By Stoney Tark
Creating your own hybrid of Cannabis is a life changing experience, and will allow you to set a goal at the very beginning. Knowing what that goal is, and which plants you will work with, and what desired traits you wish to enhance can come down to many variables. Below is explained how to make your own seeds, selecting parental lines, how to pollinate and what to know before diving head first into your first breeding project of 2020!
What Will I Need Before I Start?
The main thing is to have a set goal in mind, the reason why you are making the cross in the first place. It could be you are making seeds of a clone only strain and wish to preserve that cultivar as closely as possible with a similar strain. You may be focused on enhancing yields, creating new terpene profiles, increasing or decreasing flowering time, growth structure, cannabinoids, potency, CBD, resistance to wind, pathogens, or maybe creating something the general public is asking for.
Once you have your reason for making the cross, you will need to obtain the following list:
- A pack of regular sex seeds
- Plastic pots and sticky labels
- Pen and notepad
- Grow light and timer
The reason why regular seeds are used is to find both male and female plants. Feminized seeds will not produce a male plant, as they are genetically created to grow with only female chromosomes. From 10 seeds, for example, you would expect to find half male and half female plants…give or take.
Plastic Pots and Sticky Labels
It is very important to carefully label each plant pot with a number according to the breeding programme. So if you are working with 20 seeds, you would write 20 labels that would say “ Skunk #1 – Skunk #20. Over time you will eliminate some plants based on observation, appearance and lack of vigour.
Pen and Notepad
This is an excellent way to catalogue all of your numbered pots, and to make weekly notes based on size, appearance, leaf shape, internodal space, aroma, root mass and any other notes that are relevant. By doing this it will get you into the habit of being very meticulous in your research and will have written notes to refer back to when breeding with your cross later on in the future.
Grow Light and Timer
What is great about making seeds is that it can be done in a very small space using little plants, and a basic grow lamp. If you are growing in a bedroom cupboard or small tent, then you will need a light and timer to switch between vegetative and flowering to sex the plants.
Selecting The Best Male and female
Once at the stage where you have the plants growing in their numbered pots, you will have an idea of which plants stand out the most in terms of size, vigour, and appearance. When it comes to choosing the best plants to use, it can often be best to choose something that matches up with the female in some way, shape or form. If you imagine it as a related by structure, terpenes, leaf pattern, colour pigment or cannabinoid profile.
Often times plants that are well matched will generally pair up, with an enhanced hybrid vigour. You will also find the F1 (First Generation) offspring will grow uniform and homogenous, without displaying too much instability in variation and phenotypes. Of course you will not know which plants are male or female, until they exhibit pre-flowers late into the 18/6 period or early on in 12/12. Another reason why you have taken the time to make notes and reference points for each plant.
How To Sex Plants
The moment you will be waiting for, and that is to see which of your regular seeds are male or female. There are a few ways to tell what sex your plants are early on and that is with pre-flowers. The first time these will appear is late into 18/6 or 12/12 has been initiated.
Male pre-flowers will appear at the internodes of the branches, and produce miniature green clusters. To the untrained eye, it can be very easy to miss, however when you know what to look for you will stand out a mile away. Basically if there is not a white hair emerging, and there is any signs of miniature balls then you will have a male. If you flower the plants, the male flowers will grow very fast and begin to open around week 3 of flower. This is the time where you will see how productive the male plants are, and if they throw out resin .
Female pre-flowers are a little easier to spot once they do show themselves. You need to look for a very small thin white hair. This is the pistil and first signs of the female flower. If you notice that your plants have both male and female pre-flowers, then you should wait sometime just to confirm, and then discard that plant and make notes in your pad.
What is great about working with a large number of regular seeds, is seeing the difference in phenotypes and which ones are the keepers. You may have some plants flowering very early, with resin forming around the leaves, or you may have some slow growing plants that are not doing anything special just yet. This is the time where you can make notes describing each plant in terms of height, width, structure, resin profile, terpene profile, stem size and overall appearance.
- Open Room Pollination
This method is generally the best for beginner breeders, as it ensures a total pollination and will produce a high number of seeds. The aim is to leave the desired male with the chosen female plant, and allow nature to take its course.
As long as you have an oscillating fan, pollination will occur from weeks 3-5. Otherwise a helping hand and gentle shake, will quickly dust your entire closet, tent or grow room with male pollen. The advantages of this are you will end up with a plant full of seeds from top to bottom, meaning you will have a large amount of first generation seedlings to work through
Top Tip: If you do choose this basic method, be sure to clean the grow room out after wards with hot water and bleach. Pollen can get anywhere and everywhere, so taking the effort to keep your tent sterile and clean for your next breeding project is essential.
- The Paint Brush Method
This method is best suited for experienced growers, who are familiar with male and female plants. You will need to extract the male pollen off the plant and take it away from the female. Once you have the dried pollen sacs wrapped in parchment paper, you can now take a very fine paint brush and begin to dab the female flowers that you wish to pollinate.
The advantages of this method are you can limit the amount of seeds you are making to a small amount, and it also allows you to pollinate the same female using multiple males, if you are well versed and clinical with your approach. You can store the pollen away in a dry environment, or place it in the freezer if you have long term plans.
Good luck making your very own strain at home, and we hope this guide will help you on your way to producing the next cup winner!