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Pick or combine cannabis starting material

Quality of starting material essential!

Just as is common with ornamental and vegetable crops, the quality of the starting material in the cultivation of medicinal cannabis is essential. Compare this to the start of a 100-meter sprint in athletics. If the start is not right, you will never run a good time. With the plant material that the grower starts with this is no different, a lower quality starting material is a bad start and thus a worse end result says the Delphy Cannabis Advisory Team.

Three options
For the cultivation of cannabis there are three options in terms of starting material:

- From seed

- Cuttings from mother plants

- From tissue culture

What options are available in your case depends on the rules in the country where you produce. For example, it is not possible to buy your starting material and get it to your production site in every country. Buying and receiving plant material on a daily or weekly basis to start new cultivation will be difficult, you will have to make sure that there are good vigorous plants every week to start your cultivation.

This is also the case with the Dutch 'weed experiment'. There will be a timeslot within which the participating companies will have to arrange their genetics. Outside of the time slot genetics must no longer be transported and the company must be self-sufficient.

The advantages of starting with seed are that it is easily available and that there is a wide range of products. It is generally also easier to ship around the world. The disadvantage of seed is that there are no F1 hybrids available yet, which means there might be variations. When buying seeds of a particular variety, there may also be some other varieties among them. Also, there may be some differences during the germination and breeding process.

Mother plants
If you have to take care of breeding your plant material, an option is also to buy seed, then make a selection within the batch and make mother plants out of those. This leads to the following problem: How do I implement a good mother plant policy. 

What stands out when visiting cannabis production sites is that, in general, it's possible to pick visually equal cuttings, but that does not mean that these are anatomically the same. For a good mother plant policy, there is much to learn from the common cultivation of ornamentals where mother plants are used, for example, Chrysanthemum. To anatomically pick a good cutting, it is important to pick a cutting that is:

- Visually the same (same length, same number of leaves)

- The same age (length and number of leaves of the sprout you pick are equal)

- From a mother plant that is not too old (‘the older the mother plant, the more difficult the rooting’).

If you do not pay attention to the abovementioned, the result is that there is unwanted inequality in vigor and the failure rate in rooting is unnecessarily high. A good mother plant policy, therefore, means that you pick cuttings from the mother plants 3 times a week and change the mother plants after 20-30 weeks.

Now the opposite is often the case. Mother plants are left standing for a long time, or the mother plants are cultivated until they are big and picked clean. In the latter case, you visually pick even cuttings, but anatomically speaking the inequality of your cutting is very great.

Tissue culture
To unburden yourself buying tissue culture is the third option. The number of companies that offer plant material in this way is still small, but several players are looking to enter this market. The vigor of these plants is good and also in terms of genetic uniformity you buy very equal material in this way. However, the country where you cultivate must allow this option. 

Lastly, Delphy, in collaboration with some other stakeholders in Bleiswijk, is starting a knowledge center for the cultivation of cannabis this autumn. Research is one of the key areas. Delphy is also faced with the choice of how and with which plant material to start: seed, mother plants, or tissue culture. To gain maximum experience, it will be a combination of starting materials, so that comparison is possible.

If you want more information about the quality of your starting material and how to optimize it, please contact Delphy. Delphy will also start with an online training this spring, with subjects such as the quality of the starting material, plant physiology, the climate, and diseases. It is already possible to receive more information or register for this training.

For more information: 
+31 (0)10 522 1771