This legendary pot breeder says they unlocked the future of weed
The cannabis space has been evolving at a breakneck speed in the era of legalization. From high-tech gadgets and gizmos to a seemingly endless variety of products on dispensary shelves, the industry is in an R&D renaissance. It turns out the latest innovation could change the cannabis cultivation and production game forever.
Triploid cannabis seeds recently made their commercial market debut, courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co. The California breeders released two new triploid strains, OG Kush and Donutz to the growing masses. Triploid varieties are bred to resist pollination, even if male plants are nearby, protecting crops from seeds and giving farmers peace of mind.
But that’s not the only benefit. It turns out triploids are also more robust plants, giving growers more bang for their buck. According to a press release, “triploid seeds offer a three to five percent increase in THC, 10 – 20 percent increase in flower yields, and a 10 – 15 percent increase in fresh frozen live rosin yield.” The release also notes that the varieties flower five to ten days sooner.
Looking at macro photos of triploid trichomes, the deviation is astounding. The trichomes are larger and seemingly shooting off from one another, a pleasant sight for hash makers worldwide.
When cannabis produces seeds, energy is taken away from the creation of terpenes and cannabinoids. Many growers use feminized seeds to help prevent male plants from making appearances, but even these genetics aren’t foolproof. Plants can also hermaphrodite, making seeds due to stress or genetic abnormalities.
The main difference in triploids is the chromosomal makeup. The vast majority of cannabis cultivars are diploids with one pair of chromosomes, triploids have three. With this increase comes naturally larger plant cell walls, resulting in bigger yields. Triploids are not genetically modified and are instead created through selective breeding.
A new era of cannabis genetics
Humboldt Seed Co. teamed up with Richard Philbrook, a molecular biologist at Dark Heart Labs, to help develop the triploid varieties. Philbrook has conducted a significant study of triploids, releasing a paper in the journal Plants last year. After discovering a naturally occurring triploid cannabis strain five years ago, the team set out to stabilize varieties for the market.
After multiple phenohunts on several large-scale California cannabis farms, the triploid OG Kush and Donutz were finally ready to be shared.
Humboldt Seed Co. CEO and co-founder Nathaniel Pennington believes the new varieties could change the game while helping cultivators boost their bottom lines.
“Anything we can do to improve the chances of California’s small cannabis businesses that are having such a hard time right now, we want to do,” Pennington told GreenState. “This technology doesn’t come with a high price tag and still falls within the realm of organic practices.”
Cannabis horticulture expert and author Ed Rosenthal observed the results of the latest phenohunt, comparing triploids and diploids side-by-side in the field. He was impressed by the overall health of the triploid varieties.
“The triploids looked more vigorous and had a higher density of trichomes, with the buds visibly larger than the standard diploids,” Rosenthal said. “The farmer told me he noticed that the plants were more resistant to stress.”
Rosenthal added that while triploids aren’t new in the agricultural world, the introduction of the breeding process to cannabis is.
“Consumers likely have triploids in their homes right now—when you eat seedless grapes or watermelon, those are triploid varieties. Now, the technology has made its way to cannabis.”
The “mules” of cannabis
While triploids may offer the industry a leg up, the seeds do have one drawback: they’re unable to be bred further. In a recent article for mg Magazine, Humboldt Seed Co. chief science officer and co-founder Benjamin Lind said that while triploid varieties cannot be reproduced, the benefits outweigh the issue.
“Triploids are the ‘mule’ of the cannabis world, in that they are a genetic endpoint,” Lind wrote. “Diploids will still be needed to produce triploid seeds. However, even this drawback is still a net positive, helping to prevent the possibility of unintended pollination.”
Lind told GreenState that the innovation surrounding triploids is one of the most exciting aspects in his mind, allowing for more diversity in terpenes and cannabinoids while also expanding, allowing cultivars to thrive in a broader range of climates.
“Advances in cannabis genetics allow for the creation of bioregion-specific seeds, enabling the growth of signature strains like Blueberry Muffin in bioregions well outside its normal range. This is our focus for 2024,” Lind shared.
The introduction of triploid cannabis seeds to the market is another example of the cutting-edge R&D happening in weed. With robust buds and the promise of more unique terpene combinations, consumers and cultivators alike are poised to benefit. And if it seems like there’s already an overwhelming number of strains at your local dispensary, according to Humboldt Seed Co., you ain’t seen nothing yet.