By Johanna Silver

Phenotype Hunt For Cannabis Genetics 

Over the last decade, Humboldt Seed Company has embarked on a vast and unprecedented phenotype (pheno) hunt, scouring through tens of thousands of cannabis plants at large licensed cultivation sites in search of distinct new cannabis cultivars. On the weekend of September 21, 2018, Dark Heart Nursery and Humboldt Seed Company hosted a “Phenotype Mega-Hunt” event in collaboration with Orange Photonics Cannabis Lab Equipment, Happy Dreams FarmBlessed Coast Farm(Grow Sisters), Humboldt County IndoorsKind PeoplesPhylos BioscienceOutliers CollectiveMG MagazineDr. Justice and other industry leaders to select next year’s hot new genetic line up!

What is A Pheno Hunt

Humboldt Seed Company has been conducting a Phenotype Mega-Hunt to search through thousands of plants before selecting the top .1% for clone and breed stock. Each of the plants has been preserved in vegetative form at the beginning of flower. After selection, 99.9% of the stock is discarded. The selected breeding stock is then used for licensed clone releases and or in isolated pollination chambers to breed distinct strains, which are released as seed lines.

Purpose of Pheno Hunting

The purpose of phenotype hunting is to conduct proper breeding practices over extended periods of time to ensure that quality, stable genetics are entering the California cannabis marketplace. This project’s goals consisted of preserving and highlighting California’s unmatched pool of cannabis genetics, with an emphasis on Humboldt County, by utilizing a repeatable method for rating and analyzing new cannabis types. Through this joint effort, we have collectively identified rare, exceptional, recreational and medicinal genetics and help quell the use of chemicals on cannabis with fresh, strong, and more vigorous cultivars.

What Occurred At The Event

Pheno hunt participants toured five of the participating farms for three days to rate cannabis phenotypes, collect DNA and lab test flower samples for cannabinoids and terpenes utilizing an onsite Orange Photonics liquid chromatograph to determine the top .1% of the genetics based on certain criteria. Phylos Bioscience was present throughout the weekend performing genotype analysis and cannabis cultivation experts such as Dr. Justice aided in the rating of different cannabis phenotypes, according to specified rating protocol.

Variables rated included terpenes, cannabinoids, vigor, flower appearance, and resistance to pests and disease. These variables were then assessed, documented and entered into an already robust database from which users can query results. Participants rated over one thousand unique plants during the event, representing approximately ten percent of the entire ten thousand plant effort, which is likely the largest organized project of this type to date.