How To Breed And Preserve Cannabis Genetics
If you’re interested in breeding your own cannabis strain but find scientific jargon confusing, and graphs and punnet squares put you to sleep, this is the blog for you. We break down all you need to know about breeding marijuana at home and how to preserve those precious fire clone-only genetics. Practical advice without the academic speak.
WHY DABBLE WITH CANNABIS BREEDING AND GENETICS?
Breeding cannabis and continuing a lineage in seed is not the exclusive preserve of the experts. Home growers that have acquired high-level cultivation skills and mastered the essential techniques can easily transition from grower to breeder. Creating F1 seeds and hybrids is very doable. Most of the cannabis strains that have become legends were created by home growers. On occasion even by accident.
While it might not be possible to build your own seed bank from the grow tent in the spare bedroom. Small-scale breeding is a viable option. You don’t need a masters degree in botany. Just good old-fashioned dope growing experience will suffice.
Time in the grow op will have already given you a keen eye for pheno hunting. Plus you have developed the hands on cannabis tradecraft skill set to succeed.
HOW TO PRESERVE PRECIOUS MARIJUANA GENETICS
Taking cuttings from cannabis plants is a great way to preserve a strain. Sometimes prized varieties are available in clone-only form, and the grower has little option other than continuing to take cuttings in order to preserve the genetics.
Cloning is a transferable skill and even more essential to cannabis breeders than growers. You need to have a consistently high success rate with cloning as a prerequisite to breeding.
F1 seeds can be produced with just a female marijuana clone. These seeds carry only the genetics of the mother. In order to accomplish this, the grower must reverse the sex of the female to induce self-pollination.
Most home breeders will purposefully stress the flowering female to produce a few seeds. Selfing is commonly applied to clone-only marijuana varieties to convert it to F1 seed form.
SMALL SCALE BREEDING OPTIONS
BREEDING FROM THE SAME BATCH
Ok, so if you are happy with a batch of regular cannabis seeds. Perhaps you want to make use of the males? Well, you can cross cannabis from the same batch. Assuming you are familiar with the strain and cropping from the same pack of seeds you can potentially select a breeding pair to cross.
This is an old school ganja farmer’s method mostly applied outdoors. Although, breeding from the same batch has potential indoors provided the original organic seeds are genuine. If so, not only will the resulting progeny be more or less stable but you will have saved cash on seeds for the next crop.
Before further breeding experiments, it’s no harm to practice collecting pollen and making seeds first. Breeding from a reliable batch is a good introduction to cannabis breeding.
Following on from breeding from the same batch comes creating a simple hybrid. A polyhybrid is the crossing of two commercial, unrelated varieties. To begin with, this will not be entirely stable, and won’t produce genuine F1 hybrids. Results will undoubtedly be mixed. But polyhybrids are pretty vigorous and winning pheno’s can be discovered if you have the space for a larger crop to hunt them out.
GENUINE F1 HYBRIDS
Genuine F1 Hybrids are the jewels in the crown of the Royal Queen Seeds catalogue. The cold truth is creating fantastically potent, productive and vigorous growing F1 hybrids is a long term process. Professional breeders invest years of their lives into breeding projects and select cultivars from hundreds if not thousands of cannabis plants.
Genuine F1 hybrids can only be derived from crossing pedigree stabilised or landrace strains. They express genuine hybrid vigour. Unless you’re planning a strain hunting expedition, tracking down heirloom landrace seeds is hard graft. It’s probably more convenient to stick with the RQS catalogue for awesome hybrids.
Similarly, filial breeding can be complicated. Honestly, it’s far too demanding for the first time home breeder. By crossing a pair of F1s (first generation) the resulting progeny is the F2 (second generation). Unfortunately, these seeds will be far less stable and far more difficult to work with than the previous F1 generation.
Careful selective breeding in large numbers is required to succeed with this approach. Often it takes multiple generations of breeding perhaps until F5 (fifth generation) or even F6 (sixth generation) before the line can be stabilised.
Backcrossing is probably the most suitable option for a small scale home breeding project. Also, if you have a clone-only variety and are wary of stressing plants into hermies trying to produce a handful of F1 beans, backcrossing has to be considered.
You first need to identify a recessive donor male or a male with a desirable trait worth adding to the progeny. The female will be retained as a mother to keep taking cuttings from.
Essentially the dominant female clone and the donor male are crossed. Furthermore, all subsequent generations will be backcrossed to a female clone from the original mother. Sometimes, 3-4 backcrosses will be required to get the required stability in the offspring.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to preserve your favourite strains, and turn them into new strains of their own. This guide is meant to give you a good general overview to get you started, before delving into the more complicated aspects of it.