Breading Cannabis Strains

Producing your own Cannabis Seeds

4 seeds with tap root breaking out of the shell

Hi there and welcome to our article on Cannabis seed breading !
Today we’re going to go over the different steps in order to make you own seeds but also how to take care of them, checking out phenotype and much more ๐Ÿ˜‰
Let’s get into it

Breading Cannabis – Table of content

  • How are Cannabis Seeds created ?
  • 4 Steps to make Cannabis Seeds
  • Seed Crop Care (coming soon)
  • Conditions needed for Breedingย (coming soon)
  • Dominanceย (coming soon)
  • Phenotypesย (coming soon)
  • Main Components of a breeding programย (coming soon)
  • Different types of Seedย (coming soon)
  • Breeding Schemes for cross-pollinated cropsย (coming soon)

How is Cannabis pollinated ?

Cannabis is an anemophilous species, meaning that the wind carries the pollen shedded from the male flower and, if it lands on a stigma, pollinates a female individual.ย 

Since this is the case for many plants, the wind is full of pollen from different species.
As there is a strong chance of pollen from another specie to land on the pistils, the cannabis plant has developed a recognition system in order to make sure that only specie-specific pollen is able to germinate and thus fertilize the female ovule.

These systems range are both physical and biochemical between the pollen grain and the stigmatic surface; Together they insure the species identity.
If the biochemical signal is correct and the stigma recognizes the pollen, the flower will hydrate the it with a flow of water from the pistil allow it to germinate.

Just as seeds germinate and send a taproot into the soil, the pollen will germinate and sends a pollen tube into the stigma in order to reach the ovule.
Once the tube reaches the ovule the genetic material within the pollen is delivered to the ovule, uniting with the genetic material of the female flower.ย 

This is the fertilization event and creates what will become the embryo. This embryo will then grow within the seed coat.
Between 4 and 5 weeks later these seeds will be mature and ready to be planted ๐Ÿ™‚

Staminate flowers proce

Seed Pollinisation process
(Graph credit to Jorge Cervantes)

4 Steps to make your Marijuana seeds

Step 1 – Choosing the Male and Female plant

Male plant creating seed bads

Photo credit to leafly

Choosing which plants you will breed is one of the most important steps, as these 2 contain the genetic material that will be combined within your next generation of plants.

It is generally much easier to identify which female plant you’ll want to grow as the traits (flavor, yield, smell, high, etc) are much easier to identify. All you have to do is observe the flower during its life cycle, harvest and taste it in order to identify its characteristics.

Identify your male plant isn’t as easy since, obviously, they don’t make flowers… No way to judge the floral structure, taste, resin content.

So… how to identify a good male plant to use for breading?

Progeny Testing

The best method in order to choose you male plant is through progeny testing. This is achieved by taking pollen from a potential breeding male and using it to make seeds with the chosen female(s).ย 
The seeds produced are then grown out and examined to determine the effect of the male on the plants.ย 

These tests are without a doubt the most reliable method in order to determine the genetic value of a male plant to the next generation. This concept is known asย combining ability.ย This is, for example, how we have auto-flowering sensimilla strains.

There are 2 main drawbacks to progeny testing:
  1. It takes time: You need at least the time to grow out the first generation, harvest and cure them
  2. If you count of using the male again you’ll need to keep the plant alive AND the pollen under control.
“Rubbing the Stem” (no pun intended)

We will point out another technique used by growers, although this one has a low trust value.ย 
Some breeders choose the potential of male plants by rubbing the stem between their fingers.ย 
The idea is that if it exudes a strong, resinous odor then it’s probably a good plant.
Although this can be a useful technique it certainly shouldn’t your main selection criteria.

Step 2 – Collecting pollen

Male cannabis pollen sac opened

Photo credit to Grow Weed Easy

Photo credit to Oregon Live

If you’re a small scale grower all you really need is one branch of the male flower it order to produce seeds for your own use.ย 

There are different ways you can collect the pollen from the male plant, here’s a few different techniques:

  • Cutting a branch of the male flowers : You’ve noticed that some anthers have started to release their pollen? Cut off the branch and place it in a bag. You can extract pollen from the remaining pollen sacs (aka anthers).
  • You notice a cannabis leaf full of pollen: Place a piece a paper, or a little bag, under the leaf and gently shake it so that the pollen falls onto the leaf.
  • Before the anthers start releasing their pollen, tie a piece of paper under the male flowers.ย 
    When they will open up, the pollen will fall right on the paper. Once enough has accumulated just remove the piece a paper and secure the pollen.

Step 3 – Storing and protecting your pollen (optional)

If you want to store your pollen you’ll have to take some measures as pollen doesn’t have a very long shelf life under natural conditions. Whether it’s by temperatures or humidity, it can be easily destroyed.ย 
That said all is not lost, since you can easily store it several months if it’s frozen ! Although you’ll need to go through a couple preparation steps, which are the following :

4 Steps to store your pollen

  1. Gather a screen and wax paper.ย 
    Place the wax paper under the screen
  2. Carefully remove the pollen from the collection bag.
  3. Pass the pollen through a thin screen in order to remove any leaf matter
  4. Gather the pollen with a sterile scraper and place it in a coin envelop or a sterile tube.
  5. Place it in the freezer.ย 
    It should be noted that pollen should not be frozen and dried repeatedly as it will reduce its viabilityย 

Note: Throughout the process, cleanliness counts !!!

Step 4 – Pollination ๐Ÿ™‚

2 bees on a ganja flower

Photo credit to Culture Magazine

paintbrush used to pollinate a marijuana flower

Photo credit to Cannabis Now

When to pollinate your female plant ?

Depending on the strain you can pollinate your female plant between 2 and 12 weeks after the start of the flowering stage.ย What you need to keep an eye on are the pistils. You have 2 case scenarios

  1. Your pistils are appear white or off-white : This is when you want to pollinate.
    Keep in mind, the more pistils, the more seeds
  2. Your pistils are withered, rust or a brownish color in which case the point pollinisation has passed.
White pistils ready to be pollinized

White pistils, ready for pollinisation

Brown pistils, too withered to be pollinized

Pistils turning to rust/brown color – Pollinisation point has passed

How to pollinate your female plant ?

  1. Cover the female branch with the bag full of the male pollen
  2. Shake the bag a little in order to make sure the pollen comes in contact with the pistils
  3. Leave the bag in place for two days and two nights in order to make sure there’s thorough pollination.
  4. Remove carefully the bag, you don’t want to knock off the pollen that’s on the pistils

If you aim at just pollinating a certains number of plants separate them from the other plants while doing pollinating and make sure to remove any pollen residue when re-introducing them into your tent

Cannabis Pollination – Alternative approach

Instead of covering your buds with the a bag full of pollen you can decide to take a brunch and apply the pollen yourself. To do so :

  1. Place your pollen in a clean recipient
  2. Take a brush and dip it into the pollen
  3. Gently brush the pistils.ย 
    Make sure you have steady hands in order to make sure the pollen doesn’t go airborne during the process

This approach is perfect if you just need a couple seeds out of your plant

Once you have finished the process you’ll have to wait about 6 weeks, with most strains, to get fully ripe seeds so be patient ๐Ÿ˜‰
You might see the catalyxes split during the development process which will allow you to see within. Don’t collect the seeds until you see that they’re fully ripe!

How to tell when are the seeds ready?

Coming soon

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