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Who needs males anyway?

“There really is no genetic basis to require males in a Cannabis breeding program.”

With the advent of chemically-induced sex reversal techniques, the above attitude towards breeding with true male plants is becoming more common. I don’t think we know enough about the male’s contribution to cannabis breeding to support this statement. There is the phenomenon of sex-linked traits, and we are just at the beginning of exploring what those traits may be. There could be critical traits that aren’t visually apparent which are passed on through males – disease resistance, for instance – that could be lost in a female-only breeding program, apart from the inevitable slide toward dominate expression of intersexuality, i.e., sinsemilla apocalypse….

There are many instances of sex-linked traits passed from one sex that is expressed in the opposite-sex progeny. In humans, male-pattern baldness is the well-known example. Again, having only mapped the cannabis genome in the last couple of years, the state of the science here is in its infancy, and any position that “males don’t matter” is based more on ideology than biology. We simply don’t know what alleles code for what traits in cannabis, yet.

Breeder selection is the primary evolutionary pressure placed on drug cannabis today. Among “feminized” seed breeders, there is much talk about using only “fully female” plants to avoid passing on intersexuality tendencies. So, what is a “fully female” plant? How does one select for “full femaleness”? Is that really what a feminized seed breeder is selecting for?

No, s/he is not. The feminized breeder selects parent stock primarily based on those individuals which will express intersexuality when exposed to stress, whether from chemicals, dark period disruption, or water and nutrient deficiencies. Any female plant that cannot express male traits, i.e. produce staminate growth with viable pollen, simply will never make the cut in a female seed production project. Therefore, the feminized breeder intentionally, and as a primary trait, selects for intersexual expression.

S/he may select carefully, looking for those individuals who tend to express intersex traits only under severe stress, but select she does. Any truly “fully female” individuals which do not express intersexual traits under extreme stress will be culled from the program by their very virtue of being unable to form male flowers with viable pollen. Feminizers aren’t selecting for “fully female” plants, they are culling them, because they won’t “flip.”

Therefore, any feminized plant breeding program, by its very nature, will select and breed for individuals with an ever-increasing frequency of intersexual expression in the offspring, by the very nature of the breeder’s selection – conscious or unconscious.

I’ve heard this “fully female” argument from feminizers for years. It’s bunk pure and simple. Sexuality, in animals and plants, is expressed along a spectrum. It is only binary at the chromosomal level. Chemicals don’t change genes, they simply change the level of environmental stress, which the plant responds to based on its genotype. Those plants with genotypes that favor intersexual expression form pollen sacs. Only those plants which form pollen sacs get feminized. Feminized breeders select for hermaphrodism, plain and simple.

-b420

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Sweet Tooth 4 bx released

Fleur du Mal is releasing a backcross of the original Sweet Tooth #4 today.

This is the famed and now abandoned line of potent, fruity indicas that Spice of Life’s Breeder Steve worked for nearly a decade from the late 90’s to 2005. Known for massive fist-sized buds thickly encrusted with trichomes, Sweet Tooth almost single-handedly jumpstarted the ice hash movement in the 1990s. It remains one of the best yielding strains for hash making around. 

Sweet Tooth is a cross of a Northern Lights #2 clone widely circulated around Vancouver, British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest in the 1990s called Sweet Pink Grapefruit, and an early release of DJ Short’s original Blueberry. The line was backcrossed three times by the time Spice of Life released #4, making this the F4 generation. As such, expect general consistency of expression around two basic phenotypes: a thick-stemmed, columnar style dominated by a single large primary cola, and another more bushier habit sporting six to 10 ice cream cone-shaped buds. Maturation time is around 60-65 days from 12/12, late September to early October outside in most temperate zones.

Both phenos have their attractions. The single column pheno is capable of producing truly massive main colas of the 2-liter bottle size, but bring with it the typical issues with pythium mold that comes with large bud structures. The bushy type is probably a better overall yielder of top-grade buds, and is much less prone to mold.

For those who’ve grown up in the Diesel/OG era, Sweet Tooth will be very different indica experience. The taste is, as the name suggests, sweet and fruity, without a trace of fuel or acridness. The head, while definitely strongly indica-based and full-body, is decidedly more cerebral than today’s typical couch-lock Afghani hybrids. There’s a symphony playing in the dream….

I consider this an interim release in a longer term project to create the next generation of Sweet Tooth, #5. On the advice of Breeder Steve (who’s now working with South American mountain sativas in Colombia), I am creating several sibling lines of Sweet Tooth and its parental stock to try to improve and preserve the strain. To that end I’ve collected versions of Sweet Pink Grapefruit in clone and seed form, and paired them with an original Blueberry female one generation removed from DJ’s original release in 1996. Over the next year I’ll be growing out the lines and evaluating the best specimens for introduction into the Sweet Tooth #5 project. A limited group of testers will be helping with this evaluation process.

This bx release is a selective cross-pollination of the two best and most representative females with the most robust, best structured and most aromatic male out of two dozen seeds acquired in 2004, when Spice of Life was based in Switzerland. I made the decision to release this accession based on the number of requests I and others have received over the years for a re-release of the strain, and after confirming with Breeder Steve that he was no longer working with the line. While this project falls within the heirloom category of FDM offerings, I look at the Sweet Tooth #5 project as an interpretative venture seeking to take the line to the next level, my offering of an improved version of Steve’s seminal work that preserves the essence and character of the strain. I hope everyone enjoys it.

-b420

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What’s the point in autoflowers?

I believe autos will be the future cultivar type of choice for large commercial cannabis cultivators, mainly because they will be able to rotate 3 or even 4 crops annually in warm and tropical climates, with very uniform plants all from soil-sown seed. Like soybeans.

Auto strains were created for far-northern lattitudes where summers were too short to finish photoperiodic strains. But they will see their biggest use in long-season areas, I predict.

Not that I like it. But the big seed companies, and mechanized large-scale farmers, love it. Terminal all-female seed, no cloning operations, strict uniformity, 90 days whole crop seed-to-harvest regardless of season. Potency issues will be addressed in processing, via “blending” and extraction a la cigarettes. People will prefer consistency over potency in the end, and go with uniform brands because they can count on them to deliver a consistent taste and high. A “Marley’s Choice” joint will be a Marley’s Choice every time, like a Marlboro cigarette today.

FDM does not sell autoflowering strains, and has no plans to do so.

By commercial I mean legal, professional agricultural scale cultivation: thousands of plants, in the ground. As cannabis becomes more commercial, raw flower will become less common, processed cannabis – joints, extractions, concentrates, and infusions – will become the dominant product. Once that happens, crystally tight and potent buds will not be the apex product breeders breed for. THC production per acre per year will be the benchmark. Autos will rule in that production environment.

It’s happening right now.

-b420

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Which medium to use for my seedlings?

KISS rules with seed. Simple potting soil mix, no extra ferts or amendments, 3.5 inch square pots in a prop tray. No dome usually unless it’s too dry to maintain a moist substrate for 24 hours. Spray mist with plain water to til the sprouts pop and shed their seed coats, then gentle watering with plain water til a second set of true leaves appears.

Seeds need:

1) lightweight, moist not soaked, soil

2) warmth, from 75-85F

3) veg-level light from the day they break soil

4) some air movement, which is why I usually don’t use a dome.

That’s it folks. All the rest is folklore. At best it won’t hurt anything, but at worst will stunt or kill your seedlings. I cringe at some of the techs I see on the boards, paper towels, kelp teas, Superthrive, peroxide, peat pucks, soaking in a glass of water, point up, point down, etc., etc. These techs are for the benefit of anxious humans who can’t wait 3 or 4 days for their bean$ to sit out of sight underground, doing what seeds are designed to do.

Seedlings just want warmth, water, soil and light. Give it to them and they will do the rest.

-b420

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Integrity and Quality since 2001

I’ve created seeds for Fleur du Mal Seeds for over a decade. I tend toward indoor sativa-dominant hybrids, many based around Cinderella, Durban and Haze lines I’ve worked for more than two decades. This work has been greatly enhanced by my friendships with some of the top boutique cannabis breeders of the past twenty years. Among them, Soul of Brothers Grimm, and Oldtimer of Underground Seed Collective were mentors that generously shared their knowledge and genetics with me and many others back in the early days of the online grower community that they and I helped found at Overgrow.com.

I offer these varieties humbly, with full acknowledgement that I stand on the shoulders of those that have come before me. My goals are simple, to bring out the best of what each parent strain offers in distinct crosses and lines; to improve and protect the diversity and integrity of the cannabis plant; and to be transparent in provenance and heritage, so that others perhaps can build upon my work some day.

I expect to introduce a few new lines in coming months in addition to the current list. I will post here as they are introduced. Regular and stealth shipping available worldwide. FDM uses only discreet packaging and shipping materials. Please message or email us directly for specific ordering and payment questions. For strain-related questions, ask away here.

-b420