Cannabis genetics: how does weed strains lineage work

Cannabis genetics: how does weed strains lineage work

Cannabis genetics control plant development and growth. Cannabis genetics also define the cannabinoid profile, terpene production, yield and many other factors which characterise the properties of our favourite cannabis seeds. Knowing some background to cannabis genetic history allows you to understand how cannabis strains evolved. It may even help you identify new strains similar to your existing favourites.

Cannabis genetics history from landraces to next-gen strains
Cannabis strain lineage: how genetics work in cannabis
Cannabis genetics research and testing are crucial
Identifying the genetics of cannabis strains
Improving genetics and cross-breeding cannabis

Cannabis genetics history from landraces to next-gen strains

Cannabis has been known to man for thousands of years. As well as offering recreational pleasure and medical benefits, the fibres have many practical uses and the seeds are a highly nutritious food resource. This has given cannabis an enduring, international appeal which shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, interest in cannabis and genetics has never been greater.

What are landrace cannabis genetics?

Landrace genetics in cannabis are ancient strains which have adapted naturally over long time periods to grow well in quite different types of geographical and climatic conditions. For example, indica strains are thought to have evolved to grow well in cooler conditions. Sativa strains are thought to have evolved for optimal growth in more tropical conditions.

Indica vs Sativa: Origins, Uses and Effects

What are modern hybrid cannabis genetics?

Modern hybrid cannabis genetics

Using existing agricultural/farming knowledge, the first ancient cannabis users were probably soon taking their preferred cannabis genetics and seeing if they would improve with further breeding, or crossing with another strain. Many modern cannabis breeders have worked tirelessly crossing various landrace strains and modern hybrids. In recent years, North America has been a valuable source of new cannabis genetics and hybrids. Often, large-scale, licensed cannabis producers grow thousands of cannabis seeds each year. The most productive plants with the best cannabinoid/terpene profiles are often saved for future breeding work.

Cannabis genetics explained

Modern breeders often take the best cannabis genetics and cross them in an attempt to find offspring which exhibit superior properties to either parent. This process of ‘selective breeding’ is often repeated over several generations. It allows the skilled breeder the chance to push cannabis genetics to their limit. When fully stabilised, the best cannabis genetics are the foundation of the finest cannabis seeds. Much cannabis strain lineage can be traced back to the 3 main foundations of modern cannabis breeding, Haze, Skunk and Kush.

Haze, Skunk and Kush. The 3 foundations of modern cannabis genetics
Skunk cannabis genetics and how they evolved

Following several decades of cannabis genetics research, selective breeding and hybridisation, the cannabis genetics map is now more diverse than ever. As well as regular cannabis seeds and feminised cannabis seeds there are now autoflowering seeds. You can also buy cannabis seeds rich in special cannabinoids such as CBG seeds or THCV seeds. You can buy outdoor cannabis seeds that have been selectively bred for growing outdoors.

The following links give you a taste of the diversity of modern cannabis genetics.

Top 5 outdoor cannabis seeds
Top 5 USA cannabis seeds
Top 5 yielding autoflower seeds
Top 5 yielding indoor feminised seeds

Cannabis strain lineage: how genetics work in cannabis

Mahmoud, Dutch Passion Head of Genetics with some tissue culture cannabis projects

Identifying the genetics of cannabis and understanding the types of properties they produce is the basis of cannabis breeding. Older, original cannabis seed banks like Dutch Passion are fortunate enough to enjoy access to a comprehensive gene bank of old and rare cannabis genetics.

Many of these cannabis genetics were collected on Dutch Passion expeditions in the 1970’s and 1980’s, often from regions which are inaccessible these days due to modern conflicts such as Afghanistan. Some of these original cannabis genetics are also probably unique and irreplaceable. They are stored in deep freeze and carefully looked after for future breeding research and high-tech tissue culture projects.

For cannabis seed producers, the importance of verified cannabis genetics can't be overstated. If you want to improve cannabis genetics it helps to know what you are starting with. Cannabis seed genetics define the type/quality of your eventual harvest. Most growers want a winning blend of high quality, THC rich buds with generous yields and an uncomplicated growing process. Cannabis genetics, combined with the environmental growth conditions that you supply, determine the final quality levels. Your final vape/smoke quality is all directly related to the cannabis lineage and the cannabis genetics.

How to find the best cannabis strains for you

Of course, even within a well bred, stabilised cannabis strain you can expect certain natural variations to occur, giving you a range of phenotypes. The following article helps you understand how the same cannabis genetics can give rise to subtle differences in individual cannabis plants.

Understanding cannabis phenotypes, chemotypes and genotypes

The only way to guarantee identical cannabis genetics between several plants is to take cannabis cuttings (sometimes known as cannabis clones) from the same mother plant. These should grow into genetically identical copies of the mother plant. However, it is important to state that the final genetic expression of any cannabis plant (including a cutting/clone) is heavily affected by the grow environment which you provide. That means that light levels, temperature, humidity, nutrition etc will all play a huge role in the development of your cannabis plant, irrespective of the cannabis seed genetics.

Cannabis genetics research and testing are crucial

There are several important aspects to effective, focussed cannabis genetics research. Firstly, you need to start with the best quality cannabis genetics. In Dutch Passion’s case, the cannabis genetics may come from our unique legacy of rare and original cannabis seeds from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Or the cannabis genetics may come from our global network of breeders, contacts and cannabis professionals.

But getting the best cannabis genetics to work with is just the start of the story. Knowing how to hybridise and stabilise cannabis genetics takes many years of effort. Knowing how to create feminised seeds, or make autoflower seeds requires further intricate and complicated work. If you want to create strains rich in new cannabinoids then you need time, lab resources such as tissue culture and cannabinoid/terpene analysis as well as a great deal of experience. It also helps tremendously if you have a qualified and experienced cannabis genetics specialist to plan the projects from start to finish!

Cannabis genetics and tissue culture, new ways to make improved cannabis seeds

In addition to the best cannabis genetics, you need access to the latest technology. Dutch Passion have invested heavily in technologies such as tissue culture. When combined with professional lab analysis (to determine e.g. cannabinoid and terpene profiles) these modern technologies can allow the professional cannabis seed breeder tremendous advantages when it comes to the speed and focus of their research. This type of research into cannabis genetics is far from cheap, but it is undeniably effective.

This modern, high-tech approach to cannabis genetics is a vast improvement on the less sophisticated approach used in the old days (and still used by many lesser cannabis seed companies even today).

Investing in high-tech modern facilities to improve cannabis genetics is expensive, but it does produce huge advantages for the committed cannabis seed suppliers. In Dutch Passion’s case it has allowed them to be first to market with ‘Special cannabinoid cannabis seeds’ such as CBG seeds (CBG-Force & Auto CBG-Force) and THCV seeds (THC-Victory). If either CBG or THCV proves to be as important and valuable as THC/CBD then the effort will have definitely been worthwhile.

The best cannabis genetics for 2020, and the following decade, will come from those breeders able to use the finest genetics with the most sophisticated techniques. Looking forward, we expect cannabis breeding to become ever more sophisticated and high tech.

Identifying the genetics of cannabis strains

Many cannabis growers wonder how to tell if you have good cannabis genetics. Simply looking at a cannabis seed can’t tell you anything about the result you are likely to get.

What can the appearance of a cannabis seed indicate?

The shape, colour or size of cannabis seeds are definitely not effective indicators of the eventual result. Those that understand how genetics work in cannabis know the importance of research before the decision is made to buy the cannabis seeds. You probably don't buy too many cannabis seeds each year, conduct your research carefully and choose the best cannabis seeds you can buy from a supplier you can trust.

Improving genetics and cross-breeding cannabis

Dutch Passion cannabis genetics tissue culture research

Cannabis breeding has changed dramatically in the last decade or two. Science and high tech advances have allowed cannabis genetics to be explored at a faster pace and more deeply than ever before. Whether you want a THC rich (or even a THC-free!) cannabis seed variety you now have more options than ever before.

Cannabis genetics are being constantly improved, especially by the high-tech premium quality cannabis seed producers. New cannabinoids will emerge in the coming years, these will provoke huge medical interest as medical researchers strive to explore which cannabinoids are most effective for specific medical conditions. Keep a close eye on the best resourced cannabis seed companies using the most modern research tools and techniques. The best cannabis genetics are produced by careful, patient research…not by accident.

Of course, the best cannabis seeds can't reach their full potential unless they are grown in good conditions. Note that there are plenty of environmental factors which will have a large effect on the eventual result from your cannabis seeds. Here are a few…

Factors that affect cannabis strain genetics

Choosing the best cannabis seeds is definitely the best way to start your grow. But you also need to be aware of the various parameters which will affect the way your seeds grow. Here are a few of the main environmental factors to look out for.

Optimising your cannabis grow room conditions

  • Soil/substrate type. As well as supplying nutrition, the substrate should also allow oxygen to reach the roots. Substrate affects the speed, vigour and health of growth. Good grow mediums allow rapid, healthy root growth

    Healthy cannabis roots mean healthy plants
  • Amount of light. Cannabis thrives with high light intensity in bloom. If light intensity is below optimum (or if the light spectrum is poor) you can expect lower yields. Many of the better cannabis growers find they get superior quality results when they upgrade from an HPS light to a modern LED grow light.

    Growing cannabis with LED grow lights
  • Angle of light. Buds develop well when exposed to direct light. Buds that are in the shade tend to be smaller. Some growers tuck the fan leaves below the buds to allow more light on the buds. Others will add an extra light (or a light mover) to improve light quality across the full canopy.
  • Nutrition. Avoiding over feeding and under feeding your cannabis plants is key to keeping them in the ‘nutrition sweet spot’ from seedling to harvest. If you give your cannabis plants nutrients that are too strong, it will damage the plant ‘burning’ the roots and leaves which may permanently stunt growth.
  • Vegetative growth period. When growing photoperiod dependent feminised cannabis seeds you can choose the length of the vegetative growth period. Usually 4-6 weeks is chosen. A shorter period will result in smaller plants with lower yields. A longer period of vegetative growth will produce larger plants and heavier harvests.
  • Distance between plant and light source. Put your plants too far away from the light and they may struggle to grow as quickly as a plant with optimised light levels. Light meters can be used to measure PPFD (light intensity) levels accurately.
  • Timing of harvest. Different growers have different attitudes to harvesting their cannabis crop. Some prefer a lively energetic buzz from early harvested cannabis with clear trichomes. Others prefer a late-harvested crop with a heavy stone and amber trichomes. Most growers seem to prefer somewhere in-between.

    When and how to harvest, dry and cure your cannabis
  • Effects of hybridisation. If your cannabis genetics have been hybridised you may see some plants leaning slightly more to the indica side with others showing more sativa characteristics. Many growers love the results and growth vigour seen from growing hybrid cannabis seeds.

    The best hybrid cannabis seeds

Best genetics cannabis seeds

Growing cannabis seeds is quite an investment of your time, effort and money. You don't want to spend several months growing low quality cannabis seeds, it pays to do your research carefully. Do you just want to grow the highest THC cannabis seeds? If so, the following links will be essential reading.

With over 25% THC is Auto Cinderella Jack the strongest autoflower in the world
Dutch Passion’s highest THC seeds, the ‘Extremely High THC Seed Collection’

Many cannabis growers find that they enjoy strains that don't have the highest (25% THC and above) THC levels. Research from the Dutch Government showed that the average THC levels in Dutch coffeeshop cannabis samples was around 16%. That’s lower than many people imagine. This suggests that many people are quite comfortable using cannabis strains with THC levels some way below the maximum values. Don't be put off by cannabis strains with medium THC levels (around 15%). Many people find such strains offer maximum enjoyment without some of the anxiety which may come from using strains that are simply a little too powerful.

What’s a high amount of THC in weed?

Dutch Passion continue to pioneer and lead research for new cannabinoids. As well as being the first to release cannabis seeds that produce CBG and THCV rich plants, new cannabinoids are also being investigated. Eventually, it is hoped that these will be released as new feminised cannabis seeds (or autoflower seeds) in the future. Keep reading the Dutch Passion blog for the very latest info and announcements!

As well as researching new cannabinoids, Dutch Passion have a strong focus on releasing the best THC-rich varieties. Auto Power Plant is one such new release, delivering very heavy yields in around 11 weeks with notably powerful, THC rich buds.

If you do have preferred cannabis genetics, you may be interested in trying strains which are related to your favourites. A cannabis lineage chart can show you the families of cannabis genetics which are related to each other. Dutch Passion have, for example, the Orange Family of cannabis seeds which are all closely related to original Orange Bud genetics.

Orange Family of cannabis seeds

There is also the Blue Family of cannabis seeds which are all related to Blueberry cannabis genetics. Knowing the cannabis genetics that most appeal to you can help you make future choices on the type of cannabis seeds you want to grow.

Blue Family of cannabis seeds

You can also choose cannabis seeds from the Skunk family of cannabis genetics, USA special seeds or other types of cannabis genetics.

USA Special family of cannabis seeds

Whichever cannabis genetics that you choose to grow next, we hope you enjoy growing them!

Cannabis genetics: how does weed strains lineage work
October 16th 2020
Categories : Cannabis Strains

Leave a comment


Jay - Dutch Passion

2021-04-28 10:30:59

Hello @ Dreubber 2021-04-16 06:30:21 How the genetics will blend is dependent on the dominant traits of a strain. It can be a mix of 50/50 but also a mix of 90/10. After breeding a specific strain you will find out how the dominant traits of each strain are apparent in the offspring. Greetings, Jay - Dutch Passion


2021-04-16 06:30:21

Curious. When cross breeding with a female and pollen from a male, how do the genetics blend for the new seed? Does the seed take on more of the female plants traits or the males or equally both??