Growing Hemp – Seeds vs Clones
The human race has been growing hemp for thousands of years, but modern growing methods aren’t as simple as they used to be.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a member of the cannabis plant family that contains only trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%). The fibers of the hemp plant are used in the creation of thousands of products, including textiles, clothing, and twine.
You can also eat it.
Hemp is widely considered a superfood and is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, essential fatty acids, fiber, and more. It has also helped countless people in the form of Whole-Plant CBD Oil .
There are two common methods for growing hemp.
You can take the good old fashioned “plant the seed in the ground” route—or create identical clones from a mother plant. Many a cannabis connoisseur has debated the advantages of each method. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both.
Growing From The Seed
Growing plants is pretty straightforward, right?
Dig a small hole in the ground, drop a seed in, and make sure the little guy has enough water to grow big and strong. Plant a handful of tomato seeds, get a few tomato plants that each yield the same fruit.
That may be oversimplified, but most people generally agree that’s how growing crops works.
Cannabis is a bit different. Yes, you can plant a seed and it will grow into a cannabis plant, but the resulting genetics of the plant will vary.
Commercial Plant Seeds vs Cannabis Seeds
Commercial plant seeds for vegetable crops are true-bred and genetically stable. This means each seed will grow into the same phenotype and produce effectively identical results.
So, if you plant a true-bred packet of seeds (think tomatoes again) you’ll get a consistent crop.
When planting hemp (cannabis) seeds, it’s difficult to find that same consistency. Most clusters of cannabis seeds can be thought of as diverse siblings of two different parent plants.
Imagine you’re a cannabis plant grown from a seed surrounded by dozens of your siblings. You may look similar and share similar characteristics, but each of your siblings will be unique in some way.
Cannabis is several decades behind other modern plant breeding techniques due in part to a long period of cannabis prohibition. Recent legislation in the agricultural field is moving us in the right direction, but finding a true-breeding genetic line of cannabis is rare, if not impossible, at this point in time.
For now, growing hemp from the seed is inconsistent at best but can produce new genetics through breeding.
Cloned for Consistency
An increasingly popular method of hemp cultivation involves “cloning” the plant.
This method involves taking a cutting from a “mother plant” that will then grow its own root system to become an identical copy of the original.
Cloning cannabis is regarded as the only method that provides reliable consistency across a full harvest. This cloning process allows an identical genetic to grow year after year.
Cuttings are generally taken from the lower branches of the mother plant that look the healthiest. The cuttings are then encouraged to root in water, soil, or rockwool. Roots begin to sprout after one to three weeks, depending on the method used.
The plants are then relocated to mature in fields or other controlled growing environments. This method offers a high level of stability and sustainability with a predictable outcome. While it’s the only way to reach absolute consistency, growing hemp by way of cloning has its own challenges.
Cannabis Seeds vs Clones
Now that you have a brief overview of both methods, let’s break down some of the pros and cons of growing from seeds vs clones.
- Cannabis plants from seeds grow what’s called a tap-root, which is like an extension of the main stem that grows straight downward. Tap-roots are able to penetrate deeper into the soil for better water access.
- Seeds can be stored for a long time and are easily moved.
- Free from pests, disease, and viruses from the get-go.
- Some growers suggest seed-grown plants are healthier and stronger than cloned plants.
- Inconsistent genetics—every plant will contain slightly different concentrations of cannabinoids and other plant compounds.
- It can be difficult to identify the gender of a seed. With the exception of breeding, male plants must be detected and removed from harvest before pollination occurs.
- Seeds take longer to grow and develop into mature plants.
- Consistent and predictable genetics that will lead to an equally consistent product.
- Clones are taken from female plants and gender identification becomes a non-issue.
- Cuttings from a mother plant grow to maturity faster than seed-grown plants.
- Clones will all require the same growing conditions, meaning conditions will not need to be adjusted between harvests.
- Clones can carry diseases and pests inherited from the mother plant. Great care must be taken to keep mother plants in good health.
- Instead of growing a hearty tap-root, clones will only grow secondary roots from the stem that branch out laterally.
Growing Hemp – The Best Method for CBD
Which method is better for creating CBD oil?
Some companies may choose to grow from seeds, or pull from multiple harvests with a variety of genetics, potentially leading to inconsistent results in their extracts.
We believe consistency in genetics when growing hemp is absolutely critical to making the best possible CBD products.
This is why Hemplucid utilizes hemp cloned from healthy mother plants with a carefully developed set of superior genetics. Cloned plants allow us to offer natural hemp-derived products that provide powerful and consistent benefits with every batch.
Until cannabis breeders can create true-breeding seeds for growing hemp, the cloning method will continue to be necessary for consistent hemp-derived CBD products.
Humans have been growing hemp for thousands of years, but methods aren't as simple as they used to be. Learn more about growing hemp seeds vs clones.
Clone Problems: Understanding Hemp Clones and Avoiding the Pitfalls
Clone Problems: Understanding Hemp Clones and Avoiding the Pitfalls
More and more people across the country are getting excited about growing hemp . In response, retailers have begun offering all sorts of options to entice curious hobbyists and new farmers – things like auto flowering seeds and feminized clones.
Like most things in life, these options aren’t always perfect, especially since this industry is only beginning. Hemp clone technology is exciting, and yet there are a few things that can go wrong when growing with clones. Most of the pitfalls can be avoided by understanding how cloning works, and the unique characteristics of hemp clones .
Growing plants from seed is pretty straightforward. You plant the seed in the ground and it grows. Maybe germinate it in some paper towel to give it a little extra care. Make sure the budding plant has the three necessities: air, water, and light. Then before you know it, it’s harvest day. It might not be that simple but you know what we mean. Growing from clones requires a bit more care.
What are Hemp Clones?
Cloning is a modern method of hemp cultivation (no it’s nothing like the sci-fi movies!). Rather, the methods and the scale of hemp cloning is modern; people have been propagating plants from cuttings for millenia.
Clones are an exact genetic copy of the mother plant. They’re made by taking a cutting of a mother plant, and then caring for it until it develops roots and grows into a genetically identical plant. By identical, we really mean identical. The clone will have almost exactly the same cannabinoid and terpene profiles, as well as share the same resistance to pests and fungi. Cuttings can even be taken from clones to create successive generations.
Nature vs Nurture
Cultivators strive for genetic uniformity because a predictable plant allows you to create a predictable product, but uniformity can trigger a number of issues for growers. For example, if a pest or disease strikes a crop made up of genetics that aren’t resistant to that pest or disease, it’s likely that the entire crop would be affected, or even wiped out. However, hemp proves to be widely pest and disease tolerant so this issue shouldn’t cause much worry. BFF always suggests that hemp farmers have an adequate integrated pest management strategy, which provides another layer of protection besides the plants’ natural resilience.
We learned above that hemp clones can be re-cloned. Some cultivators claim that this practice causes clones to degrade over time, meaning that successive generations become less and less identical to the original mother plant. To put it frankly, they’re wrong. Some clones do tend to exhibit different traits over time, but this isn’t due to degradation or changes in genetic code. Rather, it’s an excellent example of how environmental factors modify a clone’s genetic potential and expression without actually changing the plant’s DNA, also known as epigenetics. In fact, even two clones from the same mother grown in different environments often look and grow differently.
Hemp clones have another sensitivity – their lack of tap roots. The process of cloning results in plants that have a network of shallow, lateral roots instead of the deep anchoring tap root of a plant grown from seed. Because of this, they can be more susceptible to wind damage and have a harder time absorbing nutrients in arid environments. However, these issues can be avoided by following best growing practices.
Although studies regarding cannabis are still quite limited, research suggests that phenotypic or physical variations in plant cuttings appear because of mutations in the DNA sequence. Another theory, Muller’s ratchet, claims that clones are bound to accumulate a number of mutations which will ultimately hinder their ability to grow and thrive. Stay tuned for the results of further research. At Blue Forest Farms, we are deeply engaged in unlocking the mysteries of hemp genetics .
So What Can I Do?
Many of the issues that farmers see with clones can be traced to poor breeding practices. The first thing you should always do when seeking to purchase clones is ensure that they’re coming from a reputable breeder or retailer. As the financial promises of hemp grow, more and more frauds will enter the industry. In fact, a Minnesota farmer seeking to grow high CBD hemp purchased what he believed were four thousand feminized clones, only to realize that he had actually been sold unfeminized seedlings when they started to flower.
Once you’ve found a great retailer, it’s time to pick out your hemp clones. Be sure to select a variety that is optimized for your desired product and climate. When you receive your clones, inspect them! While you may not be able to detect all issues with the naked eye, you might be able to identify an issue before it turns into a full-blown problem. We suggest examining the clone’s stem, as it is a great indicator of plant health. A flimsy stem is likely to produce a weak plant. Additionally, you should always check the leaves for signs of pests. Powdery Mildew commonly affects clones and is very easily spread, so it is worth keeping an eye out for.
When it comes to hemp, genetic uniformity is extremely desirable, especially when creating products that have to conform to legal limits. The best way to ensure uniformity is by growing with clones. They’re really the only way to take the guesswork out of growing. There’s no need to germinate seeds, or worry about male plants. Yes, there are some potential issues that can arise but these can be avoided by making educated purchases and providing your plants with stable growing conditions.
Planning to grow hemp with clones? Learn about the pitfalls to avoid them, and understand how cloning works and the unique characteristics of hemp clones.