It’s no secret that there are several thousands of popular strains available these days, and tens upon tens of thousand of various crosses and variations. At Haze.io alone we list over 3,500 strains – so it should be no surprise that many growers, especially those in the beginning stages, find it incredibly difficult to pick the right strain.
Luckily, there are many ways one can make an educated decision about which strain to choose for their next grow. In this two-part series of articles I will cover the primary attributes of each strain, hopefully making it easier for you to make a choice and end up with nice and healthy plants.
Regular v Feminized v Auto-flowering
Possibly the very first confusion that many new growers have when looking for seeds is the distinction between regular, feminized and auto-flowering seeds, as every seed falls into one of these three categories.
To understand this difference, it’s important to first understand the basics of how plants work. Cannabis seeds come from one female and one male plant, and roughly half of the seeds produced are male, with the other half being female. An important factor is that it’s impossible to tell the difference between a male seed and a female seed until the plant’s early flowering period.
Regular seeds are just that – regular. Meaning that when you buy regular seeds, you can expect about half of them to turn out male and the other half female.
Needless to say, if your purpose of growing is simply the yield, then you will end up with half of your plants being ‘useless’ – as only female plants produce the desired end product.
If your intention is breeding however, then regular seeds are the way to go, as in order to breed new strains, you will need both male and female plants.
Contrary to regular seeds, feminized seeds are developed in a way that ensures all seeds to be female – rather than 50/50.
The obvious benefit of this is that non-breeders can be certain of getting nearly 100 per cent of their plants female, without having to worry about telling the difference between male and female plants (which may be difficult for beginners), or waste room on ‘useless’ plants.
On the flip side however, feminized seeds are typically significantly more expensive than their regular counterparts, and the variety is usually different/sometimes limited. So, if you’re after a particular strain that only comes in regular, you will still need to grow this.
The third and final type of seeds are auto-flowering seeds, often abbreviated “autos,” which are ideal for absolute beginners, but rarely used by experienced growers or breeders.
Their attractiveness is due to the fact that they require very little care in terms of lighting, as well as producing flowers regardless of the season (regular plants flower only once per season), making them ideal for outdoor growth where conditions can’t easily be regulated, and guaranteeing a yield in as little as a few months.
For more experienced growers and those who are after quality, autos won’t cut it however, as in the majority of cases neither the quality of the plants nor the yield gets anywhere close to those of regular seeds.
Height, Yield and Flowering Time
Once you’ve made your choice between “regs,” “fems” and “autos” (as they are often referred to within the industry), it’s time to look further and dive into the finer attributes of the specific breeds.
Every plant is expected to have a specific height once fully grown. Needless to say, when growing indoors, the height of the plant is often a very important consideration, depending on your setup.
You should note, however, that plant height often varies significantly depending on whether the plant is grown indoors or outdoors – plants grown indoors are often even 30 per cent or more shorter than those grown outdoors, so if the expected height quoted by the breeder is said to be 130 – 160 cm (outdoors), you can expect the plant to never reach the higher end of this when grown indoors.
Many good seed banks make this part easier by quoting both the expected indoors height range, as well as the outdoors range.
Different strains have very different yields, and this is obviously a important consideration depending on what you’re after and whether space is an issue.
If you have very limited space for your grow then it would be a good idea to stick to high yield breeds only, as this way you will get far more ‘end product’ per square meet of growing space than you would with lower-yield plants.
But, as with everything, there are of course two sides to the story – with many of the best plants only offering a low yield.
As such, at the end of the day it will come down to quality vs quantity and which of the two matters more to you – which is not to say that there aren’t any great quality strains that also provide a high yield!
Similarly to yield, different strains have different flowering times – especially when it comes to auto-flowering strains.
While most non-auto plants flower at a specific time each year when grown outdoors (once the conditions are just right), there are still significant differences in flowering time between plants – mostly applying to indoors grows.
As with other attributes, what’s right for you depends on your goals, and in this instance whether getting your plants to flower quickly is an important consideration or not.
Many experienced growers who grow indoors keep several grows live at the same time, making the flowering time a non-issue, but if you’re about to grow your first batch and want it to mature quickly then look for strains with a good flowering time.
Hopefully you now have an overall idea of what to look for when choosing your first strains. There’s far more to come though and in the second part of this article I will cover aspects such as THC vs. CBD content, indica vs. sativa plants and different taste elements.
Watch this space for Part II of the article, and in the meantime visit us at Haze.io where we offer a huge variety of seeds with international stealth shipping and guaranteed deliveries.