The Future of Cannabis Genetics: Tissue Culture & Beyond
To produce the highest quality solventless extracts, you need to start the process with cannabis flower that contains ideal genetic traits. There are several elements involved in cannabis cultivation and obtaining these ideal genetics cannot be overlooked when pursuing a premium end SKU. This article aims to familiarize you with basic cannabis cultivation terminology and provide insights into the world of genetics for solventless extraction.
With an understanding of basic cannabis terminology, you should have no problem wrapping your head around the solventless space and what makes it special. Pay close attention, and you'll know what traits to look for in specific solventless strains that you might want to pursue. We'll even shed some light on the limitless potential of tissue culture.
Let's dive in and get you caught up in this exciting space.
Image: cannabis tissue cultures via CannabisTech
Cannabis Cultivation Terminology Explained
Before we dive deeper into solventless genetics and tissue culture, it's crucial to understand some basic cannabis cultivation terms. Keep these in mind, as they are sure to come up in plenty of conversations:
- Genetics is the backbone of cannabis cultivation. Whether through purposeful selective breeding or by experimentation, all cannabis flower receives its traits from its genetics. A plant's genetics determine its yield potential, also giving the plant its terpene and cannabinoid content. The genetics of a cannabis plant also make the plant more resistant to pests and weather conditions. Cannabis breeders select strains with different desirable traits and cross breed them to achieve a superior hybrid flower.
- Propagation is the process of forming new cannabis plants by trimming leaves, stems, and seeds and re-planting them to produce clones that are identical to the donor plant.
- Male and female plants are essential to differentiate in cannabis cultivation. This is because female plants produce flower while males do not. An entire crop may be ruined if a male plant is mistakenly grown around a female, as the male will pollinate the females causing them to produce seeds rather than flower.
- Clones are typically female cannabis plants in the early stages of life. Clones are a direct replica of the original plant. Cannabis growers usually favor clones over seeds because clones tend to have more stable genetics and often grow to become female plants. Clones do, however, carry bacteria, viruses, and any other present problems that the mother they were cut from may have.
- Strain, also known as cultivar or variety, refers to an individual type of cannabis. There are many thousands of strain names with various characteristics and traits. In the world of solventless extraction and hash genetics, rosin strains with large, dense trichomes typically result in the best SKUs. The trichomes on these hash strains contain more resinous glands–which is ideal for hash making–and detach easily on most occasions.
How Phenotype Hunting Can Create the Best Strains
Since humans have been growing crops, we have selected the varieties that feature the most desirable traits–yield, flavor, nutrition, appearance–and so on. The same concept is right with cannabis cultivation. Phenotype hunting, or pheno-hunting, means searching through many different plants of the same cultivar to find the ones with the most desirable physical traits. An experienced cannabis breeder experiments with multiple seeds from the same strain to arrive at the ones with dominant traits desired for further cultivation.
A cross-bred strain inherits traits from both parent plants. These traits include potency, terpene profile, aroma, flowering time, and so on. Skilled growers can stabilize their cross-bred seeds, meaning the seeds will produce a plant with very similar genetics every time it's grown. The results of experimenting with seed stabilization are unpredictable and can lead to many different possibilities. These "happy accident" strains often arise from trial and error as well as experimentation.
What's in a Strain?
Not all cannabis strains are created equal. Verifying if a cultivar is actually what someone claims can be a difficult task, and in some cases is virtually impossible. There is a lack of scientific data on the origins of thousands of cannabis strains. Making matters more complicated, much of the information available is anecdotal or based on popularity. The lack of scientific data and traceability of cannabis strains is due, in part, to the illegality of cannabis on the federal level. Without federal approval, cannabis is prevented from the proper, uniform testing and industry standards necessary to verify a strain.
Without necessary verification, cannabis strains can go mislabeled. Randomly named strains are typically based on what is popular, what will sell more, and which name commands higher prices than others. Unless a cannabis consumer has access to the precise verification of the strains they're getting, evaluating its validity is difficult and almost impossible. As the legality of cannabis cultivation continues to evolve, consumers should have improved access to the verification of strains they're getting - based on reliable scientific data and not anecdotes.
Solventless Hash Strains
When it comes to genetics for solventless hash making, particular varieties produce the best SKUs. There are a few reasons why certain strains make better solventless extracts than others. The most crucial factor that makes up the best rosin strains is their trichomes, specifically the characteristics of them. Trichomes are resinous glands that contain desirable cannabinoids, terpenes, flavinoids, and other organic compounds that create the effects, aromas, and flavors in cannabis. These tiny glands are found on leaves, buds, and even the stem of the cannabis plant. As you can probably imagine, certain strains will produce more resinous trichomes than others, making them more ideal for hash making.
The size of a plant's trichomes plays a significant role in whether it will make a top-tier rosin strain as well. The best strains for hash making contain large, full-bodied trichomes that aren't too dense and easily detach from the plant. The easier a trichome separates from the plant, the smoother the hash washing process will be. If a plant has a very dense bud structure or trichomes, it can be more difficult for the resinous glands to collect in a hash washing vessel. Some of the best strains for rosin include GMO, Gorilla Glue #4, as well as those from the Chem and Papaya lineage. While this is only a tiny sample of the true rosin and hash friendly list of strains, these are a great place to start for upstart labs.
Another essential factor in genetics for solventless hash is the bud structure of the plant. Generally, indica-dominant varieties are short and thick, with densely packed buds. On the other hand, sativa-dominant cultivars tend to be tall and lanky with fluffier buds that are spaced further apart. Hybrid strains contain a combination of characteristics from both indica and sativa, often resulting in a well balanced strain. The combination of characteristics from both indica and sativa strains are why hybrids often produce the best SKUs, but some strains on either end of the spectrum can over produce for solventless extractions.
What is the Process of Tissue Culture?
While tissue culture has been utilized in agricultural spaces for decades, the technique has just recently made its way to the world of cannabis. This involves removing a small piece of plant tissue and transferring it from the original natural environment to grow in an artificial one. In an artificial growing space, a transferred plant clipping is much less susceptible to harmful factors like mold, pests, weather conditions, and so on. For example, pretty much every strawberry you've ever bought from a commercial grocery store (if you like them, or eat them) was propagated with tissue culture.
To begin the tissue culture process, a small clipping is taken from a plant with stable genetics. The clipping is thoroughly sterilized and given essential nutrients, containing vital sugars and hormones that promote successful growth. This is an important step as your tissue culture won't develop into a stable plant without the addition of appropriate hormone mixtures.
Image: cannabis plants growing from tissue cultures, photo taken from HighTimes.com
Next, different stages of plant development will begin to occur. The preservation process allows the tissue culture to be kept intact and sterile until the grower is ready to work with it. The grower can then add specific nutrients and hormones to encourage the development of roots and vegetative growth. When the plant originating from tissue culture grows large enough to multiply, hundreds of extract replica clones can be generated.
Tissue Culture: The Future of Cannabis and Solventless Genetics
Preservation of plant tissue cultures plays a vital role in the future of all things cannabis. The technique is a foolproof way to ensure that you will grow a plant with stable genetics every single time.
With tissue culture, strains for making rosin can be easily preserved in a sterile environment, while even the most stable clones can carry bacteria, viruses, and mold. The artificial environment utilized with tissue culture is sterile, making such concerns relatively nonexistent. With tissue culture cultivation, plants are much easier to monitor and control than traditional cannabis growing operations.
We believe that preserving a living plant via tissue culture is the future of breeding for solventless hash, mostly due to the ease of the process. Much like how solventless extraction machines take up significantly less space than hydrocarbon extraction devices do, the same could be said for tissue culture operations.
Tissue culture requires much fewer resources and time than traditional growing operations do. Hundreds of clones with stable genetics can be produced, even from the small clipping of a cannabis plant. Trimming and cutting plants in a conventional growing environment requires hours of labor and maintenance, taking up commercial operations' valuable time and resources.
While the implications and potential benefits of tissue culture are vast for commercial cannabis operations, even small-scale and at-home growers should benefit from this exciting, emerging method of propagation. With tissue culture, growers of all sizes will have more control over their cannabis plants' genetics than ever before. As with many aspects of cannabis, there is much more to study and learn about tissue culture. Soon, we should see more commercial cannabis operations adopting tissue culture techniques to preserve solventless genetics and produce hash strains.
Do you have questions about adding a solventless division to your extraction operation? Do you want to learn more about how your facility can benefit from producing high-quality live rosin SKUs? Contact us today! The experts at PurePressure are ready to help. Call today at 720-446-9565, or fill out the form right here on our website. We look forward to helping you out!