Episode 3: Genetics

Cannabis genetics are essential to our purpose. We believe a commitment to high-end products must start at the source—in this case: cannabis seeds. Genetics are directly correlated to product quality; and 7ACRES’ high-end cannabis is a reflection of our diverse, robust genetics program; aimed at selecting the best possible phenotypes from seed which then undergo rigorous testing. We carefully choose genetics based on characteristics that we believe the community appreciates. We focus on plants that grow well, and that show signs of superior aroma and taste profiles —producing premium cannabis that the enthusiasts on our team, and in our valued community, are excited to try.

So how are cannabis genetics related to product quality? Cannabis genetics affect the cannabis plant’s growth and development. Genetics also affect cannabinoids, terpene production, and the plant’s overall yield.

Think of how our genetics influence us as humans: how tall/short we are, what colour eyes we have, what body type we end up with (and how easy or difficult it is for us to change that body type), what colour and thickness our hair is, the condition of our skin etc.

Our own genetics give us an easy analogy to understand cannabis genetics. Every one of us has a mother and father who carry their own unique DNA profile. Half of our DNA comes from our mother, half from our father. Certain attributes from either parent are more dominant than others, and get passed down to us. Now, you may have brothers or sisters but unless you are identical twins, you are probably similar but quite different. Your brother may be taller or shorter than you, more or less athletic, may have brown eyes or blue eyes, etc. Now imagine if your parents had 100 kids. All 100 would share the same genetics from your parents, but all 100 would be unique in their own way. One of your siblings could grow up to be an NBA superstar that has inherited the ideal combination of genes from both parents to be the greatest.

When it comes to selecting the best cannabis phenotype, we are looking for the  superstar. Our aim at 7ACRES is to select the phenotype that checks all the boxes – appearance, aroma, flavour, yield, vigor, resistance to pest and pathogens, flourishes in the environment we create, etc. We want to ensure that the phenotype we select is the truest most robust expression of a cultivar and that we thoroughly deliver what consumers expect from it. If the strain is known as a gassy kush, well, you better believe that the phenotype we select will be gassy as ever!

The overall quality of the cannabis plant depends on its genetics and how they combine with environmental factors. And the structural formation of a cannabis plant is influenced by two things: genetics and environment. The genetic makeup of a plant is called a ‘genotype’, and it acts as a blueprint for the plant’s growth. The genotype allows the plant to end up with a range of possible physical traits. Then, it’s up to the environment to play the other role here; in bringing out these characteristics. The combination of genotype + environmental influences = the ‘phenotype’. A cannabis phenotype describes a range of traits -physical form, development, behavior, biochemistry –  that cause each cannabis plant to be different from one another.

So, let’s look to the past — the beginning of cannabis genetic lineages started with ‘landrace genetics’ – which have evolved into all the unique, diverse cultivars we puff on, vape, eat, and drink today. Landrace genetics in cannabis are basically the ancestors-  ancient cultivars (i.e. ‘strains’) who naturally adapted over time to grow well in varying landscapes and climatic conditions. Landrace strains are the original genetic foundations of modern cannabis hybrids. Back in the day, having a sesh meant likely puffing on one of these pure landrace cultivars.

And as landrace genetics are ‘the ancestors’ – well, they don’t exist anymore! (or to be technical; it is extremely unlikely unless there is some remote, untouched location on earth where cannabis grows naturally & without interference from any outside pollen). While our ancestors are long gone – just like the landrace strains –  we exist as evolved, combined versions of them – just like the new strains of today. And that is why most cannabis cultivars these days are considered ‘hybrids – just like we are hybrid versions of our ancestors.

Today, we are blessed with an abundance of cannabis variety and quality; due originally to growers taking these landrace strains and crossing them. Eventually, they were capable of producing offspring that consistently carried the optimal genetic traits of each parent plant. What’s more, and perhaps most crucial, is that they could avoid unwanted characteristics which could weaken the plant’s health and production. Growers started to cross different landrace genetics for various reasons. Some plants had certain great traits, but such long flowering times that wouldn’t work in climates far from the equator. So the growers crossed a longer-flowering time genetic (but that had other appealing traits) with one that had shorter flowering times. The hope being that the cross would pass on that shorter flowering quality to the offspring. Other factors came to be reasons for crossing genetics (look, smell, taste, effect), along with more business driven reasons (yield, morphology, THC, etc) – or even law enforcement reasons (like breeding out the super potent skunk smell because grows were attracting unwanted attention).

At 7ACRES, we began our journey into genetics years ago — We established a seed bank of genetics from legendary lineages and began to test which plants would perform best in our environment.  Once we learned which plants grew well, we looked to the community to select beloved strains that carried specific traits that cannabis enthusiasts would enjoy.

We are always seeking the most productive plants with the most desirable cannabinoid and terpene profiles. It’s a marriage of passion and process —analyzing which plants will grow large and strong, while always remembering the characteristics that our cannabis community loves.

So how do these genetic profiles relate to product quality? The phenotype hunt (aka the “pheno-hunt”) is an essential part of the genetics process that allows us to select the most fruitful plants. Pheno-hunting is the process of selecting the best cannabis phenotype from a given lot. Our 7ACRES team is committed to pheno-hunting for the community – we search for phenotypes with cannabis enthusiasts at the forefront of our selections.

So in general, how does a pheno-hunt work? Well, a grower will purchase cannabis seeds which belong to a particular cultivar (strain) – for example, White Widow seeds. And while White Widow has specific unique cultivar traits, each plant grown from each seed will become an intrinsically different version of a White Widow cannabis plant. This is just like how you and your siblings are all unique even though you’re from the same parents; your genetics are not identical, and your environmental influences are all distinct from one another, even if highly similar. Just as no two people are exactly the same, neither are two cannabis plants.

And what specs are the 7ACRES team looking for in our pheno-hunts?

      • Growth: the plant’s height, weight, density, roots etc.
      • Hardiness: how does the plant act in various temperatures, how much water does it need, is it vulnerable to mold and pests, how strong is it?
      • Terpene profile: what is the aroma of the flowers?
      • Appearance: what do the buds look like?
      • Trichomes: what does the trichome structure look like?
      • Harvest Time: how long does it take for this plant’s flowers to be ready for harvest?

      7ACRES is on a continuous pheno hunt. Our beloved cultivars are the result of that pheno hunting; they all express specific aromatic notes and pungent flavour that those who appreciate cannabis know and love. Our treasured Jack Haze cultivar is dearly beloved for its sweet citrus, crisp pine and warm spice notes. Our Jean Guy is a balanced hybrid with a terpene profile that boasts a pungent citrusy and woody aroma. Papaya has highly pungent sweet and fruity aromatic notes. It’s a cross of Citral #3 and Ice #2, and it produces beautiful light green buds densely coated with milky white trichomes. Sensi star yields chunky, high THC buds and a gassy lemon and pepper aroma. Wappa 49 was selected after an intensive phenotype hunt to find the most exotic and fruity aromatic profile. Beautiful, dense, chunky buds coated with milky white trichomes produce smooth smoke and intense tropical fruit flavours. And finally, our White Widow cultivar –  a balanced hybrid with a pungent, sweet and woody aroma –  has been known for being highly resinous, having a visually prominent white coating of trichomes.

      Our beautiful cultivars are a testament to our continuous search for strong genetics that positively affect terpene production, offer pungent aromas, and have amazing taste profiles. But this is just the beginning — we are constantly testing new and exciting aroma profiles, searching for characteristics that the community knows and loves so we can continue to offer Canadians premium cannabis that they will truly enjoy. Continued crossing and pheno hunts have been producing some incredible aromatic profiles that we’re excited to share. All backed by a team whose sole purpose is to grow high-end cannabis and who Accept Nothing Less!