The History of Hybrids: How Breeding And Selection Led to Modern Marijuana
Cannabis growers are always searching for the next remarkable strain. The countless flavors and multitude of effects combine to create endless possibilities. In the last 60 years, breeders have capitalized on the diversity of cannabis more than ever before, crossing strains from around the globe.
Today, as cannabis laws become more tolerant in North America and elsewhere, breeding is becoming easier than ever before, which is reflected by the number of strains available through seed distributors. As you browse a seed catalog and contemplate which strains to buy, you might ask yourself, “Where did all of these strains come from?” The story is complicated for many modern strains, which are often hybrids of hybrids. But the key building blocks of many strains are a relatively few, very important breeding projects and landraces.
Understanding the history of the modern hybrid has value beyond musing about cannabis lore. Familiarity with strain lineage can help guide seed or clone purchases. Commercial growers and dispensaries benefit from diverse strain collections, which are attractive to customers with various needs, so knowing how to select a wide spectrum of flavors and effects is a useful skill. Growers should also understand the environmental requirements for their strains and which cultural practices might work best for each one, and these factors are heavily influenced by lineage. Furthermore, breeding for strain diversity and quality in the future will require thoughtful selection, and will be benefited by knowledge of strains of the past.
Cannabis’s Taxing Taxonomy
There are several distinct types of cannabis. Although taxonomists have often disagreed on how to classify Cannabis, suffice it to say that four widely recognized types are sativa, indica, afghanica and ruderalis. Preeminent ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes interestingly noted that although “zealous taxonomists” are often determined to precisely compartmentalize plants, their plastic nature and adaptive ability to interbreed between seemingly separate genera or species implies that “plants were not made to be cataloged and classified,” and that in cases like the identification of Cannabis, “a historical perspective is imperative.” Weighing in these considerations, I will delineate Cannabis plant types in as useful a way as possible.
Sativas grow as tall as 20 feet, have smooth, hollow stems with longer internodes than their counterparts, and produce achenes that are partially exposed (achenes are the dry fruits of some plants such as sunflowers, which are commonly called seeds, but are in fact fruits containing a single seed). C. sativa leaves are relatively large, with long, lance-shaped leaflets. Sativa flower clusters are somewhat indeterminate, meaning the plants continue to grow new flowers above the old ones for a lengthy period, with equatorial strains flowering for as long as five months. Although not isolated to the tropics, sativa plants are adapted to warmer latitudes, where day length varies little throughout the year and warm conditions allow for continual development.
Indica plants are shorter in stature than sativas, sometimes growing to 10 feet in height, and have a more determinate flowering habit. They have smooth, dense, nearly solid stems, and their leaflets are smaller than sativa or afghanica types. Curiously, C. indica has rather narrow, pointy leaflets.
Adapted to a mountainous, cold climate, and bred for hashish production, afghanica plants are short, stout and potent, and have nearly solid stems. Afghani marijuana is usually referred to as indica; however, in 1926 Nikolai Vavilov described afghanica as a distinct type. Following his description, some growers have continued to separate afghanica due to its shorter stature (less than six feet tall), ribbed stems, wider and longer leaflets, characteristically long petioles, denser buds, faster flowering time and more sedative high than typical indica strains. When most cannabis users refer to indica, they are thinking of plants with Afghani heritage. Bear in mind that while India has cold mountains to the north, it also has tropical climates to the south; this large environmental variation could help explain the morphological differences that create the need to partition afghanica from indica.
First classified in 1924, ruderalis plants are believed to have originated in Western Russia, Western Siberia and Central Asia. C. Ruderalis is typically less than two feet tall, may be unbranched, has smooth, hollow stems and small, wide leaflets, and readily sheds mature achenes, which possess a characteristic, fleshy abscission layer at their base. Most famously, ruderalis is regarded as the source of auto-flowering genetics in cannabis. Auto-flowering strains don’t require short days (less than 12 hours) to flower, as do most cannabis strains; regardless of light cycle, they start to flower as soon as they reach maturity, which is within a few weeks after germination.
Landraces: The Root of All Good
When farmers allow natural pollination and collect the seeds of their crops, then plant them the following year and repeat this process over time, heirloom varieties are developed. This was standard practice until the modern era. Heirloom varieties are somewhat the result of natural selection. Environmental pressures such as rainfall amounts, temperatures, humidity levels and hours of sunlight per day, along with biological pressures such as pathogens and herbivorous animals, determine the viability of individual plants in their environment. Plants with characteristics that allow them to best cope with these pressures will on average produce more pollen and seeds than lesser-fit plants. Therefore, heirloom varieties are well-adapted to their local conditions. When farmers trade heirloom seeds regionally, and continue the process of collecting seeds for subsequent crops, landraces are developed. Within a landrace, plants share common characteristics, but also maintain a level of genetic diversity. Cannabis landraces are the foundation of modern hybrids. Notable examples of landraces include Afghani, Durban Poison, Jamaican, Colombian Gold, Panama Red and Thai.
Indoor cultivation has helped breeders create more potent pot/ Joe Bender
Classic Breeding Products
In the 1960s and ’70s. the majority of the marijuana sold in the United States was grown outdoors. According to researchers, cannabis breeding in the United States for the purpose of producing high-THC strains that finished early enough for North American outdoor cultivation began in the early 1960s. Northern Mexican and Jamaican strains were quicker to finish flowering, but were moderate in potency. Breeders crossed (i.e., hybridized) these strains with more potent, longer-flowering Panamanian, Colombian and Thai strains, and then selectively inbred the hybrids to create the famous outdoor sativas of the 1970s, including Original Haze and Maui Wowie.
Inbreeding involves selecting male and female sibling plants exhibiting desirable characteristics, and pollinating the females using the males. With careful selection, inbreeding for several generations will produce a homogenized line, in which all of the plants exhibit the desired traits. Homogenized lines are referred to as “stabilized” or “true-breeding” because successive generations of inbreeding maintain the distinctive characteristics of the strain.
Skunk #1: Perhaps the most famous inbred line of all time is Skunk #1. During the mid- to late ’70s, traveling cannabis enthusiasts brought Afghani landrace strains to California. Breeders there found that afghanica plants hybridized well with the tall, lanky sativas that were popular at the time. A collective called Sacred Seeds emerged in the underground scene in Northern California and used inbreeding to stabilize a hybrid of Afghani, Colombian Gold and Acapulco Gold to create Skunk #1, which it offered to the public in its first seed catalog in 1981. Skunk #1 quickly became the most popular strain in California, thanks to its sweet flavor and soaring high. In 1982, California police shut down Sacred Seeds, but one of its breeders, Sam the Skunkman, managed to salvage the prized genetics.
In the 1980s, the relaxed cannabis laws of the Netherlands attracted growers and breeders and led to the creation of several Dutch seed companies, including the Seed Bank of Holland and the Super Sativa Seed Club. Fleeing California, Sam the Skunkman made the pilgrimage and brought his collection of Sacred strains, including Skunk #1. There, Sacred Seeds’ hard work came to further fruition in a new seed company, Cultivator’s Choice. This relocation of Californian genetics to uniquely weed-tolerant Holland was a monumental event for the future of cannabis. Breeding work flourished in Holland unhampered by the government, and a platform for shipping seeds worldwide was born. When the first High Times Cannabis Cup was held in Amsterdam in 1988, Skunk #1 by Cultivator’s Choice took first place.
Inbred since 1978, the homogenized, true-breeding nature of Skunk #1 makes it excellent for breeding new hybrids. When two true-breeding strains are crossed, the result is known as an F1 hybrid. F1 hybrids express traits of both parent lines in a uniform manner among individual plants. F1 hybrids also usually display “hybrid vigor,” meaning that the hybrid is more vigorous (better growth rate, yield, etc.) than the parent lines. Due to these factors of imparting uniformity and vigor in crosses, Skunk #1 is highly desirable for breeding, and it is now a progenitor of a great many strains, likely more than any other parental stock.
Owing to its combination of tropical sativa and Afghani traits, Skunk #1 is a high-yielding strain. Tropical sativas develop long, airy colas lacking density, which helps them dry after rainfall and resist mold in rainy climates.
Afghani plants have the opposite characteristics: small, nearly rock-hard colas, adapted to an arid environment with little pressure from Botrytis cinerea gray mold. Hybridizing these contrasting traits creates large colas, with a moderate, spongy density. This bud structure is wonderful for yields; however, Skunk #1 is prone to gray mold. If grown outdoors in humid areas of North America or Europe, Skunk #1 will continue flowering into fall’s mold-favoring conditions. Its slightly longer maturation period and hybrid bud structure also mean that its first flowers to develop are aging and surrounded by layers of younger flowers at harvest time, creating perfect conditions for Botrytis. For these reasons, Skunk #1 is best suited for growth indoors or in greenhouses, or outdoors in a Mediterranean climate. Strains with similarly structured hybrid buds, such as Serious Seeds’ AK-47 and T.H.Seeds’ S.A.G.E., also perform best in these environments.
Northern Lights: Northern Lights is another classic strain, which has led to numerous, sensational breeding projects. Originating in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Lights is thought to be an inbred line of pure afghanica. It was introduced to the Dutch cannabis scene via the work of the late legend Nevil Schoenmakers, founder of the Seed Bank of Holland. Schoenmakers made various NL crosses and backcrosses, such as NL #5 x Haze, NL #5 x Skunk #1, Silver Pearl and Hash Plant xNL#1.
In 1991, Schoenmakers sold the Seed Bank of Holland to Sensi Seeds. Sensi Seeds currently offers a seed form of Northern Lights, which it created through extensive back-crossing of “three original Northern Lights variants.” Sensi Seeds describes the plants as having low odor and the cured buds as having a honey-musk, earthy, juniper scent.
Greenhouse Seed Co.’s Super Silver Haze, an outstanding Northern Lights hybrid, has the classic Haze taste, which is reminiscent of the smell of cedar wood, and has a truly psychedelic high, which is uplifting and enhances colors.
Blueberry: Blueberry by DJ Short is a stabilized, Afghani-sativa hybrid strain. It has varying tones of sweet berry flavor and a euphoric high. The scent is often like a blueberry pie, and the plants tend to have beautiful bluish-purple hues at harvest. It yields best when grown from seeds, but it can also provide ample harvests from clones. The clones must be well spaced to get plenty of light to their fan leaves, or they’ll yield poorly.
Like many other strains (such as AK-47), Blueberry mother plants tend to weakly flower when they’re left unpruned for too long. Frequent topping prevents this problem. Topping for maintenance and increased clone production exaggerates their already bushy Afghani structure. This creates a lot of shade around their pots, so prune lower branches conservatively to prevent infestations of fungus gnats, which prefer the shady conditions.
As an inbred line, Blueberry hybridizes exceptionally well with other inbred lines. Recognizing the quality and breeding compatibility of Blueberry, breeders have used it in countless hybrids, as evidenced by the number of “Blue” and “berry” names in the current seed catalogs.
Finding a ‘Golden Nugget’
No strain had impacted the cannabis world as significantly as Haze, Skunk #1 and Northern Lights—that is, until the advent of OG Kush. It has the strongest flavor of any cannabis variety I’ve ever tried. It’s hard to put a finger on, but once you know the Kush scent, you’ll never forget it. Not only does it have a strong flavor, its THC level can be higher than 25 percent, making it one of the strongest strains in the world.
Hybrids of OG Kush are now almost as ubiquitous in dispensaries and seed catalogs as the famous strains of the past are. One very successful hybrid of OG Kush is Girl Scout Cookies (OG Kush x Durban Poison), which packs a punch and has flavor to boot.
An interesting aspect of OG Kush is its combination of narrow branch angles and long internodes. The plants have a fairly stretchy, unique appearance, which in veg will not strike experienced growers as looking particularly healthy. Although the narrow crotches are unfavorable for branch strength, the overall result of the strain’s morphology is that a lot of light reaches the bottom of the canopy, so the plants tend to produce top quality even at the base of branches. This allows for tighter plant spacing than other strains, which, when judiciously paired with proper veg timing, could improve yields without sacrificing quality. If grown outdoors, however, you’ll need to protect OG Kush from the wind, which could easily split branches off of the main stem.
Hemp crops are increasingly being used for CBD production/ High Times Archive
In recent years, enthusiasm for cannabidiol (CBD) has grown exponentially. CBD provides anxiolytic, antiepileptic and anti-inflammatory effects. CBD is commonly extracted from seed-hemp plants, which are bred to have big buds that yield lots of seeds. These plants tend to have a significant resin content, but must not contain more than 0.3 percent THC to be considered hemp. Instead of a high-THC percentage, the resin of hemp is high in CBD. Fiber hemp differs from seed hemp in that it is grown closely spaced to promote stretching and long internodes, using tall strains that are high in fiber and generally low in flower yield. Dual-purpose hemp varieties exist, but they are less desirable for either seed or fiber production than specialized types.
Breeders have developed marijuana strains that produce both THC and CBD. The most famous strain of this type is Cannatonic from Resin Seeds. The best examples of Cannatonic have a ridiculously strong grapefruit scent and a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, creating a very relaxing effect.
Knowledge of cannabis history is crucial for predicting the future of the plant. Understanding the origins of modern hybrids can also help growers use their resources as effectively as possible, by guiding them in assembling a diverse strain menu and in choosing strain-specific cultural practices.
With improved legal status and a greater public interest than ever before, cannabis is set for a new wave of breeding success stories. The future may bring a revival of breeding for the outdoors, and as rules against shipping loosen, regional specialty strains could develop, as were once common. Undoubtedly, indoor, outdoor and greenhouse cultivation will continue to evolve, aided by technology, research and a never-before-seen availability of strains.
Originally published in the October, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.
How to grow Gorilla Glue 4 cannabis seeds in USA
From Blimburn Seeds, we bring you the best tips and tricks. Also, we are committed to all growers in the world to maximize their outdoor growing production. In other words, we will make you an expert grower and lover of our seeds.
Why choose GORILLA GLUE #4?
First, because it comes from the cross of two best sellers of cannabis. Secondly, one of the most sought after varieties. In other words, a plant that can reach a meter and a half in height. In addition, it is easy to cultivate by any padawans who are beginning in the arts of the culture of marijuana.
GORILLA GLUE #4 is a strain of sativa tendency. The lineage is a cross between three amazing strains as are Chem Sis, Sour Dubb and Diesel Chocolate. Every one strain gives the potential, flavor, and high production for the Gorilla Glue #4.
Finally, this magnificent strain leaves no marijuana grower indifferent. In addition, from its first days of flowering, it gives piney, spicy and cherry aromas. This great ally is ideal for having a great moment with a lot of energy.
However, we didn’t forget the most important thing. It has an indoor flowering period of 9 to 10 weeks, but we recommend 10 weeks for optimal maturation. Also, outdoors you can harvest your crop in the middle of October.
Do you think you can grow outdoors in USA?
Yes, you can grow outdoors in the USA. First of all, please read our seven points carefully. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or to place your seed order. Finally, after this introduction we start with the tips and tricks:
In the first place, given the great geographic extension of the United States, different and varied types of climates can be found in different areas of the country for the cultivation of marijuana. Also, from the tropical to the cold and dry climate. Being, in general, the southern region the most temperate and the north the coldest.
In other words, the areas around CANADA are colder.
Also, to be clear about the area where we live. We must take into account other important factors in outdoor cultivation in USA. Firstly, the temperature and hours of sunshine are very important. Also, the location where our small seeds of the GORILLA GLUE #4 will then become large cannabis plants.
The main types of climates in the country are:
Humid continental climate:
First, it covers mainly the north of the country. Marijuana growers have mild winters, but there are frequent strong drops in temperatures due to the arrival of polar air, producing frequent snowfalls on the highest peaks. Rainfall usually occurs in the summer, which is usually hot and humid.
In the first place, a factor to take into account in this type of climate is the genetics of our plant. If a strain is genetically less prone to mold, you will have less trouble growing your marijuana. In addition, it is important to have a good location for your cultivation and prune to have an aeration zone.
Affects the central United States, from east of the Mississippi River to the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains.
First of all, in this type of climate we have no problems with rain or snowfall. However, high temperatures are a problem. In other words, just like humidity, you must keep your growing areas aerated. In addition, very dependent on irrigation.
The western United States, from southern Alaska to California, has a temperate climate with high moisture content, which causes winters with abundant rainfall.
First of all, it is a climate in which it is important to select marijuana seeds with rapid flowering. In other words, heavy rains can ruin our harvest.
Typical of central and southern California. Climate similar to that on the Mediterranean coast of Europe, with mild temperatures. This considered microclimate is due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the proximity of the Rocky Mountains.
First of all, one of the best climates for growing marijuana. Second, it is a climate very similar to the South of Spain.
Subtropical humid climate:
Covers from the southern half of the west coast to Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, including some inland plains. The temperatures are warm all year round and the humidity is very high. In South Florida the climate can be considered monsoon with frequent hurricanes.
First of all, this type of subtropical climate is perfect for the development of our marijuana plants. In addition, the temperature is warm throughout the year. However, due to those monsoons and hurricanes, we must have good facilities, structures or cages. In other words, it is better to be safe than to lose the harvest due to strong winds or rain.
Dry subtropical climate:
The areas with this climate are Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. Great deserts abound there.
First of all, being such a dry climate, the location where we are going to grow our marijuana is important. In addition, it is important to prepare the cultivation soil to provide our plant with sufficient nutrients. It is also important to condition the area with large fans and water abundantly to create more humidity in the environment.
Hawaii’s own climate. It is characterized by its mild and constant temperatures of around 24-25ºC throughout the year. The rains are generous, which favors a very peculiar type of flora and fauna.
First of all, it is a climate that has a perfect temperature for growing marijuana. However, the continuous rainfall can be a small problem when the flowering stage is reached. In other words, our marijuana plant will appreciate the first rains in a vegetative state. But once they are in bloom, you have to protect them with a canvas or plastic.
Climate of Alaska:
The state of has different climates. On the coastline it is temperate. But in the rest of the territory it is sub-arctic, with low temperatures and high humidity, the minimum in winter easily reaching -30ºC, which causes areas with abundant snow and ice.
First of all, this type of climate is the most extreme. Second, it is important to wait a little longer to take our germinated plants outside. Third, when September rolls around, marijuana plants begin their flowering stage. Finally, when October has arrived, it is important to move the plants to the greenhouse due to the strong drops in temperature.
Also, this calendar with its hours sun and temperatures. Firstly, it’s important to prevent. In other words, growers in northern USA areas must have canvases in the event of sudden rains or cold days.
The medium where we grow our GORILLA GLUE #4 is important. Firstly, we have to be clear if we are going to grow directly on land or on pots.
If we grow our cannabis seeds in pots, we have no problem since we will use any soil on the market that is already fertilized and with its fertilizers.
Finally, if we cultivate directly on land. We advise to condition the soil first. In addition, remove the surface soil about 10cm and add worm humus to ensure the growth of the plant, red guano or dry bird guano, which you can buy in any garden store, to guarantee a great flowering and trichodermas, beneficial fungus for the protection of the roots and stimulate the microbiotic life of the soil.
These fungi will be your allies to get robust and high-yielding plants.
In conclusion, our culture medium is very important to obtain large resin buds from our GORILLA GLUE #4.
Firstly, photoperiod 12/12 is very important for the development of any plant. Secondly, at the Outdoor point we reflect how many hours of light our USA-grown plants receive. Finally, outdoors, most strains will naturally enter flowering when there are less than 15 hours of light daily.
Very important situation for daylight hours. Also, or just as important is light pollution. If our plants need 12 hours of light, they also need 12 hours to sleep.
Firstly, GORILLA GLUE #4 is a quality strain and many growers have confirmed to us that it can be grown perfectly in any region of the USA.
In other words, we are very proud to work hard for great results. Also, it is a plant that grows vigorously when we provide quality nutrients.
Finally, we reached the most anticipated point. After a long time of cultivation comes the harvest. Now it’s time to harvest your marijuana, the result of your effort is near.
Firstly, the best time to cut our marijuana plant is when several factors appear.
- Color change of the pistils. Firstly, pistils are born white. However, as harvest time approaches, they change from white to brown.
- Color change of our leaves. Firstly, we will notice how the leaves start to pick up a yellow color. This is due to the lack of nutrients and is a trigger for our marijuana plant to be ready.
- Observe the trichomes. Observing trichomes throughout the plant stage is important. Finally, the change from crystalline to amba color is a big trigger that our marijuana plant is ready to be harvested.
Firstly, GORILLA GLUE #4 is a sativa strain. Secondly, it has a quality lineage that makes it a potent strain that is born by three different varieties as Sour Dubb that give the energetic power, Chem Sis that is the Sister of the famous Chemdog that produces a lot of resin, and Chocolate Diesel that they bring the cherry flavor with a massive euphoria.
Finally, the set of terpenes that make up this quality strain provides a pine, spice and cherry flavor with an effect that finishes with a great dope sensation.
With GORILLA GLUE #4 your mood goes to the next level and you can feel a super social euphoria on rainy days. Special for people with depression, stress, or other similar pathology.