Growing cannabis from seed just makes cents

The field of cannabis seed genetics has made resounding advances in the past decade. With these advances, many preconceived notions, myths, and misconceptions about seed-grown cannabis have been dispelled, leaving them as relics of the past. As we discussed in our previous article, from a cultivation stance, using modern cannabis seed genetics simply makes sense for growers. While growers are quickly realizing the cultivation benefits of switching from clonal to seed-grown varieties, there are still questions around the financial implications of modern, production-ready seeds. 

Cannabis seeds of the past

Seeds of the past were used to hunt for phenotypes that were then clonally propagated, not for production of uniform plants that produce consistent cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Clonal propagation became the norm — breeding cycles for stability turned into phenohunts; popping seeds turned into cutting off branches. The time it takes to breed excellent, stable seedlines takes several cycles without the help of modern plant breeding and data science. Growers may still harbor concerns about growing from seed and the performance capabilities of seed-grown cannabis.

Historically, this path in selecting genetics led to an abrupt departure from the natural evolution of cannabis seed genetics. Beneficial agronomic traits took a backseat to gaining higher highs and better flavors, leading to seed genetics that no longer grew best under the sun, lacked in uniformity, and varied in performance.

Although these concerns may have held some validity in the past, modern seed genetics producers like Phylos are impacting the cannabis seed landscape in a way that is leading many growers to make the switch to ready-to-plant stable cannabis seeds as quickly as possible. This shift in mindset is due to the recent substantial innovations in cannabis seed breeding, which are revolutionizing cultivation procedures for commercial grows. 

Modern cannabis seeds are a far cry from the seeds of generations past. With genetic uniformity, plant composition and robustness, and a rapidly growing catalog of varieties to choose from, Phylos Production-Ready Seed™ is now capable of rendering results that growers once only believed to be possible from clonal varieties. From a cultivation point of view, shifting to modern cannabis seed genetics simply makes sense, but as any responsible grower would ask — does a shift like this also make cents?

The financial benefits of switching to modern seed-grown cannabis

We’ve explored the numerous reasons why production-ready seeds are the future for cannabis and hemp growers, but we also recognize that growers must keep an eye on expenses of their operation. To aid in your due diligence and research of the topic, let’s explore some of the financial incentives of incorporating seed-grown varieties into your grow. 

Cost savings - Making the switch to seed-grown cannabis can result in significant operating expense reductions across the board. Facilities that utilize seeds over clones don’t face the financial burden of budgeting for, building out, and maintaining mother rooms - leaving more room for production of top quality flower. Additionally, eliminating the need for mother rooms also translates to a reduction in labor and transport requirements that would typically be needed to manage fragile clones. 

Reduced pest and disease risk - Although this may seem as if it falls into the cultivation benefits category — and technically, it does — mitigating one’s pest and disease risk can certainly have financial implications as well. A disease outbreak in a grower’s operation can result in costly needs like treatment measures and additional labor to try to reduce plant loss. While some diseases target both clones and seed-grown cannabis, other diseases like Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd) are primarily spread through fomite transmission, like contaminated tools. Growing from seeds won’t completely eliminate the chance of your plants contracting HLVd, but one study suggests that HLVd transmission is reduced to 8% in hops. Other pathogens in the cannabis space, like Powdery Mildew, typically begin in mother plants. Unfortunately, this usually results in a carryover infection of production rooms. The chances of these carryover type outbreaks can be significantly reduced with seed-grown varieties, given that seeds begin free of pests and pathogens as well as eliminating the need for mother plants in general. In short, mitigating your pest and disease risk means a lower risk of crop loss, in turn, reducing expenses and improving margins. 

Improved yield - Sure, previous generations of seed-grown cannabis may have struggled to compete with the yield of clonal varieties, but modern seed genetics are starting to break that mold. In a study to determine how density treatment affects plant yield, data suggest that strategic density planning with Phylos Production-Ready Seed™ positively impacts harvest yield, in addition to input and labor requirements, and management considerations. 

Improved sustainability - This overarching theme is a trend that growers should expect to continue rising for the foreseeable future — and with good reason. As resource demand keeps growing, so will associated costs and regulatory restrictions. Cannabis and hemp operations tend to be resource intensive, utilizing electrical, water, gas, and available space in large quantities. With most, if not all, economic forecast models predicting the national demand for cannabis to continue a dramatic upward trajectory, growers should be considering the degree of scalability that their operation(s) maintain. Phylos Production-Ready Seed™ can play a key role in ensuring the scalability of your operation’s short and long-term outlook.

The takeaway

Modern, production-ready cannabis seeds are far advanced compared to those of the past, creating a more profitable and sustainable arena for large-scale producers. From both cultivation and business perspectives, shifting to seed-grown cannabis is not only the financially and environmentally responsible play, but also possibly the only sustainable long-term play as well. 

Changing the practice of how you grow cannabis or hemp may feel intimidating, risky, or costly, but it doesn’t have to be. Making the change doesn’t have to be implemented in a rushed manner. Many growers opt to begin with a trial before they start transitioning a larger portion of their space. Phylos’ team of cannabis and hemp cultivation experts are always available as a resource for commercial growers and are happy to discuss how you can begin your own modern seed-grown cannabis trial — future-proofing the hard work you’ve already put in.