This is an old school ganja farmer’s method mostly applied outdoors. Although, breeding from the same batch has potential indoors provided the original organic seeds are genuine. If so, not only will the resulting progeny be more or less stable but you will have saved cash on seeds for the next crop.
To pollinate female plants, place the pollen bag over branches that show bud formation. Seal the bag over individual branches and shake again. Leave it there for around 1 hour and repeat the process with each branch that bears buds.
While it might not be possible to build your own seed bank from the grow tent in the spare bedroom. Small-scale breeding is a viable option. You don’t need a masters degree in botany. Just good old-fashioned dope growing experience will suffice.
One way to achieve this is called backcrossing, also known as “BX” within the cannabis breeding lexicon. When breeders are aiming to create a new strain, they select two parent strains with desirable traits. Upon crossing them, the first generation is created. Backcrossing essentially refers to taking a member of this generation back up the family tree to breed it with one of its parent strains. This type of inbreeding helps solidify the presence of one of the parent’s genes as they are bred together repeatedly.
Before further breeding experiments, it’s no harm to practice collecting pollen and making seeds first. Breeding from a reliable batch is a good introduction to cannabis breeding.
Just as you and your sibling might have different physical attributes from your parents, each seed created from a round of cross-pollination will have different attributes from its parent strains. Maybe you have your father’s eyes and your mother’s hair, but your sister has your mother’s eyes and hair. Each cannabis seed is unique and will express different traits, and different combinations of traits, from one or both of the parent strains. These seeds with various expressions are called phenotypes.
So how do you know whether to pick a male or a female of each strain that you’re crossing?
“Often in cannabis, the traits of the female carry over to progeny (seeds) more than the male. That said, the traits of the male are often obvious to the discerning grower so one should definitely choose a male that will complement the traits of the female,” says Nat Pennington, founder and CEO of Humboldt Seed Company who’s been breeding cannabis for 20 years. “So much is possible with truly intentional breeding strategies.”
After two parent strains are selected for breeding, a male and several females are put into a breeding chamber to contain the pollen. A breeding chamber can be as simple as an enclosed environment with plastic sheeting on the sides, or a specially designed sterile environment for large-scale breeding.
When the seeds are mature, they are harvested and stratified (or dried). “The secondary process of maturation happens after the plant is dead, and the seed needs to be stratified before it will germinate,” says Pennington. “In general, harvest for flower takes place three to four weeks before harvest for seed.”
The mature male will grow pollen sacs within the first couple weeks of its flowering phase. Pollen will release from the sacs, move through the air, and land on the female plants, pollinating them. Having an enclosed breeding chamber is important to contain the pollen and also to prevent outside pollen from getting in.
Backcrossing is a practice where a breeder will cross-pollinate the new strain with itself or a parent—essentially, inbreeding the strain. This makes the strain more homozygous, and strengthens its genetics and desirable characteristics, and also ensures that those genes continue to pass down from generation to generation.
When the sacks, or pollen pods, start to open, carefully wrap a small paper bag over the branch and secure it with a piece of string or elastic. It doesn’t have to be wrapped really tight, just enough to hold the bag over the pod. Leave the bag on for several days in order to collect as much pollen as possible.
The birds and the bees is a concept seen all throughout nature, and cannabis is no different. Cannabis plants are dioecious plants, meaning that any one plant will produce either male or female flowers. For breeding purposes, you’ll need one male plant and one female plant. The strains you choose from each should be different (otherwise you’re not creating a new strain, you’re just copying a strain), and should be quality plants.
The male plant will fertilize, or pollinate, the female plant, but it’s not “sex” in the way one would think. In fact, the plants don’t even have to be close to each other in order for pollination to occur. In nature, elements such as the wind and bees can carry the pollen from the male plant to the female plant and the female will be fertilized. When a grower is breeding cannabis to create their own strain however, it’s typically done indoors and pollination relies on the grower.
What is breeding? Is it like sex?
Smoking is fun, and growing can be a lot of fun. But breeding marijuana and creating your own strain is where the art of marijuana becomes really fascinating. All you’re really doing when you breed marijuana is taking two plants, each of a different strain, and bringing them together to create your very own strain that is perfect for you. Doing it isn’t all that complicated, but you do have to be careful or you risk seeding, and essentially destroying, an entire crop.
When you’re ready to remove the bag, gently shake the branch to remove as much pollen as possible. You can dry this pollen and save it in the freezer for several months, but the female should be ready for fertilization 3 to 4 weeks after the first fuzzy white pistils appear. Once they do, place the bag directly over a female branch and gently shake the bag. You may want to remove the female plant from the rest of the crop to avoid accidental seeding of the entire crop.
While you do need a male plant to breed, you won’t use the entire plant. All you’ll really need is one branch, as this will give you as much pollen as you need. Once the male you’ve chosen starts to show flowers, remove them from the female plants to avoid the male from turning the entire crop to seed. Also make sure you remove the branches around the branch you’ve selected to avoid accidental pollination.
The bag only needs to remain on the female branch for two or three days for fertilization to take place. After that you can gently remove the bag and wait for your seeds to show up in 3 – 6 weeks. You can remove the seeds when they split open from their pod, or when you can hear them rattling around inside. Freshly harvested regular seeds probably won’t germinate though, so make sure you store them in a cool, dry place for a month or two before you try to start growing them.