Hybrids: growing & consuming 10 strains from around the world
Cannabis originated in the Himalayan foothills and is now found all over the world. Until recently most of the genetic flow was one way. Seeds were carried to a new location. The plant adapted to its new environment in two ways. First, human pressure when growers selected the most vigorous plants that served their purpose. The second influence was the environment where plants adapted to latitude and climate.
This increase in diversity has been going on for thousands of years. Plants evolve, with each generation better adapted to its new homeland or growing conditions. Varieties look different, thrive under different conditions, and produce vastly different profiles of cannabinoids and terpenes.
It is only since the 1960s that breeders have been breeding the landraces to combine and modify their characteristics. The first wave of hybrids focused on manipulating cannabis to flourish indoors under lights. This was a counter measure to increased repression during pothibition. With legalization, hybridization has advanced; breeders now target for specific properties. As we have more scientific research about this plant and its components, we can create varieties to target specific medicinal, mental, and physiological effects.
Modern hybrids have complex parental histories. So many varieties have been crossed that it is a great mix-up resulting in many effective new combinations, so it is impossible to generalize about the qualities of their effects as well as taste and aroma and growth characteristics.
Indica-Sativa hybrids tend towards the Indica side of the blend in their size and structure. Their size and structure is a combination and compromise between the two groups leaning Indica. Their growth after forcing flowering is just a bit more than Indicas, which may grow only 10%. Indica dominant hybrids grow 15-30% taller and wider with narrow side-branches. This makes them excellent candidates for small space cultivation.
Sativa-Indica hybrids have more Sativa-like characteristics. They may grow 50% taller after forcing. Some S-I hybrids grow to double or triple their size when they are forced as small plants. Some varieties are harder to grow under lights and difficult in a sea of green without pruning because of the plants’ space requirements. However, the Indica genetics do influence the plant size. The Indica genetics also results in earlier flowering and ripening, and the density, shape and size of buds.
Aside from striving for perfection by fiddling with the plants genetic variability, hybrids provide the cultivator with another advantage—Hybrid vigor. When plants are crossed the progeny has more vigor and often has higher yields than either of its parents.
Ultimately, if you are philosophical you might ponder this: When you grow a hybrid, you are inheriting the wisdom of breeders who worked all over the world for thousands of years, combined with the passion of modern seed breeders who use their forbearers creation of landrace genetics as ingredients for their new alchemy.
1. American Beauty
When the famous TGA breeder Subcool decided to discontinue Plushberry, the breeders at Dr. Underground did not understand why. The strain was one of their favorites. They had a few packages of original Plushberry seeds acquired over previous years from shops in Spain, so they got down to work recreating it. Dubbed American Beauty, it carries the full Plushberry genetic heritage, including elements of Space Queen, Black Cherry Soda, Romulan, and the famous Cinderella 99. This delicate fruit in the form of cannabis is a perfect combination of Kush and some hints of pineapple from Cinderella 99.
American Beauty grows as you would expect of a 50/50 hybrid, branching easily, exhibiting beautiful shades of color, and popping out buds full of resin. Buds show some foxtails, and you’ll notice that vegetative leaves bow up initially then return to normal in flowering. Big containers of soil generate the best results outdoors, while aeroponics is the recommended method indoors. This uniquely aromatic strain presents as two similar pheno-types — the first showing the reds and purples of Black Cherry Soda, the second having a bit less color but larger, denser buds. In both cases, plants grow very vigorously, resist mold, and produce a moderate yield.
American Beauty does not reveal her special berry-drenched skunkiness until you break open the bud. Once you do and fire it up, you get the full, super-tasty flavor spectrum of blackberry jam and cherry soda with a touch of pineapple sour. On the stone, the Indica dominates, relaxing body and mind in equal measure. This is an excel-lent strain for managing stress.
2. The Brotherhood
The Brotherhood is the Animas Seed Company’s stunningly strong Sativa-leaning hybrid, the offspring of a Slick Willy mother from Colorado crossed with an Icarus male of Afghani heritage by way of Colorado. The Slick Willy mother is herself a cross of a Bubba Kush/Chem 91 x The White/Chem 91, while the Icarus father marries William’s Wonder and Armagnac. This pungent and nearly hallucinogenic strain was developed for, and named in honor of, the breeder’s good friends, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, the psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll band from California.
Ideal for indoor gardeners seeking top-potency genetics, this multi-branch strain grows squat and bushy despite its Sativa dominance and boasts an incredible crystal content. These plants appreciate Screen of Green training and thrive with a blend of synthetic and organic nutrients in generous quantity. Flowering takes 9 weeks on aver-age, finishing at an unpruned height of between 3-4.5 feet (1-1.5m). No special ripening techniques are needed, but colder temperatures at finish bring out the purple. The bulbous, frosty flowers are so white with trichomes they look like they have been rolled in sugar, with purple hues peeking through. Even the thick, dark-green foliage show early trichome development… all the way to the tips of the fan leaves. This fairly hardy plant adapts well to varying conditions, handling cold, heat, and drought, and some phenotypes resist powdery mildew. Her forgiving nature makes this both a good beginner’s strain and a sound choice for commercial cultivation.
On the nose, The Brotherhood has a clean, earthy aroma with fuel undertones. The creamy flavor is nearly doughy with a nice balance of spicy and sweet that has chocolate and coffee notes. One of the strongest strains available, testing at 34% total cannabinoids and more than 29% THC, The Brotherhood nonetheless imparts an active, alert high that stays surprisingly functional. The trippy electric energy is modulated with a blissful under-current that also carries a bit of eye droop.
3. Frisian Dew
Available since 2007, Frisian Dew is the high-yield offspring of a potent, easy-to-grow Super Skunk mom that came out of the Dutch Passion Skunk breeding program of the 1980s. Her Purple Star father was selected from a purple strain noted for hardy, robust growing in outdoor conditions. The award-winning Frisian Dew took several years of clone selection and selective breeding to stabilize, and is now Dutch Passion’s most popular out-door variety. Carefully selected for outdoor conditions in Holland, the name stems from an ancient Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the country. Frisian Dew is a prolific producer of delicately colored, pink and light-purple buds with a density neither too tight nor too fluffy. Her large, thick leaves turn purple in some growing conditions, and buds on outdoor plants can be quite large.
Frisian Dew has been bred with a tolerance for outdoor conditions, but she can be grown indoors, too, of course. This branching plant will take all the space allowed, starting with a broad-base until it starts to stretch. Unpruned, Frisian Dew looks quite gangly with a main bloom that will reach great heights. Don’t bother prun-ing outdoors — leave her to her own devices and watch her go. The pistils are often pink, as are the trichomes in some plants. This strain needs amply nitrogen in vegetative growth to maximize height — 9 feet (3m) is an average, while 12 feet (4m) is possible in the outdoor sun. Flowers are ready after about 8 weeks of flowering, or start of October outdoors. Yields are bountiful, with some growers reporting up to 5-6.5 pounds (2-3kg).
The aroma of Frisian Dew is mild to medium, while the flavor is earthy spice with hints of citrus and fuel. She generates a strong, fast-acting, quality high that is balanced and builds quickly. The feeling is peaceful and relaxed with a floating, detached, anesthetic effect. Strongly cerebral, this strain is not the best for socializing with crowds or groups that include straights, but it is a good choice for movies and simple pleasures.