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Cannabis Breeding Basics: F1 Hybrids and Beyond

Breeding cannabis can be an extremely complicated and time consuming process. In order to identify and stabilize a sought after trait, it may take multiple generations and hundreds, if not thousands, of plants. This is why most breeding operations are left to the professionals who have sizable facilities dedicated to breeding. This is not to say that basic breeding cannot be done in a cannabis hobby garden. In fact, some of the most unique cannabis strains available were created by home growers; in some cases, by complete accident.

One aspect of cannabis breeding that is different than most vegetable breeding programs is that cannabis plants are dioecious, meaning they have separate female and male plants. Most vegetable plants are monoecious plants, meaning they have both male and female organs on a single plant. Dioecious plants are more complicated to breed because the breeder must pollinate a female plant with pollen from a male plant. Seeds generated from cross-pollination of two plants will produce more genetic variation than seeds created through a self-pollination (monoecious plants) technique and, therefore, requires more time and effort to find and stabilize a sought after trait. Before purchasing seeds or beginning a home breeding program, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of cannabis breeding techniques and terminology.

Landrace Varieties

Chances are good, if you’ve researched cannabis breeding, you have come across the term “landrace”. A landrace variety is a type of cannabis that has established itself in a particular region and has grown there wild for a very long time. Essentially, landrace cannabis strains are strains that are native to a particular area, where they developed naturally and have grown wild for millennia. Because of their natural stabilization through natural selection, landrace strains are stable, robust genetics that produce homogeneous offspring. In other words, landrace strains from a particular area will display very similar growth patterns, appearance, and cannabinoid/terpene profiles.

There are many landrace strains from around the planet. Landrace varieties are the foundation for most cannabis breeding programs, as breeders can expect little variation between landrace species of the same variety. Because landrace strains (of the same variety) exhibit similar growth patterns, appearance, and cannabinoid/terpene profiles, they make a solid starting point or building block for breeders.

In-bred Line (IBL)

In-bred line, or IBL, refers to cannabis strains made from crossing two almost identical genotypes. Breeders use this technique to acquire desirable traits and stabilize the genetic line. There is usually a lot of work behind each IBL strain as a large population of pure specimens has to be used to select the correct parents for breeding. Breeders who make IBLs also must face the issue of inbreeding depression, a result of crossing plants with very similar genetics. In many cases, inbreeding produces less than desirable traits and breeders must sort through hundreds, if not thousands, of offspring to find the particular stabilized traits they desire. The end goal of IBL is usually to create a highly stable variety for seed production.

F1 Hybrids

An F1 hybrid is created when a breeder crosses two unique genotypes (from either two landrace strains or two IBLs) and creates a first generation hybrid; for example, crossing two completely different landrace strains from different geographical locations. This might be done to create a hybrid that exhibits a sought after trait from each of the different parent plants. If both parent plants are very stable, the result is generally a very uniform offspring. One of the main reasons F1 hybrids are sought after is that they will show the so-called “hybrid vigor”. Hybrid vigor refers to how F1 hybrids will often have special attributes, such as enhanced yields, a shorter time to harvest, and/or a heightened resistance to drought or diseases.

Poly-Hybrids

Many of the seeds sold in cannabis shops or the seeds created by hobby growers are considered poly-hybrids. Poly-hybrids are crosses between two different hybrid strains. In most cases, the offspring of poly-hybrids are quite unstable. In other words, the offspring of a poly-hybrid will not necessarily produce the specific traits of either parent, but, instead, may exhibit a wide variety of traits derived from its entire lineage. This is why a home grower should not expect his or her poly-hybrid to be as homogeneous as a true F1 hybrid. However, sometimes a grower gets lucky and produces a poly-hybrid that is stable and exhibits unique attributes.

F2, F3, F4, F5…

When a horticulturist crosses two F1 individuals (landrace, hybrids, or poly-hybrids) a second generation, or F2, is created. As more generations are bred, they are referred to as F3, F4, F5, and so on. An F2 generation often produces a more diverse offspring, where more varying traits of the parent plants are exhibited, than an F1. With an F2, growers should expect 25% of the offspring to resemble parent A, 25% to resemble parent B, and 50% to be a mixture of traits from both parents. Breeders looking to stabilize a particular trait will continue to create subsequent generations (F3, F4, F5, etc.) until a generation is developed that produces uniform offspring with the desired traits. Again, this is why some aspects of breeding are best left to professional growers with facilities large enough to house all the plants necessary to stabilize the sought after traits.

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Backcrosses or BX

Backcrossing, or BX, is a breeding technique generally used to correct a particular trait. Backcrossing is done by crossing one of the offspring (F1, F2…) with one of the original parents (the parent with the desirable trait). Breeders will also cross the backcrossed offspring with the parent again to further stabilize that parent’s desired trait. Backcrossing is also used to replicate a clone in seed form. For example, let’s say a grower has a female clone and wants to create seeds that produce offspring similar to that clone. This can be done by choosing a male plant to cross with the clone and then backcross the offspring (with the original clone) as many times as needed until the offspring exhibit traits similar to the original clone.

Selfing (S1) Feminized Cannabis Seeds

Feminized seeds are popular among hobby cannabis cultivators. Feminized seeds will produce female plants instead of both female and male plants. In breeding, S1 refers to the first generation produced as a result of crossing a female plant with herself. This can be achieved by utilizing techniques that reverse the sex of the desired female plant to get it to produce male pollen. The male pollen produced by the female plant is then used to pollinate that female plant and the resulting offspring are S1 feminized seeds. Techniques used to get a female plant to produce male pollen include the use of particular chemicals (such as colloidal silver) or rodelization. Rodelization takes advantage of the fact that a female plant will, toward the end of her life, try to pollinate herself as a last ditch effort to produce offspring. By stressing a female plant during her flowering cycle, breeders can manipulate the female plant to create a few pollen sacs. The pollen produced by the female can then be used to self-pollinate that female and create S1 feminized seeds. When S1 plants are backcrossed with the original female plant, they can create S2, S3, S4 generations and so on. This is often done by breeders to preserve a particular strain’s genetic traits.

Although cannabis breeding can be extremely complicated and time consuming, hobbyists shouldn’t shy away from experimenting with breeding. The poly-hybrid strains a hobbyist is most likely already growing may not produce the most stable offspring, but it could still be bred to create something unique. In theory, if a home grower does get lucky and creates a strain with unique attributes, he or she could use a backcrossing technique to produce seeds that would make plants like his or her masterpiece.

When shopping for cannabis seeds, a basic understanding of cannabis breeding terminology will not only help a grower make sense of what they are purchasing, but also what to expect from that particular genetic. Professional breeders who have the area and time to produce truly stabilized offspring are the best bet for purchasing unique, but stable, strains. Professional breeders also continue to create and develop cannabis strains for very specific purposes (such as high CBD strains for particular medical ailments). There is no doubt, as cannabis laws continue to change in favor of legalization, that more reputable breeders will be established and even more new, unique cannabis strains will be developed. This is not only great news for cannabis enthusiasts, but also for the medical community where sophisticated cannabis breeding programs could be the key to unlocking new, powerful treatments and cures.

Eric Hopper resides in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula where he enjoys gardening and pursuing sustainability.

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Feminized seeds are as good as regular seeds to make mother plants. Moreover, there is uniformity in the products even when production is carried out on a large scale. The quality of the feminized seeds can be judged from the number of hermaphroditic plants it produces. May 8, 2018

As the term would imply, feminized seeds produce exclusively female plants. These cannabis seeds are also referred to as female seeds, and growers want them to be feminized for good reason: only female plants contain buds, the coveted, smokable part of the cannabis plant. Sep 8, 2020

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Feminized cannabis seeds lack male chromosomes, whereas regular cannabis seeds contain the full complement of genetics that enable them to be either male or female. This is also why feminized seeds must always be referred to by that name – they aren’t truly female, and therefore cannot be sold as such. May 16, 2018

Yes! Many growers believe that feminized seeds can cause hermies, and there is some truth to that. In order to create a feminized seed, one of the parent female plants had to be forced in some way to produce pollen. . There are different ways to feminize seeds, but only some methods produce seeds that turn hermie on you.

Many people ask us if they will have as much flavor as the others, or if they will come out strong, they even doubt if feminized seeds are less powerful, the answer is that they are completely equal to the normal ones, so if they do not come out good it is because of the production process or because of a bad selection .

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if the seed will produce a male or female plant by just looking at the seed. Regular marijuana seeds have a 50% chance of being female, so out ten seeds, growers can expect that 5 of them will probably produce female plants.

On average, around 50% of viable seeds will develop as female plants and the other 50% will be male. Generally, you can‘t change the sex of a plant; that was decided long before germination. So if you‘re growing from seed, you have to find out which are male and which are female.

Breeders make feminized seeds by stressing a female plant into growing male sex features like pollen, and then using this pollen to fertilize another female. The resulting seeds lack male chromosomes. . But feminized seeds got a bad reputation due to early efforts with plants that had high hermaphroditic tendencies. Jan 28, 2015

Hermie seeds are great to hang on to. Guaranteed females. May have less that end up viable seeds but definitely hang on to them. Even if the plants were really stessed out when they produced the seeds? Aug 3, 2010

  • Dinafem Seeds: His OG Kush is flooding California.
  • Sweet Seeds: Breeders par excellence.
  • Humboldt Seeds Organization: Authentic American flavour.
  • DNA Genetics: The Mastery of L. A. Confidential.
  • Royal Queen Seeds: Kingship made of seeds.
  • Soma Seeds: The East Coast DNA.

Yes, S1 seeds achieved by a chemical will be female if a female is selfed since there were never any male genetics introduced.

Cannabis growers often save seeds for a long time in order to preserve the original genetic of a particular strain that has worked well for them. If properly stored, a marijuana seed can last for more than 10 years, without any problems, but making it germinate will not be as easy as with a newer one. Nov 21, 2016

Once you’ve amended your soil and secured a grow location, it’s time to sprout some seeds! Though many prefer procuring seeds from a seed bank to increase the likelihood of viability, bag seeds are definitely worth a go, but may not be as fruitful as store-bought seeds. Sep 15, 2018

Male plants don’t produce buds, the same flower buds, anyway. But you can find cannabinoids in their flowers, leaves, and stems. You can also benefit from a gentle buzz by drying and pressing the pollen you find in a male plant. Feb 24, 2020

In my research, experienced growers feel the Hermaphrodite plant is actually more potent than a standard Female because the Hermie is a SURVIVOR. They are a strong, resilient plant, which leads to greater potency.

Yes it can. This is why it’s important to verify and seperate the males. Feminized seeds only give you a certain guarantee that the plant will be female. It can still be pollinated by a male in the area.

  • High Season’s Moscato: Ideal for Hangouts with Friends. Moscato, one of our newest strains,
  • Mango Kush (Hybrid): Perfect for the Couch and Comedy TV. .
  • White Widow (Hybrid): Amazing for Laughs with Friends. .
  • Durban Poison (Sativa): Smile Till Your Cheeks Hurt. .
  • Super Lemon Haze (Sativa): Energetic Euphoria.

Water test: Take your seeds and put them in a container of water. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Then if the seeds sink, they are still viable; if they float, they most likely will not sprout. Jan 29, 2013

Size is a great indicator of sex. Males tend to grow faster and higher in the first stage of growth than do the females. Male plants have a longer intermodal space as well. . Male plants also get a woodier stalk sooner than do females. Sep 24, 2016

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A female clone can be induced to produce male flowers that contain viable pollen. This pollen will serve to self-fertilize female flowers on the same plant. The fertilized female flowers can then produce viable cannabis seeds. This breeding process is called “selfing” because the plant breeds with itself. May 24, 2017

A female plant will have a calyx – which is the slightly more pointed option. A male will have the aforementioned mini pollen sacs that are round or roughly oval. If you cannot tell the difference yet, wait a few more days. If the green pre-flower grows a white hair, known as a pistil, it is female. Mar 20, 2020

When looking for excellent quality and high potency seeds, it is essential to check out Crop King Seeds! The company’s selection offers enormously potent seeds, with very high germination rates. . Overall, the company is one of the best and our review couldn’t be more positive!

If a branch of one female is turned “male,” there will be pollen to fertilize the other plant, and to create seed when no male is around. Feminized seeds are produced by inducing a normal female, not a hermaphrodite, to grow male flowers with viable pollen. Close up: Female. Oct 15, 2018

Heat and Light stress are the two most common causes of a marijuana plant turning into a hermie. . Do all your staking and pruning and plant training during the stretch period and keep a light hand. Jul 19, 2018

Any seeds wil be female and if the environmental stresses are corrected the seeds will flower like any other seed. While those growing for profit or meds may toss “hermieseeds for connivence many MANY others grow them out with great results. Some of the most best well known strains started with “hermie” bagseed. Jan 25, 2016

yes plants can hermie in veg. stage, they can hermie anytime, you need NO LIGHT IN THE DARK PERIOD,PERIOD.. Jul 7, 2008

  • Chemdawg. This indica strain contains 32.13 percent of THC. .
  • Ghost OG. Ghost OG is a strain that is produced for its high level of ecstasy and this is concealed in a white cloak of mineral resin. .
  • Girl Scout Cookies. .
  • The White. .
  • Bruce Banner.

Luckily, Growers Choice Seeds is indeed a legit seed breeder. They care about their customers and do their best to prevent issues from happening. If something does go wrong with an order, they have a customer service department in place to deal with it and try to make it right.

Usually this would be a red flag, causing people to wonder, “Is True North Seed Bank legit?” Rest assured that True North is not a scam. It’s a real seed bank, and more customers than not have a good experience when ordering from them.

F3 Seeds: Reducing Variation:

The result of this combination will be two tall plants, each with a make-up of Aa, and two short plants (both aa). This breeding has actually reduce the variation is on the path to producing a more stable variety. This is also often called stabilizing. Jul 25, 2013

F2 Hybrid seeds or second generation seeds.: When F1 plants produce flowers and when they self-pollinate or hand pollinated, then F2 seeds are produced. They are sometimes known as S2 – S stands for Self. . F2 seeds are popular now a days because they are very inexpensive and have some decent disease resistance as well. Nov 14, 2018

Breeders use special chemicals on female plants to induce stress, which results in the plants producing male flowers, which produce pollen. When this pollen in used on the female flowers of the same plant or a clone from the same mother, the resulting seeds will be “selfed” or coined as S1. Jun 15, 2018

There is a good chance that those old seed packets will have a high percentage of seeds that will germinate just fine. Most seeds, though not all, will keep for at least three years while maintaining a decent percentage of germination. And even a group of very old seeds may have 10 or 20 percent that still sprouts. Sep 17, 2020

Seeds that are only a year old, or slightly older but whose packets are still unopened, generally germinate nicely. If they’re several years old, the packs were opened and/or the seeds were stored in less than ideal conditions, subject them to a germination test. . Viable seeds should sprout by day ten.