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Recessive combination

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
A word needs to be said about the not-too-common probabilities of what I generally refer to as a recessive combination phenomenon. Sometimes, though not often, two parents that appear to express a common desirable trait — let's say a sweet/fruity bouquet — are crossed and the progeny do not express the desirable trait.

This usually means that one or both parents possessed some sort of recessive alleles in their genotype for this characteristic. But it could also mean that the progeny had a different environment that the parents.

If environment can be ruled out then it is likely that some sort of a genetic recessive combination is the cause. If none of the progeny express the desired characteristic one may want to cross the progeny with itself and see what the outcome is.

If a common "Punnet ratio" such as 25% of a progeny express the desirable trait, then the trait is more than likely recessive and the trait may be stabilized via crossing any two of the 25% (or whatever common ratio) that show the desired trait with each other. This process is time consuming and is generally followed only if no other alternatives exist.

Selecting males

I prefer to remove all of the males from the grow-room to a separate, isolated space shortly after they declare their sex and well before they begin to shed pollen. A small space lit with simple fluorescent light will suffice for the males for the next few weeks. During this time the female buds will fatten with more flowers while your collection of males is selected down.

I generally employ a simple process of elimination while selecting males. First, any auto-flowering or very early-declared males are eliminated. (Auto-flowering means that male flowers form regardless of light cycle timing.) This is mainly to insure against hermaphroditism or unwanted flowering traits, but also as a means to insure quality. The very early declared males have a tendency to be less desirable in terms of their contributions to the quality of the finished product. (If you are trying to specifically create an early-flowering strain, then your priorities may be different.)

Next, any male plant that grows too tall or too fast is usually eliminated. The reason for this is that most plants which dedicate so much energy to fiber production generally are best for making fiber. The exception to this rule is when an over-productive plant also exhibits a number of the desirable characteristics mentioned later.

The next criteria for elimination is borrowed from Michael Starks' book, Marijuana Potency, and involves stem structure. Large, hollow main stems are sought while pith-filled stems are eliminated. Backed by years of observation, I agree that hollow stems do seem to facilitate THC production.

Another consideration is the type of floral clusters that develop. Even on males, clusters which are tight, compact and yet very productive are desired over an airy, loose structure. These observations are most notable in the indoor environment. Outdoors, the differences in stem and floral structures are more difficult to discern.

The next and perhaps most important characteristic to examine is that of odor, flavor and trichome development. Again, the females will prove themselves by their finished product, but the males are a bit trickier.

I usually begin with a Sativa female and an Indica male. It has been my observation that the females primarily contribute the type of flavor and aroma and the males contribute the amount of flavor and odor. The "Sativa/Indica" aspects of this formula are mainly apparent in the P1 or very early filial crosses (to about f3). Beyond the f3 generation the apparent "Sativa/Indica" ratio in a given individual is less important than the odor/flavor and trichome development aspects it exhibits. Therefore, one of the main aspects to consider when selecting a male is the depth of its aroma and flavor. (If you are seeking to develop a low-odor indoor strain you might wish to begin with a low-odor Sativa male and an Indica female.)

With the remaining males I usually employ an odor/flavor test. Using males at least two or three weeks into the flowering cycle (and preferably beyond if a separate, isolated space is being used), a sort of "scratch-and-sniff" technique is first employed. With clean, odor-free fingers, gently rub one plant at a time, on the stem where it is well developed and pliable, above the woody part and below the developing top (approximately at the spot where a clone would be cut). The newer leaves at their halfway point of development may also be rubbed and sniffed.

These are the places that the earliest chemical signatures of a developing plant present themselves, and it is our intent to gently disturb these chemicals and inspire an odor/flavor reaction on the fingers and on the plant. By examining these various aromas in this way one may be able to determine certain desirable (and also undesirable) characteristics. After clearing one's palate and refreshing one's fingers, another plant may be tested.

The finalists are best compared for at least a week and at different times of day, to determine who performs best over a period of time.

A few of the "good" aromas which I have found to be associated with both male and female high quality cannabis are: sweet, floral, fruity, berry, wine/brandy, other savory spirits, skunky and spearmint. Some of the "bad" aromas associated with both male and female cannabis are: grassy, chlorophyll (green), celery, parsley, carrots, cinnamon, pepper-mint or wintergreen, gear-oil and gasoline. Some of the aromas that are considered "good" from females but not necessarily from males are: woody, cedar, pine, citrus, tropical fruit, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, garlic and astringent.

Worldwide weed

It is sad that due to the Unfortunate State of Assholes in the world today we herbalists are treated criminally. Sad because given saner times we would be able to produce vast amounts of fine quality herb by virtue of no more than the great outdoors, large numbered populations and trial and error.

Someday perhaps, but in the meantime I have few alternate suggestions. Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain and other parts of Europe are opening up more and more toward herbal tolerance. It is relatively easy in these places to score some high quality product.

It is advisable for the newbie to a scene to buy many small samples of herbals at first until one finds what one likes. Just like in any other travel situation, special surprises await those willing to venture out from the centralized tourist areas (except in Christiania where "one stop shopping" is greatly enjoyed).

I am willing to bet that some of the many herbal "sweet spots" around the globe may once again be producing their specialties. I am eager to verify any rumor of such possibilities. These sweet spots would include many equatorial and near equatorial regions such as Colombia, Highland Mexico, parts of Thailand, Burma and Bhutan to name a few. Places such as Nepal and Jamaica have been ideal for herbal expeditions as well. These are some of the places one could venture in search of educating one's herbal palate and expanding one's experience.

DJ Short
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