THE EVOLUTION OF THE AGE OLD DISCUSSION
BY AMARI EMANI
THE ARGUMENT CONTINUES, but after warehouses full of clones have flooded the market with undesirables over the last few years, it appears that seeds, at least among the more serious cannabis growers, are making a comeback. However, cloning is both a business opportunity and a chance for growers to preserve or acquire top-shelf genetics not yet, if ever, available from cannabis seed sellers.
Although there are several obvious advantages to starting your garden from clones, be leary of any incoming clones to your space, no matter who they came from. Bottom line is that clones are dicey, for several reasons. While you can be up and going relatively quickly with the genetics and sex of plants you desire, that quick start can bite you in the ass later in the race. Clones often carry pathogens and insects and even viruses. Seeds from reputable breeders are always a clean and fresh start–also ensuring that no harmful hormones, pesticides or fungicides will have ever been used in the production of your cannabis.
Most outdoor growers I know prefer to start from seed, some claiming to get a hardier plant. Some growers prefer seeds for experimental reasons, breeding and crossing their own stains. Growing from seed is by no means the easy route–the amount of time it takes to grow from seed easily adds an extra four to six weeks of growing time. It’s not as easy as just dropping a clone in the aeroponic propagator. You have to take quite a bit more care of a seedling–it’s delicate work to make sure a germinated seed is properly planted into your growing medium. It takes a lot more patience and learning from the beginning and then you have to sex the plants and even more time to hunt the phenotype you want to focus on from that pack of seeds.
Many people like the variety of a pheno hunt, and with seeds you get that option because of the slight phenotype variations among the pack, even in heavily stabilized crosses. These phenotype differences can be a positive or negative depending on your goals. In the emerging marketplace, we are finding that consumers are demanding a consistent flower, oil or extract that can deliver consistent results every time they smoke or ingest it. How are we to produce those consistent results? Enter the clone.
There are several logical ways that clones can, and have served the grower and consumer communities alike. After popping your seeds and doing the due diligence to select the best phenotype of the bunch, clones afford you the opportunity to grow and maintain that one expression of the cultivar so that consumers know exactly what to expect every time they see that strain available. A cloning regimen allows for exact duplication of that winning phenotype when you do find it if you don’t live in a medical marijuana or legalized marijuana state like California, Colorado, Oregon, etc. and you’ve heard of clone-only strains, it’s a little frustrating because usually you can’t get those clones unless you travel to those states and qualify as a permitted clone buyer under the state’s cannabis regulations.
The process of cloning has made more strains more available to growers than ever before and furthermore, most of the popular varieties of cannabis on the market today are the result of F-1 crosses and are thereby available only in clone format since most breeders don’t take the time to continue inbreeding a varietal enough to stabilize the seeds produced from it. Among these clone-only varietals are some instant classics like Golden Ticket, Trainwreck, Trinity and Green Crack. Cloning is ultimately responsible for the steady increase in quality and potency of cannabis across the board over the past three decades; being able to trade and breed the best specimens without the hassle of propagating hundreds of seeds sped up the time-line substantially. A single, legit commercial clone of a top-shelf, clone-only strain like Girl Scout Cookies or Cherry Pie can sell for as much as $140. But ultra-elite cuts shared in the top ranks of breeders and clone developers can sell for thousands of dollars each if you can even get your hands on them!