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How to Grow Your Own First Generation Hybrid Marijuana Plant

Creating your very own first generation hybrid marijuana plant is taking your growing skills to the next level. This is artistry in the area of breeding to bring your creative potential to the marijuana garden. This article is a crash course in plant heredity, and how to begin with creating your very own strain of marijuana.

  • Things you should know about plant reproduction and plant heredity
  • Other factors
  • The method

So you want to create your very own strain of marijuana and play God in your garden! Growing your own strain of marijuana is far more advanced than growing from seeds you already have, and this is not recommended for people who are only beginner growers. This process is about good breeding, and in order to breed successfully one must first be a good grower. Breeding is also all about your creation – this is an opportunity to make a strain that doesn’t exist already out of your two favourite strains of marijuana.

So be careful which plants you choose, and pay attention to the traits that they have that you would like to be in your gene pool. This is going to be a beginner’s guide to breeding, but the best advice is to do your research before attempting this so that you don’t go wasting weed. And if you haven’t grown anything before, master the art of growing weed before attempting to breed your own strain.

Things you should know about plant reproduction and plant heredity

It’s necessary to have some understanding about plant reproduction and plant heredity before going ahead with breeding your own strain of marijuana. The first thing to understand about plant reproduction is how it is that traits get passed on from parent plants to the subsequent plant. Each cannabis plant contains ten pairs of chromosomes, each pair being made up of a female gene and a male gene. There are, then, 20 chromosomes in each cannabis plant. These chromosomes are what make up the characteristics of the plant itself, including taste, colour, smell, and potency. Each cell contains two genes, which make up one chromosome for each characteristic.

It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with how heredity works in plants to give yourself a better understanding of how it is that plants attain their characteristics from their parents. It is not essential, as you will soon gain an understanding after experimenting with your mother and father and observing the offspring.

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In order to understand how your breeding is going to take place, it is also necessary to understand the difference between the types of breeding. For example, inbreeding creates what is called a pure breed. This kind of plant has quite consistent traits with little variation between the plants. This is because the chromosomes in the plant are consistent. When you are choosing which plants you are going to be outbreeding, make sure you are choosing purebred plants. This ensures that their characteristics are strong and consistent, and this produces less variability in the offspring of your hybrid.

Outbreeding is the process of creating hybrid seeds using two purebred plants. Naturally, the two purebred plants you choose are going to have a different makeup of traits and characteristics, and breeding the two will create a whole new set of characteristics. You will be using the pollen from a male plant to fertilise the seeds of a female plant, and at the point of fertilisation, the seed will take on one characteristic from the male chromosome and one characteristic from the female chromosome. With that seed, you will then plant what will be the hybrid offspring of your very own strain of marijuana.

The trick is going to be obtaining as may seeds as possible to observe all the different characteristic variations that are present in the offspring plants. Then, depending on how many are displaying the desired characteristics, they may be inbred to produce purebred plants of this strain. However, having a large amount of seeds to allow for a large volume of offspring plants gives a greater chance for success than just a few seed selections.

Other factors

The other important factor in breeding your own strain of marijuana is the environmental factor. As with growing any other plant, cannabis requires a stable environment for optimum growth. Once you decide on your growing method, make sure it remains consistent, because plants that have been stressed begin to produce abnormal flowers. So the first rule is to make sure that your environmental situation is consistent throughout the growth period.

Sexual deviation or sexual reversal are the kinds of things that can happen to plants that have been stressed, often causing female flowers with male parts or the other way around. Don’t confuse these for a wonderful new strain of marijuana, as what has happened is it has become a hermaphrodite plant. Be wary to keep the environment consistent if it is outdoors, or to maintain the light and dark periods impeccably if you are growing indoors.

The method

The process by which you are going to make your own first generation hybrid plant of marijuana involves time and requires patience.

Firstly, you will need to choose a male plant with the characteristics that you would like to have in your gene pool. You are going to grow this plant almost to maturity. All the pollen you are going to need from this male plant will be enough coming from one single branch, so strip away all of the other branches to avoid any accidental pollination.

Once the flowers begin to grow, isolate the male from the female ones, and sacks of pollen will begin to form on your plant. Using your favourite way to collect the pollen from plants, do so. It is recommended that you use a paper sack that you can secure with a string or a wire over the branches and leave it there for a few days to collect as much pollen as possible. You can collect the pollen and store it in the freezer and it will stay good for a few months. Any moisture or high temperatures will surely damage your pollen, so store it in the freezer or somewhere cold and dry if you plan to use it later on.

With your female plant, during the fertilisation process, pistils will begin to grow. Three to four weeks after the first pistils have appeared, there will appear more pistils that are fuzzy and white on the outside. Put the bag that you have used to collect the pollen over the branches of the female plant to allow for fertilisation. Secure it over the branch for a few days to ensure that the pistils fertilise. After this is done, it will only be a few weeks before the seed pods of the female plant open and the seeds are ready. Harvest the seeds, and the plant as well if you wish. You can harvest the flowers and allow them to dry before collecting the seeds.

The seeds are ready for planting right away. The more you plant, the more you will be able to choose from the offspring for the desired characteristics that you are looking for. If you manage to find two that contain all the characteristics that you are looking for, you can pure breed them. Having a lot of plants will also allow you to observe all the different kinds of variations that occur as offspring from these two purebred plants that you have used.

This is just a guide for those who have never tried this method before, but by no means is it a complete guide to plant breeding. So, repeat this process as many times as you can with your purebred male and female plants to produce as many offspring as possible. This will allow you to choose the ones with the best characteristics for future breeding, also.

Want to play God in your marijuana garden and create your very own strain? Read this article to find out how.

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.”

Nat Penningon, Humboldt Seed Company

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.”

Learn how cannabis breeders combine strains to enhance, strengthen, or combine traits & effects of cannabis to create the perfect experience.