Posted on

Genetic compliment of feminized cannabis seed

Genetic compliment of feminized cannabis seed

As cannabis is legalized across the country, more and more people have an interest in breeding new strains. Usually, breeding fortifies and purifies a cannabis strain or combines the traits of two strains. It can also intensify specific traits like aroma, high yields, potency, and much more.

Cannabis breeding can be quite simple for a beginner, or very complex on an industrial scale.

Cannabis Breeding Begins with Seeds

When breeding cannabis, it’s important to know the genetics of your seeds. If you don’t have a detailed history of seed genetics, you won’t know exactly what your cannabis crop will produce.

Therefore, if you have an interest in breeding your own unique strains, make sure to only purchase seeds that have a detailed and documented genetic history.

The Basics of Cannabis Breeding

Cannabis plants are sexually dimorphic; that means an individual plant can be either male or female. Only the female plants produce the buds that cannabis consumers crave. However, male plants are also important for breeding, since they are necessary for pollination.

For example, the strain Super Lemon Haze is a cross between Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze. These are the two parent strains. A breeder decided to combine the attributes of the two parent strains, in order to create a new strain with the best qualities of both.

Once the female plant is pollinated, it will produce seeds that genetically express the attributes of both parent plants. The seeds can be harvested and then grown separately as a new hybrid strain.

Usually, with cannabis plants, the attributes of the female plant are more prominent in the offspring than the attributes of the male. However, the unique qualities of the male plant will definitely complement the qualities of the female plant. Therefore, careful consideration in choosing the parent plants must be taken.

Breeding Cannabis Plants

After the two-parent cannabis strains are selected, a male plant and several female plants are placed in an enclosed breeding chamber. This will contain the pollen. Large-scale producers often use specially designed sterile chambers. However, the breeding chamber can simply be a growing environment enclosed with plastic sheets.

Breeders typically only use one male cannabis plant, to pollinate up to twenty female plants. This will help to ensure genetic purity. Within the breeding chamber, you can grow the plants for three to sixteen weeks, through the vegetative stage. Place the plants on a flowering light cycle. That’s 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.

The male plant will produce pollen sacs in the first few weeks of the flowering phase. Pollen will be released, floating through the air within the enclosed chamber, settling on the female plants. This is pollination. The enclosed breeding chamber will contain the desired pollen, while preventing undesired pollen from getting in.

You can also hand-pollinate the female plants by shaking the pollen from the male plant onto the female plants. You can also collect the pollen from the male and apply it directly to the female plants. The female plants will grow, flower, bud, and produce seeds that express the genetics of both parent plants.

After the seeds are matured, they are dried. The seeds are now a hybrid of the two different parent cannabis strains. The new plants grown from these seeds will express the unique qualities of both the parent plants. These qualities can range from potency, plant height, crop yields, and aroma.

Cannabis Breeding: How Are New Strains Created?

While browsing Leafly’s strain database, you may wonder what a cross of this and that strain is, what a hybrid or a backcross is, or what a parent strain is. All of these have to do with plant breeding—essentially, breeding a male and female plant to combine or refine the genetics of two plants or strains. Breeding two different strains often results in a new strain, or hybrid.

Cannabis breeders typically breed to purify and strengthen strains, combine strain traits, or enhance specific characteristics.

Cannabis breeders typically breed to purify and strengthen strains, combine strain traits, or enhance specific characteristics like higher yields, specific aromas, potency, and many other things.

When growing and breeding, it’s important to know where your seeds come from and what kind of genetics they have. If the seed breeder can’t give you a detailed history of how a packet of seeds was bred or what they were crossed with, you never really know what you’re getting.

Plant breeding is a fundamental process of growing cannabis. Breeding is highly technical and typically done on a commercial scale, but with legalization increasing, breeding is becoming more popular. You can even do it yourself.

The Basics of Breeding

Cannabis plants can be either male or female. Cannabis consumers are mainly concerned with female plants, because only females produce the sticky buds that we all know and love. But male cannabis plants are important for the breeding process, as they are needed to pollinate the bud-producing females.

Take the strain Super Lemon Haze as an example. It’s a hybrid (or a “cross”) of Super Silver Haze and Lemon Skunk—these are the parent strains. At some point, the breeder decided that they liked some attributes of Super Silver Haze and some of Lemon Skunk and decided to combine the two.

To do this, you need a male of one strain to pollinate a female of the other. Once pollinated, the female will then produce seeds that express the genes of both the male and female plant. Those seeds will be harvested and grown separately, and voilà: You have created a hybrid.

So how do you know whether to pick a male or a female of each strain that you’re crossing?

“Often in cannabis, the traits of the female carry over to progeny (seeds) more than the male. That said, the traits of the male are often obvious to the discerning grower so one should definitely choose a male that will complement the traits of the female,” says Nat Pennington, founder and CEO of Humboldt Seed Company who’s been breeding cannabis for 20 years. “So much is possible with truly intentional breeding strategies.”

How to Breed Cannabis Plants

After two parent strains are selected for breeding, a male and several females are put into a breeding chamber to contain the pollen. A breeding chamber can be as simple as an enclosed environment with plastic sheeting on the sides, or a specially designed sterile environment for large-scale breeding.

“A healthy male can pollinate up to 20 females, and by pollinate, I mean absolutely cover the plant with seeds.”

A single male plant can pollinate tens of females. “It’s always a good idea to have only one male, genetically speaking, per pollination effort,” says Pennington. “A healthy male can pollinate up to 20 females, and by pollinate, I mean absolutely cover the plant with seeds.”

This is intentional breeding—any grower who’s accidentally grown a male and pollinated a crop will know that one male can easy pollinate hundreds of females, filling your whole crop with seeds.

Once in the breeding chamber, you can grow the plants vegetatively for a few weeks to let them get bigger, but it’s not necessary. Put them on a flowering light cycle: 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark.

The mature male will grow pollen sacs within the first couple weeks of its flowering phase. Pollen will release from the sacs, move through the air, and land on the female plants, pollinating them. Having an enclosed breeding chamber is important to contain the pollen and also to prevent outside pollen from getting in.

You can also help along the pollination effort by shaking pollen from the male onto the females, or by collecting pollen from the male and directly applying it to the females. These female plants will continue to grow and flower, during which they’ll grow seeds (as well as buds). These seeds will express the genetics of both the male and female plant.

When the seeds are mature, they are harvested and stratified (or dried). “The secondary process of maturation happens after the plant is dead, and the seed needs to be stratified before it will germinate,” says Pennington. “In general, harvest for flower takes place three to four weeks before harvest for seed.”

These seeds—now a hybrid of the two parent strains—will be grown on their own, outside of the breeding environment.

Phenotypes

But the process doesn’t end there. The hybrid strain that you buy at the dispensary has likely gone through many rounds—or generations—of breeding to strengthen its genes and to ensure that its descendants are healthy and consistent.

Just as you and your sibling might have different physical attributes from your parents, each seed created from a round of cross-pollination will have different attributes from its parent strains. Maybe you have your father’s eyes and your mother’s hair, but your sister has your mother’s eyes and hair. Each cannabis seed is unique and will express different traits, and different combinations of traits, from one or both of the parent strains. These seeds with various expressions are called phenotypes.

Homozygosity ensures that a plant will consistently produce the same seeds with the same genetic makeup over and over again.

A plant that produces a set of phenotypes that have a lot of variety are said to be heterozygous. With cannabis, you typically want seeds that are homozygous—ones that have the same set of genes. Homozygosity ensures that a plant will consistently produce the same seeds with the same genetic makeup over and over again, ensuring that buyers and consumers will get the same plant or seed time and again.

After a strain is crossed, a breeder will then have to select which phenotype of the new strain they like best. For large-scale growers, they want to choose the best phenotype for mass production.

Back to the Super Lemon Haze example: This strain takes a lot of its bud structure, trichome and resin production, and overall appearance from Super Silver Haze. But it takes its flavors and aromas from Lemon Skunk.

Lemon Skunk also tends to grow extremely tall and has loose buds, whereas Super Silver Haze grows smaller and has denser buds. Through selecting specific phenotypes, a breeder can pick one that has the attributes they want to keep. In this case, a phenotype that has the structure and bud density of Super Silver Haze and the flavors and aromas of Lemon Skunk.

Most likely, there were early phenotypes of Super Lemon Haze that grew tall and loose like Lemon Skunk, or tasted more like Super Silver Haze. But the breeder discarded those phenotypes and keep growing the ones that have the attributes of what we now know is Super Lemon Haze.

Backcrossing

High-quality breeding still doesn’t stop there. Once a breeder has crossed a strain and narrowed down a phenotype and finally has the one, they will usually backcross that strain to strengthen its genetics.

Backcrossing is a practice where a breeder will cross-pollinate the new strain with itself or a parent—essentially, inbreeding the strain. This makes the strain more homozygous, and strengthens its genetics and desirable characteristics, and also ensures that those genes continue to pass down from generation to generation.

The hybrid that you bought from the dispensary has gone through months and even years of growing, crossing, and backcrossing, as well as a selection process to pick the best phenotype of that strain.

Breeding is about time and patience. Says Pennington: “To be a breeder, you have to be willing to accept the fact that you won’t have uniformity in the offspring, [you’ll get] lots of ugly ducklings in the hunt for your golden goose. To make seeds that will actually reflect the golden goose takes time, and it takes more than just a one-off cross. Even after you found your golden goose, expect to have to do a whole number of stabilizing backcrosses to reproduce your golden goose in seed form.”

The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?

With the general hype surrounding the relatively recent developments of feminized and autoflowering seeds, you’d be forgiven for maybe thinking that regular cannabis seeds are somehow less exciting. You’d also be wrong. Regular seeds contain endless possibilities for growers to experiment with.

In the beginning of Sensi Seeds, and therefore the European cannabis seed industry, a seed was a seed. Now, we use the name ‘regular cannabis seeds’ to distinguish the originals from feminized cannabis seeds and autoflowering cannabis seeds. Both of these types are relatively recent developments when you consider that cannabis has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years.

Regular cannabis seeds are produced when a male cannabis plant pollinates a female cannabis plant. Male pollen is released from ripe pollen sacs and blown by the wind (or carried by the careful hand of a breeder) until it finds the receptive stigmas in female flowers. Pollination results in hundreds, if not thousands, more regular cannabis seeds which will all in turn produce either male or female cannabis plants.

Can you see the difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds?

Feminized cannabis seeds look exactly the same as regular cannabis seeds, whether male or female. But inside their modest brown husks there’s a crucial difference. 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. Watch out for seeds described as ‘100% female’, as this is nothing more than a marketing ploy!

The main advantage for growers who choose feminized cannabis seeds is that they don’t have to identify or remove male plants which would cause pollination. Unless the gardener desires more seeds, rather than buds, this is an essential part of the cultivation process.

Automatic, or autoflowering, cannabis seeds are even easier. Not only are they feminized, they do not rely on a change in lighting cycles to trigger flowering. So what are the advantages of regular cannabis seeds?

Related post

The Difference Between Craft and Commercial Cannabis, And Why You Need to Know

What are regular cannabis seeds used for?

There are two main purposes for regular cannabis seeds, aside from the usual and most common one of simply growing buds.

  1. The first is breeding. Selective crossings of one cultivar with another has been taking place since the earliest days of agriculture, with all types of plant life. Sometimes this is to maximise the yield of whatever crop the plant produces which is desired by the people growing it; sometimes it’s just for fun and experimentation.

Whatever the intention of the breeding is, it’s best to begin with all the genetic material in order to give the new cross the best possible chance of success, rather than missing the chromosomes that are absent in feminized cannabis seeds.

  1. The second use for regular cannabis seeds is the one that was, before the advent of feminized seeds, most commonly used to produce crops of uniform cannabis plants without any males among them. This technique is called cloning. Just as with breeding, it’s best done with plants that have their full set of chromosomes, and all the robust qualities that go with that.

From a crop grown from regular cannabis seeds, the best female plants are selected to become ‘mothers’ – so called because with loving care, they can produce potentially hundreds of ‘children’ over the space of several years. The clones that are taken from these mother plants are tiny replicas down to the last scrap of genetic material – including their female sex.

Why do Sensi Seeds still produce regular cannabis seeds?

There are many seedbanks which only carry feminized cannabis seeds. This has become more common as seedbanks themselves have become more common. With the growing awareness (pun intended) of the advantages of feminized seeds, the question of why Sensi Seeds still carries regular cannabis seeds is quite a reasonable one!

The overall answer is simple, and one which anyone familiar with Sensi Seeds will probably have heard before: we want to bring the joy of cannabis to as many people as possible. That’s not limited to simply selling seeds.

We’re confident in our genetics, we’re confident in our service, and we’re confident in our customers. That means giving everyone the broadest range of options possible. This could be taking the simplest route to a crop of buds, which for most people is automatic seeds. But it could be experimenting with creating a unique cross of their very own, using our genetics as the building blocks.

We have quite often been asked if it’s possible to do all the things that can be done with regular cannabis seeds using feminized seeds.

The short answer is, you can try. There’s no reason you shouldn’t attempt to breed, or create a mother plant, using feminized cannabis seeds. However, it’s our firm belief that these practices are more likely to succeed using plants grown from regular cannabis seeds.

Related post

What is the difference between indica and sativa?

Tell us what you think

Have you experimented with regular cannabis seeds? Do you think feminized cannabis seeds are a boon to the grower? Would you be sad to see regular cannabis seeds leave our selection, or do you think they are a thing of the past? Let us know in the comments!

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.

Comments

32 thoughts on “The difference between regular and feminized cannabis seeds – Which should you grow?”

Hello,
I’m a newbie at this – and I’m growing a few different plants.
I am having a blast with all of this fun stuff –
I didn’t know anything about seeds females/ males or feminized and auto flowering until this year.
But I am really enjoying this adventure.
I really like and appreciate your posts and blog for learning new things about all of the different seeds and processing/ cultivation. You have given me some good info and great explanations on the differences between regular and all other seeds – which is definitely good info for a newbie thank you

Thanks for your comment and your feedback.

I’m so pleased you are finding the blog educational, and having a blast learning!

Please check out the following articles which I think you may find of use, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

With best wishes,

Good day hooter heads from around the world from Australia,due to the economic climate from covd & most govt recognising the money in pot,we won’t have to go to such length,s sneaking about like outcasts,the med uses for this versatile plant have saved the day,the war on drugs is a hoax,if it wasn’t the hard drug crops Afghan, Thailand opium would of been eradicated,like south America,s coke industry..I think govt,big corp are scammers.

I like feminized seeds but I have used regular seeds and they both grow just as well and have the same potency. Some people like feminized over regular seeds but it doesn’t make a difference except that you might get a male instead of a female but you can use that male to get hundreds more seeds and cross breed them with other plants and get different types of plants. Thank You.

For breeding for the rare Cannabinoids you really need to use selfing like is used for feminized seed production. I speak from experience being the very first to commercialize using STS, I did not make and sell feminized seeds I bred varieties that had a single Cannabinoid, for each of the less common Cannabinoids, like CBC, CBG, THCV, CBDV, CBCV, CBGV each in very high amounts and with close to zero other Cannabinoids. This can not be done with regular seed breeding. And male genes as found in regular seeds do not produce better plants for growing or breeding, I think maybe you do not understand plant genetics for Cannabis which is a Dioecious obligate outcrosser.

Why no mention of hermaphroditism? That is not only How you breed then but ultimately also the biggest flaw and why producing fems is really polluting the gene pool.

Hermaphroditism should be a recissive gene, but your breeding requires it to be a dominant trait. It’s like finding people with dodgy heart conditions or baldness (typical recessive traits that can skip generations) breeding them so everyone goes bald and has a bad heart.

But hey the market wants what the market so u gotta sell what people buy.

This article is intended for our readers who are new to cannabis seeds and, as the title says, focuses on the difference in results rather than the difference in the techniques that produce the seeds. In previous decades, creating feminized seeds was indeed reliant on finding lines with pronounced hermaphroditic tendencies, but thanks to improvements in breeding technology this is no longer the case.

With best wishes,

Improvements? like what? using silverfiosulphate instead of gibberalic acid?

Im not familiar with this “new” technique that does not require one parent to be hermaphrodite….I read arjens blog but that explains even less.

what exactly is this new technique? how does one create fem seeds without hermies?

FYI selecting strains more resistant to hermie, that require excessive amounts of stress to turn, is not new.

No. the disparition of regular seeds would be a disaster and I don’t understand the Auto flowering for me it’s a non sense, it is my personal opinion.

Fear not, we have no intention of removing regular seeds from our catalogue; they are the backbone of our gene library! Regarding our autoflowering strains, they are of great benefit to people who have limited resources in terms of time, energy, experience, and / or space, for whom cultivating regular or even feminized seeds would be out of reach.

With best wishes,

why dont you sell seeds in Canada.

Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on exporting cannabis seeds mean that they cannot be sent to Canada; we wish it wasn’t so, but it is!

With best wishes,

I believe regular seeds Are The seeds. Feminidad and autoflowering Are productos Or decides to Get Buds.
My blessings to tour effort and hope one Day I Will ser My seed baño with My full range Of seeds. We need The cannacopea.

I to agree with the good parts of regular seeds. Also your buds are generally bigger too. Once you have a selection of females it’s time to CLONE!! More fun !
Then one more fun thing is to develop your own breed! Cross your favorite.
I’m just sad you don’t sell to the U.S.. If you change your mind if like to show you some of my cross breeding. And to acquire more seed stocks. Having fun is most important.

Thank you for your comment We wish that our seeds could be sent to the US, but legal restrictions prevent this – as soon as this situation changes, our policies will change too! In the meantime, I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.

With best wishes,

Long Live Regular Photo Period Seeds.

Did I catch a recommendation to use only reg seeds for a Mother? Please explain. Ive been growing out a FPOG Mother from fem seeds. Will she clone out ok?

Thanks Y’all. 1LUV

Unfortunately, legal restrictions mean we can’t answer grow related questions or give grow advice on this blog. However, we do have the Sensi Seeds Forum where you can ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!

With best wishes,

I can’t comment as I’m new to all this but just wanted to say I’m really enjoying reading the e mails that come through to me to help me learn in my journey so they aren’t a waste off time, keep them coming ❤️

Thanks for your comment, I hope you continue to enjoy the newsletter emails and the blog! If you haven’t yet discovered the Sensi Seeds Forum , you can visit it to ask questions and share your experiences with a thriving community of cannabis and gardening enthusiasts, so please don’t hesitate to join the community!