspring with the traits that we are seeking.
Many of the seeds that we can find in shops are polyhybrids, crosses between different hybrids. The offspring of such crosses are in many cases quite unstable, producing plants with very different traits. Keep in mind that in these cases, the genetic mix is very varied, so we can not expect polyhybrid offspring to be as homogenous as an F1 hybrid. It’s easy to imagine how complex it can be to stabilise a cross, since we are mixing different genes from different varieties, which makes the selection and stabilisation process of the different traits a very hard work. The vast majority of hybrids on the market are in fact polyhybrids, like the White Russian (Serious Seeds) or Fruity Jack / Jack el Frutero (Philosopher Seeds).
BX or Backcross
Backcrossing is a common technique used by breeders to fix certain traits. This is done by crossing one of the progeny (F1, F2…) with one of the original parents (recurrent parent) which has the desired trait. To have an even more stable expression of the desirable trait, you can cross the BX1 again with the recurrent parent to have a BX2 (squaring) and so on with BX3 (cubing), BX4, BX5.
This technique is also used to replicate clones in seed form. It is done by choosing a male parent to cross with the clone only, backcrossing it as many times as needed to get an offspring as similar as possible to the original clone. The Apollo 13Bx (TGA Subcool) is an excellent example of this technique.
Tropimango by Philosopher Seeds
S1, feminised cannabis seeds
The acronym S1 refers to the first filial generation produced as a result of crossing the plant with itself. This is achieved by a range of techniques aimed at reversing the sex of the selected female plant, getting it to produce male pollen and using it to pollinate itself. If it’s done properly, we get feminised offspring with the same genotype of the parent used.
As always in genetics, the more stable the parent is, the more stable the offspring will be. This technique can also be used as a regular backcross, selecting and fixing traits but starting with just one parent. Thus, we can find S2 or S3 seeds, which have been backcrossed again with the original parent. Examples of S1 are Tropimango (Philosopher Seeds), S.A.D. (Sweet Seeds) or Trainweck (Greenhouse).
The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.
The High Times Interview: Compound Genetics
Want to know some specifics about breeding cannabis? Know the difference between regular and feminized seeds? Ever heard of an S1, F1 or F2? Do you have any idea what any of it means? I got the chance to link up with Compound Genetics in Portland, Oregon a few month back, and I was lucky enough to sit down with them and talk a little bit about different breeding methods and some terms that are commonly used.
High Times: Can you please explain what an F1 and F2 are when it comes to breeding cannabis?
Compound Genetics: F1 is the first generation [of plants] from unrelated parents. You take a male and a female, you cross them and you create an F1. The F2 is when you work that first generation into the second generation. For example, you could take a Legend Orange Apricot F1, which would be an Orange Apricot male to a Legend OG female, which are completely unrelated parents. When you cross them, the seeds that come from that will be the Legend Orange Apricot F1 generation.
To create the F2, you would take a male from that first generation that you selected from seed and a female from that first generation that you want to breed into the next generation. You would pollinate the F1 female with the F1 male pollen, and the seeds that will be produced will be the Legend Orange Apricot F2.
If you work that into an F3 and F4, once you get past F4, you are in IBL. To do that successfully, you really need to make sure you don’t lock down too many of the same traits, and you’re not bottlenecking because you can create a big mess if you lock down too many of the same traits. You want to keep the gene pool open.
Once you get past F1, it becomes really advanced breeding. F2’s can be a big mess if they aren’t done right. You can send it in the wrong direction by selecting bad parents. F2’s should be left to people who know what they are doing. Very few people work into the F2 and beyond anymore. More people are playing in the F1 generations.
HT: What can you tell us about S1’s and feminized seeds?
CG: It’s also called “selfing.” It’s a part of making feminized seeds in a sense. I think people confuse it with bag seeds sometimes. Bag seeds aren’t always S1’s. Bag seed can be an S1, or it can be from pollen on you floating around and you brush up against a plant. If it’s on you and you brush up against a plant, you just pollinated a plant. S1’s could be made other ways too. It can be caused naturally, like stressing the plant so it forces itself to make S1’s—whether it’s light leaks, feeding or mistreating. S1’s could be created by a breeder, by part of a reversal where they actually spray a mixture of chemicals onto a plant, and it will turn a female plant into a male plant over time.
For example, if I took a Jet Fuel Gelato female and reverse it to force it to turn into a male, I collect the pollen from that reversal,and hit it onto a Jet Fuel Gelato female, the seeds from that cross would be the Jet Fuel Gelato S1’s, which would be the feminized version of Jet Fuel Gelato
S1’s are feminized; 99 percent of feminized seeds will be female. S1 and R1 are considered different. R1 is the equivalent of a feminized F1. F1 is the regular version. Regular is the industry term for a male seed. Feminized is the industry term for a reversed seed or feminized seed. You get feminized seeds from reversing, and you get regular seeds from using a male. The method you would do for S1’s would be the same thing you do to make feminized seeds. You spray it on the plant in certain periods of the early flower cycle, and it makes the plant switch sexes. You can take any female plant and spray over a two to three week period. It won’t grow any female flowers at all. It will actually start to grow male flowers. The whole plant will turn into a complete male. It will release pollen, but reversed plants never release the same amount of pollen as a male plant. Male pollinations will almost always have more seeds. That’s why many breeders prefer males because you can get so many more seeds, and you can do a lot more with males.
With reversals, it’s kinda hit or miss. You can get a small amount of pollen, or sometimes you can get almost no pollen. Some plants don’t want to spit pollen when you reverse them. If you are reversing a plant and you want to create a bunch of seeds, you going to need to reverse a lot more plants to collect enough pollen versus having a male around which dumps pollen. I would need two males to pollenate a grow room the size of this hotel room. It would take 20 reversed plants to do the work two males can do, and you would have to apply the pollen with direct contact, like brushing the pollen on the plants or hitting the females with a male branch. You have to actually work the plant to spread the pollen, because it’s not dumping pollen like the males plants would. There are a lot of different methods you can use to apply reversed pollen onto other plants.
Jet Fuel Gelato (Photo Courtesy of Compound Genetics)
Feminized seeds kinda have a stigma in the industry. People frown a little bit upon them as if they are made from Monsanto. Genetically modified, not natural, they really have their purpose. The fact that you can run a whole garden of feminized seeds, and you don’t have to worry about weeding out or selecting males. For a beginner grower, it’s perfect. For someone who doesn’t know how to select males, they can just take feminized seeds, run them, and know they do not have to worry about finding any males pollenating their crop and losing their crop because a male slipped through the cracks.
HT: Can you tell me more about hermaphrodite plants?
CG: It definitely is an unstable trait, and it’s definitely more prevalent in untested and unworked gear that is bred from unstable plants. If you are going to create a feminized seed, one of the most important things about fems is that you should never reverse a plant that is unstable. If you reverse a plant that has unstable traits, it’s going to continue those traits onto the next generation.
HT: Can regular plants still throw out herms?
CG: Oh, yeah. Definitely. It can be from that same factor from breeding unstable traits to begin with or environmental issues. In general, it’s usually a genetic trait. Strong genetics that are worked well won’t hermaphrodite under any circumstances. Sometimes when you run seeds from the first generation, some will hermaphrodite, but if you clone them and run them again, that trait won’t come out once you don’t run them from seed. I don’t know exactly why that is true, but it definitely happens. I advise anybody running from seed that experiences hermaphrodites, if it’s a plant that looks real good late in flower, run it again from clone and see what happens. Sometimes, those traits don’t come out in clone. You really can’t do anything to stop them.
I don’t recommend people spraying “Switch” or anything like that. Same goes for any chemical product that’s going to revert your plant back. If your plant is showing that trait, you should either be prepared to live with that trait, eliminate that plant, try to breed it out by outcrossing or crossing it over a few generations, or reverse something onto it that’s going to help eliminate that trait.
HT: What would be your preferred method for collecting pollen, and around what time is best to harvest pollen from the males? Do different males throw out pollen at different times?
CG: Males throw out pollen usually between week 3.5 – 5. That’s usually when they are known to drop pollen. After week 6 or 7, they kind of get spent. If I was going to collect pollen, I would try to collect it around week 4.
There are various ways you can collect it. You can just go up to the male and get a bag, box or something like that and collect it over time by leaving the bag or box open under the plant, or you can take a whole branch of the plant and just literally put it in a bag, just shake it, and all the pollen will come off. Then, you will be left with the male parts of the plant. What you can do with that is take the male pollen sacs, sift or filter it out, then you are left with this fine powder. Ultimately, you just want to have just powder, and storing it clean and dry. The key to saving pollen long periods of time is having it dry. Moisture is the killer for pollen. Light as well. Anything that is bad for dried cannabis will be bad for pollen.
Sour Gelato (Photo Courtesy of Compound Genetics)
HT: What’s the longest you can keep properly stored pollen viable before having to go through another round to collect pollen?
CG: If it’s stored properly, you can keep it for a long time, but generally pollen tends to fade after a year or two. It’s not something that should be your long-term [plan] for saving genetics. To save them long-term, you have to save them in seed form. The best method is using a male of course, but to get the true genetics into seed form, if you can self it, that’s how you can really save anything. If you want to save all your cultivars, S1 everything. You will have pure versions of those clones only in feminized seed form. When you hunt those seeds, you can find the same traits and exact same examples of the mother plants you’re reversing, plus you might find versions that are even better.
S1’s will have the same exact phenotypes that you reverse, plus it will have other unique versions. You can find some better versions of the clone-only mom in the S1’s. If you are trying to save your genetics for a long [time], S1′ s might be the way to go.