“There are a lot of advantages when it comes to seeds, from cutting costs to reducing risks. We think that changing to autoflowering cannabis from seeds can be a huge step forward for many growers,” explain Mads Ulrik Pedersen, Founder, and Hans Henrik Kampmann, CEO and Head of Breeding at Nordic Supreme. The Danish company is an authorized and legal breeding company, focused on developing improved genetics for cannabis growers. “The easiest way a grower can make real progress with their production is through selecting the right breeding, to improve both the quality and the yield.”
Clones or seeds?
While Nordic Supreme breeds both clonal and seed genetics, there are definitely some differences. “The clonal genetics are propagated by tissue culture cuttings. While clonal breeding is faster, it is more tedious concerning the propagation, as it is more difficult, slower and costly. Whereas seed breeding is slower, it is a very easily scalable option and a more practical one.” They explain that there are actually a lot of advantages when it comes to seeds. “An example is that you can make some seed varieties autoflower, so that they are not dependent on 12 hours of darkness. Twelve hours of darkness brings along disadvantages, as it increases the risk for botrytis and powdery mildew, and your crop is slower. In addition, by skipping the mother plants, the grower saves money and reduces the risk of the major consequences that could happen when something happens to your mother stock. Therefore, we think that changing to autoflowering seeds can be a huge step forward for growers.”
What to look for in genetics?
According to Kampmann and Pedersen, a healthy and high yielding plant is not always on the top of cannabis growers’ minds. “People are always looking for high cannabinoid levels, their main focus being high THC or CBD. In some cases, the health, evenness and yield is of less importance.” And with the cannabis having so many traits, there is not one ‘perfect’ variety to strive for. Yet after having grown tomatoes for over 30 years, the Nordic Supreme staff has a lot of experience on how to select the most beneficial varieties concerning all aspects. “We know how to select towards the combination of potency as well as quality and yield.”
So what are some of the most important aspects Nordic Supreme focuses on in their breeding in order to help growers? “Of course the cannabinoid content is really important. But for the medical market, the stability of the content is equally necessary. In addition, when it comes to mass scale production, it is important that the plant is easy to deal with. This not only facilitates production, you can actually reduce labor that way. Moreover, a large focus is to develop varieties that are resistant to key diseases, like botrytis, powdery mildew and some aphids. Our overall goal is to provide growers with better production and less problems.”
Still, it is not an easy task to achieve all of this. “Oftentimes, there are compromises to make when it comes to looking for varieties. You might have a high yield, but then the cannabinoid content might be lower. Or you might have a high cannabinoid content, but then the scent is less. But that is why we have done thousands of breedings over the years to get the strains with just the right balance. Moreover, a nice aspect of cannabis breeding is that there is still lots of progress to be made. For a crop like corn, for instance, it has already been bred for about 70 years, so the progress you can make is only small. Investments in cannabis breeding, on the other hand, could still lead to 15% more yield, for example.”
At the moment, a challenge for breeders is that there is quite a big difference in how cannabis is grown among different growers. “When you grow in special ways, it is also more difficult to find the good variety and you need to trial several. Currently, the cannabis market is much more diverse in terms of growing compared to other crops, such as tomatoes. Therefore, it is a challenge to find the right variety that fits your growing system. We believe that this will change over the course of time. In ten years, we expect cannabis cultivation to be much more homogeneous, having a more standard way of growing with only minor differences.”
An important part of the strategy of Nordic Supreme, therefore, is to develop partnerships with cannabis growers. “We believe that the combination of genetics and partnership is the way to go to assure the correct choice of varieties and good results and development. We are looking forward to working with professional cannabis growers all over the world in the coming years.”