Creating your own unique cross of cannabis can be a highly rewarding challenge. Once you have dailed in the genetic and know the plant intimately, mastering your own strain is one of the best things about growing
Here are some frequently asked questions commonly associated with breeding..
How Many Seeds Will I Get Off One Plant?
Depending on your end goal, a small sized plant can produce up to 500 seeds per plant and a larger sized plant can produce 1000-3000. One mistake first time breeders make is to pollinate an entire plant even if they only want to grow some tester first generation seeds. Some great advice is to only pollinate a lower branch or the lowest parts of your crop to retain small numbers. If you have the clones of the mother and father, then unless you know you want to go for gold and run big numbers, It is a good idea to make smaller sized runs of 50-100. By growing these out you will know how solid the plants are and if you are going down the right road. If you are at the stage where you know the progeny is worth reproducing, then a Sea of Green set up using clones can create a good harvest of seeds. What Is The Difference Between F1 and F2?
This simply refers to the generation of the lineage. F1 stands for first generation and will represent the closest genetic point of the original parental line. Seeds that are grown from F1 will be the most uniform and reliable to grow on a large commercial scale. F2 seeds will represent the second line from the initial parents. Here you will find all of the mostly desired traits as well as the mostly undesired traits. This can be a great place to pheno hunt and often a point where breeders will back cross the isolated pheno back to the father plant. It is debatable where the best plants can be found between F1 to F8 but is dependent on what the end demand is.
Are There Any Plants That Work Better Than Others?
On paper some strains can look amazing and writing up all the new names to go with them only pushes your enthusiasm further. There are, however, certain things to consider before popping seeds or ordering the latest and greatest clones. One thing that often brings hybrid vigor together is when the mother and father plant share some of the same characteristics. Leaf pattern, growth structure, aroma and taste, flowering time, wind resistance, mold resistance, ability to fight pathogens, strong rooting and cloning factors should all be taken into consideration. Try matching some strains together based on these points above and from my experience these lines will produce the most uniform and stable offspring. Why Do
My F1 Seeds Have A Very Low Germination Rate?
This can happen and sometimes can be an indication of a bad cross. I have had seeds that were taken from two stud plants and unfortunately did not germinate and if they did they grew very poorly. When this happens it can have you scratching your head and going back to the pad and paper figuring out what went wrong. Every single plant is different and will produce different seeds. There can be factors such as how far bred were the original parental lines? Were there any issues during the flowering stage such as heat stress or power cuts? Did the seeds get enough time to fully develop? Was the male used the issue? Finding out what caused bad seeds is as much the fun as making a cup winning hybrid. Breeding is a serious learning curve about patience, nature and timing.
Can I Still Breed With Regular And Feminized Seeds?
To take a male plant found from regular seeds and then to pollen chuck on to a stud female, from a solid feminized line will produce great, viable seeds. To grow out the F1 seeds from the feminized plant will throw out some great offspring, however for breeding with it can be very limited. Really using regular seeds to make your first generation line with is a must. If your plans are to feminize the female and make your own female line of seeds, you still should work from the regular stock. Feminized seeds are great for large scale farming and producing flower, but not the best for breeding with.
Will The Male Or Female Traits Be More Prevalent In My F1?
It is hard to say which plant will show more dominant traits. Working with male and females can always produce different results. This is where phenotypes will be found and, upon inspection, specific traits will be more noticeable. If you have crossed Amnesia Haze with O.G Kush and your F1 lines are throwing out nothing but Amnesia phenotypes, then working the O.G in or working the Amnesia out will require further pheno hunting and more work. Some strains will match up very well and posses true hybrid vigor. They can offer a new flavor, aroma, affect, growth structure, bug resistance, pathogen resistance and so on. Learning which of your plants have the best progeny takes time.
What Characteristics Should I Be Looking To Bring Through?
Before making your seeds, you should have in mind a good idea of what your end result will be. It seems that most of the modern day breeders are making the names before the strain, which is not always the case with nature. There are multiple factors that can be considered and those are improving yield, increasing or decreasing flowering time, plant resistance to pathogens and insects, flower structure, terpene profile, aroma and flavor, cannabinoid profile, CBD content, wind resistance, cloning ability and outdoor performance. Perhaps you grow outdoor and need something that can take high winds, cold and wet conditions and finished early in the year; perhaps you want to make a strain that is fully done in 7 weeks and can be used commercially. Have a think of what it is you really want to bring forward and then work from there.
How Do I Know Which Male To Use?
Finding elite males to work with is easier said than done. Breeders will go through hundreds of males over their time, however finding the one is a time consuming process. Some breeders may use multiple males on one select female, then again other breeders may find using one stud male on different female phenotypes can produce the best lineage. If you are using only one male and one female it can restrict the variation of the F1 to some degree. I am not saying you will have a bad line of seeds but using a few different males always bring out something extra to work from. Especially if you are looking for a certain trait to come through, but that is just my personal opinion.
What Is Meant By A Back Cross?
If you have ever heard this term and not quite understood its meaning, it basically tells you that the line was crossed back. By using the original male and pollinating a female from the F1 lines, the new seedlings will be classed as a back cross or BX. This is done to lock in stability and keep the offspring as close to the original parental line as possible. It can mean often dominating the plant with the male traits once again, but as far as stability and overall expression of the plants, the results will be very good. On the basis the breeder has not go the original male any more, then a back cross is not possible and the only option is to create F2 seeds.
Do I Need To Clean My Tent After Using Pollen?
The answer here is yes. Pollen is tiny and gets everywhere so cleaning out the tent with bleach is advised. Make sure you get in every corner and every gaps. Once pollen becomes wet it is no longer active. If you do not clean out your grow tent, you may find pollen is still attached to the carbon filter, tent poles and on the floor. Female plants only need very small amounts of pollen to pollinate an entire plant, so bear this in mind before attempting another breeding project. If you are using multiple tents and isolating several different male and female plants, then making sure that there is no cross contamination from either tent is essential.
Why Is There Such Variation Between My Plants?
There can be an number of reasons for plants to display a variation in phenotypes and characteristics. If your F1 lines are throwing out either one phenotype or the other then this is to be expected and further work can be done in a certain direction, based on your intentions. If your plants however are showing serious variation and not in a desired way, it may be down to the initial lineage being over worked before hand. There is a company named Phylos Bioscience who are able to distinguish from DNA testing, how stable a variety is, how interbred it has been, how unique it is compared to their existing DNA galaxy and what progeny can be expected if crossed. Really fascinating stuff and a complete game changer for all breeders.
Should I Need An Open Room Pollination?
If you are making large seed runs and aim to pull of thousands and thousands, then an open pollination is the best way. Using one male and mass producing the same genetic stock on a commercial farming scale is a case of walking through the garden with the male and allowing its pollen to travel around the plants and to be carried through the air. A really great tip is use a small paint brush and to carefully apply the pollen to each chosen branch. Of course, this is more practical on a small scale production but it has many benefits: one is that you can pollinate only the selected flowering sites, without hammering the entire plant; you can also successfully pollinate the same female with different male plants in the same sitting with the paint brush method.
How Important Is Labeling?
A mislabeled clone here and a mislabeled clone there can end up pulling the handbrake on a breeding program. I have heard many stories about lost clones and mislabeled mums. Carefully label up all your plants and tie the label around the base so it cannot come off. If labeling pots make sure that they firmly stay on and if using felt pots, either leave a plastic label in the pot or tie a label around the main stem. Breeding is about being meticulous and disciplined is what makes a breeder great. Title page image by Barry. Other images courtesy of Professor Lee and Green Candy Press.
Written and Published By Stoney Tark in Weed World Magazine Issue 141