Cannabis seed breeders often refer to F1, F2, S1, IBL & BX marijuana seeds. Find out what the terms mean and how they evolved. Successful crosses inherit the best traits from their parents. Let's discuss what F1, F2, F3 etc selections are. When it comes to weed terminology, nothing is more complicated than the codes used when breeding? F1 genetics are cited as best, but what does it mean?
What are F1, F2, S1 cannabis seeds?
To many people cannabis seeds are simply cannabis seeds. But breeders and connoisseur growers also use different terms for cannabis seeds, such as F1, F2, S1 etc. In this review, we will explain what is meant by these terms and precisely what they tell you about the cannabis seeds which they describe.
|●||The basics of cannabis genetics for breeders|
|●||Different types of F1 cannabis seeds|
|●||The difference between F1 and F2 cannabis seeds|
|●||How does selfing produce S1 cannabis seeds?|
|●||Cannabis genetics hybridisation process case studies|
|●||Cannabis seeds quality: what to know before growing?|
The basics of cannabis genetics for breeders
Most home growers tend not to worry too much about terms such as F1 cannabis seeds, F1 hybrid cannabis seeds etc. So long as the seeds contain reliably good quality genetics few people are too concerned about the terminology used. However, to many cannabis breeders it is vitally important to understand the sometimes subtle, but critical, differences.
What does f1 hybrid mean? Cannabis seeds are formed when pollen from the male pollinates a female plant. The male genetics cross with those from the female to create F1 cannabis seeds, meaning that the cross is a First generation cross. If the parents were from two different strains the result would be F1 hybrid cannabis seeds.
Note that male pollen spreads easily and will pollinate any nearby female plants. That’s why professional breeders have isolated, dedicated breeding rooms which prevent accidental pollen spread. Pollen may be applied with small brushes using e.g. paint brushes, allowing specific branches to be pollinated with pollen from different males if required. Or male and female plants may share the same room, pollen is spread simply using air circulation fans.
Anyone involved with breeding/pollen would normally shower and change clothes to prevent unintended cross contamination between different areas of their breeding facility. Once pollinated, the female plant focusses much of her energy into seed production (rather than bud production).
What are F1 hybrid cannabis seeds?
F1 cannabis seeds simply mean that they are a first generation of offspring from the parent strains. Hybrid vigour is a term often used when discussing cannabis seeds, along with the question ‘Can an F1 outbreed for hybrid vigor?’ Cannabis hybrid vigour is observed when different strains are hybridised in an F1 cross.
If the parent strains were quite different indica and sativa strains then the seeds would be called F1 hybrid cannabis seeds, these may show vigorous growth and display ‘hybrid vigour’ resulting in growth which is faster than usual. This extra growth vitality is seen when different cannabis genetics are hybridised to create an F1 cannabis cross.
Different types of F1 cannabis seeds
F1 cannabis seeds explained! You can buy F1 autoflowering cannabis seeds or photoperiod F1 feminised cannabis seeds. Autoflower seeds tend to have a reputation for being faster and perhaps a little easier/more convenient than feminised seeds, but much depends on the preferences of the grower. F1 regular cannabis seeds are also popular with some old school growers or those conducting their own breeding experiments.
F1 fast cannabis strains are also available, with strains such as Think Fast. These strains have recessive autoflower genetics which cause the f1 fast cannabis strains to grow from seed to harvest a couple of weeks faster than traditional strains. For some outdoor growers this could be the difference between a harvest which ripens before the bad weather arrives and one which doesn’t.
Many connoisseur growers prefer to buy genuine F1 cannabis seeds in order to get the highest chance of the consistent quality results which are most similar to the parent strains. F1 White Widow cannabis seeds from Dutch Passion are a good example. The large numbers of repeat White Widow growers know that their best chances of producing original Grade-A White Widow buds is to use F1 White Widow cannabis seeds.
The difference between F1 and F2 cannabis seeds
F1 cannabis seeds are produced when two parents are crossed. When you see F1 cannabis seeds for sale you would normally expect them to show the closest qualities to the original strains. When the F1 cannabis seeds are grown and subsequently crossed the resulting seeds are known as F2 cannabis seeds.
The subject of F1 and F2 cannabis genetics can be a complicated subject, with questions such as ‘is F1 better than F2 cannabis?’ Whether you get better results with F1 vs F2 cannabis seeds will depend on the individual phenotypes being grown, as well your definition of the word ‘better’. It is perhaps safest to say that F1 cannabis seeds are more likely to show results closer to the original parents compared to F2 seeds.
Note. Growing and crossing F2 cannabis seeds would produce F3 cannabis seeds.
What are inbred line cannabis seeds (IBL)?
Inbred line cannabis seeds, often known simply as IBL seeds, are the result of inbreeding the descendants of the F1 cannabis seeds. It is usual to breed for 5 or more generations (F5) in order to be regarded as inbred line cannabis seeds. At this point the IBL may often be considered as a distinct strain in its own right.
Remember that the cannabis seeds have been produced from plants with genetics which are practically identical over several generations. Although this type of breeding is arduous and may take several years, the resulting cannabis seeds are typically very consistent with highly predictable results for the grower.
The Skunk family of cannabis seeds is an example of in-breeding which has allowed the successful preservation of the distinctive skunk aroma and taste.
What are poly-hybrid cannabis seeds?
The most reputable cannabis seed suppliers work hard to identify the best genetics and then stabilise them, a process which sometimes takes several years. Stable consistent cannabis seeds give the grower the best chance of replicating premium quality genetics in their own grow room. However, if two (F1) hybrid strains are crossed the result is poly hybrid cannabis seeds.
When growing such seeds you can reasonably expect any of the genetics from the diverse parentage to be expressed. For some growers, variety is a good thing. For other growers seeking a tent full of consistent/uniform plants, poly-hybrid cannabis seeds are unwelcome guests.
Many of the less experienced seed suppliers intent on making a ‘fast buck’ simply cross male and female plants to create rapid seed production with absolutely no thought given to stabilisation or optimisation of the genetics. Be sure to do your research carefully before buying cannabis seeds and choose seed banks with a good track record of customer service, plenty of repeat customers and perhaps a few cannabis cups. Cannabis cups are usually a sure sign that your seed bank takes their profession seriously and is there for the long haul.
|Dutch Passion cannabis cup winning strains|
How does selfing produce S1 cannabis seeds?
What does F1 and S1 mean? Female cannabis plants can produce S1 cannabis seeds through a process known as ‘selfing’. Usually this involves taking a cutting/clone from the female mother plant and turning it into a male by a process known as ‘reversion’.
This can be done by spraying the female with a chemical such as Silver Thiosulphate. The stress of this causes the female to become a male plant. Pollen is then collected from this plant and used to pollinate the original mother plant. This allows the original female to effectively be ‘self-pollinated’ or ‘selfed’. The cannabis seeds are known as S1 seeds and have the added stability benefit of using the ‘same’ genetics from the male and female.
Cannabis genetics backcrossing explained
When two parent strains are crossed the result is an F1 cannabis seed. If this seed is grown and crossed with one of the original parents, it is known as backcrossing. Backcrossing is a way of stabilising a cannabis strain since it allows parent genetics to be backcrossed with genetically similar offspring. As a result, greater genetic stability is conferred on the resulting cannabis seeds. This produces more consistent seeds with more predictably uniform results in your grow room.
Cannabis genetics hybridisation process case studies
Often cannabis breeders will aim to combine two great qualities from different strains into a new hybrid. Often this will involve e.g. taking the cannabinoid content from one strains and augmenting it with XXL yields from another.
Orange Hill Special
Orange Hill Special is a Dutch Passion photoperiod feminised seed variety. She was in-bred over 6 generations after the initial crossing with genetics from Orange Bud and Californian Orange.
Orange Bud and Californian Orange are both members of the multi-cannabis cup winning Orange Family of cannabis seeds. These strains stand for premium quality harvests of beautifully citrus scented buds. Orange Bud and Californian Orange have slightly different but complementary terpene profiles. The aim of the hybridisation was to combine the best features of each variety into a new stable strain which would embody the best taste, THC levels and yields.
Orange Hill Special is a member of the most potent cannabis seed selection available, the High THC cannabis seed collection. This is where you can expect consistent 20-25% THC levels across all plants when grown in good conditions. Such stability and consistency don’t arrive by accident, it’s the result of several years of careful selection, lab analysis, stabilisation and careful breeding. If you’re looking to grow heavy harvests of extremely THC rich citrus scented skunk buds then Orange Hill Special is a perfect choice. For best results, LED grow lights are recommended.
What are F1 Seeds? What about F2, F3, etc?
Breeders often devote their entire careers to creating that one perfect cross. They achieve this by enhancing the strongest properties through selection and crossbreeding. These crosses are indicated by generation.
Let’s discuss what F1, F2, F3, etc selections are.
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- What are hybrid cannabis strains?
- What are f1, f2, f3, etc. selections?
- Creating new cannabis strains
- Pure breeding line or strain
- Creating a stable f1 strain
- Let’s recap.
What are hybrid cannabis strains?
The demand for new cannabis species is increasing with the natural consequence that there is plenty of experimentation by breeders.
As a result of this (cross) breeding and experimenting, most of the species on the current commercial market are hybrids. These are plants that are a result of crossbreeding several cannabis varieties to amplify certain effects or characteristics.
As this crossing process evolves, the plants will eventually form seeds from different cannabis strains or generations.
Cannabis, like any other plant, exists as a pure variety or as a hybrid mix of strains.
Hybrids are the result of attempts to shape plants with specific characteristics, which are common in ruderalis, Sativa, and Indica strains. Successful crosses inherit the best traits of both parents.
When the industry started to commercialize, both pure varieties and existing hybrids were constantly mixed and recombined. These efforts have produced some of the best-known species today.
What are F1, F2, F3, etc. selections?
As you further specialize in cannabis cultivation, you will undoubtedly encounter more and more impressive terminology.
When I first saw the term “F1 strain”, I seriously wondered what car racing and cannabis have to do with each other (and if it was wise to combine the two).
Needless to say, the guys got a good laugh out of that one. It turns out it has nothing to do with the automotive sports industry, nor should we fear for Hamilton’s safety.
In this case, F1 means something totally different and very fascinating!
In a nutshell, an F1 variety is the first hybrid plant from a specific pair of parents and a new phenotype that is
independent, yet still closely related to the two parents.
But that just sounds confusing and doesn’t cover the load. Let’s go further back first before we take a leap into the unknown.
Creating new cannabis strains
The basics of growing plants are always the same. This also applies to cannabis. Male pollen pollinates the female plant. Nature has ensured this happens naturally.
But when creating a hybrid, the growers use selective breeding in a controlled environment. This entails that the breeder personally selects the female plant and the male pollen in order to get one or more specific characteristics in the offspring.
A few of the properties that can be improved through selection are rooting, growth potential, flowering period, color, bud structure, and yield.
The seeds germinated after this process are the first generation of hybrids from male and female parents. The plants with the desired characteristics undergo this selective process again.
Once the desired traits are achieved, the breeder stabilizes the species.
The next step is crossing the young hybrid with the parent species to enhance the characteristics.
This process requires a lot of patience and perseverance from the breeder since stabilizing the properties of a species usually requires three or more generations.
We distinguish the following generations:
To make a well-informed decision when deciding on what the ideal seeds for you, it is helpful to understand the differences between these different generations.
Pure-breeding line or strain
A group of identical individual plants that always produce offspring of the same phenotype when intercrossed.
Pure-breeds are unadulterated traditional landraces that have only interbred with similar strains and so have almost identical genes.
F1 – The first grow
F1 stands for “first-generation hybrid”. The F derives from Filius, which is the Latin word for “son”. Yes, botanists sure love their Latin 😉
You create an F1 strain by crossing two pure strains with completely different phenotypes. To achieve this, the grower will, for example, take 100 of their best plants and select only the very best mother plants based on a specific trait from one strain.
He will do the same with another (pure) species.
Let’s take a large plant (represented by two dominant genes, AA)
and cross it with a small but bushy plant (represented by the two
small recessive genes, aa). Since the resulting plants each receive
one gene from each parent, this will result in offspring with the following genetic makeup: Aa. All four offspring have the same makeup and will each be tall bushy plants.
The difference from the parent generation, in this case, is that these will not be pure strains due to the presence of the recessive gene.
F2 – Keep on crossing
To create an F2 strain, the breeder will cross two members of the F1 family together.
The offspring that comes from this crossing has
the genetic makeup of AA, Aa, AA, and aa.
That means that the F2 seed variety will have three tall plants and one short plant. So, the main difference between the F1 and F2 varieties is the amount of genetic variation and purity of the seed strain.
F3 – Reducing variation
As the cycle continues, we keep combining plants with the desired traits. We call this generation: F3. For example, if the grower was looking for short plants, he would select parents with the composition of Aa and aa.
The result of this combination is two tall plants, each with the genetic markers of Aa, and two short plants (both aa). This breeding has actually reduced the variation towards a more stable variety. We call this process stabilizing.
Since F3 varieties usually start of rather unable we advise to cross it back with the selected F2 mother plant.
F4 – Narrowing the number of phenotypes
Once you’ve achieved a level of stability in your F3 variety, it is time to take your game to the next level. By continuing the selection process and using only the most stable plants from the previous generation, we’ve now reached the F4 variety.
F4 varieties contain even fewer phenotypes, which means that the plants should be nearly identical, with only slight variations in, for example, scent or yield.
F5 – Perfecting the process
By continuing on this path of crossing the strongest plants back within their own generation, the stability grows and a strong new species has emerged.
After F5, the plants are IBL.
IBL stands for “inbred line”, AKA the holy grail of cannabis cultivation.
An IBL is a breed that produces offspring with stable and consistent genetics usually from a single dominant phenotype of the strain.
These strains will produce balanced and homogenous offspring with the desired specific characteristics time and time again for many generations.
Creating a stable F1 strain
When you pollinate a feminized female plant with pollen of the male-cannabis plant, you will get seeds, but not automatically a stable strain.
Breeders create stabilized hybrids and then continually interbreed, stabilizing their characteristics from generation to generation.
There are very few strains of stabilized hybrids as the process takes a number of generations, over several years, to achieve.
It is important to note that ‘stable’ is not the same as ‘true-breeding’. A true-breeding strain will produce consistent offspring of one dominant phenotype. In marijuana strains, you can mainly find this in landraces.
If you want to create a stable strain that shows the generation of the same characteristic after generation, you will have to stabilize it by crossing it back various times. By always selecting and crossing plants with the desired characteristics, you stabilize a species.
Since this is a time-consuming technical process that demands a lot from the breeder, it’s now clear where the -sometimes- massive price difference for different types of seeds comes from.
F1 is the result of crossing 2 separate varieties. The resulting seeds are F1 and they will be stable, meaning the plant qualities should be pretty consistent.
All the plants from these seeds will be very similar. This is great if you prefer a crop of identical plants.
F2 is a cross of 2 of your F1 plants from the seeds you bred. F2 is what true breeders are looking for.
The F2 seeds are unstable meaning the plants grown can show very different qualities, some may be good while others are bad. The F2 seeds can contain all the possibilities of phenotypes from all of the previous lineages of both parents.
F2’s are where you will find the next great strains which is what true breeders are consistently trying to do along with producing stable seeds for its consumers.
Once you find that special F2 plant, you need to cross it with another F2 from the same seed batch. Next, cross this plant back with your special F2. The seeds from this, called F3 will be unstable and may not produce your special F2 consistently.
To stabilize your new strain (The special F2 plant you selected) you now grow F3 seeds and pick one of these to back cross with your F2 mother.
The resulting seeds from this will be an F4 and more stable than F3 seeds. You continue this process to about an F5. By this time the F5 seeds should be stable and look like the new breed F2 that you found. You have now created your very own new strain!
So the main difference between F1, F2, and F3, etc. is simply the generation and level of stability that comes with them.
With each successive selection, the grower selectively takes the plants that are the best representation of the properties he desires and uses them for crossings.
I hope this has given you some insight and clarity and brought you are one step closer to being a full-fledged Marijuana high school graduate. Happy growing
Educated by one of the best breeders in the Netherlands, I chose to combine my passion for writing with the fascinating world of cannabis cultivation. What are the best strains for which occasion, what are the effects, and how to use responsibly? Let me take you on a journey.
F1, F2, S1 – What do They Mean for Your Weed?
Once someone has become a master grower, they can then work towards being a master breeder. While growers are simply taking seeds and growing them into beautiful plants, they are growing something that nature, or someone else, has actually created. However, when one becomes a breeder, they get to truly play god by breeding different strains together, making seeds, and even making their very own strain. In order to do so, one has to first have a good grasp on things science, genetics, and how cannabis plants work to make seeds, to make bud, and how different plants work together.
What are F1 and F2 cannabis seeds?
The terms “F1” “F2” and “S1” are some of the first that beginner breeders will come across. They refer to outbreeding, or producing hybrid seeds, which is the practice of cross-breeding two plants that originally have completely different genetics. In order to do so, two stable parents must be chosen so the pollen from the male can be used to fertilize the female.
This will result in the hybrid seeds the breeders are after, and they’re known as “F1” seeds, or first generation seeds. F1 seeds will be the most stable of any seeds that follow it in future generations, and those generations will be known as “F2” seeds, “F3” seeds, and so forth as more seeds are made. However, F1 seeds are the most sought after by breeders because they grow about 25 percent faster, and they grow larger and with more vigor that subsequent generations.
What are S1 seeds?
In addition to F1 and F2 seeds, there are also S1 seeds. The “S” in this case refers to “self” or “selfed”, meaning that these seeds will be selfed-generation. They do not need a male plant for pollen but rather, the female plant is reversed so that pollen can be collected. The pollen will then be used to pollinate the mother plant or a clone of the mother to get S1 seeds. Males can be selfed as well, but in both cases it’s a complex process that requires great focus from even the most experienced breeders.
Breeding can be even more exciting than growing because it’s a chance to really make your own strain and create something that will highlight your preferences. Breeding can be a complicated matter, however. Start by understanding some of the basic terminology, and what’s needed to create a stable strain, and you’ll be well on your way to your own.