One of the first things that growers notice the first time they pop seeds is that all plants are not created equal – even from the same seed batch. Just like parents will have children that range in features and talents, your Cannabis babies will vary. Since most growers obtain seeds for the purpose of adding a particular strain for multiple rounds in their garden, some simple steps can ensure you preserve the phenotype you like most to use as your mother plant.
Strains that have been inbred for multiple generations tend express more consistent phenotypes. Less inbreeding causes greater phenotype variance. Just like children can be taller or shorter than their parents, cannabis offspring can sometimes be superior or inferior to the parents. In one pack of seeds, there are many times a runt, a few males, one or two plants that completely stand out as better than the rest and a few in between.
Hybrid vigor is a term that refers to increased vigor, health and yield of a plant that is a result of a fresh recombination of new genetics. The first generation of a new cross is called F1. A breeder will look for the phenotype he considers to be the best and cross it into itself again to isolate that phenotype. Second generation is called F2, third generation is F3, etc. An F1 seed batch is likely to have more vigor than an F3 seed batch but greater phenotype variance. F3s have less variance but also less vigor typically due to “inbreeding depression”. Many of the best classic clone-only strains were the result of amateur breeders finding a vigorous F1 and keeping that plant for future generations.
To look for the best plant to use as your mother, simply take cuttings from each plant prior to flipping to 12/12 and number each cutting with the corresponding plant. Once you get closer to harvest, it may seem obvious which plant is the best but it is best to smoke a few buds before making your final determination. It may change your mind. Once you make your decision, use the corresponding clone as your mother.
In the wild, Cannabis is naturally hermaphroditic. Since people don’t like seeds in their buds, breeders attempt to breed out this trait but can sometimes pop up in some strains. I have bought seeds from some of the best breeders in the world and have found females growing balls at the nodes early in flower. No matter how much faith you have in the breeder you got the seeds from, always check each plant regularly in flower for balls at the nodes that appear to be on a small stem and pollen “bananas” forming on the flowers. No matter how much you like the plant because of other traits, a hermaphrodite plant needs to be removed from your garden ASAP once it is identified.
Other traits to consider when picking your plant are bud structure, yield, smell/taste, resin production, vigor, etc. Some phenos may be higher yielding but less frosty. Other phenos may be super frosty but smaller yielders. Different growers may choose different phenos to keep in their garden for different reasons.
If you forget to take clippings prior to putting into flower, sometimes you can “re-green” the plant after harvest time. This involves harvesting the top two-thirds and leaving the rest of the plant intact. Trim down the root ball and put back in your veg room with a high nitrogen diet. An 18 hour photoperiod will work but 24 hours can sometimes speed the process. In about a month, you should be able to take clippings.
To get start growing your own, take a look at the quality marijuana seeds that we have at Elev8 Seeds.