The Science Of Breeds

Cannabis strains? We never heard of that in the 1960s and ’70s when bud seemed seamless and generic. In these days, coffee was coffee, beer was beer, and pot was pot. Sure, most casual users occasionally came upon gems like Panama Red, Colombia Gold, Hindu Kush (Middle East) and Thai (Asia), with names frozen for their geography. But largely the product was unbranded.

Afterward came newfound genetic consciousness with strains in the 1980s bred using identifying characteristics. Surges of hybridization ensued. Northern Lights, Skunk and also Big Bud demonstrated the way. Later, Sour Diesel and OG Kush took recreational cannabis genetics into new levels. Today, amateurs and professionals alike create new strains. Sativa matches indica in an array of ways with offspring going everywhere.

Breeding skills required are greater than a passing understanding of Gregor Mendel and his peas. Careful choice of specific genetic traits and capacity to choose men and females with desirable attributes and nurse them as well as their hybrid are what different pros from amateurs.

Breeders who produce commercial and medical cannabis are a fascinating mix of farmer, mad scientist/geneticist and performer, and three of Oregon’s greatest are no exception: Shane Yoakam, Ray Bowser and Adam Jacques.

“Welcome to the craziness,” says Shane Yoakam of Portland when lately he joined Salem-based Ray Bowser and Eugene’s Adam Jacques in Jacques’ cannabis farm in west Eugene.

Yoakam’s grower title is Suny Cheba, also he is a long-time breeder and geneticist who helped to pave the way for making a vast array of seeds — under the title of Phenomenal Seeds — accessible Oregon.

Bowser goes by the grower title Odie Diesel and is popularly known for his or her THC-dominant cannabis seeds and strains for Homegrown Natural Wonders; Jacques is a revolutionary medical grower famous for his CBD strains; he also possesses the store Sproutly in west Eugene.

Suny Cheba says that his “wake up call” came in the mid 1990s when he ran a hemp store. “My best friend came with pancreatic c****r and I saw how my homegrown cannabis helped her cope with pain.” Ever since that time he’s devoted his skills to make strains to fulfill specific medical needs. For the last two years he’s been focused on another friend with breast and brain c****r. “She doesn’t want radiation,” he states. So he’s developed strains with essential cannabinoids CBD (for her migraines) and THC (for pain) tailored only for her. “We’ve managed to shrink the brain tumor and stabilize it,” he states with certainty.

Finding a ideal mix and ratio of cannabinoids applies to recreational usage, too, the Portland grower emphasizes. “No 1 cannabinoid is a perfect alternative. So don’t put so much emphasis on THC. Each of the plant’s cannabinoids and ingredients contribute to achieving desired effects.” Other plant ingredients include terpenes, fragrant oils that give the plant its own aromatic diversity. He would like to tap in these properties for strains that help to shrink and kill c****r at a cellular level.

Odie Diesel is famous for crops with up to 30% THC.

“My dad has been a grower, I am, and my kids now form a third generation of growers,” he states. On the THC problem, “people desire those large amounts,” he acknowledges. “But some of the lower THC stuff I grow is better. For a range of great flavors and experience I recommend cannabis that’s 22 to 28 percent THC.” On the health care side, he is exploring another cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, with promising medical applications for diabetics.

“Could you imagine creating a strain that’s an appetite suppressant? With cannabis it is normally the other way round,” chimes in Jacques, who is also hard at work researching THCV using Dr. Zac Hildenbrand in Arizona. The two are at the very edge of molecular research of the cannabis plant.

Jacques has developed hundreds of unique CBD strains and has several more in THC. He is founder and guardian of one of the world’s biggest CBD electronic libraries with data “that really locks the process down,” he explains.

With laboratory technology now able to supply complex profile testings across the hybrids process, these breeders can fine-tune a new strain and keep on the ideal path. Nevertheless, it is not simple. Each readily can go through a development of 100 plants and more before a new strain is finalized.

For users it means additional desirable traits in their personal cannabis. For these 3 friends and colleagues the delight is looking for new molecules in cannabis and finding what they could do.

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Writer Paul Omundson may be contacted in cannabis@registerguard.com.