Clones vs. Seeds - Why Some Farmers Choose One Over The Other
Updated: Jan 8
Cannabis farmers in the Emerald Triangle have the flexibility of choosing whichever growing style they prefer: climate-controlled greenhouses, cold-frame greenhouses, or full-season outdoor. Regardless of the environment they choose to cultivate in, starting their plants' journey begins with options as well: clones or seeds.
Seeds were the way of cannabis cultivation for most of its history. The farmer would till their land, lay down the seeds, then water their plants until they were monsters by the fall, towering over anyone who dared to observe them in all their glory. The plants grown from seed tend to be more robust and strong-willed, their stalks thick and tough to break. They withstand the climate's changes through the end of spring, summer, and fall, enjoying the gentle breeze and forming into a thick bush-like structure with dozens of flowers dotting its mass. The challenge of growing from seed wasn't much a hurdle until recreational legalization when the industry-standard became large quantities of a very consistent product. With seeds, the different genotypes of each cultivar are expressed differently, some more diversified than others. While one seed may produce thick buds that stack together tightly, its neighbor of the same cultivar may be more spread out and airy. Even the color of the flowers can vary slightly, and while this isn't anything unexpected, the general recreational consumer strived to see the same bud each time they opened a jar of their favorite strain. Bulk buyers began desiring larger and larger batches, and many of them didn't want the slight variance between each genotype. This is why many of today's cannabis farmers start their crops from clones. But still, some legacy farmers choose to cultivate the way it has always been done, especially those farmers who grow entirely outdoors and who desire vigorous plants that can withstand the full-season ebb and flow.
Clones are cuttings off of a "mother" plant, or a specific genotype of a cultivar. When clones are taken, each plant is genetically the same. Therefore, their output is exceptionally consistent, and any variation lies within the phenotypical expression of said genotype. This produces large batches of dried cannabis flowers with consistent color and structure throughout the numerous pounds of packaged bulk products. Clones, however, can be less resilient, especially when grown outdoors. If the clones are not able to establish themselves before being planted in dramatic climate swings, they may not make it all the way through to harvest. They also pose the risk of a crop-wide disease. Their mother plant could be sick and not showing symptoms, resulting in a severely dampened harvest output that is often difficult to notice until far into the flowering cycle. However, clones are quicker to get started, saving the farmer two weeks of seedling growth from the get-go. If growing inside of a greenhouse, clones tend to do extremely well, babied in an ideal environment until their flowers are ripe and ready to be cut down. Depending on the farmer's needs, clones may offer the flexibility and consistency they are after.
Seeds and clones both present opportunities and challenges that the other does not, and both can be successful starts to cultivation. At Hive Mendocino, some of our farmers start from clones while others start from seed, and regardless of their beginning, the product is always phenomenal. Since we are all certified Simply Clean by the Cannabis Conservancy, buyers know our products are grown with great attention to detail and all sustainable inputs. Are you looking to purchase some of our high-quality products? Licensed buyers can fill out our Wholesale Account Form and we will send them buying and inventory specifics right away.
Photo by: Chris Butler