Breeding Grubbycup's Stash

Soft Secrets
13 Aug 2011

When I first started smoking weed, I learned a few things. The first thing I learned is that I wanted to smoke more of it.


When I first started smoking weed, I learned a few things. The first thing I learned is that I wanted to smoke more of it. Shortly thereafter, I came to the conclusion that it was too expensive, and I didn't want to buy it. I didn't want to spend the money, and I didn't want to deal with finding someone to buy it from. As I used to say, 'I don't mix greens'; the greens in question being Cannabis and cash. I didn't want to buy weed, I didn't want to sell weed, I didn't want anyone not in my circle to know I knew anything about weed, I just wanted to smoke it. After careful consideration of my options, growing it myself seemed the safest choice, since no money would be changing hands; plus once I had seeds, I wouldn't need to involve anyone else. The biggest threat to any marijuana garden walks on two legs. My first grows were all from friends' bag seeds, and to be fair, we were more concerned with just having enough to smoke and not all that picky about how good it was. This was in the 1980s, and pre-Internet, so accurate information was much more difficult to come by than it is today. The buds I grew were harsh, uncured and of very 'iffy' parentage. They were also better than a lot of what my friends were used to smoking, which was often seeded Mexican brown, broken off of bricks (or very expensive). Over the years my growing and harvesting techniques improved. I found better seeds to grow, and the quality of what I smoked improved. I smoked most of what I grew, and gave the excess to friends. It takes the same effort to grow average genetics as it does to grow superior genetics; the trick is in getting the seeds for superior genetics in the first place. That would become a lot easier to do once seed banks became more common. I had grown up on a dairy farm, studied botany in college, and had always enjoyed gardening. Growing marijuana came very naturally to me. Although information about marijuana-specific breeding was scarce, information on genetics and for breeding plants in general was much easier to come by. (The same basic principles apply, whether breeding pea plants or Cannabis plants.) I also decided that if I was going to grow my own, I was going to breed my own. The first step in starting a breeding program, is collecting the original pool of genetics to start selecting from. I tried a lot of different cultivars, and made a lot of different crosses. Anytime I'd join a circle with friends, I'd bring my latest test buds to share, and I'd ask them their opinion afterward. Since these were all experimental plants, they had names that were more for record keeping than ease of use. For example, one promising candidate was: '(nl x bb) x bm) x (d x blueb) x black) #2', which was an abbreviation for 'Northern Lights crossed with Big Bud and the result crossed with Blue Mystic and the result of that crossed with a Durban Poison that had been crossed with a Blueberry and then had been crossed with a Blackberry, second plant in the set.' Which doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. If a line showed promise or had a trait I liked, it might show up again in some form. For example, both the Blackberry and Blueberry were used in the final selection. It was during this time that Grubbycup's Stash got its name. I didn't name it; it wound up naming itself. Everything in my stash was labeled with an almost unpronounceable code, but often had something worth trying in it. My friends would ask to load up a bowl of whatever was in 'Grubbycup's Stash'. As time went on, finally I settled on a White Rhino x Blueberry father crossed with a couple of different Purple Lady x Blackberry mothers, but the name stuck. Besides, even if I wasn't working with different cultivars anymore, it was all Grubbycup's Stash. I was still labeling with codes for specific traits. Genes may be hidden, but they are set and finite. If the genes don't exist in the starting pool, they won't exist in following generations. To create a starting pool of genetics, make sure that you select from plants that have traits similar to what you want in your final line.

ON THE FATHER'S SIDE:

The White Rhino male's sisters were very potent, but other than a slight citrus, didn't have the fruity-flowery sort of flavor I had in mind. The Blueberry mother had a very nice flavor, but didn't have the plant structure I wanted and was a bit cranky to grow. In selecting the father, I looked for the most robust and best flowering out of the group to declare early. Using this father, I pollinated several mothers. When breeding, it's easier to track one father with several mothers than the other way around. One drawback to this method is that it creates a bottleneck; if the father has dropped an important trait, the generation may have to be repeated.

THE MOTHERS:

The Blackberry male's sisters had a berry flavor; but similar to the Blueberry, they didn't have the sort of plant structure I was looking for. The Purple Lady mother had an amazing kick and a very interesting floral flavor. The pairs were selected by what I thought would be give me the best smoke while I worked on combining all four cultivars. By matching potent plants with nicely-flavored plants, I hoped to start to accumulate the genes needed for a potent, nicely-flavored variety. If I had paired the two most potent, I may have gotten potent offspring; however, I wanted flavor as well in each of the crosses. Once the two lines were crossed, it wouldn't matter which of the four was paired with the others. Meanwhile I'd be smoking each of the pairs. The breeding project had taken over my entire garden at the time, so it was my only source of personal smoke. I kept working with the White Rhino x Blueberry until potency and flavor regularly showed in the same plant, and did the same with the Blackberry x Purple Lady. As a result, I felt confident that I had a White Rhino x Blueberry male that had a good chance of contributing desirable traits to the Blackberry x Purple Lady line. The Blackberry x Purple Lady mother was easier to select, since I could taste test the buds off of clones to select the best ones for seeding. In a large-scale operation one option would be to grow very large numbers of the seeds and make selections from hundreds, if not thousands of plants. This method is commonly used by corporate vegetable seed breeders. However, it is also possible to breed using much smaller numbers of plants, grown in groups. Record keeping becomes absolutely critical, but it can be done. The key is being able to match each bowlful of final product to its seeds and parentage. Clear and accurate labels are a must. Personal label machines can help if poor handwriting is a hindrance. A few buds of each plant grown are seeded. Each growing container is labeled, and each stem at harvest. Seeds are collected and labeled, and so is the bud as it goes through the curing process. Each container of weed lists the exact plant that it was harvested from. This way, seeds from the best smoke can be selected and seeds from only average buds can be disregarded. The seeds from the five mothers were labeled GS-A, GS-B, GS-C, GS-D and GS-E. More bags with codes: this is why people just tended to say 'Grubbycup's Stash' or 'GS'. One grow was dedicated to each of the five mothers. The best of GS-A was cloned and grown again with the GS-B lot for comparison. This process was repeated with GS-B, but the GS-C, GS-D and GS-E lots did not produce specimens better than the GS-A and GS-B mothers. GS-A and GS-B were grown as two separate cultivars and did not cross-pollinate for several generations. Both lines were bred using the same criteria in parallel. It was my intention to use only the best between the two lines, but GS-A developed to be the more potent of the two; GS-B had superior flavor and structure. Whenever I would get close to deciding in favor of one, the other would produce a superior specimen. Eventually the best of the two lines were merged. The process continued as much more of the same, isolating and recombining. Over time, the plants became similar to each other, and today have many more traits in common. New traits have surfaced as recessive genes found matching recessive genes. As with all traits, some of these were kept, some discarded, some ignored. The standard for the breed includes a nice initial effect, distinctive floral/bouquet garni aroma, smooth clean flavor, potent long lasting 'creeper' stone, bud structure and plant structure. The reason that the effect and flavor are higher-rated and more stable than the plant structure is that they are traits that are the most important to me as a smoker. That isn't to say that they aren't also bred for bud size, but that trait holds a lower priority to quality of smoke. The goal of the breed is to be my favorite and to that end, it succeeds. There is a technique known as 'cubing' that is very useful to stabilizing a genetic line. Anyone interested in breeding is heartily encouraged to learn about it. However, all you really need to know to make use of the principle is that you should grow out multiple generations at the same time and cross the best plants together, regardless of what generation they are. Any plant showing a superior example of a trait was marked as part of the label. For example, the GS Gol indicates it has a GS male that was named 'Goliath' in its ancestry; GS 3 has parents that displayed whorled phyllotaxy (3 or more leaves per node), etc. Part of the reason that these types of notes are so important is not only for breeding toward, but for breeding against. Any plant that displays an undesirable trait can be eliminated from the gene pool, and that information can be used to extinguish unwanted traits. It is a work in process, and it's going to continue to be a work in process until inbred depression sets in, or I find something I like better. I would never claim it to be any better than anyone else's work, but I can grow pretty much any strain I want and Grubbycup's Stash still makes up most of what I put in my pipe. I'm okay with showing a little favoritism to it though; after all, I'm who I bred it for.

ADVICE FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN TRYING HOME BREEDING:

1) Even if you don't learn the math or the science behind it, if you just keep breeding your best male to your best female (and don't add new genetics into the mix) you are off to a good start. People bred both plants and animals using this principle for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to good effect. Marijuana is not particularly sensitive to inbred depression, and by the time you have enough generations under your belt to worry about it, you will likely have learned how to deal with it. 2) Learn the basic principles of Mendelian genetics. You don't have to become an expert, just learn how dominant- and recessive genes work, and how to use them to make educated predictions. 3) To benefit from cubing, grow plants from different generations together; cross the best plants regardless of generation. The tracking of traits, and making educated attempts to adjust and recombine them is the heart of any good breeding program. It is not a fast process, but with time and patience you can produce noticeable changes and put your own mark on the weed you smoke. Peace, love and puka shells, Grubbycup
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Soft Secrets