Why are there so many strains to choose from?
Cannabis is one of the most diverse plant species known to man, so how can you know how to choose consistent cannabis? The plant’s diversity is caused by its ability to easily adapt to its environment. Cannabis can be found on all continents, excluding Antarctica. These cannabis varieties from all around the world can interbreed creating hybrids that have a greater spread of differences in the gene pool than their parents alone. Each subspecies produces unique flowers that have been shaped both genetically and by their environment. In the wild, each variety is shaped by the weather, land, and amount of daylight; with the most hearty or resistant plants moving on to create the next generation. This creates a bottleneck effect that causes uniformity in the gene pool. These strains are known as Landraces, and are very rare in our current market.
Today you are more likely to find a variety of marijuana that has been grown or cultivated exclusively for resin or flower production. These hybrids have been created by decades of combining wild or “landrace” strains and selecting the plants that best suit their new environment, these new combinations are much more varied plant to plant both physically and chemically. This has resulted in an endless array of cannabis that is now becoming available to people across the united states, and further more the world.
Over the last few decades many hybrids have been grown and saved because of their outstanding genetics, whether in seed form or by cloning. Cannabis, like apples, is cloned ensuring that the best final product is available to be widely farmed and mass produced. The term “clone only” is to refer to a plant that is not available in seed form. Blue dream, Girl Scout Cookies, SFV OG, and Sour Diesel would be good examples of clone only strains. A clone only strain should be consistent when grown by different people in different environments, but it can look different based on a few negative environmental factors. Finding out if a strain is a clone is only the first step to finding a strain with consistent effects. Some of the characteristics we experience in our herb are not natural to cannabis, these can effect our flowers potency as well as result in harm to your health if frequently ingested, like mold. It is important to know what you’re smoking to avoid these common problems.
How can I spot Mold?
The flower shown above has severe botrytis also known as bot or bud rot. This is a very common mold often found in larger and denser flowers.
The flower shown above has patches of powder mildew on it, a common white mold. You can tell powder mildew from the trichomes by its solid white coloration, and also by its web like appearance under a microscope.
Cannabis can often have mold on the buds hiding at the base of the stems or remaining on the leaves and flowers themselves. Be aware of any white residue on the leaves themselves as this could be powder mildew. Also be aware of any dying or decaying material in your flowers as this is botrytis, a very common bud mold. These molds can be very difficult to see. If you have a magnification device look for fuzzy hair-like structures on the flowers, these would indicate that there is mold present. A magnification loop would also help you become aware of any bugs that may be present, severe damage caused by mites can look like bud rot but can be much worse as the presence of mites also is an indicator that the flowers may have been also sprayed with chemicals close to harvest.
How do I know if my flowers are mature?
Shown above are premature cannabis flowers. You can tell these flowers are premature by their shrunken bracts and leafy appearance. Premature flowers have lower percentages of THC and other cannabinoids, as well as less resin produced leading to a weaker high when ingested.
Some familiar flowers can look weak and wispy. These weaker bud formations are premature, the small calyxes have yet to swell nor have the resin glands making this bud much lesser than its potential. If you are getting a clone only strain and notice a change in outside appearance the amount of time of flower is most likely to blame. Keep in mind that your bud should have swollen flowers when fully mature, the resin glands will also mature and you can see a change of coloration when magnified as the resin glands move from clear to milky to amber. This change of coloration can also be seen without magnification on the hairs or pistils, as they change from white to more autumn colors like red and orange.
The flowers pictured above are fully ripe. You can tell this by observing their deep orange hairs and swollen bracts. If you were to look under a microscopic loop you would see that the trichome glands are fully swollen as well and beginning to turn amber.