Posted – July 1st, 2010
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The Art of Breeding
By Soma

In the breeding of cannabis, a gardener can come up with an endless number of combinations. Every once in a while, everyone who smokes weed gets a certain kind that they really like. If we were able to get a live plant of that same kind, we would have the start of a mother garden. Using this method continually, we would end up with several female plants that we know for sure we like. It would be a room full of mother plants without any rejects. Cloning these mothers and growing the plants to maturity will bring you tastes and smells that cannot be bought. I have been using this technique for a decade, and now have over 35 different mothers.

“Cloning these mothers and growing the plants to maturity will bring you tastes and smells that cannot be bought.”
I breed seeds and I wanted some even newer combos. I have a strain I’m working with called the NYC Diesel. It is a blend of a Mexican sativa and Afghani. It tastes like ripe red grapefruits. Everyone who smokes it, loves it, so I thought it would be a great male to use. I planted several of my seeds and came up with 3 males, each one showing a slightly different phenotype.I then read that using more than one type of male from the same genetic pool can give more genetic depth to a species.

With this new information, I set out to try a genetic experiment. I placed 15 different types of female plants in my grow room and crossed them with two of the male NYC Diesels. Each of the males showed slightly different phenotypes. One had internodes closer together with wider leaves and the other had more stretch to the internodes with thinner leaves.

I put the females into a 12-hour cycle one week before I put the males in. This gives the female plants a head start, allowing them to put on a little resin before getting pollinated. This way, at the end, when all the seeds are taken out, the material left over will make excellent water hash. I put both males in the room with the females, and as the pollen flew, the two of them pollinated all the plants.

It takes the male cannabis plant about 3 weeks to start throwing pollen. When it does give off the pollen, it does so for about 3 weeks. Female calyxes that are the first to get hit, make the first seeds. The females continue to make new calyxes, and as they become ripe, the male pollen touches them and seeds start to form there as well. The calyxes that get hit last, don’t get a chance to finish the seeds and they come out white.

The first time you cross two different kinds of cannabis together, you get a phenomenon that’s called ‘hybrid vigor’. This causes the new crosses to have an extra strong growing strength. Making mothers from seeds like this can give you plants with an almost super strength.

In my quest for the best medicinal genetics, I am constantly trying new techniques and genetics, constantly learning about this sacred plant and all the gifts she holds. Spreading seeds of this quality around the world has brought me many new friends and adventures and I truly think that it changes not only the topography of planet Earth, but her soul as well.

For so many years I grew only seedless ganja because it smokes the best, but sometimes I have daydreams about what would happen if every ganja smoker grew one seed crop and spread them around….

I now have a forum on my website: www.somaseeds.nl. If anyone has questions that they want me to answer about any aspect of cannabis, you can reach me there. Until next time, keep it GREEN.

Love and Light,
Soma


 
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Dutchflowers – Indigo Blue

"Our Bubblegum clone and Oregon Funk are two key components in IB, and we are pleased to have left ubiquitous Northern Lights, Skunk and Blueberry lines completely out of its composition to produce a quintessential sweet Indica heavyweight. Indigo is indeed a violet-blue postergirl Indica type, full of power and resin, with a built-in sativa component in the high to keep its high world-class potent but not just beefheadedly stupefying. The taste of Indigo Blue is very intense, sweet berries with hashy undertones contributed by its resin coverage. The aroma is very influenced by the Bubblegum clone parent, intense “Bubblicious” chewing gum berry taste. Very dense buds, milky crystal coverage and intense sweet chewing gum smell round-up the reasons for IB's excellent bag appeal.

A very early strain, IB needs to be flowered for about 44 days (as usual, grower preference, environment and individual selected all play a role), and is a prodigious resin producer. Solid buds are borne on long yet stocky colas showing great girth and excellent calyx to leaf ratio, which from a distance look as if they were dipped in a milky-oily white substance, with violet-blue (indigo) tinges. Despite bud density and crystal production, IB has shown herself to be mold resistant. Crystal coverage is surprisingly heavy at mid-flowering (around 25 days) expressing not only on buds but on fan leaves as well, making IB a prime bubblehash producer. IB has been selected for outstanding yield, 125gr and upwards of dried bud can be expected from each plant. Bud weight makes necessary to stake IB early on to help the branches support the weight. The sticky, gooey buds pack as much punch as resin, and even when the Indica stone hits like a hammer to the head, there is a recognizable sativa streak to it, that makes it unusually clear and euphoric with remarkable floaty-visual elements."

Dutchflowers – Colombian Supremo

This F1 cross reigns Supremo in our breeding program as it is vigorous, easy to grow, tight-noded for a mostly sativa, quick flowering with a generous yield of dense, high calyx-to-leaf ratio flowers. Colombian Supremo boasts old school sweet-fruity flavor and classic sativa soaring, mind-warping high in donkey-dick colas covered in white crystals.

Colombian genetics have been at the center of DF breeding efforts for a long time, and many growers have contacted us regarding availability of Colombian-based developments, attesting to the enduring popularity this landrace earned back in the 1970s. We have worked intensively with over eight different landrace Colombian lines and crosses, to identify winning phenotypes bearing the classic Colombian mind-warping cerebral high suitable for crossing with a Mighty Haze Candy to produce the Supremo. This was not an easy task, as the Colombian landrace strains we obtained and worked with showed a wide range of highs and phenotypical expressions, from soaring to stupefying, from acid to bodily narcotic, many lanky with unsuitably long flowering.

The Supremo is the first Colombian-based cross to meet our multiple goals, both from a gardener's and smoker's perspectives. It has been heavily selected for ease of growing indoors, with a very well-behaved phenotype that remains tight-noded and friendly low stretch, thriving even under low-light indoor conditions. It is very quick to show sex, and takes an average of 55-60 days (thanks to Mighty Haze Candy influence) to produce big, dense, frosty white buds with a very pleasant sweet, fruity-piney aroma that is very smooth and lung-expanding. Long, thick colas are of the classic "donkey dick" structure, very thick and dense, with remarkably high calyx-to-leaf ratio. Very little manicure is required.

Flowers are an appealing bright lime green, but appear white from a distance due to heavy resin production. Unlike regular tropical sativa fluffy buds, most individuals exhibit dense flowering structures with very little leaf. The smoke is very smooth, with a sweet, piney-fruity spicy smell that old-timers will recognize as classic Colombian taste, even if poorly cured. The high is of throwback quality, powerfully psychoactive and nearly all-cerebral, with few body signals. The very strong mind-lifting, get-up-and-dance high avoids paranoia and stays clear and focused. This is an old-school South American sativa however, so it can bring about heart-racing and even panic for users not used to strong sativas or if overdone, due to creeper effect.

Please note Colombian Supremo is not recommended for smokers identifying "potency" only in narcotic, lowdown, body-numbing, couch-locking stones, as the Supremo's sativa-engined clear cerebral high will bring opposite results.

Dutchflowers – Venomberry

Years back, we tested a batch of seeds collected by a team member traveling in Uzbekistan, and an outstanding individual was kept of this Indica landrace, which is used primarily for hash making in its homeland. It was a very stocky, red-stemmed plant that put out chunky, powerfully narcotic buds covered in gooey resin in about 56 days.

A heavy-select Durban Fig Widow male was used as pollen donor to pump up yield and vigor —two areas in which the Uzbek landrace was found lacking— and add the sativa dimension in the process. The DFW has been an example of how, in plant breeding, the final product can be much more than just the sum of its parts: its unusual terpene signature and delta-9 dominant sativa high clearly surpass either parent with excellent yield to boot.

The resulting UDFW turned out to be a solid all-around performer, with a gifted phenotype, glossy dark green leaves and a knock-out deep, Indica high. One mother in particular stood out on its rhubarb colors, couch-lock potency and a marvelous berry-cherry taste that impressed the jaded, “taste first” connoisseurs, but put the party-oriented, sativa aficionados to sleep.

A selected Chocolate Thai landrace male had its way with our UDFW clone, and its offspring grown. Then a winning, killer potent Indica phenotype mother was selected, which we felt best represented the “venom” that was added to the berry. This especial “venomberry” specimen was backcrossed using pollen from one of her children, and then the best .75 was inbred several generations to achieve IBL status.

Venomberry IBL grows with a manageable, predominantly Indica phenotype, and shows strong reaction to increased lumens like a Sativa does. The rhubarb-colored stems are visible even in early seedlings grown indoors, and the entire plant turns into a joy of purple and red outdoors under cool weather, courtesy of the Uzbek genes. Its leaves are dark blue-green, with a plastic-like shiny texture and blades that turn inward in claw-like fashion, a trait passed on by the Thai ancestor. Over 4 ounces of krypto-green, top-shelf bud can be expected from a selected mother flowered at around 12 inches, in resinous long colas. Buds look great and smell heavenly, rounding up great bag appeal.

The smoke has great lung expansion, and is quite tasty, with pronounced sweet cherry-berry notes. Indica and Sativa backgrounds compete against each other within Venomberry fueling a really strong, abidingly intense high that grounds the body but remains up and clear in the head, with great mental energy. Venomberry is unique in that it has medicinal (lower back pain) qualities, without hangover (heavy eye lids, headache) or crashing in the end.

Dutchflowers – Green Napalm

Nepalese Temple hash is widely recognized by discriminating smokers everywhere for its unique qualities, and we have always wanted to obtain seeds to the underlying strain for use in breeding. Luckily, Nepal is not an altogether unusual tourist destination, and one visitor mailed home two sets of Nepalese cannabis seeds corresponding to distinct geographical regions. The seeds corresponding to the high-altitude Nepalese Mountain regions produced plants that immediately stood out for its manageable phenotype, early flowering and response under artificial lights, ultimately proving to be most valuable for breeding given the exotic quality of its high and distinctive taste.

The best Nepalese Mountain sativas were combined with a Mighty Candy and then selectively inbred to improve stem strength, reduce internodal distance and sativa stretch, and contribute to flower density. Inbreeding Green Nepalm for several generations has proven successful to stabilize several desirable traits, most notably a short 8 weeks flowering period and top notch bud quality. Flowers are bright lime green with orange pistils and very few leaves, but it is their crystal coverage and intriguing aroma that sets them apart.

Trichome production is remarkable, flowers and part of leaves are uniformly covered with sparkling crystals. Pondering at this resinous blanket immediately reminds that Nepalese landraces have been selected for centuries to make legendary Temple Ball charas, a pot snob’s equivalent to the very best French champagne. Incidentally, the best champagne in world is thought to be Louis Roderer’s Crystal, a name that seems to validate our analogy. Flowers have high calyx-to-leaf ratio, which is unfortunate because Temple Ball hashmaking should be mandatory for all Green Nepalm growers.

Aroma is intriguing and complex, and testers refer to flowery, spice and fruit notes to describe it. Inbreeding has not affected the wide spectrum of aromas found in Nepalese seedlings, making it exciting to ascertain each individual’s unique makeup. Most seedlings fall into three basic terpene signatures, all carrying a fruit & spice combination: strawberries / sage, pineapple / rosemary, and peach / mint. All three are uniquely tasty and sweet, with a disturbing rotten meat smell lurking in the background, but this note is only perceived by the sharpest noses. GN makes a good stealth plant, as it has very low odour when growing.

High is perceived immediately, but will creep and get stronger during the next half hour, taking the smoker progressively higher up trough several stages to a very clear final destination. A drug testing program volunteer described this final state as one of “intense lucidity,” strong, cerebral and very creative. No trace of couch lock at any point of the experience, this is a flower for the thinking, active man. Very visual, clear and inspired, it makes a good choice for musicians and anybody looking to enhance leisure and social activities, although it is too deep for daytime. A strictly recreational strain of no medical value: no body-numbing or pain-relieving effects; not an appetite inducer.

BLOWFISH (G13 / Blue Dot / Oregon Funk)F1

Named after the deadly Japanese delicatessen, this breeding project begun when we set out to improve taste and yield —two weak traits of the G-13— by using Oregon Funk as a pollen donor. The results were quite pleasing but the smoke test revealed that G-13's power had been downgraded somewhat. Then it was the turn of a very impressive Blue Dot hybrid stud, which qualified the G-13 with great taste and no harm to its potency, although this time yield was less than desired. Finally, we applied heavy selection to each of these two G-based lines, and crossed them giving rise to Blowfish, a winning combination of G-13's deadly punch and the quality and taste of the Funk and Dot lines.

Blowfish exhibits great F1 vigor and disease resistance in a well-behaved plant that avoids the undesirable traits of "blue" genetics (difficult to grow, brittle, leafy, poor calyx to leaf ratio) while maintaining the flavor of the Funk and Dot ancestors and the brain-warping power of the G-13. A prolific flower producer even under poor conditions (it actually prefers low nutrient levels), this low-maintenance strain bears wonderfully dense buds, with a thick coating of milky crystals that will rival the best of the "white" strains in both crystal coverage and brain-thumping quality, with much better flavor and yield. We are proud to offer a hybrid carrying no White Widow, Northern Lights, Skunk or Blueberry in its composition.

Parental selection focused on potency and yield, as taste and resin genes were already well fixed on the Funk and Dot lines. Outstanding ancestors infuse the plant with a high quality feel, evident in the glossy leaves, harmonious phenotype and the particularly frosted, heavy and aromatic buds. Blowfish tends to branch out while adding girth to flowering clusters, forming sizeable snowy colas for excellent yield. Despite the remarkable density of its bud structure, mold and mites have not been a problem. This fish likes plenty of water as well as appropriate root and growing space, but prefers low levels of nutrients to fully express its potential. Very well-suited for bubbler systems and SCROG styles.

Blowfish retained the breathless intensity of G-13, with much better yield and a unique taste of berries and motor grease with fuel undertones that will appeal to pot-snobs. The experienced puffer will recognize a rotten animal scent lurking in the background of this Puffer, a sign of the abiding sativa influence that was a common denominator in parental stock selection. Its buds smoke very smooth and clean, with a great berry taste and a hashy feel that relates to its impressive crystal coverage.

Known as Fugu in Japan, Blowfish flowers live up to its namesake as a lethal delicacy with a body-paralyzing yet heady cerebral effect that defies traditional "Indica" and "Sativa" classification. The plant's elegance stands in sharp contrast with the muscle and intensity of its buds, which stun the body but thrust the mind into a euphoric trippy experience with excellent visuals and duration. It does not seem to build tolerance with experienced smokers, maintaining its knock-out quality over repeated use.


Posted – July 1st, 2010
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Breeders who preserve and enhance genetics are heroes who keep cannabis alive and vigorous.

Ever wonder what happened to the strains of yesteryear? Hawaiian Elephant, Oedipus and Polly are just a few of the strains popular only 15 years ago that have seemingly vanished from the cannabis gene pool. Even large scale commercial strains available through Dutch companies in the late 80's, such as William's Wonder or Friesland Indica, are rarely seen today except in the occasional hybrid.

There are several reasons for this unfortunate scenario, all of which are amplified by the current illegal status of cannabis. Many of the old-timers who were lucky enough to possess the germplasm of the older varieties have drifted away from the cannabis community, or have seen too many busts and ripoffs in their time to talk about growing or share genetics with other growers.

The largest factor in the demise of Sativa strains like Hawaiian Elephant is their lack of commercial profitability. Growing to astounding sizes and yielding loose buds of low weight, these Sativas lend themselves to neither grow room nor outdoor garden, despite their many positive qualities. As a matter of economic necessity these strains have been heavily bred with Indicas over the years, losing much of their original characteristics such as taste and high-quality effect.

Over recent years of more lenient attitudes towards the sale of marijuana seeds, many of these treasures have once again become available. The hard work and perseverance of the few brave pioneers who have maintained their old strains through the war against them is to be commended.

Breeders like DJ Short with Blueberry and Flo, or the many unnamed others responsible for strains like Hawaiian Sativa or Mighty Mite, have proven what can be accomplished despite the oppression placed upon our culture. Yet marijuana still remains illegal, and strains like Blueberry could very easily go the way of the super Sativas of the Seventies, unless measures are taken to preserve these genetics. Until the legal status of our favourite plant is changed, this responsibility lies on the shoulders of the underground cultivator.

Preserving our future

The main reason for the current Indica-ized status of today's popular strains is quite simple: legal implications for both personal and commercial growers dictate that they must produce the maximum amount of bud in the minimum amount of space. Once marijuana finally achieves full legalization many growers will likely reconsider their choice of strains, both to fill niche markets as well as personal taste.

We must plan so that when legalization happens, the few strains that have been bred with quality as a primary concern are still with us. For outdoor growers, strains that have been acclimated for years in their locale are indispensible. Many of these growers have spent decades perfecting a strain for their exact climate, yet all of this work can be lost instantly as a result of a bust or simply not having anyone to pass them down to.

Cannabis genetics can be maintained for many years simply by keeping a clone alive, however this doesn't do much for preserving the genetic diversity of a strain. Ideally, seedlines should be both preserved through long term storage and being grown out and seeded each year.

Inbreeding depression

Much myth and misinformation is spread in marijuana literature regarding inbreeding depression in cannabis populations. As a result, much of the genetics on the market today is merely a collection of cross after cross of different varieties with little effort towards stabilizing unique traits. Proof that marijuana can be successfully inbred lies in examples of inbred lines like Skunk #1 or Northern Lights, which have shown no signs of inbreeding depression after decades of incestuous crosses.

Understanding how marijuana has evolved helps to explain this. In countries where marijuana originates it has evolved alongside humans, often being maintained in small family gardens amongst other food and medicine crops. Much of today's gene pool originated in Afghanistan, where cannabis was grown like this in small family plots for generations, until the advent of large fields in the 70's and 80's. Plant phenotypes varied slightly from one valley to the next, and the pollen carried by wind from the slightly different gene pool of cannabis in the next valley maintained population vigour and prevented inbreeding depression. We can reproduce this scenario easily ourselves by maintaining several lines of the same strain, crossing them into each other every few years.

For example, when you grow out a pack of ten true breeding seeds pick the nicest female and seed it with two or more different males (marking which branch was pollinated by which male). Seed from each cross must be kept separate, and future generations kept from crossing with other lines. Every third or fourth generation these lines are crossed together and new lines brought out of the resulting seeds. Some of the seeds from each generation should be saved for long-term storage in case of accidental cross-pollination or crop loss down the road.

Isolation distances

Whether growing indoors or out, isolation distances are something that you should always be aware of. Marijuana is a wind pollinated plant, meaning that pollen is carried by wind from the male to the female recipient, sometimes over very long distances.

The recent legalization of hemp, although a major step forward, has caused some concern for marijuana growers. These fields consist of thousands of plants which generate an immense amount of pollen, which will seed marijuana just as easily as it will hemp. Other growers in your area and other strains which you yourself may be trying to keep pure are also possible contaminators to breeding projects.

Isolation distances will vary depending on geography, wind currents and vegetation coverage. However a safe rule of thumb is to isolate outdoor crops from each other and hemp fields by at least a half mile. Indoors this is not as much of a concern, as males can be watched carefully and covered with a paper enclosure to prevent pollen from drifting to other plants.

A question of latitude

The most popular theory of the evolution of cannabis is that all cannabis originated in the Himalayas and spread gradually throughout the world. Under varying human and environmental pressures cannabis has evolved into all ends of the spectrum from low THC long fibered hemp strains to couch-locking Indicas.

Latitude has definitely played a key role in this matter, influencing THC levels as well as ratios of THC to CBD. Most drug strains originate between 37° North and 35° South of the equator, with some of the highest quality strains coming from very near the equator (most notable Southeast Asia at 10-20° North).

As you get up into the more Northern latitudes (like Russia), cultivated and feral cannabis leans more towards the hemp end of the spectrum, with low THC and high CBD. This makes the job of maintaining marijuana varieties outdoors at common North American latitudes of 44-50° North a little more complicated. Without selection for high THC parents, pure strain marijuana can drift towards phenotypes of its hempen cousins.

Put simply, as the latitude is not exerting pressure on the gene pool to uphold its high THC traits, human influence must step in by diligently selecting the most potent plants as parents for future generations. Legendary strains like Matanuska Thunderfuck (bred outdoors in Alaska) and Friesland Indica (outdoors for Northern Holland) are living proof that this high THC trait can be maintained at Northern latitudes.

Common vegetable seed saving techniques, like open pollination and collecting seeds from many different plants then mixing them together, must be avoided. This could likely be the reason for the low THC nature of many of the strains coming from large Swiss fields in past years. Up until recently these fields were grown out and seeded freely with little goal in mind other than acclimatization.

Long term storage

As seeds are living things they have a life span and decline in vigour as they age. For medium term storage an air-tight container in the refrigerator works well. Long term storage is the best way to preserve these special strains for tomorrows growers, and for this freezers work great, provided a few rules are carefully followed.

Most important is that the seed be dried below the 8% moisture level, as above this the water in the seed will expand upon freezing and burst the cell walls. This drying is done with the use of silica gel and an airtight container. The gel can be obtained from any vegetable seed company and many gardening stores. The seeds and gel are sealed in the same container and the gel will change color, indicating the moisture that it has absorbed from the seed. Seeds should be wrapped in tissue paper and sealed in an airtight container before being put into the freezer, as frozen seeds are very fragile and the paper will protect the seed from shattering if bumped.

Seeds stored like this will retain vigour and high germination ratios for long periods of time. When thawing seeds for use, allow them to fully adjust to room temperature before opening the container. This will prevent unwanted condensation from forming on the seed surface.

Allow the seeds to regain most of their original moisture level by sitting open for a few days before being germinated.

Stand Tall

Once a cross has reached the F5 or F6 generation it can be considered an inbred line and can be relatively easily maintained using the above techniques. Many of the strains listed in catalogues are inbred lines and may or may not be indicated as such. If this is a strain that a seed company has put years of time and work into bringing to this point it is considered unfair to reproduce their work and sell it yourself, but there is nothing wrong with preserving their genetics for yourself or to pass on to future generations should it no longer be commercially available.

Preserving cannabis genetics under the current legal climate is as honourable a pastime as there is. So stand up, be proud, just don't get counted.