Young plants are the best option for most farmers, especially if you meet one of the following:
Growing for top producing cannabinoid biomass.
Growing for consistent, high quality, smokable flower.
Want the best potential of staying compliant.
Would like to reduce the cost of infrastructure or labor.
First time or beginner hemp grower.
Clean stock from pathogen-indexed, tissue culture plants offer many benefits to the farmer over other forms of starter plant material -but one sure benefit is healthier plants. Other advantages include consistent and uniform growth, all plants are female so there is less risk of destructive males, a known number of plants and no extra infrastructure needed to germinate. High quality young plants from clean stock take much of the guess work and uncertainty out of the season.
Cultivaris Clean Stock uses a proprietary system developed over many years of virus mitigation in the ornamental and agricultural plant industry. By using specialized tissue culture techniques and qPCR and RNA-seq for virus indexing we can identify and remove pathogens like Hop Latent Viroid or Alfalfa Mosaic Virus from the plants invitro and return them to their original level of hybrid vigor. Once the plants are verified free of latent pathogens, the tissue culture plantlets are taken from the lab and transitioned into life in a secure greenhouse. From there they are multiplied under strict hygiene protocols to prevent reinfection and grown into mother plants that will provide Elite Stock cuttings that are rooted into young plants or clones.
Virus and viroid diseases can cause serious crop loss and most often are found in stock held over from last season. Latent pathogens are not visible to the naked eye because they are hiding in the cells of the plants. They wait until the plant experiences stress and then multiply rapidly – often making the plant sick or killing it outright. This means that virus-infected plants can suffer a range of minor to major problems during cultivation and these problems can lead to catastrophic crop loss.
Consistency is another important benefit of young plants over seed grown starts. Young plants produce dependable cannabinoids, uniform canopy, colors, and terpenes, and are more consistent for compliance testing. Every plant is a clone and will therefore look and perform consistently throughout the field. Many seed lines lack parent lines that are refined enough to breed as expected. In the same way you cannot cross two random dogs and get a litter of pups that look exactly the same, you cannot cross two hemp plants and expect to get identical seeds. The best agricultural or horticultural seed breeders have spent years or decades creating true-breeding parent lines. This is not a fast process and requires much attention to detail and knowledge of genetics to create a quality product. Few seed breeders in the high CBD hemp world have had time to develop true–breeding parent lines so the seedlings that grow from the seeds have varying levels of inconsistency.
The danger of genetic variability is that not all plants will express the same traits; different growth habits, flowering times, flower size and cannabinoid levels all make it harder to grow a good crop. Crossing two hemp varieties high in CBD will result in a seedling population with varying degrees of CBD and THC analysis. In fact, two CBD varieties can easily have 10-20% of their progeny express high THC alongside the desired CBD and terpene expressions and the crop will not pass compliance testing. (Check out our article on staying compliant.)
Seed lines also have a variable percentage of males that will appear, so consideration must be given to sourcing knowledgeable people to walk your fields and rogue out the 2% + males that can be present before they pollinate your field causing cannabinoid content to drop. Some viral diseases are also transmitted via pollen and will be passed down to the seed-grown crops and cause severe plant health problems during period of stress in the growing season.
It only takes one male hemp plant to pollinate a surrounding field and drastically reduce the yield of flower and cannabinoids. Even if you start with feminized seeds, you are guaranteed to see male plants. At best, with 99% feminized seed and a field requiring about 2,500 seeds per acre, over a 5-acres, you are still dealing with 125 male plants. This will require trained scouts and the additional labor cost to walk the fields daily, looking to spot these boys before they flower and pollinate the field. It’s a costly landmine scenario – especially if you are farming a larger acreage. Even more risky, is buying regular seed to save money, where at least half of your seedlings will be male. In the effort to save money buying seeds, you may lose your entire field to seeded flower. If you try to reclaim some of your investment and process seeded flower, know that it will have less overall flower weight, have reduced cannabinoid content, and will require separation from the biomass pre-sale. A smaller volume of flower higher in CBD, nets more profit than a greater volume of lower CDB flower. Its quality over quantity in the hemp world.
When ordering young plants, you know exactly how many plants you are getting. You can tailor your order to your field size and specific goals. Seed success rate will always vary due to germination rates, female/male ratios, and overall die off. Seeds often come with a given germination rate, but this is highly dependent on the quality of the provider. Many seeds only have a germination rate between 70-95%, so in order to maximize your acreage, you need to plan to pay for and plant almost 30% more seeds than you need. Furthermore, you will need to contract with someone to germinate your plants for you.
Young plants are the simple, turnkey, plug and play option. They arrive ready to plant and start growing. Seeds however, need at least a month of protected grow space in order to be field viable and this requires costly infrastructure. Seedlings are sensitive to just about every factor: light intensity, inconsistent watering, pests, and human error. A covered space like a greenhouse, shade cover, or indoor facility with lights is necessary to provide the shelter fragile seedlings need. Young plants only need to be watered prior to being planted to ensure they don’t dry out and then maintained with a normal irrigation schedule.
In the end, young plants may come with a higher price tag in the beginning of the season when directly compared with seeds, but the cost of seeds does not stop with the purchase – they require considerable input throughout the season to maximize performance and have a substantial risk of failure. High quality hemp varieties, selected by a knowledgeable farmer-breeder, produced through a clean stock program, and grown by experienced young plant producers will reduce the risk to farmers, provide predictability and increase profitability resulting in a successful season of hemp cultivation.
|Higher Initial Investment||Lower Initial Investment|
|Pathogen-indexed Clean Stock||Not Clean Genetic Stock|
|Crop Uniformity: uniform growth, uniform flowering time, consistent flower production, consistent THC and CBD production||Crop Variance and Inconsistency: inconsistent growth, variable flowering time, varied flower production, variable THC and CBD production|
|NO male plants||Guaranteed Male Plants|
|Maximum yield potential||Unknown Yield Potential|
|Known Plant Count||Unknown Plant Count|
|No Germination Infrastructure||Germination Infrastructure Needed|