A great deal of work goes into making a new Cannabis strain, before the seeds ever enter the pack to be sold. The desire to produce your own seed line and diversify your favourite strains even more, is hard to resist, so below is covered all the frequently asked questions about breeding your own Cannabis seeds at home.
By Stoney Tark
- What does hybrid vigour mean?
- Why are my seedlings growing with abnormalities?
- How do you know which male is the best to use?
- What amount of seeds will I get off one plant?
- When do you know when to pollinate the females?
- How long will the seeds take to make?
- Do I need to take male or female clones?
- How should I clean the seeds up?
- When will I learn if my seed line is stable?
- When is the correct time to harvest the seeds?
- What is P1, F1 and S1?
- Will there be more variation the more I breed a line?
- Where is the best place to store the harvested seeds?
- What should I do if my seeds show hermaphrodite traits?
What does hybrid vigour mean?
This means when the Cannabis plants are growing in both vegetative state and flowering, you can clearly identify an enhanced characteristics such as growth structure, terpene profile, resin profile, bud structure and yield.
Usually a blend of the two parental lines bringing forward the best of both expressed in the new generation of seedlings. Nature tends to want to make things better and evolve them in new ways, so when this does happen you will be sure of it.
Why are my seedlings growing with abnormalities?
Perhaps your plants in veg are throwing out 3 leaves per internode, or random mutated leaves that do not resemble normal Cannabis plants you have grown before. This often happens with grow mutated during 18/6, however straighten themselves out by the time flowering begins.
If mutations are common amongst the plants, it may be best to disregard the seeds unless something spectacular comes through when growing out. Any other progeny made from these crosses will also reveal the same undesired characteristics.
How do you know which male is the best to use?
From my personal experience pairing males and females that are close in appearance, growth pattern, leaf structure, plant height and width are the ones that always seem to pair best and produce solid progeny.
Crossing small sized males will small sized females will allow you to work on a medium sized line. The same applies if you have a tall and skinny male and cross a similar female, the seedlings would also take on the tall and lanky trait.
What amount of seeds will I get off one plant?
This depends entirely on how big the plant is, if you are just pollinating the lower side branches, or top bud, how much pollen is being used and how long do you plan to leave the seeded plant flowering for.
If you want a small bag of seeds anywhere from 150-300 seeds, simply pollinate one side branch and make sure you label the branch so you know which is seeded. If you are going for gold, expect to get anywhere from 1500-3000 seeds per larged sized plant fully pollinated.
When do you know when to pollinate the females?
There are two ways to answer this and the first is to look at the development of white pistils. At first they appear as pre-flowers and then will begin to cover every flowering site. When the pistils have revealed themselves during week 3, this is a good time to pollinate.
The second way to know is by looking at the maturity of the male pollen sacs. These will open and begin to dust the fan leaves and lower leaf tissue. At this point a quick shake over the female pistils and contact will be made.
How long will the seeds take to make?
Usually around 6 weeks to make strong, viable seeds that have a long shelf life. Depending on which strain also as some cultivars can be ready to harvest as early as 50 days and others 70 days and upwards. It also depends on how early or late the female was treated with pollen.
On the basis the seeded plant is given plenty of time and nutrients, the seeds will ripen to perfection for sure. Never rush seeds as eager as you may be, and always wait for a woody shell to appear with some pattern or grey shine. Yellow and white seeds are simply immature and will struggle to do anything.
Do I need to take male or female clones?
You will need to keep a clone of the male and female alive, for the sake of remaking the F1 line again, back crossing an F1 with either of the parental lines, spending the next few years making up to F5 lines or incase you want to use the same male on multiple strains at once.
Keeping a small sized mother and father plant alive is simple and only requires using a vegging light and growing under 18/6, and will allow to decide which direction you go with the next lines.
How should I clean the seeds up?
After you harvest your mature Cannabis seeds, you will need to let them dry out and clean the shells of any plant matter. An easy way to do this is to place all the seeds inside a small solid box and after the seed material is dry, use a hair dryer and blow around the seeds. The heavy seeds will remain in the box and the lighter plant matter will blow away. Bag up the clean seeds and label for example ' Skywalker Kush female x AK47 male F1 Seeds '
When will I learn if my seed line is stable?
You will recognise the pedigree of your seedline from the germination rate, growth structure and most evidently when 12/12 commences. Uniform appearance and similarity is one part, however if your females are throwing out traits that are one end of the spectrum or another.
If the F1 is producing phenotypes that are absolutely mutated garbage, and the occasional impressive plant then this is another way to know. If this happens you need to rework the line using different male and female candidates from before.
When is the correct time to harvest the seeds?
You need to wait until the seeds are hard, and have developed a thick shell that is dark, brown and striped, speckled or a solid stone grey. Seeds that have a yellow or green colour are not yet ripe and will most likely not even germinate.
Cannabis plants will push seeds out of their calyx and some will naturally fall to the pots indicating her seeds are ready for collection. At this point the plants just need a rubbing over and seeds will be released.
What is P1, F1 and S1?
When using regular seeds you will start with parent plants (P1), that will breed together and the progeny will become the first generation (F1). The further you continue to cross the F lines you will get to a point where the line become an inter bred line (IBL). Femenised seeds are made by using a female Cannabis plant and reversing it with colloidal Silver. This process is called selfing and the result of a female reverse pollen with the same female or another strain is called S1.
Will there be more variation the more I breed a line?
Absolutely and it is from the F2 and beyond where all of the most desired and undesired characteristics will be found. Imagine the F1 line represents you and your family, and the F2 line and onwards represents your family, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and nephews. Breeding projects can produce some incredible results when working with second generation lines in comparison to an F1, but be prepared for the best and the worst, especially once you get to F3.
Where is the best place to store the harvested seeds?
You will need to keep the seeds somewhere that is out of sunlight and is consistent in temperature and humidity. Some growers who store large amounts of seeds use freezers or fridges, however in the event of a serious power cut, the shift in temperature may be harmful to the stock. Keeping seeds stored in a plastic baggie stored away in an empty shoe box in a cupboard works well also.
What should I do if my seeds show hermaphrodite traits?
Immediately discard the seeds, and the parental livestock as these are genetically responsible for the cross. If the cause of the hermaphrodite plants is genetic related you will quickly find out by planting 50 small sized plants and flowering. Don't panic as often times excessive plant training, severe drop in cold temperatures or accidental light breaks or power cuts can occur. Even high Nitrogen feeds in flowering will cause Cannabis plants to hermaphrodite also, however if it is genetically related then do not use the seeds and certainly do not breed with them.