When growing cannabis for either commercial or personal use, there are a number of things to consider. Should you grow indica or sativa? What exact strains are the best to grow? And perhaps the biggest question of all: Should you grow your plants from cannabis seed or clones?
Seeds and clones both play essential roles in the cannabis space, and each is vital to the success of the industry. While growing from seed dominates the private sector home grows, and clones rule the word of commercial grows, a growing number of home growers recognize and use clones, and seeds are mandatory for cannabis companies that create their own proprietary strains.
What Kind Of Cannabis Do You Want To Grow?
Once a decision is made about whether a grow will consist of sativa or indica—or a combination of the two—a second decision about what specific strains to grow must be made. Indica grows will mature faster, take up less vertical space, and produce flower with a strong sedative and relaxing effect. Sativa grows, on the other hand, will stretch out a bit more by the time they mature and can sometimes take two to three weeks longer.
The Benefits of Growing With Cannabis Clones
Growing cannabis clones ensures consistency and quality since clones are grown from cuttings from a mother plant and will grow at nearly identical rates to nearly identical heights, producing flowers of the same exact quality. Clones are a known quantity that guarantee consistency—and this consistency is exactly what commercial grows require.
A master grower worth his or her salt can reliably calculate the amount of finished product that will result from each square foot of grow space. This type of accurate prediction provides incredible advantages since most vertically integrated commercial operations have a good idea of the flower quantity they require in a given month to match supply with demand. If demand for inventory changes, alterations can be made to accommodate supply chain demand.
When growing clones, there are very few surprises if the plants are healthy and free from diseases and pests, which is exactly what commercial operations require. Cannabis cultivation is farming, and farmers love consistency and hate surprises. Clones are the obvious way to go.
Selling Cannabis Clones To The Public
There is also a market for clones that companies sell to the public. In states where this practice is legal, there are laws about the quantity that can be sold as well as height limitations for the clones stocked in a retail store.
As well as clones sold in dispensaries, there are a growing number of clone-specific stores cropping up in legal states. The clones sold in stores will be high quality, and they will take less time to mature than plants grown from seed, because they have a head start. Both of these things are desirable for home growers—particularly novice growers.
The Challenges of Growing Cannabis From Seed
Growing cannabis seeds is a different ballgame altogether, but just as rewarding in its own way. There is a plethora of seed companies scattered across the globe, including the United States, and these companies will sell seeds by mail order (using discreet packaging) as well as to walk-in customers.
Seed companies create and market their own seeds and expend a lot of time and energy in research and development (R&D). Seed is also available to the public from seed banks, which are companies that market and sell seeds from a variety of seed companies, taking over the sales and shipping responsibilities from the individual seed companies. Amsterdam is still the epicenter of seed companies and banks and has been for a few decades.
Today, the variety of cannabis strains available in seed form boggles the mind, but most experienced growers in the U.S. are familiar with the big Amsterdam operations. Companies like Sensi Seeds, Dutch Passion, and Serious Seeds have built their names and reputations from hard work and sound marketing practices.
Growing Cannabis From Seed Can Be Hard – But Rewarding
When growing cannabis seeds, there will be many more unknowns and variation compared to growing cannabis clones. The plants that result from growing cannabis seeds may be inferior to plants grown from clones—but they also stand a chance of being better.
Depending on the exact strain grown from a single pack of 12 seeds, there could be several different phenotypes that result, all somewhat similar but different from each other. Potency, terpene profiles, and heights will vary. Take the LA Confidential strain, for example. While it’s a stable strain, two phenotypes typically occur, one taller with a higher yield and one that’s quite short. Both phenos deliver bud with the similar kushy flavors.
On the flip side, a strain like Jack Herer can produce a much wider variety of phenos, with quite a bit of variation in height, plant structure and variations in flavors.
The AK-47 strain is yet another example. AK-47 nearly always has a high yield and guarantees high-quality buds that have a sweet and spicy aroma and flavor. The plants are usually very consistent in size and shape. AK-47 also has a rare and elusive pheno, the coveted “wild cherry” pheno that has an amazingly different and delicious flavor. Many people have grown numerous packs of AK-47 seeds and never grown the wild cherry form. For this reason, when it’s encountered in a seed grow, it makes a great candidate for cloning.
Variation like this from seed grows is very undesirable to some growers and extremely desirable to others. It really comes down to the goals of each grower. Seed growers often romanticize the unknowns. Each individual seed has the potential to be something somewhat different and amazing. That’s what makes it interesting—even exciting—to grow from seed. The unknown possibilities can be enticing.
Seed Is Still A Trusted By Novices and Pros Alike
While seed dominates novice home grows, it also plays an essential role in commercial operations. When adding a new strain to those it offers, a cannabis company will require the best possible example of that strain. To find a good one to clone, companies will sometimes grow dozens of plants of the same strain to methodically evaluate each using a variety of criteria to determine which one is the absolute best. Then, this plant will serve as the mother plant to create a massive number of identical clones.
Commercial companies also use seed to create all-new strains and proprietary product. Creating new strains requires the breeding of known strains to produce seeds that are refined through selective breeding practices to create a strain that is different and marketable. An increasing number of cannabis jobs involve cultivators who work with seed.
Choose Wisely, and Get Growing
If you plan to grow cannabis either commercially or privately, deciding what role cannabis seeds and cannabis clones will play in your operation requires careful consideration. Each has its pros and cons, and each plays a necessary role in the world of cannabis. The primary goal of each grow and the best way to achieve it are the primary considerations.