Ever wonder how large growing houses keep up with insatiable demand for potent weed? In order to scale growing operations in a cost-effective manner, many cultivators have turned to cloning.
The process entails making an exact DNA copy of a healthy, robust cannabis plant (also known as the mother plant). Read on to find out how cloning can result in frequent bud yields without expensive seeds.
Benefits of Cloning
Cloning comes with numerous advantages for competitive growers. When cloning a mother plant, one does not need to plant a new seed. This allows the individual to skip the seed germination phase (when the seed grows roots and tiny leaves). Instead, the clone starts from the root growing phase, where it can get to the flowering stage faster. So by cloning, one not only saves money from bypassing the need to buy seeds, but one can also save time by skipping the initial growing phase.
By compounding a cloned plant’s lifecycle, a grower can produce more buds per year. Outdoor growing operations with limited harvests could squeeze in an additional batch effortlessly. The option for multiple harvests greatly increases for indoor plants, because their environment is fully controlled and optimized- one could technically keep the harvest cycle going all year.
“To ensure quality, it is suggested that you clone a mother plant three to four times only. Although cloning from a single female marijuana plant can be done more than four times, the chance of growing cannabis hermaphrodites (with male characteristics) is possible,” said Growing Marijuana Tips.
Arguments for Cloning
There are a handful of arguments that go against cloning cannabis plants. One of them involves the natural, annual lifecycle of the sensitive herb. Some speculate that marijuana plants aren’t designed to live for several years, which is exactly what happens when a grower relies on a mother plant for his or her cloning needs. The longer the plant stays alive, the longer it has to deal with external stresses (environmental changes, rough treatment from growers and etc.), insects and illnesses. This prolonged ordeal may decrease the herb’s genetic value over time (also known as genetic drift), causing the clones to become less desirable as the plant gets weaker.
Some believe that as long as a cultivator can provide optimal growing conditions for the mother plant, the onslaught of genetic drift can be prevented, and in some cases, completely eliminated. From another perspective, mother plants could actually be suffering from environmental drift, since the DNA of plants remain intact during their lifecycle. An experienced cultivator must know when to stop cloning from a deteriorating mother plant, as it could affect the quality of the clones.
“Cannabis plants grown from seed produce a Tap Root, cloned plants simply cannot-they produce a fibrous root system only. The Tap Root is a survival advantage in nature, as it is in any growing condition,” said Alina Krukova from SF Gate.
This post was originally published on July 1, 2016, it was updated on March 15, 2017.