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Feb 22, 2022

Choosing the Right Genetics: Unleashing the Potential of Your Cannabis Cultivation

Selecting the right genetics is a crucial first step in cultivating cannabis that meets your specific goals and requirements. Whether you’re a seasoned grower or just starting your journey, understanding the importance of genetics and how to choose the right strains is essential for successful cultivation. In this introductory blog post, we will embark on a journey of exploration into the world of cannabis genetics. This blog series aims to unravel the complexities of choosing the perfect genetics and plant biology building for your cannabis cultivation endeavors.

Why Genetics Matter

Genetics form the foundation of any cannabis cultivation project. Simply put, genetics encompass the unique combination of traits and characteristics that determine the plant’s growth patterns, yield potential, cannabinoid and terpene profiles, flowering times, resistance to pests and diseases, and overall quality. By understanding genetics, growers can align their cultivation goals with strains that best match their desired outcomes.

The Importance of Selecting the Right Strains

Selecting the right cannabis strains tailored to your cultivation objectives can have a significant impact on the success and profitability of your cannabis operation. Whether you’re focused on maximizing yield, developing rare and unique terpene profiles, or catering to specific market demands, having the right genetics sets the stage for achieving your goals.

Choosing the right genetics is a fundamental step in cannabis cultivation that can determine the success of your crops and the fulfillment of your cultivation goals. This introductory blog post is the start of a series that will delve deeper into this fascinating topic. In the upcoming blogs, we will explore various aspects of selecting and understanding genetics, including popular cannabis strains, breeding techniques, and the impact on plant characteristics. Join us on this journey of discovery as we dive into the world of cannabis genetics and unlock the potential of your cultivation endeavors.

Light Cycle Types

Understanding How Cannabis Initiates its Flowering Phase: Unraveling Nature’s Timekeeper

The cannabis flowering phase is a transformative stage in the plant’s life cycle, where it shifts its energy towards the production of cannabis flowers rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. This phase is critical in determining the flavor, aroma, potency, and yield of your cannabis crop. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating process of how cannabis initiates its flowering phase, shedding light on the key factors that trigger this transition and the internal mechanisms that control this intricate biological clock.

Photoperiodic Response: The Role of Light and Darkness

Cannabis, like many other plants, possesses a photoperiodic response, meaning it is sensitive to changes in the duration of light and darkness. The flowering phase in cannabis is primarily triggered by the gradual reduction in the length of daylight hours as summer transitions into fall. This response is mediated by a phytochrome pigment, which perceives changes in the ratio of red and far-red light.

Florigen Hormone: The Messenger of Flowering

Florigen is a hormone believed to be responsible for initiating flowering in plants. In cannabis, this hormone signals the transition from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage. The exact nature of florigen in cannabis is still being studied, but it is thought to be influenced by interactions between genetic factors and environmental cues.

Environmental Factors: Nature’s Nudge

While light is a crucial external factor in triggering flowering, other environmental variables also play a role. Temperature, humidity, nutrient availability, and stress factors can influence the timing and intensity of the flowering response in cannabis. These factors act as nature’s nudge, fine-tuning the flowering process and influencing the overall success of the crop.

The Role of Genetics: Different Strokes for Different Folks

Genetics play a significant role in how cannabis plants respond to the initiation of the flowering phase. Different cannabis strains have varying genetic predispositions for flowering based on their origins and the environmental conditions they have adapted to over time. Understanding the genetic traits of a particular strain can help cultivators anticipate when the flowering phase may begin and plan their cultivation strategies accordingly.

Autoflowering Varieties: Breaking the Shackles of Light

Unlike standard cannabis strains that require a change in light cycle to initiate flowering, there are autoflowering varieties that flower based on age rather than changes in light duration. These strains carry a genetic mutation that enables them to bypass the photoperiodic response, making them a popular choice for growers looking for greater control and flexibility in their cultivation timeline.

The flowering phase is a transformative and magical stage in cannabis cultivation, where the plant directs its energy towards flower production and cannabinoid synthesis. By understanding the triggers and mechanisms behind this critical phase, cultivators can optimize their cultivation practices to maximize yields, enhance quality, and achieve desired characteristics in their cannabis crops. Whether it’s harnessing the power of light, exploring the impact of genetics, or delving into the realm of autoflowering varieties, unlocking the secrets of cannabis flowering opens up a world of possibilities for growers and enthusiasts alike.

Understanding the Light Cycle Type Classifications: Full Term, Semi-Full Term, and Autoflowering Cannabis

Cannabis genetics can be broadly categorized into two groups: short-day and day-neutral. The variations in these classifications greatly impact cultivation practices and harvest timing. This blog post will explore the differences between full-term, semi-full term, and autoflowering cannabis varieties and discuss their implications for growers.

Full-Term and Semi-Full Term Cannabis

Full-term cannabis, also known as photoperiod-determinant or short-day plants, require a specific day length of less than 14 hours to initiate flowering. These varieties typically finish flowering in October or November and are the most commonly grown short-day cannabis strains.

Semi-full term cannabis, as the name suggests, is a hybrid between full-term and autoflowering varieties. These plants initiate flowering earlier in the season compared to full-term strains, typically finishing in September or early October. The advantages of semi-full term varieties include a shorter flowering period, earlier harvest, and often higher yields due to hybrid vigor.

Autoflowering Cannabis

Autoflowering cannabis, also referred to as day-neutral plants, flower regardless of the day length. They inherit this characteristic from Cannabis ruderalis, a subspecies that evolved in regions with long summer days. Modern breeding has significantly improved the quality of autoflowers, making them a viable option for many growers.

One notable advantage of autoflowering plants is their relatively short stature, typically not exceeding 4 feet in height. They also have a shorter flowering cycle, reaching maturity within 70-80 days. This shorter cycle allows for quicker turnaround times from seed to harvest.

Understanding the Impact of Light and Heat

It is essential to note that even though autoflowering plants do not rely on day length to flower, they still require adequate light and heat to complete their metabolic development. During the shoulder seasons, when the days are shorter and nights are longer, the growth of autoflowering plants may be slower. This can extend the time required for them to reach full maturity.

Growers planning to cultivate autoflowers during the shoulder seasons should adjust their expectations and consider the lengthier maturation period. However, the ability to schedule a workflow for labor, dry/cure space, and succession planting makes autoflowers an appealing option, especially when compared to full-term plants that require simultaneous harvesting.

Understanding the differences between full-term, semi-full term, and autoflowering cannabis strains is key to successful cultivation. The choice of genetics significantly impacts the timelines, yield potential, and overall cultivation management. Whether cultivating large-scale full-term crops, seeking faster harvests with semi-full terms, or enjoying the flexibility of autoflower seeds, each classification offers its unique advantages. By aligning genetics with cultivation goals and environmental conditions, growers can optimize their cannabis cultivation and achieve desired outcomes.

An Overview of Full-Term Cannabis: Sativa and Indica Genetics

Full-term cannabis cultivation offers a rewarding experience for growers, providing a canvas to explore the diverse world of sativa and indica genetics. This blog post delves into the two main types of full-term cannabis plants and explores their distinct characteristics, including differences in flowering times, yield potential, and the importance of canopy management.

Understanding Indica vs Sativa Genetics

Full-term cannabis genetics can be broadly classified into two main categories: sativa and indica. Sativa strains are known for their tall stature, and have narrow leaves with long, slender fingers. Sativa plants are known to reach heights of up to 12 feet or even more, when given ample space to flourish. They have looser flower structures, with elongated buds and thin leaves. Sativas also have longer flowering times, taking anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks to complete. They tend to thrive in warmer climates. Sativa strains are often associated with uplifting and energizing effects, promoting creativity and focus. Users often report a cerebral high, increased sociability, and enhanced mental stimulation. Common sativa strains include Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Durban Poison.

On the other hand, indica strains are characterized by their shorter and bushier appearance. They typically grow to a height of 3 to 6 feet, making them more suitable for smaller spaces and indoor cultivation. Indica plants have dense flower structures, with tightly packed buds and broader leaves. Cannabis indica genetics are indigenous to cooler regions and have shorter flowering times compared to sativas, ranging from 8 to 10 weeks on average.

Indica strains are known for their relaxing and sedating effects, often providing a more physical and full-body experience. These strains are commonly associated with pain relief, relaxation, and sleep aid. Examples of indica strains include Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, and Purple Kush.

Botany or Marketing Knowledge? Dissecting the Meaning of Indica and Sativa

It’s important to note that these classifications, along with their associated effects, are not absolute. The growth habits and effects of cannabis strains are influenced by a combination of factors, including cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.), terpenes, and individual tolerance, and a broad genetic influence. The categorization into sativa and indica is often used as a general guide to help users understand the potential effects of different strains. However, it’s not a strict scientific distinction, and there is significant overlap and variation within strains.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that the effects of cannabis are more complex and cannot be solely attributed to the sativa/indica categorization. This has led to discussions around the need for a more nuanced understanding, emphasizing the importance of cannabinoid and terpene profiles in determining the effects of a particular strain.  Robert C. Clarke’s book Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany provides a lucid discussion of more accurate cannabis nomenclature, and is a must read for any cultivator looking for precision understanding. 

Therefore, while the difference between indica and sativa classifications have traditionally been used to differentiate strains based on presumed effects and botanical traits, it is important for consumers to consider the specific chemical composition of each strain rather than relying solely on these classifications, and to dig deeper than the common marketing language of indica / sativa.

Regardless of the ethnobotanical accuracy of the terms indica and sativa, the terms have taken on a life of their own and have meaning based on their common use alone. 

Yield Potential and Mold Susceptibility

When it comes to yield potential, sativa strains often outshine their indica counterparts due to their larger size. Sativas can produce impressive yields ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 pounds of biomass per acre. This makes them a popular choice for commercial cannabis cultivation.

However, it’s important to note that indica strains have their own unique advantages. Their denser flower structures and shorter internodal spacing can result in more compact and resinous buds. However, this trait also makes them more susceptible to mold on plants, especially in humid or rainy conditions. Growers cultivating indica strains need to be particularly vigilant in managing airflow, humidity levels, and preventing the risk of mold formation.

Canopy Management for Full-Term Plants

Full-term cannabis plants, regardless of whether they are sativas or indicas, require proper canopy management to ensure optimal growth and prevent branches from breaking under the weight of maturing flowers. This can be achieved through trellising, pruning, or other techniques to maintain an ideal structure.

Trellising cannabis provides support for the plants, helping them to withstand the weight of the flowers and ensuring even distribution of light. Pruning can improve airflow and light penetration, reducing the risk of mold and allowing for better nutrient absorption.

Full-term cannabis cultivation presents an exciting journey for growers, with the difference between indica and sativa genetics offering unique characteristics and cultivation challenges. Sativas impress with their towering heights and high yields, while indicas captivate with their dense, resinous buds. Understanding these distinctions and implementing effective canopy management techniques are key to successful cultivation. Whether you choose to embrace the tall and elongated sativas or the compact and resinous indicas, full-term cannabis offers a vast array of possibilities for growers seeking to unlock the potential of these incredible plants.

Current Atlas full term varieties: Cheetah the Hut, Gelato 41, Mendo Breath, Mendo Butter, Mendo Fruit Bowl, Oreoz, Wedding Cookies, Wedding Gelato  

Exploring the Advantages of Semi-Full Term Cannabis Cultivation

Semi-full term cannabis plants offer a unique blend of genetics, combining the desirable characteristics of both photoperiod and autoflowering varieties. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of semi-full term cannabis, highlighting their earlier flowering, exceptional vigor, and the benefits they bring to farmers.

Common Nomenclature and Meaning

Otherwise known as early finishing full terms, fast flowering photos, fast finishing photoperiods, quicks, & QUIKS, semi-full term genetics are by definition photoperiod and autoflower crosses.  They behave as a photoperiod plant, being sensitive to light cycles, and requiring changes in light to initiate their flowering period.

Flowering and Harvest Timing

Semi-full term plants initiate flowering approximately 1 to 3 weeks earlier than their full-term parents. This crucial advantage allows farmers to harvest their crops sometime in September, avoiding the cold and wet fall conditions that can potentially impact the quality and yield of the harvest. By beating the glut of the fall harvest, growers can spread out their workload and manage post-harvest activities more efficiently.

Vigorous Growth and Yield Potential

One of the standout features of semi-full term genetics is their exceptional vigor. This vigor arises from the mule-like effect created by crossing genetically dissimilar varieties. The resulting hybrid plants exhibit increased strength, adaptability, and resilience, making them well-suited for various growing environments.

While semi-full term genetics may not currently produce the same level of visual appeal, potency, and cannabis derived terpene content as their full-term parents, they often compensate for this by delivering similar or even increased yields per acre. This significant yield potential, combined with their vigorous growth, positions semi-full term cannabis as an attractive option for farmers seeking optimal productivity.

Unique Sativa-Dominant Hybrids

Sativa-dominant semi-full term hybrids, such as Papa Smurf (Blue Dream x Cotton Candy), have gained popularity among farmers in higher latitudes. These varieties provide growers with the opportunity to cultivate plants that traditionally require a longer finishing period. By allowing these strains to come down before the arrival of heavy rains and temperature drops, farmers mitigate the risk of damage and ensure a successful harvest.

Future Developments in Quality

While semi-full term genetics may not currently possess the superior visual appeal, potency, and cannabis derived terpene content of their full-term parents, it is worth noting that the cannabis industry is continuously evolving. Breeders are dedicated to improving the quality of semi-full term varieties, aiming to enhance their aroma, flavor, and overall profile. As research and development progress, we can anticipate significant strides in the quality of semi-full term cannabis strains.

Semi-full term cannabis varieties provide farmers with earlier harvest dates, exceptional vigor, and increased yield potential. By avoiding unfavorable fall conditions and spreading out their harvest and post-harvest activities, farmers can optimize their workflow and maximize efficiency. Although current semi-full term genetics may not match the visual appeal and potency of full-term strains, their vigorous growth and yield potential make them an enticing option for growers. As the industry progresses, further advancements can be expected, ushering in a new era of quality hybrid strains.

Other Atlas semi-full term varieties: Cheetah Fat, Blue Dream, GMO Bomb, Dosidos, Papaya Candy, Mythic Cheetah

The Rise of Autoflowers: Reshaping Perceptions in the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry’s perception of autoflower genetics has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade. Once disregarded for their lackluster traits, modern autoflowering strains have made great strides in terms of quality. In this blog post, we explore the evolving world of autoflowers, highlighting their advantages, potential challenges, and the reasons why they should not be underestimated.

Quality Improvements and the Fog Dog Strain

Autoflowers used to fall short of the dense, aromatic buds and strong cannabis derived terpene profiles sought after by traditional markets. However, advancements in breeding have resulted in remarkable improvements. Strains such as the Fog Dog now rival their full-term counterparts, especially when cultivated in living soils enriched with essential nutrients.

Benefits of Predictable Days to Maturity

One of the standout advantages of modern autoflower varieties is their predictable days to maturity. This feature allows growers to plan successions accurately, ensuring harvests occur during the most favorable climate conditions. However, it is important to consider the latitude of your cultivation site, as this can affect the growth timeline.

Simplified Cultivation and Harvesting

Autoflowers possess a short stature, reducing the need for extensive canopy management. With these plants, growers can focus on providing adequate spacing. Harvesting autoflowers is also simpler compared to dealing with larger full-term or semi-full-term plants. However, it is worth noting that on average, autoflowers may have slightly lower flower quality, potency, and terpene content due to their shorter lifecycle. Nevertheless, they excel in large-scale acreage and can cater to mid-range and biomass product categories, yielding anywhere from 2000 to 5000 pounds of biomass per acre.

Understanding the Unique Lifecycle

Autoflowers undergo a vegetative phase for approximately 30 to 40 days before transitioning into the flowering stage, irrespective of the light cycle or time of year. Attempting to clone them can be challenging unless specialized lab processes and equipment are available.

Establishment Phase Challenges

One of the trickiest aspects of growing autoflowers lies in their initial establishment phase, particularly when transplanting on a large scale. These plants have a natural inclination to rapidly develop a taproot without obstruction. Hence, root binding during propagation can severely diminish their vegetative and flowering potential. Precise timing and careful planning are crucial to ensure successful propagation, taking into account variables such as deployment timing, tray size, field preparation, and labor availability.

The reputation of autoflowers has significantly evolved. While they may have endured past skepticism, their recent improvements and unique advantages make them a valuable asset for cannabis cultivators. By embracing modern autoflowering strains and understanding their nuances, growers can harness their potential and witness their extraordinary growth journey unfold. So, don’t hesitate to explore the world of autoflowers and experience the benefits they bring to the cannabis industry.


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