Grow

Does cloning ruin cannabis strains over time?

If you’re a cannabis enthusiast or familiar with the basic principles of botany, you’ll know that cannabis plants come from two sources: seeds and clones. One of the enduring debates among cannabis growers is the merits of growing from seeds versus cultivating from clones.

Seeds are created by sexual propagation and contain genes from both parents, rendering the seed—and the plant the seed grows into—genetically unique.

Cannabis clones are cuttings taken from a healthy female—called a mother plant—that has been grown from seed or is itself a clone. So cuttings can be taken from clones, or clones of clones, ad infinitum. 

After a cutting of a growing branch is taken, it’s ideally dipped in a hormone medium and then roots out. Through this form of asexual reproduction, identical cannabis plants can be grown abundantly and for free for successive generations. Or can they?RelatedHow to clone cannabis plants

Cannabis cloning represents an incontestably straightforward way of getting identical cannabis. What’s more, it’s currently the most dominant method of cultivating cannabis. In a commercial context where consumers demand consistency, it’s a gift. 

However, there are murmurs among seasoned growers that clones lose potency over time. Some think it’s the phenomenon of clonal degradation: the notion that cannabis clones drift away from the mother plant’s genes over subsequent generations, resulting in weaker plants that yield less and become more susceptible to pests and fungi. 

Clonal degradation: What causes it?

Clonal degradation, or genetic drift as it is sometimes called (though this term is debatable), is fiercely contested in the world of weed: some maintain it is a myth, while others insist it’s a real phenomenon. Cannabis chat rooms are saturated with arguments over how clonal decay occurs, with some blaming mutation in clones, while others point to cellular degradation when they become “cloned out.”

Let’s unpack genetic drift by briefly revisiting some of the basics of high school bio. 

Cloned cuttings can’t change their genetic imprint because a clone is an exact genetic replica of the mother plant. A clone is even the same cellular age as the mother plant—a one-week-old clone taken from a two-month-old mother is actually two months old. RelatedHow to Start Your Own Cannabis ‘Mother Plant’

Genetic variation comes from sexual reproduction, i.e., with seeds. While genetic mutations can occur as a result of growth, it doesn’t mean that the gene pool of cannabis clones dramatically changes from generation to generation. 

But the same clones subjected to different environments often look and grow differently. An under-fertilized clone in a low-humidity environment will grow with less vigor than its sister receiving perfect fertilization and humidity in a grow room across town. Environment plays a critical role in the growth and health of a cannabis clone.

Let’s talk epigenetics and the environment

The field of epigenetics offers valuable insights for understanding how cannabis clones can appear to lose potency. Epigenetics refers to outside stimuli, or modifications, that can turn genes on or off. It’s not that there is an alteration of the genetic code in the clone; rather, environmental factors modify its genetic potential and expression.

“Epigenetic impacts on clone health over time are very significant. Without proper mineral nutrition and biological health, the vigor of a clone will diminish over time as it continually is replicated, thus reducing its viability,” said Russell Pace III, President of the Cannabis Horticultural Association.Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.

Epigenetics provides us with a more nuanced understanding of the nature versus nurture paradox. Genes load the gun, as the saying goes, but the environment pulls the trigger. 

So now that we know successive generations of cannabis clones aren’t genetically inferior in some way, what are some of the environmental factors or stressors that affect the growth of clones?

Environmental stressors that affect clones

Environmental elements that are essential to optimizing clone potency include the maintenance of appropriate levels of light, humidity, soil nutrients, and water. Stressors that should be avoided include over or underwatering, over or underfeeding, incorrect soil pH, and inconsistency with light cycles during the vegetative and flowering cycles. Pesticides can be another stressor that can damage plants when misapplied or applied overzealously.

Taproots: they’re important

Another inevitable contributor to clonal decay that isn’t environmental may be the lack of a taproot. Cannabis grown from seed has a taproot—a central root which is sent deep into the soil from which subsidiary roots grow. 

When a cutting is taken from a cannabis plant, the cutting must develop a tangle of roots to funnel up moisture and nutrients. Clones lack a taproot and therefore are structurally (not genetically) distinct to cannabis grown from seed.RelatedCannabis Seeds 101: All You Need to Know and More

“The lack of a taproot definitely affects the vigor of a cloned plant when compared to the growth rate of a seed plant,” said Pace. “A seed plant will be infinitely more robust and have faster growth rates in most cases.” 

Cleanliness is critical to clone success

The mere act of taking a cutting from the mother plant also introduces a host of potential problems. Aside from inflicting transplant shock on the clone, the cut part creates an easy passage for pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi to weave their way in, causing infection. 

“Basically, a clone infected with a virus is like a dud where it grows slow and really doesn’t produce very well,” said Pace. 

Growers who scrupulously sterilize cloning equipment and use proper techniques will have greater success cloning without issue. When every care is taken to ensure that the cutting is taken as gently as possible, and appropriate rooting and hormone mediums are used, the clone is more likely to extend a robust rooting system and grow strong and healthy.

Genetic mutations can occur in clones

That said, however, cannabis horticulturist Jorge Cervantes points out that genetic mutations can and do occur in clone populations as they grow and can be passed on through cuttings. While peer-reviewed studies exploring the intricacies of cannabis botany are still few and far between, there is research to suggest that phenotypic variation—that’s variation in physical characteristics—in plant cuttings is due to sporadic mutations in the DNA sequences. 

A theory known as Muller’s ratchet argues that clone populations are doomed to accumulate increasing numbers of harmful mutations, which inhibit the plant’s ability to grow and thrive. Some interpret it as nature’s way of showing a preference for sexual reproduction in plant populations.

What’s more, telomeres may also play a role in clonal decay. Telomeres are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that ensure DNA is copied accurately when it divides. When telomeres are stressed or damaged, the very end of the DNA strand doesn’t make it into the new copy, which results in a loss of vital genetic information. RelatedIs tissue culture the future of growing cannabis?

It can be helpful to conceptualize this process like a photocopier cutting off the last line of text from a page each time it is copied—analogously, DNA strands may become shorter with every cell division. 

The result is that plants lose their competence to undergo normal cell division, and healthy growth becomes decelerated or arrested. While we still don’t know a lot about how telomeres work in cloned plants, or more specifically in cloned cannabis plants, we do know that telomere shortening can be exacerbated by environmental stressors and physiological processes such as aging. 

And it’s important to only clone from mother plants in a vegetative state as this study shows that age may play a role in clonal genetic mutations. Older mothers that have already been through flowering cycles are not an optimal source for cuttings because the stress of these processes compromises their genetic integrity

How to optimize conditions for your clones

Ultimately, there is a host of factors that may contribute to clonal decay. While the control of some elements is out of our hands, clonal degradation can be somewhat avoided with proper care, technique, and management of clones. Take clones from robust young mothers using sterile equipment, provide them with the best possible environment, and there’s no reason they won’t thrive for generations.

What’s most promising, according to Pace, is that even damaged or weak clones can be nursed back to health with the right growing conditions such as healthy soil.

“I think this is a most promising type of immunotherapy, so to speak,” says Pace. “Healthy soil biology can act as epigenetic gene therapy for plants. The grower attempts to create optimal environments loaded with beneficial biology and a well balanced soil chemistry.”

This epigenetic gene therapy, of sorts, can boost the innate immune systems of clones. “It essentially allows them to express their highest level of epigenetic potential. It’s really fascinating and something I’ve witnessed first-hand,” said Pace. 

Stone, Emma. “Does Cloning Ruin Cannabis Strains over Time?” Leafly, 3 Jan. 2020, https://www.leafly.com/news/growing/does-cloning-ruin-cannabis-strains.

398 Kush

398 Kush is a delightful indica heavy hybrid strain that will melt both mind and body into total relaxation. These flowers smell sweet and earthy. The smoke is a bit harsh, and tastes sweet.

“398 Kush – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, https://www.massroots.com/strains/398-kush/.

Alien Inferno

Alien Inferno is an indica dominant hybrid that was created by crossing White Fire x Alien OG with El Diablo. These flowers smell strongly like fuel, pine and lemon. The smoke is smooth with an earthy, woody aftertaste. This strain will leave users with a feeling of total body relaxation.

“Alien Inferno – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, https://www.massroots.com/strains/alien-inferno/.

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginner

The tools and information you need to grow your own weed.

Looking for the basics of how to grow marijuana? Here are the tools and information on how to grow weed affordably and effectively. All you need is a small discreet space and a little bit of a budget to get started on your indoor pot production.

Grow Tools

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

 Pinterest

The first thing you’ll need is a place to grow. I recommend getting yourself a decent grow tent. They’re cheap, made to grow inside of and can be put up and taken down quickly by one person. Some tents come with packages that include all kind of complicated hydroponic equipment. Your best bet is to purchase only what you need inside the tent and to learn how to grow weed without the expensive plastic. Some even have separate chambers for vegetative growth and cloning, making them perfect for people living in one-bedroom apartments or studios with limited room to grow.

First, you’ll need a growlight. I like HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lighting – HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) or MH (Metal Halide) systems with ballasts, bulbs and reflectors. If heat from these lights will be an issue, there are also LED (Light-Emitting Diode) and CFL (Compact Fluorescent) systems you can employ. Be sure to get a light that covers your tent’s footprint and invest in a decent timer to control when your light turns on and off.

You’ll also need an exhaust fan and activated carbon filter to reduce heat and eliminate odors. Be sure to get one that’s rated for your tent’s size with the proper ducting size. A clip-on circulating fan will keep air moving and stop it from being stagnant. A thermometer/hygrometer is also a must for keeping track of temperature and humidity.

If you don’t have access to marijuana seeds or clones from a dispensary or friend, you’ll need to get some cannabis seeds mailed to you. Don’t have them mailed to the same place you plan to grow if you’re not growing legally. Don’t just learn how to grow weed, learn how to be discreet and not brag or bring attention to yourself.

A simple loose and airy soil mix in 3-5 gallon buckets are great for beginners and much more forgiving than any hydroponic system. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom of the buckets and use saucers under them to catch any overflow. You’ll need to purchase nutrients to feed to your plants as they grow and a watering can as well.

How To Grow Weed

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

After you’ve planted your seeds or rooted your clones, it’s time to get them growing. Lower your reflector so that it’s closer to the plants rather than making them stretch to reach for light. Raise the lighting system as your plants grow. Set your light timer to be on for 18 hours per day and off for 6 hours. During this vegetative stage, the plant will grow leaves and branches but no flowers (unless it’s an auto-flowering plant).

Avoid overfeeding and overwatering your plants at all costs. Err on the side of caution as it’s always easier to add more nutrients or water than it is to take them away. Marijuana roots prefer a wet/dry cycle so lift up your buckets and you’ll get a better idea for if they need watering or not by the weight. The first sign of overfed plants is burnt leaf tips. The first rule of how to grow weed is to learn to stay off of its way sometimes.

Anytime space is limited for growing, some basic rules apply: Since square footage is at a premium, plans must take full advantage of each available inch. This means choosing between growing indica-dominant strains such as Hashplant, Afghani #1 or planning on using drastic trellising and training techniques if growing out sativas such as Super Silver Haze, Jack Herer or Kali Mist.

Pruning For Higher Yield

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

When pruning, start early and often. Cut or pinch branches just above the node where two new shoots will emerge. If you stay on top of this process, you’ll have plants that look like bonsai bushes, with plenty of bud sites but not a lot of stretching out and big gaps between nodes. This is the efficient way to get bigger yields out of small spaces but your vegetating time will increase so factor that into your schedule.

Don’t prune or pinch plants at all once they’ve begun flowering – you’ll only be decreasing your harvest at that point. If the branches are threatening to reach the light, bend them or tie them down to keep them from burning. A trellis system constructed from chicken wire at canopy level (aka the ScrOG or Screen of Green system), will further spread out bud sites and increase your yields considerably. Simply train growing shoots to grow horizontally along the bottom of the screen to fill empty spots.

Flower Power

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Indoors, The decision of when to induce flowering in your plants is entirely up to you. If you want to learn how to grow weed, it’s important to determine how much space you have and to factor in the fact that your plants will stretch for at least a few weeks after flowering is induced. I usually recommend one week per gallon of container, so a plant in a five-gallon bucket should get approximately five weeks of vegetative time.

When you’re ready to begin the flowering stage, switch your timer to a 12 hour on/12 hour off light cycle. Be sure never to interrupt the 12-hour dark period with any light. This confuses your plant and can cause serious problems.

Change your feeding regimen to one suited for flowering. Plant nutrients generally come in vegetative or flowering formulations so switch over to a “blooming” solution. Depending on the flowering time of your strain, determine when you have two weeks or so left and begin the flushing process. If you’re growing a 60-day flowering strain, start to flush your grow medium with only plain water around day 46.

Harvesting, Drying and Curing

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

 Pinterest

Knowing when and how to harvest your buds is as important as knowing how to grow weed.

Use a loupe or a strong magnifying scope to take a very close look at the trichomes; the tiny glandular stalk and head sometimes referred to as “crystals”. Up close, they resemble little glass mushrooms with a stem that forms a bulbous round clear top. Inside that gland head resides the psychoactive compounds (THC, CBD etc). Harvest when the majority of the gland heads begin to go cloudy white and before they’ve gone completely amber. Harvest when they’re mostly amber if you desire a more lethargic stone.

Post-harvest, you will trim and hang up your buds to dry. This process should take about a week or two depending on the humidity and heat in your area. It’s always best to keep this process slower than 3-4 days in order to ensure you aren’t locking in that “green” chlorophyll taste. Add a humidifier to your drying room if you think your nuggets are drying out too quickly. Never leave a fan blowing directly onto your drying colas but make sure air is circulating to avoid mold and bud-rot.

After you’ve determined that your buds are sufficiently dried you’re ready to jar them up for the cure. The stems should snap instead of bending and the outside of the flowers should feel bone dry to the touch. The truth is there is still plenty of water stuck in the bud and the curing process will slowly “sweat” out the remaining liquid.

Always use opaque jars (ones you can’t see inside) and place them in a cool dark place. Open up the jars to determine the level of moisture and leave them open if there’s any condensation forming on the inside of the glass. Slowly but surely, if you open and close the jars once or twice a day, the moist air will be replenished by dry air and the water that’s stuck in the middle of your bud will work its way to the outside and then out into the air altogether. After three weeks to a month or so curing, your buds should burn and taste perfectly.

A key part of learning how to grow weed is mastering drying and curing techniques. You do not want marijuana to dry too quickly or too slowly, as the ideal drying time for a healthy and flavorful marijuana plant is 10 to 14 days. In this video, you will learn the perfect temperature and humidity to dry and cure weed, as well as pro tips that will teach you how to grow weed and trim your plants like an experienced veteran, leaving you with a grade-A product. 

Attention to detail is essential if you are a beginner who is trying to learn how to grow weed. Even the most inconsequential detail could be the difference between a healthy plant and a dud. In this video, learn about the best type of container to use to grow your marijuana plant. We recommend a “smart pot,” which is a container that is made of breathable fabric that allows the roots of your plant to grow much larger. Larger roots mean a larger marijuana plant, which means a more bountiful weed yield when the time comes.

Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Hydroponic Garden

A hydroponic garden, also known as a “hydro” setup, is a very popular implementation to grow high-quality weed. In this video, an expert takes you through the ins and outs of a typical hydro setup, allowing you to see what it takes to successfully implement your own hydro setup at home. For those who are beginners just learning how to grow weed, a hydroponic garden may seem way too complicated to even consider. However, with some assistance from the experts at High Times, you can easily set up a hydro system that will give you an epic yield! 

Pest Control and Management

Looking for the basics of how to grow marijuana? Here are the tools and information on how to grow weed affordably and effectively. All you need is a small discreet space and a little bit of a budget to get started on your indoor pot production.

Grow Tools

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

 Pinterest

The first thing you’ll need is a place to grow. I recommend getting yourself a decent grow tent. They’re cheap, made to grow inside of and can be put up and taken down quickly by one person. Some tents come with packages that include all kind of complicated hydroponic equipment. Your best bet is to purchase only what you need inside the tent and to learn how to grow weed without the expensive plastic. Some even have separate chambers for vegetative growth and cloning, making them perfect for people living in one-bedroom apartments or studios with limited room to grow.

First, you’ll need a growlight. I like HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lighting – HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) or MH (Metal Halide) systems with ballasts, bulbs and reflectors. If heat from these lights will be an issue, there are also LED (Light-Emitting Diode) and CFL (Compact Fluorescent) systems you can employ. Be sure to get a light that covers your tent’s footprint and invest in a decent timer to control when your light turns on and off.

You’ll also need an exhaust fan and activated carbon filter to reduce heat and eliminate odors. Be sure to get one that’s rated for your tent’s size with the proper ducting size. A clip-on circulating fan will keep air moving and stop it from being stagnant. A thermometer/hygrometer is also a must for keeping track of temperature and humidity.

If you don’t have access to marijuana seeds or clones from a dispensary or friend, you’ll need to get some cannabis seeds mailed to you. Don’t have them mailed to the same place you plan to grow if you’re not growing legally. Don’t just learn how to grow weed, learn how to be discreet and not brag or bring attention to yourself.

A simple loose and airy soil mix in 3-5 gallon buckets are great for beginners and much more forgiving than any hydroponic system. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom of the buckets and use saucers under them to catch any overflow. You’ll need to purchase nutrients to feed to your plants as they grow and a watering can as well.

How To Grow Weed

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

After you’ve planted your seeds or rooted your clones, it’s time to get them growing. Lower your reflector so that it’s closer to the plants rather than making them stretch to reach for light. Raise the lighting system as your plants grow. Set your light timer to be on for 18 hours per day and off for 6 hours. During this vegetative stage, the plant will grow leaves and branches but no flowers (unless it’s an auto-flowering plant).

Avoid overfeeding and overwatering your plants at all costs. Err on the side of caution as it’s always easier to add more nutrients or water than it is to take them away. Marijuana roots prefer a wet/dry cycle so lift up your buckets and you’ll get a better idea for if they need watering or not by the weight. The first sign of overfed plants is burnt leaf tips. The first rule of how to grow weed is to learn to stay off of its way sometimes.

Anytime space is limited for growing, some basic rules apply: Since square footage is at a premium, plans must take full advantage of each available inch. This means choosing between growing indica-dominant strains such as Hashplant, Afghani #1 or planning on using drastic trellising and training techniques if growing out sativas such as Super Silver Haze, Jack Herer or Kali Mist.

Pruning For Higher Yield

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

When pruning, start early and often. Cut or pinch branches just above the node where two new shoots will emerge. If you stay on top of this process, you’ll have plants that look like bonsai bushes, with plenty of bud sites but not a lot of stretching out and big gaps between nodes. This is the efficient way to get bigger yields out of small spaces but your vegetating time will increase so factor that into your schedule.

Don’t prune or pinch plants at all once they’ve begun flowering – you’ll only be decreasing your harvest at that point. If the branches are threatening to reach the light, bend them or tie them down to keep them from burning. A trellis system constructed from chicken wire at canopy level (aka the ScrOG or Screen of Green system), will further spread out bud sites and increase your yields considerably. Simply train growing shoots to grow horizontally along the bottom of the screen to fill empty spots.

Flower Power

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Indoors, The decision of when to induce flowering in your plants is entirely up to you. If you want to learn how to grow weed, it’s important to determine how much space you have and to factor in the fact that your plants will stretch for at least a few weeks after flowering is induced. I usually recommend one week per gallon of container, so a plant in a five-gallon bucket should get approximately five weeks of vegetative time.

When you’re ready to begin the flowering stage, switch your timer to a 12 hour on/12 hour off light cycle. Be sure never to interrupt the 12-hour dark period with any light. This confuses your plant and can cause serious problems.

Change your feeding regimen to one suited for flowering. Plant nutrients generally come in vegetative or flowering formulations so switch over to a “blooming” solution. Depending on the flowering time of your strain, determine when you have two weeks or so left and begin the flushing process. If you’re growing a 60-day flowering strain, start to flush your grow medium with only plain water around day 46.

Harvesting, Drying and Curing

How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

 Pinterest

Knowing when and how to harvest your buds is as important as knowing how to grow weed.

Use a loupe or a strong magnifying scope to take a very close look at the trichomes; the tiny glandular stalk and head sometimes referred to as “crystals”. Up close, they resemble little glass mushrooms with a stem that forms a bulbous round clear top. Inside that gland head resides the psychoactive compounds (THC, CBD etc). Harvest when the majority of the gland heads begin to go cloudy white and before they’ve gone completely amber. Harvest when they’re mostly amber if you desire a more lethargic stone.

Post-harvest, you will trim and hang up your buds to dry. This process should take about a week or two depending on the humidity and heat in your area. It’s always best to keep this process slower than 3-4 days in order to ensure you aren’t locking in that “green” chlorophyll taste. Add a humidifier to your drying room if you think your nuggets are drying out too quickly. Never leave a fan blowing directly onto your drying colas but make sure air is circulating to avoid mold and bud-rot.

After you’ve determined that your buds are sufficiently dried you’re ready to jar them up for the cure. The stems should snap instead of bending and the outside of the flowers should feel bone dry to the touch. The truth is there is still plenty of water stuck in the bud and the curing process will slowly “sweat” out the remaining liquid.

Always use opaque jars (ones you can’t see inside) and place them in a cool dark place. Open up the jars to determine the level of moisture and leave them open if there’s any condensation forming on the inside of the glass. Slowly but surely, if you open and close the jars once or twice a day, the moist air will be replenished by dry air and the water that’s stuck in the middle of your bud will work its way to the outside and then out into the air altogether. After three weeks to a month or so curing, your buds should burn and taste perfectly.

Pro Tips for Proper Drying and Curing

A key part of learning how to grow weed is mastering drying and curing techniques. You do not want marijuana to dry too quickly or too slowly, as the ideal drying time for a healthy and flavorful marijuana plant is 10 to 14 days. In this video, you will learn the perfect temperature and humidity to dry and cure weed, as well as pro tips that will teach you how to grow weed and trim your plants like an experienced veteran, leaving you with a grade-A product. 

Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Smart Pot

Attention to detail is essential if you are a beginner who is trying to learn how to grow weed. Even the most inconsequential detail could be the difference between a healthy plant and a dud. In this video, learn about the best type of container to use to grow your marijuana plant. We recommend a “smart pot,” which is a container that is made of breathable fabric that allows the roots of your plant to grow much larger. Larger roots mean a larger marijuana plant, which means a more bountiful weed yield when the time comes.

Tips on How to Grow Weed: The Hydroponic Garden

A hydroponic garden, also known as a “hydro” setup, is a very popular implementation to grow high-quality weed. In this video, an expert takes you through the ins and outs of a typical hydro setup, allowing you to see what it takes to successfully implement your own hydro setup at home. For those who are beginners just learning how to grow weed, a hydroponic garden may seem way too complicated to even consider. However, with some assistance from the experts at High Times, you can easily set up a hydro system that will give you an epic yield! 

Pest Control and Management

As with any garden, when growing marijuana, pests are a constant concern. For anyone learning how to grow weed, it is important to become well-versed in pest management. The last thing you want is for the marijuana crop that you have been working so hard on to be eaten away by a pest infestation. This video teaches you how to ward away pests from your precious plants with integrated pest management, stopping an infestation before it can even happen. Just a few simple steps can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Final Hit: How To Grow Weed

Now you know the basics of how to grow marijuana from seed to harvest. It’s time to get yourself the tools you need and get started today. And remember to take notes, or even better, start your own anonymous online Grow Diary.

Danko, Danny. “How To Grow Weed: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners.” High Times, 2 Jan. 2020, hightimes.com/grow/grow-weed-guide-beginners/.

Hemp Cleans Toxic Soil and Produces Clean CBD flower, Study Finds

Researchers found that toxic soil spurred higher CBD production in hemp plants, without tainting the flower. (pingpao/AdobeStock)

The cannabis sativa plant produces more cannabinoids when stressed. That’s a fact long known to growers seeking higher levels of THC and CBD.Researchers found that stressing hemp with toxic soil actually boosted CBD levels.

Stressing plants also comes with risk. Stressed plants have a tendency to turn hermaphrodite—producing seeds and pollen rather than buds laden with cannabinoids. It’s the female cannabis plant that produces flower. That’s why only a reckless or foolish grower will deliberately subject their crop to extremes in heat, thirst, or other things that might freak a plant out.

But when low-THC hemp plants are stressed specifically by growing in soil contaminated with toxic heavy metals from coal mining, the hemp plants produce an abundance of CBD, recent research published in the journal PLos One has found.

And that CBD boost apparently happens without a boost in THC levels, which is critically important for hemp farmers. THC levels must remain below 0.3% for hemp plants to remain legal in Europe, Canada, and the United States.RelatedWhat is CBD oil? A beginner’s guide to cannabidiol extracts

Toxic soil produces clean hemp flower

The heavy metals taken up by cannabis plants grown in coal mining remediation fields were expressed in the leaves of the mature plants. But, critically, the heavy metals did not appear in the floral buds where cannabinoids, including valuable CBD, is concentrated, the researchers told Leafly.

“We did see metal uptake in the leaves and removal from the soil but not in the floral buds,” said Sairam Rudrabhatla, a professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg and one of the study’s lead authors.

Details about the analysis of the flower buds was not published in the study. But when the buds were tested for heavy metals, “none were present,” as Hannah George, lab manager at Penn State’s Central Pennsylvania Research and Teaching Laboratory for Biofuels, confirmed to Leafly via email.RelatedAre High-CBD Hemp Flowers the Next Big Thing in Cannabis?

Cannabis: A known remediation agent

Cannabis’s ability to remove toxic material from the soil—a technique called phytoremediation—is well known. Cannabis phytoremediation has been used to remove radioactive contaminants from areas around the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and activists are hoping to use hemp to remove plutonium from land surrounding the former US nuclear weapons factory in Rocky Flats, Colorado.

Researchers are still perfecting their techniques with regard to phytoremediation. At Chernobyl, cannabis proved to be an excellent remediation agent, but the plants that did the best job of removing cesium-137, the radioactive byproduct contaminating the exclusion zone, were cultivars of amaranth.

Opens new fields to hemp cultivation

The findings in the recent PLos One study represent the first demonstration that cannabinoid production can be “remarkably influenced by mine land soil conditions.” And they present a new and potentially lucrative opportunity for hemp cultivators seeking available land in the ongoing CBD-fueled hemp boom.

With agricultural production acreage limited due to existing food production and encroaching suburban development, land that’s currently considered toxic and unsuitable for agriculture can be used to cultivate hemp.

The hemp plants will remove some of the toxic heavy metals, thereby unlocking more potential for the previously “useless” mine land soil. And since the hemp will also produce more CBD than hemp grown in clean soil, there’s a built-in financial incentive to grow in those problematic soils, Rudrabhatla said.

‘We expected the plants to die’

“We were very surprised and then very excited to see this kind of thing can actually work. What we were expecting was that all the hemp plants would die,” Rudrabhatla added. “Honestly, that’s what we were expecting.”

“If you remove the word mine land, and introduce a drought stress, or a soil stress, or deprivation of nutrients like magnesium or phosphorous, the response would be very similar,” he noted. “The only advantage with mine land soil is that that soil is doing nothing right now. We can grow on this soil and remediate this soil, so it can then grow valuable food crops.”

Six cultivars of hemp

The researchers obtained six different cultivars of industrial hemp from the Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture. Three of those cultivars are recommended to grow for fiber and seed only, while three others are recommended as CBD source material. The researchers grew them in two different types of contaminated soil and in two commercial soils: Miracle-Gro potting mix and PRO-MIX HP Mycorrhizae High Porosity Grower Mix.

Contaminants present in the mine land soil included nickel, cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury.

All of the plants were expected to produced less than 0.3% THC (the maximum allowable THC content in hemp) and no more than 2% CBD.

Greenhouse vs outdoor grows

The researchers grew each plant in each soil in greenhouse conditions as well as outdoors. They grew each variety in between 12 and 18 pots of three seeds each per hemp cultivar, for total of 132 pots in the entire study.

The hemp grown in mine land soil produced 2.16% and 2.58% CBD—perhaps not enough to impress a grower, but “a significant increase” over the 1.08% and 1.6% CBD content produced by plants in the Miracle-Gro soil grown outdoors and in greenhouse conditions, respectively.

“Total CBD content in the floral buds grown in mine land 1 soil in both outdoors and in the greenhouse was higher than the floral buds grown in Miracle-Gro in both environmental parameters and in the field, which can be concluded due to the heavy metal stress,” the researchers wrote.

Stress also boosted THC in one strain

However, the overproduction-due-to-stress phenomenon cut both ways: One strain overproduced THC beyond the 0.3 percent limit, which means the crop would have to be destroyed if it were a commercial harvest.

Why and how does the plant do this? The heavy metals seem to trigger a genetic response in the plants that leads to an overproduction of the acids that determine later cannabinoid production.

“Notably, Cannabidiolic acid synthase (CBDAS) was expressed 18 times higher in the mine land soil,” the researchers wrote, adding that “hemp increased total CBD content under high heavy metal conditions and was a result of enhancement of CBDAS and OAC (oliveatolic acid synclase) gene expression.”Related6 common myths and controversies about high-CBD cannabis

Suitable for human consumption?

What interest the market would have in CBD sourced from such material is a different matter.

In the recent past, CBD advocacy organizations such as Project CBD have drawn attention to CBD products sourced from industrial hemp, observed Chris Boucher, the CEO of California-based Farmtiva and co-founder of the Hemp Industries Association, who has been involved with hemp farming and the hemp business since the 1980s.’The main part of the market will probably be a little fearful of hemp grown in toxic soil.’Chris Boucher, Hemp Industries Association co-founder

“The main part of the market will probably be a little fearful of hemp grown in toxic soil,” Boucher said. “That’s the dilemma I see. Right now, they’re beating the drum: ‘If you don’t use organic , it will be toxic and poisonous.’”

“There are a lot of anti-hemp CBD people in the marijuana industry,” he observed, and if word got out that a certain company was sourcing their CBD from hemp grown on, say, Pennsylvania mine land or Colorado nuclear brownfields, that company’s reputation might take a serious hit.

Not that it necessarily should. As documented in the PLos One study, the plants can absorb heavy metals without those metals presenting in the flower—and what’s left, in addition to cleaner soil that can be put back into the production of food or other crops, is a load more CBD than the seed breeders promised.

“It’s very remarkable,” Rudrabhatla said. “Not many plants can sustain that level of nickel, arsenic, and so many toxins. It’s a remarkable plant, with numerous properties.”

Roberts, Chris. “Hemp Cleans Toxic Soil and Produces Clean CBD Flower, Study Finds.” Leafly, 23 Dec. 2019, http://www.leafly.com/news/industry/toxic-soil-produces-clean-hemp-cbd-flower.

Jack Herer

Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant cannabis strain that has gained as much renown as its namesake, the marijuana activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Combining a Haze hybrid with a Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk cross, Sensi Seeds created Jack Herer hoping to capture both cerebral elevation and heavy resin production. Its rich genetic background gives rise to several different variations of Jack Herer, each phenotype bearing its own unique features and effects. However, consumers typically describe this 55% sativa hybrid as blissful, clear-headed, and creative.

Jack Herer was created in the Netherlands in the mid-1990s, where it was later distributed by Dutch pharmacies as a recognized medical-grade strain. Since then, this spicy, pine-scented strain has taken home numerous awards for its quality and potency. Many breeders have attempted to cultivate this staple strain themselves in sunny or Mediterranean climates, and indoor growers should wait 50 to 70 days for Jack Herer to flower.

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: Jack Herer Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/jack-herer.

Granddaddy Purple

Introduced in 2003 by Ken Estes, Granddaddy Purple (or GDP) is a famous indica cross of Purple Urkleand Big Bud. This California staple inherits a complex grape and berryaroma from its Purple Urkle parent, while Big Bud passes on its oversized, compact bud structure. GDP flowers bloom in shades of deep purple, a contrasting backdrop for its snow-like dusting of white crystal resin.

Its potent effects are clearly detectable in both mind and body, delivering a fusion of cerebral euphoria and physical relaxation. While your thoughts may float in a dreamy buzz, your body is more likely to find itself fixed in one spot for the duration of GDP’s effects. Granddaddy Purple is typically pulled off the shelf for consumers looking to combat painstressinsomniaappetite loss, and muscle spasms. GDP blesses growers with massive yields which are ready for harvest following a 60 day flowering time indoors.

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: Granddaddy Purple Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/granddaddy-purple.

OG Kush

OG Kush was first cultivated in Florida, in the early ‘90s when a strain from Northern California was crossed with a Hindu Kush plant from Amsterdam. The result was a hybrid with a unique terpene profile that boasts a complex aroma with notes of fuel, skunk, and spice. 

The genetic backbone of West Coast cannabis varieties, OG Kush arrived in Los Angeles in 1996 when Matt “Bubba” Berger brought it (along with “The Bubba,” which was later used to create the famed Bubba Kush) from Florida to legendary cultivator Josh D. Since then, OG Kush has become a worldwide staple used to create numerous famous strains like GSC and Headband. There are many different phenotypes of OG Kush, including Tahoe OGSFV OG, and Ghost OG.

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: OG Kush Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/og-kush.

Green Crack

Don’t let the name fool you: this is pure cannabis. Few strains compare to Green Crack’s sharp energy and focus as it induces an invigorating mental buzz that keeps you going throughout the day. With a tangy, fruity flavor redolent of mango, Green Crack is a great daytime strain that may help consumers fight fatigue, stress, and depression. Because its name perpetuates a negative image of cannabis, some people have taken to calling this strain Cush (with a ‘C’) or Green Cush instead.

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: Green Crack Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/green-crack.

GSC

GSC, formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies, is an OG Kush and Durban Poison hybrid cross whose reputation grew too large to stay within the borders of its California homeland. With a sweet and earthy aroma, GSC launches you to euphoria’s top floor where full-body relaxation meets a time-bending cerebral space. A little goes a long way with this hybrid, whose THC heights have won GSC numerous Cannabis Cup awards. Patients needing a strong dose of relief, however, may look to GSC for severe painnausea, and appetite loss.

There are several different phenotypesof the GSC strain including Thin Mintand Platinum GSC, which exhibit some variation in appearance and effect. Typically, however, GSC expresses its beauty in twisting green calyxeswrapped in purple leaves and fiery orange hairs. Patients and consumers looking to cultivate this cannabis staple themselves should wait 9 to 10 weeks for their indoor plants to finish flowering.

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: GSC Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/gsc.

Sour Diesel

Sour Diesel, sometimes called Sour D, is an invigorating sativa-dominant strain named after its pungentdiesel-like aroma. This fast-acting strain delivers energizing, dreamy cerebral effects that have pushed Sour Diesel to its legendary status. Stresspain, and depression fade away in long-lasting relief that makes Sour Diesel a top choice among medical patients. This strain took root in the early ’90s, and it is believed to have descended from Chemdog 91 and Super Skunk.

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: Sour Diesel Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/sour-diesel.

Blue Dream

Blue Dream, a sativa-dominant hybrid originating in California, has achieved legendary status among West Coast strains. Crossing Blueberry with Haze, Blue Dream balances full-body relaxation with gentle cerebral invigoration. Novice and veteran consumers alike enjoy the level effects of Blue Dream, which ease you gently into a calm euphoria. 

With a sweet berry aroma redolent of its Blueberry parent, Blue Dream delivers swift symptom relief without heavy sedative effects. This makes Blue Dream a popular daytime medicine for patients treating paindepressionnausea, and other ailments requiring a high THC strain

“Discover Cannabis on Leafly: Blue Dream Strain Details.” Leafly, http://www.leafly.com/strains/blue-dream.

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

Looking for the most resilient strains to grow in less-than-ideal climates? We got it covered. Here’s a list of the best weed strains to grow in cold places.

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

It was a challenge, but we’ve identified the best weed strains to grow in cold places. Being able to grow your bud outdoors in the traditional fashion is a gift appreciated by only the truest of cannabis connoisseurs. Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t always kind, and we all can’t live in beautiful 80° weather year round. While outdoor growing can prove difficult for those living in a colder climate, it’s certainly not impossible. The first step to growing bud in cold weather is choosing the right strain. Luckily, there are certain strains that thrive growing in cooler temperatures. So without further delay, here are the ten best weed strains to grow in cold places.

10. AFGHAN KUSH

Afghan Kush Strain Review And Information

 Green Rush Daily

Afghan Kush is one of the classic strains of indica, and also happens to be one of the best weed strains to grow in cold places. It delivers a potent body high to its users and is great for a relaxing smoke sesh. It was originally grown in the Hindu Kush Mountains, so naturally, it can be grown in cooler climates.

9. NORTHERN LIGHTS

Northern Lights Strain Review And Information

One of the classic strains of all-time, Northern Lights has been grown in virtually every climate known to man. It is one of the most crossed strains of cannabis, which makes it adaptable to different temperatures. It’s typically harvested in late October, so cooler temperatures should not be an issue.

8. BLACKBERRY

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

Blackberry contains the classic sativa buzz, but also contains some indica qualities. The high won’t melt you into a couch, but it is potent and good for anxiety and stress. While it is best grown indoors, it has proven to be a resilient crop. It is highly resistant to mold, making it an ideal choice to grow outside in the cold if need-be.

7. SUPER SKUNK

Super Skunk Strain Information

Super Skunk is an indica-dominant strain that will give you an intense, couch-lock body high. The reason it gets it gets the title “super” is due to its ability to survive through virtually any growing environment. Although Super Skunk grows better in sunny, Mediterranean environments, it’s suitable to grow outdoors if growers manage to keep close tabs on it.

6. DURBAN POISON

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

A pure sativa, Durban Poison is known to give users a euphoric and uplifting high. Although it should ideally be grown in a sunny area, it can easily adapt to growing in cooler climates. However, if it’s a little too cold, you may want to try growing it in a hydroponic environment, something that it typically thrives in.

5. AUTO JACK HERER

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jack-herer-strain-review-information-3.jpg

Jack Herer has proven to be one of the most popular hybrids of all time, and also happens to be one of the best weed strains to grow in cold places. Its sativa-dominant nature makes it an ideal grow for outdoors. Additionally, its vast genetic background makes it highly adaptable to colder climates, especially when it’s of the auto-flowering variety.

4.LSD

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lsd-strain-review-and-information-1.jpg

LSD is one of the most famous hybrid strains and is known for giving users an almost psychedelic high, resembling the drug it’s named after. It’s naturally resistant to parasites and pesticides, so it’s an ideal strain to grow outdoors. LSD is typically grown in shaded areas, so growing it in cooler climates is actually ideal.

3. BLUE CHEESE

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

Blue Cheese is known for providing its users with a relaxing high, without getting them too drowsy to function. Originating in Europe, Blue Cheese is naturally resistant to mold and actually prefers to be grown in a colder environment. Growers should have no problem garnering a high yield with Blue Cheese, even in frigid temperatures.

2. CRITICAL

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

Critical is a heavy-yielding strain that is versatile enough to be grown indoors and outdoors. A fast bloomer, Critical should be ideally harvested in late September. Its short flowering time makes Critical one of the ideal strains to grow in cooler climates.

1. WHITE WIDOW

10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places

White Widow is perhaps the best weed strains to grow in cold places. The strain is known for the euphoric head high it gives its users, and remains one of the more popular hybrids. Due to its Dutch origins, White Widow is more than capable of handling the cold weather. It’s also naturally capable of fighting off disease and pests, making it an ideal strain to grow in a cold-weather climate.

FINAL HIT: 10 BEST WEED STRAINS TO GROW IN COLD PLACES

While finding the right strain isn’t always easy for cold weather growers, there’s clearly a few options available. Obviously, growing outdoors in a cooler climate isn’t ideal, but it’s totally doable. If you do decide to give it a go, make sure you reference this list of the aforementioned strains. It will definitely improve both your yield and the quality of your buds.

Kohut, ByTim. “10 Best Weed Strains to Grow in Cold Places.” Green Rush Daily, 27 Sept. 2017, greenrushdaily.com/cultivation/10-best-weed-strains-to-grow-in-cold-places/.

11 Strain Names Changed For Legal Reasons

Wondering why some classic strain names have started to disappear? A lawsuit is likely to blame.

Coming up with creative, wacky, or funny names for new cannabis strains has long been a staple of weed culture. Many times, breeders and growers choose names that reference other products or cultural objects. Now, many of those names are coming under fire for intellectual property infringement. Wondering why some of your favorite strain names changed? Consider it one of the unintended consequences of legalization. In any case, here are 11 times strain names changed to dodge lawsuits.

GORILLA GLUE

11 Strain Names Changed For Legal Reasons

High Times Archive

This is one of the most publicized examples of a company going after a marijuana strain name. In 2017, the glue company Gorilla Glue filed a lawsuit against the makers of the Gorilla Glue weed strain.

Today, you can still find the Gorilla Glue strain. But don’t look for it under that name. The strain is now called simply GG. Similarly, all the variants of this strain also go by GG, followed by a number like GG #4.

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

Obviously, this one wasn’t going to stand for too long. This popular strain is explicitly named after the organization for girls that goes by the exact same name as the strain.

Like the makers of the Gorilla Glue—now GG—strain, the folks behind this one went with a simple solution. Instead of calling it Girl Scout Cookies, it’s now simply GSC.

PLATINUM GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

This variation of the GSC strain also ran into the same problems as the original namesake. When it became too risky to brand the strain as Girl Scout Cookies, the name Platinum Girl Scout Cookies also went out the window.

In some cases, strains labeled GSC are actually Platinum Girl Scout Cookies, so ask around to see what this strain is called in your location. This would be a good thing to ask your local budtender about.

THIN MINT

11 Strain Names Changed For Legal Reasons

High Times Archive

Like the other Girl Scout-related strains on this list, Thin Mint had to be done away with when Girl Scouts USA sent a cease and desist letter to a dispensary in Oakland called Magnolia Oakland collective.

But given that thin mints are a perennial favorite among purchasers of real Girl Scout cookies, getting some actual thin mints could be a good option for your post-sesh munchies.

JÄGERMEISTER

The Jägermeister cannabis strain wasn’t all very well known to begin with. And now it’s even less well known. That’s because the makers of this strain apparently ditched the moniker in anticipation of potential legal challenges.

Much like the Girl Scout Cookies strains, this strain is being labeled JGR for short, now.

As far as we’ve heard, the German liquor company didn’t actually file any formal complaint. Instead, it looks like whoever was making and selling this fairly obscure strain simply changed the name before anything bad happened.

SKYWALKER

George Lucas has built up a massive intellectual property empire. And before legalization started taking off, there was an equally well-known group of cannabis strains with Star Wars related names.

Skywalker was one of the better known Star Wars strains. But that name has since been done away with. As far as we know George Lucas’s company, LucasArts, hasn’t actually filed any lawsuits. Instead, it appears that marijuana companies are changing the name as a preventive measure.

If you’ve been wondering where the Skywalker strain went, legal cannabis brands are calling it Mazar x Blueberry.

SKYWALKER OG

Skywalker OG could very well be the most famous and most popular of all the Star Wars-themed cannabis strains. But as happened to its Skywalker predecessor, you probably won’t be seeing the name Skywalker OG on dispensary shelves for too much longer.

Rather than get embroiled in an IP battle with someone as big as LucasArts, marijuana companies are starting to rebrand strains like Skywalker OG.

Like Skywalker, Skywalker OG is now being labeled after its parent strains Mazar x Blueberry OG.

SKITTLES

11 Strain Names Changed For Legal Reasons

High Times Archive

This fruity cross between Grape and Grapefruit strains is known for giving consumers a tasty and well-balanced indicaexperience.

And while the strain gained popularity over the last few years, its been called Zkittlez its first cannabis cup award in 2015. You probably won’t see it labeled Skittles anywhere. Rather than face a lawsuit, the creators (3rd Gen Family and Terp Hogz) named the fruity strain Zkittlez.

JOLLY MEDS

Earlier this year, Hershey’s went after a couple cannabis companies, claiming copyright infringement. One of the companies Hershey’s targeted was Jolly Meds, makers of hard candy-style edibles.

In this case, it looks like Hershey’s had two main problems with the company. First, they claimed the edibles looked too much like the candy Jolly Ranchers. And second, the name of the product, which references the same candies.

While Jolly Meds isn’t an actual strain, we thought it still deserved a spot on this list since it was a cannabis product that came under scrutiny by a larger company claiming IP infringement.

CANDYLAND

The strain name Candyland hasn’t necessarily been changed universally. And the makers of the popular children’s game haven’t filed a lawsuit. Despite this, the strain name is still banned in some places because it directly references a well-known board game.

For example, the state of Oregon does not allow dispensaries to sell the strain under this specific name. That’s because the state has laws banning any sort of marketing or branding that could appeal to children or underage consumers.

CHARLOTTE’S WEB

Charlotte’s Web is on this list for the same reason as Candyland. This is arguably one of the most famous strains in the world. It was designed to be a high CBD, low THC strain intended for children suffering from epilepsy.

And while its name is the same as the well-known children’s book, it was actually named for a young girl who inspired the creators of this strain. Despite this, some places, like Oregon for example, have banned the name for its reference to themes that could appeal to children.

WEED BUSINESSES SUED FOR STRAIN NAMES

The more that cannabis becomes legally produced, marketed, and sold, the more likely it is that some strain names will come under fire from companies claiming IP infringement.

As you can see from this list, many strains that have been around for years have already faced legal challenges. As a result, many of these names have been changed.

Moving forward, it seems unlikely that breeders and other marijuana companies will adopt referential names. The era of naming weed strains after other foods, products, companies, or brands could very well be a thing of the past.

Lindsey, ByNick. “11 Strain Names Changed For Legal Reasons.” Green Rush Daily, 28 Aug. 2018, greenrushdaily.com/cannabis-strains/strain-names-changed-over-lawsuits/.

AJ’s Sour Diesel

AJ’s Sour Diesel is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain. These flowers smell like like skunk with undertones of pine and citrus. The smoke is smooth with a slightly earthy, hash-like taste. This strain will leave users feeling stress free, clear-headed and energized with a slightly racy heart rate.

“AJ’s Sour Diesel – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/ajs-sour-diesel/.

XJ13

XJ-13 is a potent hybrid strain with flowers that smell sour, earthy and slightly sweet like citrus fruit with subtle hints of pine. The smoke is thick and menthol-like on the inhale with more of a spiciness experienced on the exhale. This strain will leave users feeling a beautiful and intense combination of pain-relieving limb numbness and body tingling with mostly clear-headed cerebral relaxation.

“XJ13 – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/xj13/.

Wonder Haze

This sativa-dominant strain has flowers that smell mildly herbal and earthy with pine and skunk undertones. Intense body tingling and limb numbness will creep in over time, but the energizing euphoria hits immediately.

“Wonder Haze – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/wonder-haze/.

Yumboldt

Yumboldt is a potent indica strain with flowers that smell earthy and sweet like citrus fruit. This strain leaves users with such pleasant feelings of euphoria and relaxation that smiling is almost guaranteed. Yumboldt may also induce drowsiness after a couple of hours.

“Yumboldt – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/yumboldt/.

Zeta Stage

Zeta Stage is a top notch strain. These flowers smell sweet like blueberries with undertones of fuel. This strain will leave users with a truly euphoric cerebral buzz.

“Zeta Stage – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/zeta-stage/.

Afghan Kush

Afghan Kush is a pure indica strain said to have originated in the Hindu Kush Mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. These flowers smell strongly of earth and wood with subtle undertones of sweetness. This strain is known to induce intense relaxation that may hinder functionality, induce drowsiness and increase appetite.

“Afghan Kush – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/afghan-kush/.

818 Headband

818 Headband is an absolutely delightful hybrid strain! The smell is earthy and a little bit sour. The smoke is very smooth, and leaves an aftertaste of wood and pine upon exhalation. This strain provides an energizing, yet calming and relaxing cerebral high that would be good for relief from stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

“818 Headband – Marijuana Strains.” MassRoots, http://www.massroots.com/strains/818-headband/.

Hawaii’s Big Island Grown

We travel to Hawaii for an exclusive tour of legal medical marijuana provider Big Island Grown’s three retail dispensaries and huge cannabis growing and processing facility.

Meet the team behind a thriving cannabis company in Hawaii that has three retail medical-marijuana shops and a huge grow facility built specifically to cultivate cannabis in one of the world’s most unique climates—the big island.

What’s In Store?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii’s Big Island for the first time. My friend James Rushing, CEO of the cannabis-consulting firm White Coat Services, had arranged for me to tour the cultivation facilities of Big Island Grown, locally known as B.I.G. Formerly called Lau Ola, Big Island Grown is a locally owned and operated, vertically integrated company with three medical-marijuana retail locations on the Big Island—Hilo, Waimea and Kona. The Hilo location opened in January as the first cannabis dispensary on the Big Island, and perhaps the only dispensary in the world located on an active volcano.

My trip started with a tour of the Hilo shop, which has a comfortable lobby and waiting area designed with local hardwood and iPads for advance pre-ordering of medicine for those with valid state medical-marijuana cards only. Dr. Jaclyn Moore, Big Island Grown’s CEO, explained that her company wants patients to “understand how their medicine is grown and manufactured… We’re farm-to-patient in our approach to patient education.”

Big Island Grown’s pricing is purposefully affordable, with $30 eighths and $200 ounces available—practically half the price found at other Hawaii dispensaries. The company aims to provide reasonably priced, high-quality medicine with a diversity of options, lab-tested for pesticides, bacteria, mycotoxins, heavy metals and residual solvents, with cannabinoids and terpenes plainly listed at the shops. (There’s even a terpene wheel at the dispensaries that allows patients to enter the feeling and the flavor they desire which then offers product recommendations.)

According to Dr. Moore, when Big Island Grown was awarded one of only eight licenses in the state, it was seen as a responsibility to execute the state’s vision and to serve patients. “We spent every dollar necessary to build a top-notch, medically focused facility,” she said, “because it is truly about providing patients with clean, quality medicine.” While some other dispensaries don’t support home growing, Dr. Moore said that at Big Island Grown, “We support the patients’ right to grow their own if they choose. We want to eventually be able to sell them clones and seeds, which is currently not allowable.”

Hawaiian medical-marijuana legal requirements are very strict with compliance testing, so producers have to have total control over the grow climate to avoid pests. Big Island Grown founder and COO Dylan Shropshire, a fifth-generation farmer on Hawaii, understands the difficulties of cultivating on the Hamakua Coast, but specifically chose it to be his home because of the need for job opportunities since the shutdown of local sugarcane plantations.

“Cultivating cannabis on the windward side of the Big Island of Hawaii, from an integrated pest management prospective, is one of the most difficult places in the world to produce microbe-free, clean, safe cannabis, without the use of pesticides or inoculants,” explains James Rushing, a plant and soil biologist. “Most mainland environments experience periods of reduced pathogen occurrence due to changes in the annual climate. Here in Pepeekeo, we experience regular temperatures of 82°F (28°C) with an average 127 inches of rain a year. The pathogen pressures are immense in this area,” he explains.

After a delicious lunch at the Vibe Cafe next door to the dispensary, Shropshire, Rushing and I headed to the town of Pepeekeo on the Hamakua Coast to tour Big Island Grown’s cultivation center.

Mountain High

We drove up the lower hills of Mauna Kea (the tallest mountain in the world, as measured from the ocean floor) on the east side of the island, near Hilo, to the 35,000-square-foot facility. The building was purpose-built, meaning it was specifically designed for growing cannabis in the Hawaiian climate, effectively mitigating potential environmental and biological pressures. It sits on a former 600-acre banana farm that was once surrounded by sugarcane fields, and it makes great use of hydroelectric generation from spring-fed river flumes that were originally built to get sugarcane down from the mountains to the shore.

Repurposed to generate energy for the cooling rooms that ripened the fruits, the hydroelectric system now helps power the massive indoor pot farm. There’s also a 250-kilowatt biodiesel generator and a solar farm in the permitting stages. Cows and bulls graze around the perimeter to keep back the fast-growing jungle and as an added security layer.

Fresh Air

When I visited, Big Island Grown was utilizing 17,500 square feet of the facility, in which 32 strains were growing in three 2,000-square-foot flowering rooms. With ambient humidity in the area typically around 90 percent, the crew has to use cutting-edge clean-room technology to ensure a pest and pathogen-free environment.

“The key to this level of environmental mastery is positive air pressure,” Shropshire explained. “The flowering rooms are positioned in the center of the building, and all incoming external air is pumped through a HEPA filter into a thermal buffer zone that steps down the temperature [and] provides cooling and dehumidification to the air. That air is then pushed into the tightly sealed rooms at very low CFU [colony-forming unit, a measurement of biological non-contamination], providing a resistance against any airborne pathogens or incoming insects.”

In fact, the doors popped open quite strongly due to the internal pressure, so care had to be taken when entering and exiting the rooms. Multiple Quest dehumidifiers, ultrasonic humidifiers, and three-ton LG split AC units are placed throughout the growing rooms for redundancy. All of the equipment is connected through a series of sensors that monitor CO2, temperature, pH, humidity, and power. A Growtronix computer “brain” system makes real time adjustment from sensor readings to ensure that the vapor-pressure deficit is dialed in at all times throughout the different stages of cultivation.

Clean Water

Shropshire and his team continued showing me some of the technology deployed to ensure successful harvests under strict conditions. With a multiple pound-per-light average yield, Big Island Grown is producing large amounts of medicinal-quality cannabis while dealing with some intense constraints and restrictions.

The farmers at Big Island Grown start with a reverse-osmosis treatment of spring water from a source located on the farm and grow solely in coco coir with some perlite mixed in. They use a proprietary blend of organically derived food-grade liquid nutrients with a Hanna fertigation system utilizing drip irrigation with two emitters per pot for redundancy.

Lighting consists of Dimlux double-ended high-pressure sodium (HPS) rigs with checkerboard double-ended ceramic metal halides (CMH) on Dimlux Maxi controllers. Rotators raise and lower the lights easily.

Plants go from cuttings to the flowering stage in just four weeks. After they’re cloned, they go right into six-inch pots in a high-humidity environment. The pots have their bottoms cut out to avoid transplant shock in the next stage. Once rooted and vegged for three weeks, the plants are placed directly into 1.76-gallon flowering pots and start the budding stage.

Healthy Harvest

Plants are hung whole with just the fan leaves stripped in 50-60 percent humidity for seven to ten days. After that, the flowers are bucked (removed from the main stem) and put into containers for two weeks to cure at a 12-13 percent moisture level. Only then are they hand-trimmed by a professional crew and stored in a climate-controlled area for freshness.

One of Big Island Crown’s signature strains is its Hamakua Banana OG. The strain has acclimated to the islands and reeks of fresh dank bananas, which is quite ironic considering this was once home to the largest banana farm in the United States. The company also grows some Hawaiian varieties including the Big Island cut of White Widow, Maui Girl and Skunk Dog.

Another local favorite that Big Island Grown produces is Dutch Treat, a big yielder known on the islands as just Dutch. The company is also running Humboldt Seeds, CSI and Karma Genetics strains such as Josh D OG, Green Crack and Mendocino Purple Urkle. CBD-rich strains include CBD Critical Cure, a local Hawaii-acclimated cut of Cannatonic, and the in-house 20:1 CBD strain called Mauka Berry. The company plans to roll out over 75 unique phenotypes in the next year.

Entering another wing of the facility, we met Dr. Craig Pollard, who leads Big Island Crown’s manufacturing division. The company produces its own concentrates, including distillate and solventless cartridges, pharmacist-compounded infused topicals, CBD-rich tinctures and some fantastic-looking rosin. Extract artists in the in-house laboratory fresh-freeze harvested flowers, then freeze-dry the ice-water-extracted material that is then pressed into solventless live rosin. Patients can also purchase full-extract cannabis oil in syringes for the potent oral administration of activated THC.

Recently, the law was revised to allow visitors to Hawaii to take part in its medical-marijuana program. Out-of-state patients can purchase medical cannabis by applying for a medical card that is valid for 60 days—so you can now enjoy a trip to paradise and legally acquire and consume lab-tested and sustainably grown cannabis from Big Island Grown.

Danko, Danny. “Hawaii’s Big Island Grown.” High Times, 31 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/grow/big-island-grown/.

The Best Hydroponic Methods For Growing Cannabis Yourself

Soilless agriculture results in explosive growth rates and huge yields. Choosing the right hydroponic system will determine how much you’ll eventually harvest

Be Like Water

We’ve all heard of hydroponics and the great things that can be done with it. However, choosing which type of hydroponic method to use in your individual situation can be a dilemma. That said, I’ve taken it upon myself to inform and educate you, the information-hungry grower. I’ll cover the commonly used methods, outlining the pros and cons of each. Hopefully, these lessons will rub off on you, and you’ll make the proper decision to suit your individual requirements and situation.

Your hydroponic setup can be as complicated or as simple as you like—it’s up to you. You can incorporate pumps, aerators, valves and switches, or you can fill a bucket with nutrient solution and simply pour it over your soilless growing medium. The flexibility of hydroponics is one of the main reasons it’s so effective and popular.

Individual drippers deliver liquid plant food directly to rock-wool cubes/ High Times

Peat & Perlite (Soilless Mix)

This most basic of methods uses a common planting container filled with peat moss and fortified with perlite. This method is the ultimate no-brainer, requiring little or no maintenance for the entire life cycle of your plants—you simply feed them some nutrient solution once or twice a day and watch them explode into lovely green foliage.

Perlite is required to increase the moisture-holding capacity of your growing medium. It’s cheap, commonly available and wonderfully inert, so it won’t interact with your nutrient solution to rob your pride and joy of essential nutrients.

A rockwool cube with your rooted clone or seedling is slightly buried in the pre-moistened peat and perlite. Be sure not to cover the top of the cube, just its sides and bottom. Peat is very porous, so the roots have a very airy environment to grow through, and this moist, oxygen-rich environment is exactly what they need to gain a solid footing in the growing medium. Rapid and prolific rooting is the key to future foliage growth.

While this method is great, it has the drawback of having the growing medium retain harmful salts left over by the nutrient solution. You can combat this by replacing the nutrient solution with plain, pH-balanced water every four or five days. While this leaches out a large portion of the salts near the roots, it doesn’t get rid of them—they simply migrate down to the bottom of the growing medium.

Another drawback to this method pertains to pests—an infestation of critters is extremely difficult to get rid of with the peat-and-perlite growing medium. This is because the uneven surface of the medium is rife with tiny crevices and holes, perfect sites for any critters to hide and reproduce in. If you have an infestation, you’ll actually have to replace the top inch or two of the medium to get rid of the hidden pests that take refuge there from insecticide. These moist hiding places also conceal insect eggs that can transform into the next generation of pests.

With this method, feeding plants is as easy as watering any other houseplant you may have. You can do it when you come home from work, or before bed. It’s entirely up to you—just be sure to keep the growing medium moist but not extremely wet.

Ebb & Flood

This is the method that I used to cut my teeth in hydroponics. The ebb-and-flood method uses a growing medium of pea gravel, sand or something of the like. There’s a lot of flexibility here. The idea is to allow room for the roots to grow through the medium unimpeded. I’ve heard of people using everything from their childhood marble collection to aquarium gravel. Even rocks dug up from the driveway work (if you clean them well enough).

This method can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. The most basic setup has a growing tray filled with the medium you’ve chosen, with a hose connected to the bottom of it. The other end of the hose is connected to the bottom of a bucket, which is used as a nutrient-solution reservoir. Fill the reservoir with the nutrient solution, and then lift the reservoir higher than the top of the growing-medium tray. The nutrient solution will flow from the reservoir into the tray, flooding the growing medium. Place the reservoir on the floor and the nutrient solution will flow from the tray back into the reservoir. Simple.

The major advantage of this method is that the roots are constantly moist and highly oxygenated. The solid, heavy growing medium—I recommend pea gravel—holds the roots better than do peat and perlite. There’s also ample room between the grains of the growing medium for the roots to grow almost entirely unimpeded. They’ll waste less energy trying to plow through the medium, making an extensive early root system. This lends itself to spectacular results later on.

One drawback to this method is that the tray has to be flooded three to four times daily, religiously. If you have a job, then your plants will suffer because you won’t be able to feed them sufficiently. This is a good reason to explore automating your ebb-and-flood setup. Use a pump to fill the tray, a float switch to signal when the tray is full and an electric valve that opens to allow the nutrient solution to flow back into the reservoir. An electric timer is also a must-have for this system.

You might be scratching your head trying to figure out how to implement this. Don’t worry: There’s a clever solution to this problem. Read on.

Plants grown hydroponically experience explosive growth rates/ High Times

Aerated Solution

If you want to use the ebb-and-flood method because of all of its perks, but you’re not home during the day and you’re no good with electrical things, here’s your solution: Use the same growing tray and medium as you would with the ebb-and-flood method, but don’t use a reservoir. With this system, the reservoir is replaced with an aquarium aerator. Hoses from the aerator are snaked along the bottom of the growing tray, and then the tray is filled with your growing medium.

The idea is to have the growing tray constantly filled with the nutrient solution (and growing medium). The aerator blows air through the perforated hoses on the bottom, keeping the nutrient solution from becoming stagnant. This process is known as aeration, and it’s what keeps the goldfish alive in your aquarium. The rising air bubbles circulate and provide a constant flow of the nutrient solution to the roots of your plants.

With a setup like this, you need only to check for critters every now and then and to replace the nutrient solution once or twice a week. It is the best solution for the working grower, providing absolutely amazing results with minimum complications. I’ve used this setup since figuring it out nine years ago, and I have absolutely no complaints. The pleasant hum of that aerator puts me to sleep at night.

Nutrient Film Technique

The nutrient film technique (NFT) is widely used in commercial operations because it is completely scalable, and it provides amazing results. You can expand your NFT system to cover acres of growing area if so inclined.

Basically, the nutrient solution constantly flows through a flat-bottomed tray or a wide, round pipe (PVC plumbing pipes work excellently for this). The solution is allowed to flow over the roots of the plant, delivering nutrients very efficiently. Because the plant roots are sitting in fast-flowing water, a large amount of oxygen is also delivered to them. Most NFT growers also aerate the nutrient solution in the reservoir to further increase its oxygen content.

No growing medium is used, so the roots expand at a phenomenal rate and amazing growth follows. Some common (legal) crops that are grown using this technique in commercial settings are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchinis and even pumpkins.

While the advantage of this system is its phenomenal growth and infinite scalability, the foremost drawback is its complexity. To implement this technique, you need a high-flow pump, an aerator and a complicated network of piping or trays. The results are spectacular, but many feel the complexity and level of work involved aren’t worth it.

Another drawback to this method is the expense of setting it all up. The costs of a pump, aerator and assorted pipes add up quickly. It’s also very unforgiving with mistakes or oversights, which will cause headaches later on.

Roots expand quickly when misted with aerated nutrient solution/ High Times

Aeroponics

This method is a spin-off of NFT, and the setup is almost the same. What changes, though, is the method of delivering the nutrient solution. Instead of having it flow over the roots, the solution is blown on the roots in a fine mist via a special nozzle, much like the fuel injector on your car. This method is still quasi-experimental, and it isn’t used very often. A major consideration is cost. Another factor is that no way (so far) has been found to keep the nozzles from getting clogged due to nutrient crystallization.

Aquaponics

Aquaponics sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s actually the most involved way to grow hydroponically. It is a natural hydroponic method, using next to no processed chemicals. I’m mentioning it here only to be complete, though, as you wouldn’t actually use it in practice to grow your grass.

Basically, a crop is grown in a hydroponic solution (a growing medium is optional).

The nutrients for the solution are obtained by natural means, such as harvesting the effluent from a fish tank (an extremely rich source of the constituents used in regular, nonnatural hydroponics). The system has the benefit of being almost self-sustainable, but it’s extremely involved and labor-intensive to set up and maintain.

I highly doubt that marijuana has ever been or will be grown using this type of setup, but I felt I should mention it anyway.

Some Considerations

While cost is always something to keep in mind, your skill level as a grower is also something that you must consider. First-time growers should use the peat-and-perlite method. This allows you to learn and to improve your grow skills using a very simple and forgiving hydroponic method. While the results won’t be as spectacular as you’d see when using some of the other methods, it’s still a very effective way to grow. You won’t be disappointed.

Another consideration is location. Are you growing is a closet or a basement? Or do you have a dedicated room for your grow? A shed or garage, maybe? With seasoned growers that use only a closet or corner of their basement, the ebb-and-flood or aerated-solution methods should be used—NFT and aeroponics need space and are high-maintenance.

Be realistic about your requirements, space being the first thing to consider and therefore the deciding factor. If you want to squeeze your system into an area barely big enough for it, think about fixing a leak in a pipe with only a few inches between it and the wall. Not good.

Now for cost. The cheapest system I’ve outlined is the peat-and-perlite method, though I recommend the aerated-solution or ebb-and-flood method if you can swing it. The mild increase in cost is far outweighed by the results and the lack of headaches.

So those are the common hydroponic methods in a nutshell. I hope it will be useful to you. Best of luck in your growing endeavors!

Valentine, Thomas. “The Best Hydroponic Methods For Growing Cannabis Yourself.” High Times, 1 Oct. 2019, hightimes.com/grow/best-hydroponic-methods-growing-cannabis-yourself/.

contact@stonersdaily.org