“How does one go about maintaining the vigor and complexity of modern polyhybrid strains- and at the same time achieve the resistance, heartiness, and consistency of older landraces and heirloom farmlines?”
Ambrosia Seed Company seems to have found the solution to the modern breeding paradigm in their “absolute vigor series” and unlike many other breeders, they are not afraid to be up front about their process – They are using a simple and effective formula for the absolute vigor series. The process employs father plants which are selected from long line-bred farmlines or IBL’s (Inbred Lines) that are known to be dominant for a specific trait, I.E light sensitivity, potency, fast flowering etc. These father lines are outcrossed to self pollinated elite cuts selected from stress tested poly-hybrid mothers which have been selected for other qualities such as exotic flavors, smells, or specific plant shapes or structures. As the original mother cuts are not true breeding because of their polyhybrid nature the ambrosia breeding team is taking them though a 2 time self pollination process(s2) to obtain homogeneity, heavily stress testing a selection before they ever meet the pollen studs. For those who do not understand the “selfing” process it means a female plant is chemically sex reversed allowing it to pollinate itself resulting in S1 seed generation-One common misconception is that this process will result in identical phenos exactly like their mother plant -however in reality recessive traitscan still be hiding with variation occurring among sibling seeds so this process must be repeated with the adequate s1 seed to achieve more homogeneous s2 seeds. Stress tested s2’s of excellent mothers are breeding gold as they are homozygous for all traits seen in the s1 individual selection. Ambrosia Seed Company uses only proven stable genetics as parents and the offspring grown from their seeds show it.
Notably ‘selfing’ is how the first feminized seeds were made but modern fem seeds usually aren’t s1’s for many reasons, mainly because of higher seed quantities and more vigorous offspring produced in reversed sex outcrosses (feminized f1’s) A self pollinated plant is passing on very specific information-those traits can be good ones like taste or structure or bad ones in the case hermaphroditism. The difference in a good or bad breeding selection of selfed plant aside from it’s obvious qualities is its performance in extremely intensive stress testing , This kind of testing is time consuming but the only sure way to assure our customers of stable genetics. Because of the crude initial attempts at making feminized seeds in the past, Selfing has been disregarded by many as a bad breeding technique as the process does indeed result in lost vigor with every selfed generation-However, by out-crossing to very inbred fathers from completely different gene pools, we are able to offer f1 hybrids that exhibit hybrid vigor on a whole new level for the grower. We are not using the selfing process to make our seed stock, but rather using the selfing process to select elite breeding mothers.
Cannabis breeders have combined Sativa and Indica lines to achieve vigorous f1 seeds for a long time, but the combination of selfed mothers to IBL fathers results in hybrid vigor on a whole new level. When you take into account the fact that we are using only male lines which have been proven to be dominant breeding for specific traits (potency, drought or pest resistance, large yield, or early for examples) that are normally recessive in cannabis, you start to see how ambrosia seed company’s breeding regime is different from anything else out there. Each new line we release will be a purpose based breeding for a specific demand imposed by the grower or a specific environmental demand. The Absolute Vigor phenomenon is really more of a byproduct of the combination of such genetically separate and desirable p1 parents.
When asked about the danger of these genetics being copied or pirated Ambrosia Seeds takes the following stance. “We realize that the modern grower is involved in more complicated growing because of the increased availability of information obtained by the internet forums. Home breeding is on the rise because people don’t feel intimidated to try and learn-especially when they come across good parents in a pack of seed. People are taking on the project of finding their own personal Holy Grail selection or hybrid. In the past males were seen as a drag for the average grower when you got them in a pack of regular seeds but now customers will buy a few packs looking for “the elite breeding male” Ambrosia actually encourages hobby breeders to experiment with line breeding their seeds- some real gems could be found in the recombination that takes place in f2 and f3 stages, because of the type of breeding used in their making, Ambrosia Seeds would be great tool for the hobby breeder -there will simply be less variation in phenotypes displayed making it easier to breed towards your favorite traits.”
When asked about the ever present risk of disreputable seed companies selling ibl copies of genetics that are offered in male/female form, the Ambrosia team explains , “ on a commercial level we can only try to offer them at an reasonable price that takes away the motivation to buy less vigorous, less consistent copies from unscrupulous seed banks. By the very nature of our breeding process we can guarantee the most vigorous and consistent offspring in the f1 seeds we sell. We think it is important to make male/female seeds as the practice creating of feminized only seeds , albeit, more convenient for many growers is indeed often motivated by a breeder’s fear of being ripped off- but when someone is paying for seeds they are making an investment in specific genetics. The male genetics are just as valuable as the females. Sourmash, who heads the breeding department explains it this way.”- from my perspective as a breeder, buying feminized seeds is like buying several left shoes and not a single right one to match.” At the same time, Afgani Stan- who heads production and testing departments makes the argument that, “as a former commercial grower I understand that feminized seeds are an advantage to many growers. As a result we will aim to offer both”-