As Spring nears, outdoor marijuana farmers are planning their fall bounty. In the early days of marijuana farming, everyone grew from seeds. Seed cracking was a ritual and a source of pride. Friends swapped their favorite varietals and everyone had that one strain that grew the best flowers in the neighborhood. Then people realized that marijuana cultivation could provide a decent living and started looking at their farms as businesses. Businesses require stability and cost-effectiveness so more and more growers replaced their seed plants with clones. But the newest trend in marijuana cultivation is a return to seed plants. There is some real value in the old school growing techniques and, luckily, advances in science are making it cheaper and easier to do than ever before.
There’s a reason clones have been popular for so many years. Unlike most other crops, cannabis can vary from seed to seed. Clones provide the product stability that seeds lack. A clone will look, grow and produce exactly like its’ mother. They also saves growing time since they’re purchased a few weeks into the growing cycle. And, to some, the biggest allure of using clone plants is they’re guaranteed female. You don’t have to put time and money into growing starts only to have to yank half of your crop because they’re male.
The use of clones also has it’s drawbacks. Because a clone is an exact replica of its’ mother, it carries all of its’ mother’s pests and disease. As clones pass from room to room, garden to garden, these diseases can multiply and be transferred to other plants. But that’s not all a mother hands down to her clones. Even organically grown marijuana can fail testing if its’ mother was treated with systemic pesticides. No farmer wants to put all that care and money into growing responsibly only to end up with a tainted product.
But the biggest reason farmers are starting to shy away from clone use is a renewed interest in genetic diversity. Clones create a monoculture. Sure, you’re able to grow the exact strain you know your buyer wants but what happens when tastes change? Will other varietals still be available? Plants need natural reproduction. They need to mix genetics with other strains. It’s how they evolve and weed out their weakest traits. Mendel discovered his entire theory of genetics by watching pea plants grow. If growers want to create a marijuana industry based on unique varietals and tastes (much like the wine industry), nurturing cannabis diversity is necessary.
Growing from seeds is actually easier than making cuttings for clones. The plants you get are bigger and stronger. And if you start your own seeds, you don’t have to worry that you’ll introduce foreign diseases to your garden. Of course, growing from seeds comes with it’s own challenges. Seed plants take a little longer to grow and top-notch seeds can be expensive. But the biggest complaint growers have about growing from seeds is waiting, sometimes up to three months, to sex their plants. That means several months of growing and caring for plants knowing only half of them will be viable. Even feminized seeds only have a 90% success rate and they come with an elevated risk of being hermaphrodite.
Well, that’s where science has stepped up to the plate. Phylos Bioscience, the Oregon-based company mapping the marijuana genome, now offers plant sexing kits. Using DNA analysis, they can tell you within 7-10 days of germination if your plant is male or female. And it only takes 48 hours to get your results. Now you can go from seed to a female-only garden in under two weeks. Farmers are saving an average of $20-80 per seed in time, materials and grow space. And it’s incredibly easy to do. Phylos Bioscience has done over 10,000 tests without a single false positive. Shipping your cotyledon sample is legal in all 50 states. It’s a no risk, all result proposition
Sexing kits are currently available at Trim Scene Solutions. In addition to partnering with Trim Scene Solutions at Hempcon’s Heart of Nature music festival March 24-26, 2017, the Phylos Bioscience team will be stopping by the store on Thursday, March 23 to talk about their product. Find out how these kits can work for your garden. The next generation of marijuana connoisseurs will thank you.