fbpx Clones versus seeds: What's the best way to grow a cannabis product?

Clones versus seeds: What's the best way to grow a cannabis product?

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Wondering whether a clone or a seed produces the best harvest is likely not a thought that occurs to the layperson, but it’s one that cannabis producers spend significant time considering. (Originally appeared on Benzinga )

Picking between seed and clone affects almost everything about the final cannabis product. The source of the cannabis plant affects the potency of the flower, the quantity and size of the buds, and the growth-to-maturity process, all components crucial to creating a quality cannabis product. 

Despite decades of cannabis cultivation, debate on which of the two is “the best” source remains heated. Many seed growers, for example, argue that their plants are more pest resistant and have larger buds than their clone-grown counterparts, and some clone-growers argue the exact opposite. 

On a commercial scale, the divide is smaller. The majority of cannabis producers employ clone-based cannabis production and use seeds to pick strong “mothers.”

Marijuana Company of America Inc. 

MCOA, for example, recently acquired VBF Brands Inc., a clone-focused cannabis producer. It joins Tilray Inc., Canopy Growth Corp.CGC, Greenway Greenhouse Cannabis Corp. and many others by developing an emphasis on clone-based cannabis cultivation. 

Why is this the case? And why are there still seed advocates if the corporate world seems adamant about clones? 

Clones Versus Seeds

Each growing method has benefits and drawbacks. Depending on the grower’s context, one may be more suitable than the other. 

Seeds: The Pros 

  • Cannabis plants germinating from seeds have a taproot, which many cultivators believe supplies more support and nutrients to the plant. 
  • Cannabis plants germinating from seeds do not inherit diseases or weak immunity from the mother plant. 
  • Cannabis plants germinating from seeds possess more variety, which could be a pro if you’re looking for product differentiation. 
  • Seeds last much longer than clones when stored properly. 

Seeds: The Cons

  • Growers must invest time – typically around six weeks – before they know the sex of the plant. Because the industry values females, this is a major risk, particularly when the seeds are purchased from an unreliable source. 
  • Seed growers have to be patient because the growing process is much longer than with clones. 

Clones: The Pros

Clones are cuttings from a mature mother marijuana plant that grow into new identical plants.

  • Clone growers know the sex of the plant beforehand. They can still become hermaphrodites if stressed, but out of the gate, they’re female. Only females provide the buds that produce a marijuana high. 
  • Starting with a clone with a track record of previous harvests gives producers a good idea of what to expect from their plants. 
  • Clones speed up the cultivation process. Seeds take time to sprout and grow into a plant, but clones are already parts of plants. 
  • Clones are “plug and play,” meaning they’re easier to cultivate. 

Clones: The Cons

  • Clones lack a taproot, which some reputable growers believe makes the plant stronger and healthier. A taproot grows vertically downward from the plant base, forming a center through which other roots sprout.
  • Some cannabis clones have diseases that are carried over from the mother plant.
  • With clones, growers are limited to what they can find in the area. Dispensaries and stores are helping increase variety, but it pales compared to most seed banks. 
  • Clones have a limited shelf life. They must be planted quickly, or they lose their ability to grow into plants.

Generally, clones are important when a grower has found a particularly interesting strain and wants to mass-produce it, while seeds are important for cultivating variety and for creating benchmarks through which clones are based. 


Article by Jad Malaeb

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