420 Magazine Background

How to create amazing new strains with a discerning palate, and careful selection.

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Perhaps the most important aspect to consider in the breeding of fine quality cannabis is that of selection. Selective breeding is where all of today's varieties evolved from.

In the past, this chore was made easier by the fact that most of the commercially available herb was seeded and imported from outdoor plantations, usually near-equatorial in origin. These "land-race" Sativa varieties were the building blocks of the burgeoning domestic productions of the times.

The Indica (Afghan, Kush, Skunk, etc.) genetics were specially imported by West Coast interests and available to the general public around 1978. It was shortly after this time that the variance of domestic cannabis increased exponentially, as people began experimenting with crossing these two different types of pot.

Beginning breeding

The typical way to begin a breeding program is to carefully select P1 parents of pure Sativa and pure Indica, crossing them to produce an f1 hybrid that is uniform in its phenotypic growth patterns. The next step is the crossing of the f1 type with itself, which produces a very wide variation witnessed in the f2 growth patterns and expressions.

It is in this f2 second-generational cross and beyond that the art of selection really comes into play. There are a number of factors to consider at this point, such as what the male and female will each contribute; and most of all, what will the overall quality of the finished product be like?

Defining a goal and constructing a plan to accomplish it is called "top-down" programming, and this "top-down" approach applies well to cannabis breeding. It helps considerably to have a specific goal in mind when attempting to selectively breed a variety of ganja. This simple fact I cannot emphasize enough.

One must at least have an idea of what one is aiming for before beginning. For me this has little to do with plant structure and much to do with the quality of the finished product, no matter what form it is in. Having an experienced and educated palate (both mentally aesthetic and physically discernable) is key in the art of breeding fine quality cannabis.

The "goal" at the center of most of my breeding targets would be to replicate, as near as possible, the experiences produced by the great land-race varieties of old: Highland Oaxacan or Thai, Santa Marta or Acapulco Gold, Guerrero Green, Panama Red or Hawaiian Sativa... or the hash from regions such as Lebanon, Afghanistan or Nepal.

The indoor grow environment is too generic to fully replicate the great old legends. Therefore, it was necessary to settle for the next best thing: happy Sativa/Indica crosses that would perform well indoors. (It is interesting to note here that most of the fine land-race Sativa were hermaphroditic, though sometimes only minimally.)

Selection process

Obviously, you seek the parents that will produce the desired progeny. Paradoxically, this process requires selecting the best after they've been harvested. The solution is to keep samples from each plant of a test crop. This can be done via rooted clones from earlier cuttings, or re-greened mothers and fathers kept in a vegetative state and a high-nitrogen diet. Once you have chosen among the harvested plants, you can use the rooted cuttings for future consideration and possible breeding.

Pollen may also be gathered and immediately stored via vacuum sealing and deep-freezing. It is crucial to vacuum seal and freeze pollen immediately after it is collected and to use stored pollen immediately after it thaws. Dry seeds also store well over indefinite periods of time in an undisturbed deep-freeze, with some desiccant.

This process of post-harvest selection works fine for selecting desired female plants. But what about males? What is the best and most simple way to select males for breeding? Due to the fact that it is the female plants that we are ultimately familiar with, selecting males is a bit more involved.

The process is basically the same as it is with female plants, except with males the numbers are first limited down via a process of elimination, and selections made by comparing the remainder. Selecting males also takes a little more time initially as the quality of the male is not fully determined until after the seeds it produces are grown out and tested. As one becomes more familiar with a particular strain, the specific characteristics of the desirable males become apparent.

Ideally, the more seeds one starts with the better. This is, after all, a numbers game. I will assume that any basic breeding project starts with at least 20 different plants, from 20 viable seeds of high quality, professionally stabilized varieties. This would give a minimum of 10 male and 10 female plants hopefully sexed by two weeks into a flowering light cycle (short day/long night).

Once sexed, the process of elimination may begin. All of the females are kept and regularly examined to prevent unwanted hermaphroditism. Unwanted males and all hermaphrodites must be eliminated before they begin to shed pollen — usually by the third week in the flowering cycle. The female plants need to be checked for hermaphroditism until harvest.

(A quick word on "backward" hermaphrodites — declared males that eventually sport female flowers — as opposed to the usual female-to-male hermaphrodites. These are semi-rare occurrences, usually sterile but sometimes viable, that I have found at times to be valuable in their genetic contributions. Some of the most resinous and desirable males I have encountered exhibited this trait. This trait almost seems to guarantee against unwanted hermaphroditism in subsequent generations as it also increases the female to male ratio in its progeny.)

DJ Short


New Member
Re: How to create amazing new strains with a discerning palate, and careful selection

Now this is exactly the kind of article I need to be reading! I am an aspiring breeder and I feel about breeding now the way I felt about growing when I laid that first seed into the soil so innocent and inexperienced but with enthusiasim burning in my heart that could start a fire - I know I will be a master grower / breeder if I persevere :ganjamon:


New Member
Re: How to create amazing new strains with a discerning palate, and careful selection

wicked ive just had a male go female,my own cross laosxskunkxcaliindica.im the lucky one.............cheers


New Member
Re: How to create amazing new strains with a discerning palate, and careful selection

Not sure maybe just smoke her!!!!!No I have crossed him/her back to laos/skunk#1.........just see how it grows!Im working on many strains at the minute,my favourite is Cambodian x a32 skunk from highlife seeds.......awsome smoke bigish bush,can grow on 12 and flower but prefers some extra light.Anyway bit wrecked right now so must go.....


New Member
Re: How to create amazing new strains with a discerning palate, and careful selection

very well put, thanks for your thoughts and input on how to go about breeding!
Re: How to create amazing new strains with a discerning palate, and careful selection

My goal is to one day to bless the wide world of cannabis with knock out
Strains ive been growin for 8years many strains some known some unknown i call
aliens lol ive always been fascinated with breeding because of the endless possibilities
To achieve great ganja,your advise is superb! :bravo:
Top Bottom