SIRA COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER
Ever find a strain you really love and seek out? Well if you’d tried that same strain from multiple growers or various harvest batches, chances are your experience each time will have varied. What determines a strain’s unique profile is largely impacted by both genetic and environmental factors. Differences in these areas, can lead to varying structural formation and ultimately experience. While no two plants are the same, the process of pheno-typing helps guide a grower to select the best representation of a strain based on its various characteristics.
There are two main factors that impact a strain’s potential: genotype and phenotype. A genotype is the plant’s DNA or genetic code; this defines the possibilities a plant could have once grown. The traits of an actual plant, the possibilities that become reality, are known as its phenotype. It’s what makes the plant’s particular taste, smell, shape, color, or potency out of hundreds of different options for each.
Coming full circle, the environment is what pulls the plant’s physical traits from its genetic code, meaning even plants from the same strain can end up vastly different if grown in a different environment or by different people.
So, how do growers pick their top strains and maintain some sort of consistency?
The secret to ensuring that the best genes are passed from generation to generation, as any successful grower knows, is pheno-hunting. Following germination from seeds of the same strain, pheno-hunting is the process of identifying the plant(s) with the dominant traits the grower wants to cultivate.
For example, you’d like to grow the strain Cannalope Haze from a pack of 6 seeds. After germinating the seeds and allowing them to grow, you would select one of the 6 plants with the best characteristics to then take cuttings or clones from.
Here begins a treasure hunt for the phenotypes with winning characteristics.
HOW DOES PHENO-HUNTING WORK?
Since it’s impossible to distinguish one seed from the next, they need to be grown out before the process of selection can begin. The grower will start by labeling each plant with a specific number, so each plant can be easily identified as it starts to mature. For example, Cannalope Haze #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6.
Following the plant’s progress, the grower will record observations, taking note of how efficiently the plants grow and looking out for traits such as:
- Plant Health: The plant’s reaction to temperatures, dependence on water, resistance to mold and pests, and overall strength
- Growth structure: The plant’s height, width and branching
- Terpene profile: The aroma coming from each flower
- Appearance: The plant’s leaves, bud coloring and structure (conical, airy, dense)
- Trichomes: Density of trichome coverage across the plant
- Peak maturity: How early the plant is ready for harvest
Once they’ve picked one or two favorite plants before harvesting, the grower can take clones from the winning plant(s). When the time comes to harvest, dry, and cure the plants, the grower can further verify their pheno-type selection by analyzing each finished product’s cannabinoid and terpene content as well as yield and overall bag appeal. As heartbreaking as it may be, plants with the wrong traits or of the wrong gender (male) must go.
Want to stay up to date with Sira.Community?
Start by signing up for our newsletter.
Get updates on community events, cannabis education and workforce development.