Selecting a mother plant to produce clones:
Almost all professional cultivators will use clones (cuttings) rather than cannabis seeds. Just as siblings inherit their genetics from both parents, but feature different characteristics more predominantly than others, so will plants grown from seed show differing effects. Some plants will produce more smell, others may be susceptible to certain pests, Then there is the sister that seems to have it all: great growth, huge buds, a sweet smell and you bet she has shiny hair too. If only all the plants in your grow room looked like her! Luckily if you have followed our guide on how to choose a mother plant for cloning your next harvest will be full of the best buds – and only the best.
If growing from seed results in varying dominant phenotypes, when you use clones you are using plants exactly identical to the mother plant. That’s why its so important to choose a mother plant carefully and correctly.
Depending on where you live, and who you know, you might be able to buy ready-to-go cuttings or clones. But be sure of the provenance and experience of the provider. We’ve seen end-product buds brought in claiming to be one strain that they obviously weren’t, and worse still, grown on ourselves 30 clones of the same strain, which on flowering exhibited at least 3 different phenotypes. The supplier of the clones had set up a mother room and was reasonably competant at taking cuttings, but hadn’t bothered to go through the cannabis mother plant selection process. The best – and cheapest – solution is to produce your own clones by choosing and maintaining a mother plant.
Advantages to using clones:
- reliable and repeatable product
- shortens growth cycle – a rooted cutting is ready to flower a month before a plant grown from seed
- cost of maintaining mother room offset by savings in not buying seed
- growing not just the same strain, but the same clone of that strain over a period of time, enables you to fully and thoroughly learn that plant. It won’t be long before all environmentals and nutrients are absolutely dialled in to prefection for maximum yield and taste.
- all clones will be identical: the same height, the same finishing time etc. This is a must for hydroponic growers, but an advantage in most set ups.
We’re currently working with a legal cannabis association in Spain. The members want a variety of different types of smoke available, and for them the prerequisites are choice, smell, strength and difference in effect. As the licensed marijuana producers, we are looking to fulfill these needs but also have these characteristics:
- be suitable for scrog grow techniques – branching structure
- good production
- similar nutrient regimes – ability to take hard feeds
- same finishing times
- vigor: good stong healthy plants with overall vitality
- leaf to bud ratio
- general resistance to moulds and pests
- stress resistance
Obviously you may have different preferences e.g. you may need variances more suited to a colder climate. or a sea of green grow. Smell may not be as important as flavour. The point is to make a list of the key elements you are looking for.
how we choose a good mother plant
In this case we are selecting mother plants for
- Green Crack – Humboldt Seeds
- Critical Plus – Dinafem
- Mataro Blue – Kannabia
- Banana Joint – Elite Seeds
- Prozac – Medical Seeds
These are all high THC strains with very different tastes and effects.
Space in the veg room is restricted, so we limited ourselves to one packet of each strain.
Careful labelling is all important when choosing the best mother plant: each seed was labelled (eg MB1 through to MB5 for Mataro Blue 1 to 5), germinated and potted on. The seedlings were grown for a short 3 weeks, and just as they were put into flower we took 2 cuttings from each plant and these clones were labelled the same as the donor plants.
This meant that our flower room contained several plants from each strain, all labelled with the strain and seed number, going into flower at day 21 from germination. Simultaneously two clones from each of these plants (labelled appropriately) were taking root in a propagator in our veg tent.
As the plants in flower progressed through flowering, we took notes on how they reacted to any variables such as environmental influences and general vigour. During this time, there were individual plants that stood out for their vitality. And as the clones developed roots they were moved from the propagator into the veg room.
Harvesting and drying cannabis is a little more complicated when you need to record each plant individually. Before we cut the plants though, we printed off several copies of our hitlist of desired characteristics and titled them with each strain and number. We then sat each plant on the table and went through our notes from the grow room and marked each point on the hitlist with a score out of 5.
As soon as the plant was graded, it was cut down, its wet weight taken, and hung on a clothes hanger with its marker and put into the drying area before the next plant was brought out. This system avoids confusion and mixing up.
As individual plants dried, each was moved into a large labelled curing jar. Once ready, we weighed the final yield of every plant.
Finally: the fun part: grading for taste and effect! Surprisingly we have a large number of volunteers offering to help with this process!
As an independent marker of the quality of buds we send samples of our favorites off for chromotological testing, This gives us the cannabinoid profile of our future mothers and can be a deciding factor in choosing a good mother.