Hey there, hi there, ho there, Skunkers! Today we are going to address a question we have all asked ourselves at some point as cannabis growers— what strain should I grow? —I ask myself this question constantly going through my stash of killer cannabis genetics. I’m a skilled veteran cannabis grower, and if you are not skilled at growing cannabis, or somewhat skilled, you really need to choose wisely to enhance your chances of success when choosing a strain to grow.
Of course, there is also the why, as in… why are you growing? If you are leaning commercial, you will be clone-hunting, most likely through many strains. By the by… when I say “strains” I also mean hybrids in the context of this article. I’ll give you guys some clone-hunting tips.
Now, if you are new, or new-ish to cannabis growing, choosing what to grow becomes much more important. If you are looking for a medicinal cannabis strain, this will further alter your criteria. When it comes to selecting a medical variety/strain of cannabis, it’s all you baybee—others’ opinions of medical properties pertaining to certain strains should be taken with a huge “grain of salt.” You need to find what works for you, full stop.
The Classic Sativa Mistake by Noobs
This is a true classic error on the part of growers that I have made in my distant past, and I continue to see peeps make all the time. Think of cannabis strains in terms of dog breeds… and in this scenario, sativas would be the wolves, indicas, and hybrids would be like Doberman Pincers, Puggles, Weiner Dogs, etc., and so on. Growing and taking care of different cannabis varieties/strains when it comes to sativas and indicas can be comparative to taking care of a doggy, or a wolf—a wolf 🐺 comes with very different needs and wants than domestic doggies—yeah, no shit Sherlock LoL.
The Number One Rule Here
First and foremost, if you do not allow a sativa dominant or sativa to fully finish maturing, you will end up with a very subpar version of the buds, very watered down potency-wise. Never take a sativa or sativa dominant early if at all possible!
Sativas offer a wide range of effects. Truly, however, they are wild, and pretty set in their ways when it comes to likes and dislikes regarding their growing environment. Most sativas have specific likes and dislikes revolving around pH range, temperature range, moisture levels in soil, etc. This makes them more difficult to grow, generally speaking. But let’s say your environment is perfect, and the sativa or sativa dominant plants are very happy—well, now you may have a new problem. They grow very fast and get very large as a rule of thumb. Outdoors, this can be a big problem as well as indoors. So, if you are dealing with sativa dominant or sativa (“wolves”) plants, one thing I would always recommend is to start them flowering smaller than you think they should start. Indoors if they get too large, it normally leads to very subpar harvests or no harvest at all. Outdoors, it can lead to discovery by thieves or LEOs. Yikes.
Choosing a Strain to Grow
Yup, you have a bazillion options these days when it comes to choices between cannabis strains to grow, particularly hybrids. Hybrids are simply plants that are selectively bred using many different varieties of cannabis, including sativas 🐺 – and hybrids that are 60% to 70% sativa are usually very manageable. More than 70% sativa, and you may deal with some of the concerns I mentioned above.
Outdoors along the coast is a huge challenge. Most available hybrids don’t finish until the second half of October, and by then, it is wetter and cooler. This environmental combo is like a Bat Signal for mold. If this is your problem, you can hunt down some faster flowering plants that finish around the end of September; a tad hard to find, but they’re out there. You could also get a greenhouse w/dehumidifier and grow whatever you want.
Here’s some sound advice… When you are choosing what to grow, don’t be all about the photos, these can be highly misleading. Be all about the breeder’s reputation, and specifics about the strain. Also, ask around and get opinions regarding the strain from others that have grown it. You can often ask the breeder about specific concerns you may have as well.
What strain should I grow, most of the time will actually mean, what strain will I select killer clones from to grow? Breeders, connoisseurs, and commercial growers are all clone hunters. For cloning, you will only need the addition of a small amount of space, a cheap light, and a cloning unit, optimally. Hunting—and finding—killer clones is actually pretty easy with just a little bit of patience. Here’s how I would do it…
Let’s take a great variety I know a lot about as an example for clone hunting, the Chunky Cherry Thai, available at Kingdom Organic Seeds. You have a large yielding hybrid with a lot of great sativa and indica present in her genes. I would get 20 seeds of whatever strain I was going to hunt through, and I would germinate 16 of these seeds, saving four seeds—stored well, airtight-lighttight, and in the fridge. Lemme break down your timeline below.
Clone Hunting Timeline
- You should get at least 13 or 14 healthy sprouts. Let them get two weeks old and cull (kill) any weaker/problematic individual sprouts. You should then be down to about 12 to 14 plants. Grow them all for another two weeks, and at this point, they will be 30 days old.
- AT 30 days old, sex your plants (see below on sexing). Cull males, and this should leave you with about 8 females. Regarding the Chunky Cherry Thai, about 6 of these females will be outstanding. About 2 of these females will be awe-inspiring. Here’s how you find out.
- Clone and label every female plant, and label every clone. Root 2 clones of each female. Discard original seed plants. Grow these clones out to the proper size for flowering. Flower a clone of each and save (continue to vegetatively grow) a clone of each female plant. During this time, you may cull other weaker/problematic individual plants.
- Flower out your females, dry them, and sample them all for at least a couple of weeks. Your super-favs will stand out quickly. Cut your clones down to your super-favs. You should have at least 2 of these at this point and, more likely 3. Clone away!
I hope you enjoyed and got something from my little no-nonsense approach to choosing a strain to grow. If you really want to try your hand at sativas, just remember one very important rule, and start them flowering smaller than you would think. I start old-world sativas like Hazes about 9 inches tall, and they often end up finishing about 3 feet tall—yup. A C99 (Cinderella 99) is a petite type sativa dominant that is also great indoors. Yields are on the lighter side but deadly smelly and potent.
Sexing your plants at 30 days old is easy, man. Sprout them under a 12/12 photoperiod for their first 10 to 14 days above ground. Then change them to a vegging photoperiod of 18/6. At 30 days old, break out a magnifying glass, and a close examination will reveal their sex to you. Cloning (rooting) your cuttings is also very easy using a Clone King Aero Cloner. I have used these for almost 2 decades and recommend them highly.
I hope you all are enjoying the warmer weather like me. I’ll be breaking out the kayaks here any day now, hopefully. See ya all back here next time. L8r G8rs.
- REv 😊
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.