CANNABIS CULTURE – Before handing over your hard earned cash and investing in the latest hype strains for up to $200 a pack, it is important to sit down for a moment and consider what it is you personally want from your crop. It is hard to differentiate between what is commercially viable and what can be considered head stash. Below are my top tips on how to select the best genetics for your project.
Who Are You Growing For?
I think this should be the first point of call and it can help narrow down the ideal strain selection. If you are growing for yourself, think which of these are you more concerned about… yields, flavors, resin production, ease of growth, ease of cloning, aroma profile, effect or perhaps for a medicinal need.
If the answer is you are growing commercially and desire certain varieties that serve that purpose better, for example large yielding strains with a turn around time of 56-60 days flower. If growing for your own personal medicine, then you may be prepared to take on the lower producing, knock out O.G and Cookie hybrids and flowering time is not a preference.
My top tip here is to avoid thinking of quantity and find a balance of quality over quantity. I would actually suggest to have a number of strains growing together, as one strain many seem boring after a while, especially if you do not have friends to trade with. Research the strains online and find out what works well for who.
Regular VS Feminized
The argument to which of these is best is simply down to the practicality of the grower. Both serve a purpose as unique as the other and although many old school growers avoid feminized seeds, logistically feminized seed can benefit a grower by maximizing space, removing the need to sex plants previous to flower, and ensure the entire crop is 100% female.
On a large commercial scale such as Holland where feminized seeds were originally created to combat very challenging weather and to be as efficient as possible with time, costs and labor. Nowadays feminized seeds have evolved to cover almost 95% of the marketplace in Europe. There has been bad press lately surrounding feminized as we see more breeders work with stock that could be classed as temperamental in their nature.
My top tip here is to decide if you are off a culture that plants regular seeds, finds males and females and reworks that lineage in clone form or for a breeding project. Or decide if you are more concerned about constant numbers of female plants growing, without the need to source clones and deal with the potential risks that come with that.
Cheap Seeds or Expensive Seeds?
As the cannabis industry has evolved to become a billion dollar sector, the rise in seed banks is overwhelming to say the least. The number of breeders and seed banks who through financial backing, branding and marketing have made their way to the scene is at an all time high. Standing at the pinnacle of genetic diversity as we know it, having brand loyalty to a breeder is almost nearly impossible and keeping up with the latest and greatest hybrids rocking 30% THC and above is also hard work.
My top tip here is to see who has industry hype behind them and what awards they have won. I personally like to see how seed companies perform when it comes to getting in touch with them, customer service and even meeting a breeder in person at an expo and speaking face to face. You can find yourself wrestling with your morals as you contemplate spending between $15-50 a seed in some parts of America.
Regarding cheaper seeds, do not ignore these companies and even if you are restricted to a budget, consider they are also working their way up and hopefully offering something new from the current trends. It may be a case of trial and error with many companies but as long as you can get some good feedback before hand on forums, strain reviews and things of that nature, this will always give you the upper hand.
Recreational use of cannabis has a different dynamic to it, than those who only use for medicinal benefit. Cannabis has always been associated with therapeutic aid and after the recent boom in CBD, now more than ever before. The varietal species of CBD rich plants is very diverse and through professional breeding projects, the industry have achieved a plant that can be consumed by people who have not had been used to a recreational culture, or enjoy high powered Cannabis.
My top tip here is look specifically for the ratio of THC and CBD that the seed companies offer. There is a wide range of low THC / high CBD and low THC / low CBD varieties that will each offer a different medicinal effect. There will be no overwhelming sensation and racey discomfort associated with high THC flower. Many companies now days offer ratios of 1:1, 1:2, 2:1 and so on.
Skill Level and Experience
With a rising number of people who are just getting into growing, basing that experience on which strain you decide to grow out, should be your priority. Trying to decipher a name can be a difficult task and when you realise the number of poly hybrids that exist, you can be left thinking which one is for me? My top tip is choose strains that are versalite and will deliver a sturdy plant under most conditions.
These strains typically range from Northern Lights hybrids, Afghan hybrids, Skunk strains, 50% indica / 50% sativa hybrids and other varieties that are well known to be an ease to grow. Once you have a few successful grows under your belt, you can look towards more demanding, high maintenance sativas and other finicky low yielding strains and learning to dial those in.
How Much Time Do You Have?
One factor that may quickly determine your strain selection is your turnaround time. Speaking for commercial growers who needs are target driven, or are working a yearly calendar that calculates a certain number of grows per year. That being said flowering time should not exceed more than 10 weeks at any point and short veg times are normally required.
Unfortunately we see this occur in the common market place and this is why many farmers choose O.G Kush hybrids with a short flowering time and high demand. Haze varieties and mind bending sativas unfortunately lose commercial value in the same way strains did in Amsterdam coffeeshops over 20 years ago due to the lack of demand for the grower.
My top tip here if you are growing for numbers only is to find a strain that works well in a Sea of Green (S.O.G) as this will allow you to grow the maximum number of plants, in the smallest space with a short vegging time and maximum return. Most seed catalogues usually indicate if that strain is better suited for a Sea of Green or Screen of Green.
Hash Making and Extracts
Whilst there is a huge demand for high grade flower in America, there is an equal demand for top shelf extracts. Almost 50% of the market in the States is extract driven and the evolution of the extract scene has become something huge over the last ten years alone. This being said many farmers who are dedicated extract artist and hash makers only have one intention and that is to usually grow a crop and either free dry it, or dry it out for sift.
My top tip here is find out which strains have the highest terpene count. Cannabinoids are not everything when it comes to a final product of extract and the appearance, taste and overall experience is what is looked at these days. There are some strains that will give much better returns than others and that will be the case if making your own sift to squish for rosin, making B.H.O, isolator or squishing flower directly.
As the world begins to opens its door and accept Cannabis as a legal platform in some countries, the option to grow outdoors or in greenhouses is now a real possibility, without any backlash and criminal conviction. Depending on where you are in the world and climate you experience will also determine which strains you may be better of with than others.
My top tip here is write down a short list of all the potential elements your plants will face if outdoors or in a greenhouse. For example, living in Southern Spain near the mountains, If I grow outdoors, despite the lovely Mediterranean sun, my plants do need to be able to tick certain boxes before I even think about germinating any seeds. These are wind resistance, resistance to insects, resistance to the cold nights, resistance to the high U.V rays the Spanish sun provides and resistance to heat stress.
Once I have these things ticked off, I then need to consider how the plants will resist plant pathogens that are airborne such as powdery mildew or mold. It would be a shame to grow a crop that was subject to an aggressive mildew infection or flowers that could not even be extracted due to grey mold infecting the buds from the inside out.
Perhaps you have become inspired to break into the thriving Cannabis industry and make your mark once and for all. Or maybe you have just decided to cross a few plants together for the fun of it at home. Either way breeding Cannabis is a wonderful experience that can produce the greatest rewards.
Far more valuable than any flower or extract, the ability to create your own progeny at home can be a life changing and sometime career changing moment for many growers. Selecting which genetics you want to use for a breeding project is a totally different ball game to growing for flower. My top tip here is to think about what the end result you plan to make is before even making it, and to decide why you are making that strain in the first place.
It could be to jump on board the hype train with many other breeders, or it could be to enhance a certain characteristic that you feel is lacking in a specific variety, or you may be working with a clone only strain that you wish to make progeny with. There can be many reasons why a person wants to breed a new strain, so finding your own unique reasons will also allow your strains to stand out from the crowds and give you some identity in a heavily populated marketplace.