How to interpret cannabis strain descriptions
List of contents
We receive many queries about the parameters included in the descriptions of the different cannabis strains, and more specifically, the traits section. While some aspects, like production per square meter or cannabinoid content, are very clear for the experienced grower, newcomers to the wonderful world of marijuana home growing can find them confusing.
Today, we are explaining in detail each of the attributes that can be found in the information provided by the cannabis seed banks in relation to the genetics they sell. This will help you to clear any doubts when checking the strains’ index cards and descriptions, and to understand every trait of the plants outlined in their catalogues.
Information on cannabis strains
Always from our point of view, cannabis strains descriptions should contain certain information to help the grower know what to expect from specific genetics, as well as data on their cultivation, effects, and organoleptic properties. These descriptions usually begin with an explanation of the strain genetics, that is to say, what female and male varieties of plants have been used to produce it. Today, the vast majority of strains are polyhybrids: hybrids created from crossing other hybrids with each other.
After this introduction to the strain genetic composition, you will usually find some information on its cultivation; is it suitable for indoor growing? What about growing techniques like SOG, SCROG or LST? Does it need many nutrients? Is it particularly sensitive or resistant to a certain type of pest? Will it need support or some sort of net during flowering? These and many other questions are typically answered in the descriptions section, which also includes information that can be very useful to get the best results at the time of harvesting.
In many cases, the descriptions also include brief notes on the strains' flavours and aromas, very important attributes when it comes to marijuana, as this plant offers a broad spectrum of organoleptic qualities. This information is usually followed by some data on the strain's effects, both on a mental and physical level.
In this helpful and practical article we'll look at some simple, non-destructive ways to manage plant height and at the same time optimise light penetration and maximise the homegrown harvests from your cannabis garden, both indoors and in the great outdoors.
Cannabis strains traits
After the description, you’ll finally find the traits section, which usually is where doubts begin to arise, especially in the case of new marijuana growers. To help clarify them, we are giving a brief explanation of each one of them:
In most cases, the first detail listed on the traits section is the strain’s genetic composition, or in other words, the cross it derives from. Thanks to this information, you’ll know which plants have been used as female (pollen recipient) and male (pollen donor). In general, the name of the mother or female plant will come first, followed by the father’s name, which usually is a male in the case of regular seeds, and a reverted female in the case of feminized seeds.
Type of seeds
This is more important than it seems, especially if you buy seeds without paying much attention to these parameters. Here it's usually mentioned whether they are regular seeds (seeds that produce male and female plants), feminized seeds (produce only female plants), autoflowering, etc. As mentioned before, it's essential to pay attention to the type of seeds you are buying in order to avoid unpleasant surprises during cultivation.
A cannabis plant’s production is directly related to both its genetics and growing conditions. Seed banks usually inform of the maximum total weight of dried flowers that can be obtained from a variety, generally expressed in grams per square meter of indoor cultivation. This figure is the total weight that can be achieved from a crop under ideal environmental and nutritional conditions, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if you obtain a somewhat lower figure, especially during the first attempts with a specific strain.
As with the indoor yields, the maximum amount of weed that can be achieved outdoors is expressed by the dry flower weight, but in this case, it's indicated in grams per plant. This parameter can vary significantly more than the former, because, as every outdoor grower knows, the same strain can yield 1-meter plants that produce 50g, and large plants that offer a harvest of several hundred grams each.
Everything depends on factors such as genetics, nutrition, climate, and, very important when growing outdoors, the size of the pot and the time of sowing. Even when all the other parameters are met, you won't obtain big yields if you use pots that are too small, you sow too late, or a combination of both.
Indoor flowering is usually expressed in days or weeks, so you can find flowering times of, for example, 8 weeks or 56 days. These periods refer to the time the plants need to mature and be ready for harvest, from the moment you change the light cycle from vegetative to flowering, which usually is 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of complete and continuous darkness.
As with some parameters like production, the stability of the strain plays an important role, as some plants could mature before the interval stated, and others later. As we mentioned above, this will depend on several factors, and it should be taken just as a reference, so when the moment approaches, you'll have to keep an eye on the color of the trichomes to establish an exact date for the harvest.
Since the solar cycle calls the shots in terms of growth and bloom, the flowering period is not usually indicated (as in the previous case); but you’ll get an approximate date for the harvest depending on which hemisphere you are in (most seedbanks provide this information for the North hemisphere).
As in the case of the indoor flowering times, this information depends on several factors and should not be taken at face value, but only as a guideline for when you need to get ready to harvest. If the strain’s information says it will be ready by early October, you should keep an eye on the trichomes from mid-September in order to establish a more precise date.
Fortunately, more and more seedbanks are now indicating the cannabinoid content of their strains. They generally provide the highest possible concentrations of two of the most well-known cannabinoids, THC and CBD, and sometimes you'll find information on some other cannabinoids such as CBG or CBC. Therefore, you should bear in mind that the quoted content could vary - downwards - if any of the cultivation parameters (including drying and curing) are wrong.
But, regardless of how much effort you put into providing the perfect conditions for your plants, you’ll find hard to find a specimen with a higher cannabinoid concentration than indicated by the description (although it's possible).
We hope that after reading this article you’ll have a better understanding of the parameters provided in the descriptions of the different cannabis strains. The truth is that things always work out better when you have the information you need! As always, we encourage you to leave your questions and comments; we'll be delighted to answer them.