WHAT EXACTLY IS A CANNABIS STRAIN?
When you want to start growing cannabis, you will no doubt come across the term cannabis strain. These are names like Pineapple Kush, Purple Haze and Blue Cheese. These are varieties of cannabis, strains that each have their own unique characteristics. In this blog, we explain exactly what strains are and what you should know about them.
What exactly is a cannabis strain?
A cannabis strain is a unique variety of cannabis. You can actually compare it to dog strains. If you see a dog on the street, you know it's a dog. But there are all kinds of different breeds, such as Spaniels, Dachshunds and Golden Retrievers. It is the same with cannabis.
Originally, there were two types of cannabis: Sativa and Indica.
- Sativa: This species was first described by Linnaeus in 1753. These plants were already widely cultivated in Europe at that time.
- Indica: The name Indica was first used by Lamarck in 1785. It was used for all cannabis plants cultivated in India. There were many differences between Indica and Sativa, hence Lamarck suggested a different name for this strain.
These two primal species, as you could call them, each have their own qualities. Sativa, for instance, is known to withstand heat better and the high is mentally stimulating. Indica is more resistant to cold and gives a relaxed and calm high. But humans are always looking for something new, and so breeders started crossing strains.
Why create new strains?
Growers are always looking for new characteristics for cannabis plants. Of course, the original two strains were beautiful and gave a fine high. But there is always room for improvement. Growers try to influence a number of traits via selecting certain plants.
For instance, they try to pay attention to the concentrations of cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, CBG and others. This in turn influences the strain's type of high and medicinal properties. Furthermore, they can influence bud size and colour, autoflower properties, bud structure and yield through cross-breeding. Of course, taste and aroma are also important to growers.
Furthermore, growers also look for the strain with the highest resistance to pests, fungi and climatic influences. The stronger a plant is, the better it can cope with stress (from the weather) and insects, fungi and other pests. This in turn makes growing easier for users. Then there are the specific effects of cannabis that are targeted for cultivation. The effects of cannabis can be very diverse, from energetic to creative. It can affect your sleep, your emotions and your digestion.
The duration of flowering is also of interest to growers. Some Sativas have quite a long flowering time, while Indicas can be harvested earlier in the season. This is also related to their origin, with Indicas coming from colder regions and Sativas from tropical ones, where summers are longer.
So growers can also try to influence the duration of flowering. Longer flowering can be tricky if the summer is cold and it rains a lot. Prolonged flowering can also pose difficulties for indoor cultivation. A shorter flowering is more appealing to many growers, so this is definitely considered when developing new strains.
The development of a cannabis strain
Many of the cannabis strains you find in shops today are the result of careful crossing and breeding. This is done under controlled conditions. So how is such a cannabis strain developed? There are different techniques for that.
Growers can get seeds from special seed banks, where a large amount of different strains are stored. They can pick these seeds based on certain qualities they want to see in future generations of plants. Once they have developed the ideal strain, they use certain techniques to stabilise the genes. This way, these traits can be better preserved and are more likely to be passed on to future generations.
Different brands have their own unique strains. In our shop, you will find seeds from well-known brands such as Amsterdam Genetics, Sensi Seeds and Royal Queen Seeds. All these brands put a lot of time and energy into developing high-quality seeds with sought-after characteristics.
Cannabis strain obtained through genetic engineering
A new strain can also be obtained by changing the genetic code of the cannabis plant. Genetic engineering sounds scarier than it is. By now, much is already known about the process and people can already modify a lot. This happens not only with cannabis, but also with other plants, such as maize and tomatoes. There is an American company that has already found the gene responsible for THC production. If this gene can be manipulated, it will be easier to control the percentage of THC contained in the buds. But disease resistance and the production of certain terpenes and medicinal properties are also characteristics that can be targeted with genetic engineering.
Lots of choice in cannabis strains
As you can see, there is a lot involved in developing new cannabis strains. Growers are always actively looking for interesting plant traits, while also taking into account what consumers want. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on what new strains are coming onto the market. So take a regular look in our shop. And if you have a favourite cannabis strain you have been using for a long time, it might be fun to try a different one and experience its effects.