How To Breed And Preserve Your Own Cannabis Genetics

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How To Breed And Preserve Your Own Cannabis Genetics

Most of today’s precious cannabis breeding stock was discovered and developed by ordinary decent home growers. Some of the dankest marijuana on the market right now is the product of small, underground breeding projects. Here’s how to start your own!


Before you can embark on a home breeding project, you first must be clear about your objectives, resources, and available grow space. You will need to invest land, labour, and capital to accomplish your goals. There are no clever hacks or shortcuts when it comes to creating a unique, new cannabis strain. Be prepared to set up and maintain a medium to long-term breeding program. If you intend to continue cultivating a personal or commercial sinsemilla crop, then multiple quarantined grow spaces will be required. Typically, a minimum of three grow rooms are essential; ideally, one large grow room to flower batches of seeds, a second grow tent to house mother plants and/or to root cuttings, and a third sealed chamber for stud males.


Take cuttings from the dankest females in your cannabis garden or get more feminized/autoflowering seeds out of your favourite strains. You must first clearly identify all the attributes you desire in your new cannabis strains. And you must be aware of the traits to be bred out. This is how you will devise the recipe for your signature cannabis strain. Not quite sure where to start? The following 5 qualities are the backbone of most successful cannabis breeding programs.


You can only discover what traits male plants are contributing, be they dominant or recessive, by growing out the progeny. There really is no other way to tell. So make sure males are kept separate from females to avoid accidental pollination.


Obviously, a simple smoke test will confirm how dank your dope is. For too long, growers obsessed over the highest possible THC levels. Now we know better. If you are a medical cannabis grower, you probably want to focus more on CBD content and striking the right balance between THC and CBD. But you also don’t want to rule out heavy indica classics like Northern Lights XL or uplifting, cerebral sativas like Amnesia Haze XL.

Of course, high THC is still very desirable, especially for recreational users. But if you start with the right sticky green raw material, it’s not so complicated. For example, a crossing of 20%+ THC genetics like sativa-dominant Choco Candy (21% THC) or indica-dominant Crazy Cookies (24% THC), the resulting progeny are likely to be mostly dank and probably incredibly tasty too. Don’t forget about the “entourage effect”. Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids interact together to augment the overall effect of marijuana.


High flower-to-leaf ratios and high yields are always valuable assets for a strain. For many micro-growers and small-scale home-growers, this is the most prized characteristic. Critical XXL is an organic bud factory. Moreover, as a vigorous skunk hybrid, she is very stable and easy to clone. It helps to have at least one powerhouse parent in the mix, if only to increase the odds of finding heavyweight phenos amongst the offspring.


Aromatic qualities are always important. But a real variable. Some breeders want low-odour stealth strains, others crave zesty citrus and sweet, fruity scents; others still desire the loudest, most pungent musk. Regardless of which particular perfume you prefer, you better make sure you’ve got fresh carbon filters and an excellent air filtration system. Even breeding small batches of seeds 10–20 at a time will generate a strong smell of marijuana. Choose your parent strains very carefully and keep plenty of cured bud samples to evaluate the fully developed aroma. We can’t resist recommending Blueberry and White Cheese Fast Flowering for their enchanting bouquets.

How To Breed And Preserve Your Own Cannabis Genetics


This is really a matter of taste. Do you enjoy a smooth draw of earthy, old-school marijuana? Or some decadently sweet dessert cannabis? There is enormous diversity in the flavour profile of contemporary cannabis varieties. Consider Pineapple Express, Vanilla Ice, and OG Bubble Gum as essential reading material—and strong candidates for parents.


Take 5 minutes to do a quick Google search of prize-winning genetics from the HTCC during the late-1970s. That’s right. It does look like schwag. Today, dense, sugar-coated nugs are de rigueur. Bag appeal is usually the area where home breeding projects come up short. There can be variations between flower formations in individual plants from the same batch. Some recessive traits for loose, leafy buds can still present even in modern cannabis varieties. Skunk is the hybrid that set the standard for what a high-grade hybrid should look like.



F1 hybrids are more homogenous, grow more vigorously, and generally outperform their parents in the grow-op. Combining two stabilised, genetically unrelated strains is the only way to create genuine F1 seeds. If you want to create a badass hybrid like Power Kush, you must cross pedigree parents of Critical and OG Kush together. This is the closest to a quick win you’ll get from cannabis breeding. There is only one step. Cross two stable but different parents, and the offspring are F1 hybrids.


Cross the same F1 offspring together and you get F2 hybrids. This is where it gets complicated. F2’s will be far less uniform than F1’s, and will display an array of phenotypes. Crossing siblings or “filial breeding” is more challenging. It’s not impossible, but will take many generations of careful pheno hunting to achieve the desired stability.


Backcrossing is perhaps the best strategy for a small-scale breeding program. If you retain a mother plant of one parent or continue a line of cuttings, this is a viable option. First, cross both parent strains. Then, you grow a batch of the offspring and backcross to the original keeper parent. Usually, the resulting backcrossed progeny will need to be backcrossed again to the mother line and perhaps a subsequent generation too, in order to lock in the desired traits.