How are Weed Strains Created?
Every year, new cannabis strains are created, each one combining the flavors, aromas, and effects of two or more strains into a new one. Understanding the process of how new strains are created is a fascinating journey through the world of cannabis cultivation and breeding.
Plant Sex in the Cannabis World
The cannabis plant can either be female or male – a trait known as being dioecious and is rare in the plant world. Only female weed plants produce the buds that are so beloved, while male plants grow pollen sacs. When a male plant reaches maturity, its pollen sacs open, releasing pollen into the air, which can fall onto a nearby female plant and pollinate it.
When a pollinated female grows to maturity, it grows seeds with the buds, which carry the genetics of both the female and the pollinating male. These seeds grow into new plants, creating a new strain that combines traits from both the male and female.
When asking yourself: How are weed strains created? You’ll find that breeding can also be done artificially and intentionally in a commercial or home-growing setting. Cannabis breeders will select two strains to combine, based on traits such as taste, aroma, potency, effects, yield, ease of growing, and other factors. They will select a female from one strain and a male from another.
The breeder will put a male and multiple female plants in a closed room, called a breeding chamber, to contain the pollen and ensure successful pollination. Once the female is pollinated and reaches maturity, its seeds will be collected and then grown into plants. These new plants will contain the genes of both the female and male plants and are referred to as a cross or hybrid of the parent plants.
Phenotypes: A New Expression of Genetics
The new seeds on the female plant are called phenotypes – they are the offspring of the two parent plants. Two things influence the structural formation of a cannabis plant: genetics and environment. The plant’s genetic makeup, or genotype, acts as a blueprint for growth and allows for a spectrum of physical possibilities. But genes can switch their expression in response to environmental cues.
The interplay between the plant’s genotype and environment affects its phenotype, which is the physical expression of its genetic code. Observable traits in cannabis plants, such as color, shape, smell, and resin production, are shaped by the environment.
Pheno-Hunting: Finding the Best Expression of a Strain
When creating a new weed strain, breeders will often pollinate multiple females, resulting in many different seeds or phenotypes. The breeder’s job is to grow the seeds of the new strain into plants and select the best one to take to market, a process known as pheno-hunting.
Pheno-hunting often takes several generations to find the best expression of a strain. For example, a breeder might start by growing ten seeds into plants and pick the best five; then those five are grown again and whittled down to three; and then those are grown and whittled down to the final phenotype. Each generation of growing can take months, so pheno-hunting and breeding a new strain in general usually takes several months or even years.
So, how are weed stains created? Once a breeder has selected the phenotype with the best traits, it will be mass-produced and that version of the new strain will go to market and end up on the dispensary shelf. Understanding the process of how are new strains created is a fascinating journey through the world of cannabis cultivation and breeding.