When cultivating cannabis, preserving the genetics of a high-yield, high-quality strain not only makes sense but can save you time and even money. Cloned plants tend to grow a bit faster, flower earlier, and can produce a solid harvest earlier than cannabis plants grown from seeds.
Now, there are two methods for sourcing clones. You can either purchase clones from another licensed facility or take cuttings from your own best-performing plants.
Method 1: Purchasing Clones
In my experience, this is the less desirable of the two options. You just can’t be 100 percent sure the cannabis clones you’re buying are the true genetic wonders that any seller claims. Lineage, phenotype, and the plant’s sex are also variables not completely in your control. And, unfortunately, the world of cannabis cultivation and cloning is not immune to scammers.
Another issue is not knowing the full history of the cloned plant, including the environmental conditions the source plant experienced, pesticides that may have been applied, diseases it was exposed to, or stress it endured during the cloning process. These factors can create problems during a clone’s life, from mutations and autoflowering to decreased yields and diminished potency.
Finally, purchasing clones can have a devastating effect on other plants, even your facility. All it takes is introducing a foreign clone that’s riddled with pests or pathogens. Molds and mildews may be also present on clones and can quickly spread. Even if you quarantine your clones, systemic pathogens and other problems may simply resurface as the plants mature.
If you don’t have a plant that you wish to clone or just want to roll the dice, be sure to choose a reliable, established facility with a long history and solid reputation. Look for good reviews from multiple customers that have recently purchased clones from that location.
You should also find out what type of cultivation method the seller employs. I’ve identified a potential instability that may occur when using clones sourced from a facility using different cultivation methodology than the one deployed at another facility. For example, a clone from a traditional hydroponic growing method that’s deployed to a soil growing medium can potentially take longer to re-stabilize the genetic. In fact, while recently consulting for a client in Nevada, the formation of seeds on two strains during the flowering phase was observed. These were new genetics the facility’s master grower had brought in as clones. He had hydroponically grown these strains for a decade as female plants. However, when the clones were brought into his facility and exposed to a new growing method, the genetic destabilized with the side effect being the production of seeds and the female clone transforming into a hermaphrodite.
Method 2: Creating Clones
Cloning your own cannabis plants is the recommended method, period. It’s the safest, most cost-effective, and controlled option that’s the least likely to cause problems for your facility.
Even the most tightly-run facility is susceptible to several failure points. That’s just part of cultivation. Sourcing clones from your own plants eliminates many unknowns and enables you to achieve a more predictable outcome.
Of course, how to source clones from your plants is less cut and dry. There are many different styles, beliefs, and approaches. Here are a few things to consider.
Deciding what strain to clone is a crucial first step. Choose a marketable, in-demand genetic for your sales strategy. This will help the product sell quickly and at a premium price. This is extremely important for oversaturated markets with an unlimited amount of cultivation licenses awarded.
Depending on the facility’s environmental conditions, another important consideration to be made is the different tolerance levels a specific genetic possesses. For example, drought tolerance, sensitivity to heat and/or cold, tolerance to humidity swings, etc.
Be mindful of the timeline for the genetic’s flowering cycle if you’re cloning from a plant that has recently been introduced to your facility by germinating your own seeds.
The phenotype is another game-changing way to customize your genetics to produce higher yields, higher quality, and greater potency with a higher terpene production. This means choosing a plant that is the most desirable to you and your business. It could be tall or short, bushy or lean, etc.
A clone is an exact copy of the plant you are cutting the clone from. This will provide some peace of mind when it comes to eliminating potential hurdles like having male plants in your indoor garden. Just be sure to find the strongest, healthiest plants to cut clones from. For cuttings from a previous clone, we recommend doing so at six to eight weeks.
Cut clones from plants that are in a late vegetative stage, right before flowering.
It’s recommended to cut clones from the lower half of the source plant as there are more naturally occurring rooting hormones in this area. It is also very important to follow your cloning procedures and parameters as closely as possible when it comes to the lighting, temperature, humidity, etc. Remember that a stress-free environment for your source plants and your clones is a crucial component to a successful cultivation facility.
Don’t Forget to Label and Organize Your Clones
Once your cannabis clones are settled into their new homes, be sure to focus your energy on one of the most important yet often overlooked parts of the cloning process — systematic and proper labeling. If just one label is incorrect, you could have a problem that grows exponentially and spirals out of control in just a week or two.
Bottom line, mislabeling clones is one of the worst enemies of a cultivation facility, and here’s why.
Instead of helping to preserve or upgrade your best-selling strains, you may end up eliminating your best genetic; even reproduce an inferior genetic that you intended to eliminate. Labeling plants and backtracking data from their mother plants will help you decide which phenotypes you’d like to keep and which to eliminate. And it’s a great way to continually improve stock.
When it comes to choosing between purchasing or creating your own clones, the answer is cut and dry — cloning your own top producers. However, purchasing and successfully growing clones is not impossible. It just takes a bit more homework up front and keen observation skills to address issues before they get out of hand. Good luck and happy cloning.