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Cannabis Seeds Explained

Cannabis Seeds Explained

If you’re looking to start breeding, or just want to grow cannabis the traditional way, it’s important to know how cannabis seeds work.

The most important thing to know about traditional cannabis seeds is that they are dioecious, meaning that cannabis produces male and female seeds. Typically, this results in about a 1:1 ratio of male and female seeds that will be produced through breeding. In other words, when you buy a back of 10 seeds, there’s a good chance that half of them will be male. The biggest issue with traditional cannabis seeds is that you can’t actually tell the sex of the seed until it’s already planted. Not only that, cannabis plants typically won’t reveal their sex until the flower cycle starts, meaning you can be caring for male plants for months before you find out they’re male.

Preparing cannabis seeds

Due to the unpredictable nature of cannabis seeds, it’s important to be prepared. Since it’s likely half your seeds will be male, a lot of growers will buy double the amount of seeds they need, so when they inevitably have to throw out the males, they will still have the amount of females they originally wanted.

Remember, if you don’t buy extra seeds, after a couple of months, a once promising yield can be slashed in half by getting rid of the males. This is why you need to decide whether or not you want to produce your own seeds. If you decide to leave the males with the females, they will pollinate and produce more seeds.

Not for everybody

With the risk of growing male plants and reducing yields, growing from traditional cannabis seeds is not for everybody. Newer growers may try out feminized seeds or auto-flowering seeds. These kinds of seeds both guarantee that your plants will be female, and auto-flowering seeds will even grow on their own, regardless of their light cycle.

However, a new grower can also greatly benefit from the lessons learned by growing traditionally. If you’re just growing for personal use and have a few plants, you won’t lose all that much if you plan ahead, get 6 seeds, and expect 3 of them to be male. Plus, should you end up growing a strain you really like, you can keep the male plants separate until you’re ready, then pollinate the females to create more seeds.

It’s comes down to preference

Growing cannabis from traditional male/female seeds may be more difficult, but it can be just as rewarding. The ability to breed your plants, and pick out the ones you eventually don’t want gives the grower a certain amount of control over their plants. However for some, the risk may outweigh the cost, as having to buy double the seeds to get the desired amount of females can add up.

Hear what Caleb from CSI Humboldt has to say about growing from traditional seeds on the new episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts!

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Feminized Seeds: a grower’s dream

Feminized Seeds: a grower’s dream

Feminized seeds are usually a guaranteed success for growers. But where did feminized seeds come from?

Popping 12 seeds because six of them will end up male can take a toll on a grower. It’s a waste of resources, energy and time taking care of what will become male plants that need to be thrown away. Luckily, a grower that was tired of dealing with males came up with an idea for eradicating them; feminized seeds.

Feminized seeds in the beginning

In the 90’s, as demand for cannabis started to grow more and more, so did the need for high quantities of flower-producing female plants. With grower’s popping hundreds of seeds at once, it was no longer an option to sift through the entire garden to pick out the males.

Through breeding hermaphroditic females with other pure females, over time, feminized seeds were produced. These seeds were bred to lose the male chromosome during their breeding process, thus creating seeds that were guaranteed female every time. So what did that mean for growers?

They could now pop 100 seeds and get 100 females, every time.

Definitely not perfect

While a huge advancement for growers at the time, feminized seeds weren’t without their flaws. Being the offspring of a hermaphroditic parent, early seeds had a much higher possibility of developing hermaphroditism during their growth cycle. Over time, this problem has mostly been bred out, but seeds that are feminized will still be more likely to become hermaphroditic than their traditional counterparts.

Feminized seeds also lacked the same quality and overall genetic stability that traditional seeds had at the time. Throughout the years since and countless breeding initiatives, they have been bred to all but match traditional seed’s quality.

Worth a try?

Today, feminized seeds make up the majority of seeds bought by growers both professional and hobbyist. Traditional male and female seeds have become the main supply for breeders specifically who want to cross different plants, create hybrids, or produce more seeds.

Most feminized seeds you can buy today will come out just like they would had they been traditional seeds that turned out to be female. So now the only difference in your decision comes down to whether or not you even want to risk growing male plants. If you want to try out breeding and producing your own seeds, then you want male plants. Otherwise, try some feminized seeds and enjoy your guaranteed (with the chance of hermaphrodites) female harvest.

Learn about feminized seeds from one of the original breeders, Caleb of CSI Humboldt on the new episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker! Chip and Caleb talk seeds, breeding, strain naming and more in this awesome episode straight out of Humboldt.

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Do You Have Good Weed?

Do You Have Good Weed?

Judging the quality of your cannabis at first glance may seem like a challenge. But once you know what to look for, it’s very simple.

To some people, all cannabis looks the same. To others, it all smells the same or tastes the same. The reality is that every strain you get at the dispensary will have unique signatures and features to look for in order to judge it’s quality. Here’s The Real Dirt’s Top 5 things to look for when judging your weed.

Know Your Strain

One of the easiest ways to know what to look for with your cannabis is by knowing the strain itself. Cannabis strains are vast and diverse, with every strain producing slightly different effects, with different smells and tastes associated with them. For example, Sour Diesel got its name directly because of its smell. If you get Sour Diesel from your local dispensary, and it doesn’t smell sour or gassy, it probably isn’t really Sour Diesel.

While every strain can have unique features, to the untrained eye a lot of it can look the same. For this reason, some dispensaries will label strains with the wrong name to sell more, simply because the average person wouldn’t be able to distinguish the difference. That’s where knowing more than just the strain details comes in.

Look at your cannabis

Light green, dark green, brown and purple are just some of the colors you might see when looking closely at your cannabis, but what do they signify?

what does weed look like?

Cannabis with a darker-green color can signify that it was grown in a greenhouse or outdoor setting, but not always. Purple cannabis is nothing more than a cosmetic feature that can be caused by a couple different factors, from being exposed to cold temperatures to strain genetics. But don’t be fooled; just because the bud is purple, doesn’t mean it’s any stronger or fruitier tasting, it just looks cool.

Light green bud usually ends up being the best quality, but not always. Key signifiers are also the trichome content on the bud. Does it look like it’s covered in frost to the point it’s almost white? It’s probably good weed. The main thing to remember is that as long as the cannabis isn’t brown, it’s most likely decent quality. However, other factors can change this.

Smell your cannabis

Different strains can have various smells that come with their terpene profiles. These terpenes are what give certain strains a fruity, gassy, earthy smells, among others. If you smell any of these scents in your bud, it means it has a solid terpene profile and probably had time to develop properly.

The smell you want to avoid to ensure you have good weed is a hay smell. This hints at a poor cure, and poorly grown cannabis in general. Also, while a dank smell can be a good sign, an overly dank smell may mean mold within the bud which should be avoided. If you get a bud that smells particularly dank, break it open and look for mold.

How does it feel?

Is your cannabis dry and flaky? Is it so sticky you can’t even grind it up? These are both things you want to avoid, but good weed will fall somewhere in-between these two. You want properly cured cannabis that has had time to dry out after harvest, but not too long. In Colorado, a lot of cannabis is more dry because of the climate, and growers have difficulty countering the environmental effects.

Overall, you want cannabis that breaks apart easily without crumbling in your fingers, but still has some moisture so it doesn’t burn too quickly. Experimenting with different strains and different cures if you’re the grower can help build a key for judging your cannabis.

The best test

what does weed taste like?

So you’ve gone through the checklist, and you have two completely different looking buds. Both are perfectly sticky, one’s gassy and the other is fruity, and all the things you should be looking for in your bud are there. Is it possible that one of them may still not be good weed? Taste it.

If the bud passes the eye, smell and feel tests, it is most likely safe to consume. Pay attention to how the cannabis tastes compared to how it smelled. Does it match up?

How does it make you feel? If you start to get a headache or a lot of coughing, the bud may still have trace chemicals from pesticides or other chemicals used during the growing process, which wouldn’t be noticed right away just by looking at it. If this doesn’t happen, it tastes good, and makes you feel good, then you have good weed.

Remember that there will always be outliers! You can get a bud that’s dark and dry, but still tastes and makes you feel great. You can also get cannabis that was grown specifically because of how it looks, with less focus put into ensuring it’s a quality product. Some of the strains you see in the dispensary will look great, but once you open the jar there may be no smell at all.

So don’t be duped, and know what to look for in your cannabis! Get the full guide to judging cannabis on the new episode of The Real Dirt. Chip and his guests go through dozens of strains, analyzing their qualities to determine what make cannabis good or bad quality.

Listen to the full episode HERE or listen to it on iTunes or Apple Podcasts!

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What Are Dabs? Concentrates Explained

What Are Dabs? Concentrates Explained

Concentrates are almost as popular as flower cannabis now. But what is a concentrate?

It’s simple at first glance. A dab or concentrate is just that; the concentrated form of the main chemical in cannabis that produces psychotropic effects, THC. Due to it’s potency, all that is needed to get the full effect of concentrates is just a dab. But how those inevitable dabs are made can vary from the methods to the solvents used in the extraction process.

Extracting concentrates

When extracts — which would eventually be more commonly referred to as concentrates or dabs at dispensaries — first started their rise to popularity, the main solvent used was butane. Because butane is so cold, the gas iss able to stick to the THC crystals of cannabis flower and pull them off the plant, without taking any other chemicals or plant matter.

Through this process of butane extraction, we got the first concentrates that would push them into the spotlight for their clean, pure taste, with effects that pack a punch.

Wax

what are dabs like wax and crumble

Two types of wax. Photo by @sens.media

The simplest and earliest form of concentrate, wax is most commonly made with Butane, although CO2 and even propane extraction has become more prevalent. The way wax is made is very similar to shatter or crumble (another form of wax), but the results vary significantly.

The difference in wax compared to other concentrates, is that it is purged of solvents at a higher temperature and then whipped like a batter toward the middle or end of the purging process. Avoiding the whipping results in another concentrate still very popular; shatter.

 

Shatter concentrate

what is shatter dabs

A slab of shatter. Photo by @bigcat_concentrates.

Shatter is most popular for how it looks. It’s name comes in part from those looks. Shatter typically looks like a piece of golden-brown glass. This happens when extractors let the concentrate sit during the purging process without any agitation (as opposed to wax which is highly agitated), allowing the concentrate to harden into a thin sheet of glass that eventually becomes shatter.

Due to its structure, shatter can be very brittle and break at the touch like glass, but it can also be made more malleable, which makes it easier to manage. Shatter with a more sappy consistency can also have more terpenes and other beneficials that might be carried over if made more brittle.

Live resin

what are dabs? Like live resin

A jar of live resin from Green Dot Labs

One of the newest extraction methods on the market, live resin is different from any concentrate that came before it, and because of this, is taking over the concentrate shelves at local dispensaries. Live resin is made in the same way as wax or shatter, but the plant matter used is what makes the difference.

To make a live resin concentrate, extractors will try to keep the plant as close to alive as possible after cutting it down in order to preserve its living terpene profile. This is usually done by cryogenically freezing the plants as soon as they are chopped, preserving all the oils, cannabinoids and terpenes that are normally purged out during the curing and aging process.

Rosin

what is rosin

Live rosin being pressed. Photo by Green Dot Labs.

Rosin rose to popularity very quickly, simply due to how easy it is to make. What started as a small basement trend of people sharing videos of them pressing their cannabis with a hot hair straightener in order to press out the natural oils from the plant, has evolved into an entirely new subset of the concentrate industry.

Rosin is one of the first solvent-less extracts, meaning there is zero risk of encountering any leftover butane, propane, or CO2, because it was never used in the first place. Making rosin is as simple as getting a hair straightener and some parchment paper, leading to one of the largest home-extraction movements of the booming industry.

While rosin may not be as potent as other concentrates, and its consistency can be difficult to deal with, many flock to dispensaries for this clean concentrate for the peace of mind in knowing there were no potentially harmful solvents used in the making of the product. The flower itself that is actually pressed to make rosin, is a different story.

Distillate

what are dabs like distillate

A glob of distillate from @TheClearConcentrate

Distillates are made through a process called molecular distillation. Distilling hash requires taking winterized concentrates — butane or CO2 hash oil refined with alcohol or ethanol and then chilled at extreme temperatures — and then distilling them to concentrate the THC further. Commercial extractors use a machine called a “wiped film evaporator,” which takes advantage of the different boiling points in cannabinoids to thermally separate them.

Extractors will then repeat this process to remove more and more impurities like leftover solvents. The result of this process is a clear, clean concentrate with no smell and virtually zero solvents. By taking a butane hash oil with a THC content between 70 and 85% and distilling it, the result can reach potencies of up to 95%. However, for the big punch this concentrate packs, it lacks the flavor and diversity of the other concentrates in this list.

No matter what type of dabs or concentrates you decide to enjoy on 7/10, the national holiday of concentrates, remember to start small and pace yourself with dabs. A little too much and you’re holiday will be ending early with a nap.
The Science of Smoke

The Science of Smoke

All forms of smoke are not created equal.

Smoking tobacco is widely recognized as the leading preventable cause of death in the world.  Meanwhile, endless analyses by medical professionals and research facilities throughout the world provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers. The science of smoke proves this further.

Difference of Smoke

Importantly, methods for consuming cannabis that merely heat the plant material  – not hot enough to burn it via vaping or dabbing – releases a volatile organic compound but to a much less extent and with less potency than the bad actors introduced by tobacco smoke.

Burning plant matter does produce harmful chemicals, regardless of which plant it is, but cannabis’s myriad consumption options make it less dangerous. For instance, cooking marijuana into edibles is a safe way to consume it that removes risks to your lungs. Alternatively, vaporizers for marijuana limit the formation of combustion products and are therefore likely to be safer than smoking.

 

Using an e-cigarette leaf vaporizer also could be a safer alternative. Observational studies show that vaporization allows consumers to experience the rapid onset of effect while avoiding some of the respiratory hazards associated with smoking.

Science of Smoke

While cannabis smoke has been implicated in respiratory dysfunction, it has not been causally linked with tobacco related cancers such as lung, colon or rectal cancers. Furthermore, compounds found in cannabis have been shown to kill numerous cancer types including: lung cancer, breast and prostate, leukemia and lymphoma, glioma, skin cancer, and pheochromocytoma, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

When it comes to the science of smoke, there are three kinds. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that enters the consumer from a direct draw on the cigarette.  It is then exhaled, which creates environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS. The smoke that comes off the cigarette as it sits in the ashtray is side stream smoke.  All of the smoke that enters the atmosphere begins to decay and has a defined half life.

If we gave mainstream smoke a number associated with its potency, let’s say that number is 1, then side stream smoke would have a potency of .1, and ETS would be .01.  Stated another way, the potency of ETS once inhaled would be 1/100th of mainstream smoke.  At that concentration, most of the purported illnesses are out of reach and cigarette smoke is primarily just a lung or sinus irritant, which goes away after you get to fresh air.

Ted Corless

Recognized as one of the leading insurance litigation lawyers in Florida, attorney Ted A. Corless spent nearly a decade fighting for some of the largest companies in America. He trained at Shook Hardy, an international law firm infamous for its vigorous representation of Big Tobacco. Shook Hardy triggered his passion for scientific and medical-related litigation.

Corless routinely shares his scientific experience gained from representing the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. He regularly authors articles, gives television interviews and presents lectures on a range of legal topics, including insurance coverage, complex expert testimony and insurance bad faith.

Corless has a broad range of litigation experience including first-chair jury trial experience in matters relating to commercial litigation, environmental law, construction law, bodily injury, advertising injury, products liability and insurance coverage litigation. Ted Corless founded the Corless Barfield Trial Group and is Founder and Editor of newsmunchies.com.

What is Craft Cannabis?

What is Craft Cannabis?

The quality of cannabis has come a long way since seeds started spreading in the 70s.

While baby boomers smoked low THC strains and sinsemilla (or seedless cannabis) was hard to come by, the new generation of cannabis connoisseurs is growing and smoking craft cannabis strains with more potent effects and overall quality, and one must go out of their way to purchase seeds or clones .

Not your father’s ganja

The potency and overall quality of cannabis available to the everyday toker has definitely increased over the years, but not much has changed in terms of how cannabis is produced. Mainly, not much has changed from the cultivation side of cannabis since the introduction of hydroponics and indoor grow operations in the 70s.

In fact, some people now look for cannabis that is grown under much more classic, strict conditions that provide a more organic and overall better quality product, known as craft cannabis.

While a lot of cannabis sold in dispensaries comes from large scale or commercial grows that can produce hundreds or even thousands of pounds of cannabis, craft cannabis is usually grown on a smaller scale with much more attention to detail.

Craft cannabis

Compared to a large grow operation that produces cannabis en masse, craft cannabis is usually grown in small batches, with each individual plant in a batch getting close attention every step along the way, making it much less likely that a plant develops any sort of mold or disease that goes unseen in a large group of plants. Keep in mind a “small” batch can still be over fifty plants.

Think about craft beer; microbrews, and slow-brewed coffee. These are all considered “craft” due to their small batch production and high attention to detail, giving way to much better flavors, aromas, and overall quality. Craft cannabis is no different.

More bang for your buck

It may cost more than regular cannabis, especially to grow, because it is taken better care of in order to produce a top notch product, just like craft beer will always cost more than a domestic option. But the difference is self-evident, and you get what you pay for.

Craft cannabis will have much better flavor, aroma, smoothness of taste, among other superior qualities compared to its commercial counterpart. This makes craft cannabis a must-try for anybody looking for the best product available at a relatively affordable price for the cannabis connoisseur wanting to try something new and different.

Hear all about craft cannabis and what makes it so special on the new episode of The Real Dirt Podcast! Chip talks with Jefe from Little Hill Cultivators about growing all-natural, organic craft cannabis in the hills of Trinity, California, and where they see the new industry in California going.

Listen right here on The Real Dirt website or stream from your favorite podcast app on the go!