It's no secret that the cannabis industry is booming, in fact, dispensaries in some states were deemed essential businesses amid the coronavirus crisis.
According to a 2019 Los Angeles Times report, there are over 600 cannabis stores operating legally in California alone, a number that is anticipated to grow exponentially. But where does all that weed come from? The short answer is that it comes from hundreds of cultivators, many of which are located in Northern California's Emerald Triangle. It's estimated that 60% or more of all cannabis consumed in the U.S. is grown in the triangle, made up of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties.
And how exactly do those cultivators grow all of that weed? There are two ways to go about producing cannabis: you can grow from seed, known as sexual reproduction, or you can reproduce through cloning, known as asexual reproduction. While cloning cannabis might sound like something out of a science fiction novel, it's a highly effective way to cultivate — just ask Dark Heart Nursery, one of California's leading retailers for premium cannabis clones.
Dark Heart Nursery has become a go-to resource of quality clones for growers across California. Many of the most popular and emerging genetics utilized by growers come from Dark Heart's stock.
How clones are created at Dark Heart Nursery
Founded in 2007, Dark Heart Nursery specializes in cultivating clones that will perform well in a variety of settings for growers large and small. According to a Dark Heart representative, the nursery produces about 2 million plants each year in a number of configurations.
Before we go in-depth about how clones are made, it's important to cover the basics. A clone is a plant cutting that is genetically identical to the plant it was taken from, known as the mother. Cloning allows cultivators to create exact replicas of their best plants rather than growing brand new plants from seed.
The steps of the cloning process seem simple, though it requires several skilled pros in order to execute properly. “You take a cutting from a healthy mother plant, remove excess foliage, place the clone in a rooting medium, and keep it under 24 hour light to allow the cutting to grow roots,” the DH rep said. A number of tools are also required, they added, including cutting tools to take a clone from the mother plant, a cloning medium such as rockwool, and lights to keep clones in a vegetative state.
Though Dark Heart is known for their high-quality clones, they provide a few options for plant configurations with different benefits for growers:
- Clones are available in two sizes: heartlets (4.5 inches) and premiums (6 inches). Because clones are an exact genetic copy of a mother plant, growers know what to expect in terms of growth and flower characteristics such as cannabinoid profile and flavor. Clones are especially useful for indoor growers utilizing high-turnover crops to meet demand for specific strains. Clones are also useful to hobby growers that plant each spring.
- Feminized Seedlings are plants that are grown from seeds that have been "feminized." This means that the breeder used a process called “feminization” to create seeds that are 99.5% female. These seedlings are an excellent option for field growers and large scale outdoor cultivators.
- The Easy Pot is a product designed for beginner and first time hobby growers. It is an "autoflower" plant, which means it will flower as it ages, regardless of the light cycle. They will start flowering shortly after you bring them home and will be ready to harvest in around 40-60 days. Autoflowers are known to be hardier and less finicky than regular cannabis plants, which makes them perfect for beginner growers.
Shopping for clones? Here's what you should know
Like shopping for any cannabis products, you should conduct some research before purchasing clones. Our Dark Heart rep recommends always buying from reputable, licensed nurseries or dispensaries with reviews, photos, and detailed information about the varietals they sell. For anyone interested in getting Dark Heart clones, Dark Heart has retail partners throughout all of California.
“Healthy clones are crucial for a successful grow. Growers that plant healthy clones that immediately start growing and thrive will be much better positioned for success. It's very costly and inefficient to have to nurse sick clones back to health as the grow is supposed to be getting started,” they said.
Additionally, you should look for healthy clones that are a vibrant green color with white roots. Clones that appear veiny or tough looking, have droopy leaves, or yellowing or brown roots should be avoided. While there are lots of factors that affect how much cannabis flower a clone can produce if grown correctly, some cultivars grown outside are capable of producing over 10 pounds of flower per plant.
What are the top strains of 2020?
With over 75 strains in their catalogue, Dark Heart has something for every type of weed grower. The nursery's top strains of this year are the following:
- Banana Mango: Bred by the Humboldt Seed Company, this strain is known for its huge plants that produce gorgeous sativa flowers laden with mango nectar and banana candy terpenes.
- Tahquitz: This three-way cross was created by Johnny N. at Elev8 Seeds as a special tribute to the legendary strain Panama Red. It is an incredibly unique strain often described as versatile, relaxing and focused.
- Freakshow: Visually stunning to grow, this one-of-a-kind strain has mutated leaves that look more like a fern than weed. Freakshow is known for its uplifting cerebral effects and sandalwood scent. The strain was created by Shapeshifter and has been reproduced by the Humboldt Seed Company.
- Blue Dream: As one of the most popular strains ever, Blue Dream is loved for its great yields and healthy balance of full-body relaxation and mental stimulation. This Haze x Blueberry varietal produces huge, dense buds packed heavily with trichomes, and covered with a fine coat of light orange hairs.
Dark Heart has recently launched their own line of packaged flower and pre-rolls with new strains coming out each quarter. Currently, there are three editions available — Dark Heart Legends, which includes classic strains that have achieved legendary status, Dark Heart Head Stash, featuring new and buzzworthy buds, and Dark Heart Breeder's Choice, an ultra-premium line of rare flowers hand-selected for their exemplary characteristics.
Exciting things are also on the horizon for Dark Heart's breeding program, led by Dr. Kay Watt. The program is currently researching and developing innovative new genetics for clone and seed production.
Photos courtesy of Dark Heart Nursery.