The Science of Hybrid Cannabis
Consumers and growers alike are quite fond of the variety of hybrid cannabis strains available today. When you hear the word ‘hybrid,’ it seems quite simple, yet it is complicated. Cannabis breeders create new strains by considering the unique traits of each parent plant. This includes each plant’s effects, strain, THC and CBD ratios, terpenes, and additional cannabinoids. Let’s explore the creation of a hybrid further from initial breeding to making it to market before discussing some popular hybrids.
History of Hybrid Breeds
Hybrid strains found today can be genetically traced to other strains and hybrids from the past 60 years. There are now over two thousand different strains that have a unique name and genetic strains. Interestingly, the current breeding methods began in Canada and the U.S. west coast in the mid-60’s. The initial reason for creating hybrids was to create a commercial plant that was both mold-resistant (like Sativa) and fast flowering (like Indica). Today, breeders often have science and biology degrees and backgrounds.
Breeding a New Hybrid
Like most flowering plants, cannabis plants are male and female and produce offspring through pollination and seeds. As noted above, each parent is carefully selected and could be any number of varietals of Indica, Sativa, or hybrid plants. Pure Sativa and pure Indica strains are very difficult to breed successfully and typically avoided. With endless possibilities, the breeder selects two plants, then cross-pollinates for their first-generation offspring.
Cannabis Oils: Pressed Edibles, Lotions, and More
The natural oils from cannabis plants can be extracted through pressing buds, leaves, or seeds. Of note, many types of cannabis oil are also made using solvents. These oils are further refined for their CBD content, use in lotions, topical oils, vapes, and edible oil products. There are both CBD and THC oils used in medical-related products for a variety of conditions.
Science Creates Stability
While it’s easy to create a hybrid, ensuring a new strain is stable for market use takes time. Stability is critical for growers, sellers, and consumers for a variety of reasons. Growers must know what to expect in terms of growth habits and bud yields, and sellers need to understand the hybrid’s effects. Similarly, consumers want to know what to expect when they consume their purchase.
The process involved in creating stability includes breeding out recessive genes that cause instability. The offspring are inbred, and at times hybridized with a previous generation. Each new generation is tested and studied by the breeder to weed out unsatisfactory plants, and crossbreeding continues until it results in strain stability. Once stabilized, seeds are marketed to growers. Many growers prefer growing mixed Sativa/Indica strains for crop viability and higher yields of product.
Hybrids Go To Market
After the new hybrid’s strain has been stabilized, it’s finally ready for the general market. As you work with a budtender or read about the new strain and decide to purchase it, be sure to start with a small amount. This will help you understand the hybrid’s effect and the best dosage for your usage.
Infinite Possibilities and Choices
The world of hybrid cannabis has infinite possibilities, with a range of nuances and customizations. Medical and recreational users are then allowed to have the best of the Sativa and Indica worlds without creating their own ‘mixture’ (which can be unpleasant). Naturally, the higher the THC content will provide a head buzz, and higher CBD content will provide a more relaxing sensation.
First-time cannabis users are often led to hybrid strains, so the effect is more balanced, or to experience a lesser effect of a parent strain. People who regularly consume cannabis for medical reasons often use a balanced hybrid to achieve the ideal effect. Each hybrid will have a slightly different effect on each consumer because everyone has unique body chemistry, so it does take some trial and error to find the perfect hybrid.
Popular Hybrid Strains
As reported in several articles and industry reports, the most popular strains in the summer and fall of 2020 included: