How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

Ask The Experts: How To Understand Marijuana Genetics And Crossbreeding Strains

How To Understand Marijuana Genetics; Now’s a great time to be a cannabis grower in America. We are in an era of legalization, and with prohibition almost completely behind us, American growers with decades of experience are finally getting the legal and financial backing they need with which to operate at full capacity. Indeed, this new environment of support for cannabis cultivators has led to an explosion of unique cannabis strains on the shelves — but is crossbreeding something home growers can try? Or, should it be left to the pros?

You may be surprised to learn that two directors of cultivation — and longtime growers in the cannabis field — encourage home growers to give it a try. How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

Not sure where to start? We got you covered. How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

In exclusive chats with Big Buds Magazine, the US director of cultivation for Tikun Olam and director of operations for Alternative Medicine Association offer some insights on how to get started.

Tikun Olam is well-known around the world for its cannabis research, cultivation and supply of medical marijuana. Based in Israel, you also may remember it shares the same home base as the “grandfather of marijuana research,” organic chemist and Professor Raphael Mechoulam.

US director of cultivation for Tikun Olam Bill Campbell admits crossing plants has always been a hobby of his. “I think anyone enjoying cannabis and growing should experiment with breeding. It’s a fun thing for me to do.”

However, crossbreeding isn’t for the impatient among us.

How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

How To Understand Marijuana Genetics
How To Understand Marijuana Genetics


Genetics is part of the backwoods [of] growing. Before businesses came in, it was created by backyard growers,” Horner explains, adding that being a pro and experimenting with genetics simply takes experience. “There are different reasons to do it and a good farmer knows how and when to select and how to cross [strains].”

How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

Historically, the practice of cannabis growing and crossbreeding was only utilized by home growers. This was due to the outlaw of cannabis production and consumption. The entire supply chain was being forced underground and into a black market because of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and the federal ruling of the plant as a Schedule I substance, alongside hard drugs the Drug Enforcement Administration deemed had “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. How To Understand Marijuana Genetics

Some basic guidelines for developing unique genetics:

  • Start with plants that work well in your environment, especially if you grow outside.
  • Select the best males and females for breeding.
  • Use hardy plants that are fit for the characteristics of the area, such as altitude and climate.
  • Pro tip: Be selective. Don’t just cross every plant you like.

Following basic guidelines can make you a competitor in any market. While you may be thinking crossbreeding is right up your alley, we remind you to beware. It can take years to find the right pair to cross. To get an idea of how much effort and patience it takes, Horner says he’s crossed 20 strains in the past year alone. Of those 20 attempts, he only deemed three as up to his exacting standards.

“It’s a hard deal and it was a two-year endeavor to grow, verify and find characteristics I liked in the West Coast and crossed with other plants I thought were similar.” Horner’s three successful strains are high in THC, a trait he said he was purposefully going for with the crosses.

Speaking of THC, it’s worth noting that there are more strains out there to discover than just those with the dankest, densest buds. For the past 50 years under prohibition, THC gave consumers the most bang for their buck. Now, some people are hunting for strains that have psychoactive traits bred out, while others are looking for the highest percent THC. This means ample opportunities for cannabis breeders and seed banks.


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