News & Research

Genetic Selection at GreenSeal: Putting in the Work!

December 31, 2020

One of the keys to GreenSeal’s ability to maintain high THC, maximum terpenes, and consistently bountiful yields is the intensive genetic selection process each cultivar (aka strain) is put through before it goes into production.

We didn’t invent the technique of “Phenotype Hunting,” but we’re committed to putting in the time, resources and work it takes to identify the best possible genetics for our canopies.

The first step is always starting seedlings. At GreenSeal, we propagate literally hundreds of different seeds of a single cultivar and grow them up to the point they can be cloned. Each seedling is a distinct “phenotype.”

Most of the cannabis cultivars in production today were all created via genetic crosses and hybrids that were never completely stabilized over time, which means every seed in a breeders’ package is genetically different from all the others.

It’s like a family – kids from the same parents are not identical twins, but they are closely related with identical parentage.

Human offspring all have different talents, and some are even multitalented prodigies.

Cannabis phenotypes are no different (except we increase the odds of discovering a prodigy by creating a pool of hundreds of offspring!).

A clone is taken from each specimen. Once they are mature enough, a clone is cut from each of the plants. The plant count is instantly doubled, with one clone corresponding with each seedling/phenotype.

After vegging, the clones are put into flowering. Once the clones take root, get transplanted, and grow mature enough, they are put into a completely separate growing room for flowering.

Hundreds of lab tests are required. Once the cohort of clones are fully flowered, each and every one of them is sampled and sent to the lab to test for cannabinoids, terpenes, and other genetic components.

Other observational data is recorded, like the physical qualities of each plant (ones with side branches or long stretching, for example, don’t match our tiered Sea-of-Green vertical format), as well as bud structure, appearance, and yield.

The mothers have been waiting patiently. Meanwhile, all this time the original seedlings are kept in vegetative mode in their separate room.

The cream rises to the top. After reviewing all of the lab tests and analyzing that data in light of the observations around the plant qualities and recorded yields, a star phenotype will hopefully (but not always!) shine brighter than all the rest.

The winner of the pheno hunt becomes the “mother,” from which tens of thousands of genetically identical clones will be cut over her lifetime.

Easy, right? It actually takes a ton of work, financial investment, time and space to establish a successful genetic selection program.

Most producers aren’t willing to commit the labour, money, and rooms required to discover one stellar mother from a pool of hundreds (then always doing it all over again for the next on-deck cultivar).

Considering those resources could all be used for flower (and revenue) production, it’s a big commitment to integrate a genetic selection program into a cultivation system.

Most of the cultivars GreenSeal produces undergo this intensive genetic selection process, whether we created the original cross/hybrid, or purchased seeds or specimens from an outstanding breeder.

Although it’s a big investment, the extra effort we’ve put into this process is a big part of our ability to consistently achieve exceptional results in our dry flower.

Gorilla Berry: The Pinnacle of GreenSeal’s Genetic Selection Program

When we started the search that eventually resulted in the discovery of our Gorilla Berry phenotype, we propagated hundreds of seeds from a cross of three parents: Gorilla Glue x Blueberry x OG Kush.

After testing them all for terpene levels, bud structure, and potency, our genetic selection program zeroed-in on a true unicorn: a rare find combining the sweet, fruity flavours of blueberries and citrus notes with strong, typically Indica effects.

Upon opening a container of Gorilla Berry, the immediate sensation is the unforgettable smell of a freshly baked blueberry pie cooling on the windowsill. The rich mix of sky-high terpenes (headlined by tart Pinene and balanced with peppery Caryophyllene and musky Myrcene) mingle to impart more subtle earthy and spicy flavours beneath the unmistakably sweet berry overtones.

Coming in 2021: More Outstanding Genetics

At GreenSeal, the pheno hunt never ends.

Finding a unicorn like our Gorilla Berry phenotype isn’t about luck, it’s about persistence and systematic rigor.

We’ve got some fantastic cultivars we’re putting through the genetic selection pipeline, so make sure you check in on our website’s Cultivars page and our social media channels regularly to see what’s dropping.

Do you have experience with (or questions about) pheno hunting?

Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Stay in the know.
Join the GreenSeal email list.