Webinar: Scale and increase profitability with uniform seed-grown production

  • Mar 02, 2023
  • By Phylos Bioscience,
  • 0 Comment
Photo of John McFerson (VP of Plant Breeding at Phylos), Amy Zents (Director of Cultivation at Progressive Plant Research), and Kevin Jodrey (Founder of Wonderland Nursery).

Photo of John McFerson (VP of Plant Breeding at Phylos), Amy Zents (Director of Cultivation at Progressive Plant Research), and Kevin Jodrey (Founder of Wonderland Nursery).

Phylos’ latest webinar, “Scale and Increase Profitability with Uniform Seed-Grown Production” hosted by MJ Biz Daily features industry leaders in breeding and cultivation John McFerson (VP of Plant Breeding at Phylos), Amy Zents (Director of Cultivation at Progressive Plant Research) and Kevin Jodrey (Founder of Wonderland Nursery) as they discuss the many reasons why seeds are the future of cannabis production. Our panelists explore how modern breeding technology allows cultivators and growers to skip the pheno-hunt and launch straight into production with highly-optimized stable seedlines.

In this webinar, learn how to: 

  • leverage science-backed breeding and cultivation techniques to scale your production.
  • increase profitability through more efficient use of production space, by transitioning away from clone mother rooms, in order to grow at scale efficiently.
  • decrease crop loss and quality risk by growing from seed, reducing the risk of pests and pathogens, and producing more vigorous plants. 
  • mitigate environmental impact while achieving higher yields with easier crop management.

Watch the full webinar video to discover how the transition to seed-grown varieties can scale your business.

Read the full webinar transcript below. 

Adam Rivera  00:01

Hello everybody and welcome. My name is Adam Rivera. I work as a conference content programmer at MJ Biz. And I'd first like to thank today's sponsor Phylos for today's webinar, “Scale and Increase Profitability with Uniform Seed Grown Production.” Joining us for today's webinar is John McFerson, VP of Plant Breeding, Amy Zents, Progressive Plant Research Director of Cultivation, and Kevin Jodrey, Founder of Wonderland Nursery. The panel will discuss how commercial growers can increase yield and profitability through uniform seed-grown production. After the presentation, the panel will be available to answer questions from the audience. So, please hold your questions until the presentation is finished. We will be using the Q&A box below for questions and those questions will be addressed by the panel after the presentation. I'll go ahead and let the panel take it away. So go ahead, Kevin.

Kevin Jodrey 00:53

Oh, thank you so much. It’s fascinating to me to be where we are today. I think that what we need to do is kind of go back in time to understand the history of cannabis and seed. When we look at cannabis, we really can go almost 14,000 years back in time. We know that from our research that we see cannabis emerge on the plains of Siberia, and it moves into Mongolia and spends a couple 1,000 years in that area. It moves into China, it moves down into Southeast Asia, it moves into Europe, it migrates down into Africa. From Africa, we see the movement into the Americas when we started to see the European colonization of the Americas.

So, cannabis as seed has only been in the Americas, Colombia, Central America and North America for 500 years. So up to this point, all crops are from seed. We get into the Americas and we're still into the era of seed, cannabis is being grown as seed, but what we have is whole crop usage. So, at one point in time, when people cultivated cannabis, they cultivated an entire crop and they homogenized that crop. People consumed the entire crop. It wasn't necessarily a single plant selected and then focused. Even though within seed, you would have outliers, you'd have incredible outliers of plants that were phenomenal. What good cultivators would do is they would make sure that the plant was part of the gene package. But all the plants were part of it so that what you were capturing was the entire cannabinoid profile, the entire secondary metabolite profile, that the family could produce. This maintained the normality until almost, you know, the ‘20s when we get into the drug war.

The drug war starts the beginning of compressing cannabis radically. The movement of seed and the movement of product became very isolated and a lot smaller capacity due to persecution. We get all the way into the 1980s still running seed in that form. In the ‘80s, in the United States, the drug war had an impact where we grew cannabis inside. When we started to grow cannabis inside, we went from seed into clone because clone allowed us to find a very specific plant that would work in the operation. So the beginning of the clonal development really only extends back 40 years. So, we have a 14,000 year history in cannabis but we only have a 40 year history of clones.

The first clone that I ever caught was in 1989. It was to preserve a plant that had been grown by seed that I was going to use indoors. We start to get into the world of clones and it changes how people use seed. So, instead of utilizing seed as a production tool, seed becomes a source to mine a specific thing from and what you saw was a change in stability of the seed line. It was really more of chasing outliers within seed. So, we see this incredible explosion of seed from Holland, originally, in the late ‘80s and it begins the idea of people being able to access genes that were previously inaccessible. It begins this new renaissance of modern cannabis appreciation and culture. But every time it was not about utilizing seed as the tool to do the production, it was to utilize the seed as a tool to find outliers that existed within it. It was a very effective method because of the scale that people operated on allowed it.

As we started to go into the world of legal cannabis, we started to see some of the issues that come with working on that type of methodology where we're looking to select an outlier and do a sexual propagation. So sexual propagation meaning male and female create a union and asexual is clonal. We start to see the issues, that it's extremely difficult to be able to create the cloning packages needed to run 1,000 acres. So you started to see the change in seed usage when we got into hemp because most of the large hemp producers were also agriculturally minded. They had technology, meaning tools, tractors, systems to be able to go buy seed. It started to really change how hemp was grown, where instead of working with clonal, we went into seed. Then you start to see the autoflower revolution occur. It started to allow people to use seed in a different form to gather the product, but from a big crop type perspective.

Then, we get into now, the modern world of cannabis. It's the first time that we're really in a situation where we have the ability to utilize seed in a method that lets us have a relatively reasonable range of expectation from the line. So that instead of having to use the seed, select an outlier, propagate the outlier, and use the outlier as a clone, we can now just use the seed as the product that we use to begin the process and to work through. It's just so odd to me that, you know,  a 14,000 year history and now we finally returned back to the norm. 

It's so exciting because for large scale operations, the ability to utilize seed is just such an incredible tool, because what we have is some incredible advantages that seed provides. What seed provides primarily is pathogenic prevention, because we don't have to maintain mother stock. So, the ability to have clean plants from inception is best from seed. You have the ability to reduce the infrastructure because of it as well. Seed allows you to be able to receive a batch of seed, and if there's a problem at the facility, we don't have to figure out how to rush the plants in because staging with vegetative plants is crucial. If we allow plants that are in a vegetative state to become unruly, we end up having that in flower. Then what takes place is less than expected quality of product and more difficulty in dealing with it. 

The advent of seed just allows the user, specifically at large scale operation, to be able to make a much more simplified process from start to finish. The key thing that people have to see is that seed and clone are tools. So seed lines work incredibly well when we want to do large operations. But there's also a lag time in how fast one can get a line developed. It still leaves incredible opportunity for smaller niche producers, just like with clonal, where tissue culture doesn't replace all conventional propagation. It allows you to clean a plant and produce a plant that's healthier, due to the way the root system is constructed, but the time to market is extended because of the process.

When we look at the new wave of seed technology, I think the most important part is to be able to understand that it's a tool, but a very powerful tool that if implemented correctly, can make some profound changes in how the cultivator is able to operate. Also, hopefully reduce their costs of infrastructure, reduce the cost in selection, and to make it just an easier process overall to get a very reliable, consistent, healthy crop that goes into the market. The tool, once you see it in action, you'll realize that it's not only meant for working in field crops because the technology in the breeding and development has allowed the plant to be able to work with accelerated growth rates. What we see is the ability to use this on indoor operations as well. You're really having, for the first time, the ability to use a seed to get a consistent product at a scale that works both in indoor, outdoor and mixed light operations.

The advent of it has been so long, and for me that with my whole career in cannabis, I've waited decades for this to occur. That we be able to have the tools needed for this particular phase and not have to bridge it with seed work that has too many outliers. I think that the beginning of this new dawn of seed experience is, foremost, one of the best advantages that we could have as cultivators because it allows us to do things we couldn't previously.

Poll Question

Now we have a poll question for the listeners. Shoot some answers on the poll and then there's a Q & A that will take place afterwards.

Kevin Jodrey

So we can go into this deeper. For me, as we speak, my role in this webinar is just to bring forth the backstory of how we went from seed to clone and then now from clone to seed. Now, what I'll do is hand this over to Amy so that she can take us through the development process and what we see on the growth end and then John will cover the science afterwards.

Amy Zents 11:07

Great. Thank you, Kevin. I’m going to dive in a little bit deeper into some of the points that Kevin mentioned and look at some of the costs and benefits of producing your crop from seed versus producing your crop from clonal production. The largest impact is the impact on your IPM program. There is a huge advantage to growing a crop from seed as far as your IPM, your integrated pest management. Seeds inherently don't start with any pest or disease; they don't have spider mites, they don't have powdery mildew, they don't have root aphids, they don't have any of these major pests that we struggle with as growers. They start very, very clean. The picture in this slide that you see here is a picture of our density trial that we ran at Progressive Plant Research where we were trying to determine the optimal density at which to grow crops in order to maximize the return for the facility.

We grew 1,000 plants on less than 700 square feet of bench space. They ranged in a density from one square foot per plant down to a half a square foot per plant, down to pots. Pots are really, really, really dense. It was a really challenging grow to manage in a certain way. But we didn't have any problems with the IPM because it all started from seed. So, even though we had this really tight crop, we didn't have any pest problems. However, if you compare that to what happens with the production of clones, you don't necessarily have that same clean start. Your mom's stock, in order to produce enough propagules to support your facility, they have to get pretty big. They end up getting pretty bushy. They kind of sometimes slip on the backburner and they stick around for a little bit longer than you really intended to have them stick around. That allows for a development of a pest population, or a pathogen population, within the mom’s stock.

Then when you pull cuttings from that stock, and you propagate that stock, you're also propagating your pest population because that cutting goes into your flower room. Then you're starting your flower cycle with pests already on your plants and it creates this vicious cycle that as growers we're pretty familiar with.

So, there's a clear advantage to starting from seeds. Seeds start clean and they end clean. That has a real impact on a gross bottom line because we know that the cost of an IPM program is really significant to the facility.

Cannabis pesticides are really expensive. They're not as effective as the pesticides that are allowed to be used in conventional agriculture. You have to apply them frequently and you have to get really thorough contact. Most of them are active by contact with the pest so you have to have really thorough coverage. The cost of those beneficial insects, those little sachets of the predator mites, are like 70 cents each. Most growers want one on every single plant. So one way that you can reduce the overall cost of your IPM program is by reducing the level of pest population in your facility. By starting your crops from seed that's one way you can reduce your pest pressure.

You can't have a conversation about IPM and cannabis without discussing Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd). We know that the Hop Latent Viroid is rampant in our industry. It has a huge impact on yield; it reduces overall yield, or overall flower weight. It reduces your THC levels and reduces the amount of trichomes on your plant. The Cannabis Business Times reported last September on a study done by the Dark Heart Nursery, where a Dark Heart found that 90% of the cannabis facilities in California have HLVd. So it's a huge issue.

Relative to clones, seeds don't have that same hop latent viral load pressure. In hops, we know that transmission from an infected parent to the seed is somewhere between three and eight percent transmission rate. We don't know for certain what that transmission rate is in cannabis, because that study hasn't been done yet. But we do know that through practical experience that we think it's around the same. That's assuming that there's an infected parent. However, if you work with a reputable breeder, or reputable seed supply, they are thoroughly testing their stock plants. They know that they're starting with clean plants, which means that the seeds are also going to be clean of the Hop Latent Viroid.

This is really important because that means that production from seed is one method that growers can use to rid their facility of Hop Latent Viroid and start fresh. It's a real important tool, in our toolbox, against this virus.

As far as labor, sowing seeds is really super easy. My eight year old helps me in my garden here, and he can sow seeds and have a very successful vegetable garden. Cannabis seeds are really big and fat, which means that it really lends themselves to mechanization. So it's super quick. It's something that you can just make a little nest, you plant your seed, you pot them, and they're on their way. You can move them out to the grower and they can take care of them. So the labor demand on a production that is a seed based production, it's really low versus clones.

Clones, it's pretty challenging, right? We know that cloning cannabis is a highly skilled labor and right now hiring highly skilled labor in the cannabis industry is pretty challenging. It's pretty hard right now to find someone that's got hustle, that knows what they're doing, that has experience in horticulture and experience in cannabis growing at scale. We have a real pinch point right now in the labor.

So the fact that cloning cannabis can't be mechanized, it requires highly skilled labor. It takes a long time, 10 to 14 days, for a clone to form those advantageous roots. Then, there's this period of hardening off. That means that you need that skilled laborer for a pretty extensive period of time in order to get that crop out of the cleanroom and into your bed space. In the comparison of the labor demand between seeds and clones, seeds have a real advantage. They require much less labor than clone production does.

There's a similar story, when you look at the utilization of your facility. Seeds can be sown directly in your greenhouse. They can be direct sown in their final pot in the place where they are going to be flowered and then harvested. That's really important because every time you touch a pot, it costs money, right? So it's nice if you can have a space where you can grow your seeds, where your VPD is a little bit optimized, maybe around one VPD, but they don't require that much.

The genetics behind seeds really pushes it towards growing wherever it can, as compared to clones. Clones require this specialized space that is really high humidity, low light, just perfect temperature in order to clone properly. Then you also have to have this entire space for the mom’s stock. This becomes a real pinch point for growers who are growing at scale. In order to produce enough clones to provide acres with clones, you need a massive number of mom plants and there's just not enough space.

When you look at the two, particularly clone production, to produce clones you need a clone room and you need a mom stock room. Which means that these are spaces that are being dedicated to the production of the clones, or the production of your propagules.They're not being used to produce flower, they could be more efficiently used if you were actually getting some profit or getting a yield out of this space. So the production of clones is taking away the opportunity to produce more flower.

So how does that shake out in regard to the economics of this? It's pretty complicated when you look at every different facility and the factors that go into that facility and the regulations in their state. Are the regulations limiting you by plant count? Are they limiting you by canopy space? There's a lot of factors there. This is an area where Phylos can help support growers analyzing the cost benefit of production by clone versus production by seed. We have all kinds of calculators. This is just a calculator, here in this slide, that shows an example of how we can help you analyze whether or not production from seed is a good fit for your facility. We also provide a lot of customer support on the transition to seed-based production. We have all kinds of cultivation guides to help explain how to produce from seed at scale. We really help growers step through that process and we really pride ourselves on forming a partnership with our partners. Your success is our success. So we're here to help you out.

John McFerson 22:36

Hey, thanks, Amy. I'm going to give a brief overview of the breeding that we do here, talk a little about Phylos from where we started to where we're at today, and our high level breeding approach. I’ll talk about the products that we have, including the various series that we have in the product development pipeline, as well as the platforms and the release life cycles. Then kind of finish up with partnering with Phylos and some of the support that Amy already mentioned.

First, a quick success story. Phylos started back in 2014, as a cannabis DNA research organization bringing in top tier scientists to look at the DNA of cannabis and sampling thousands and thousands of plants.Out of this work came the plant sex tests that growers would use that were breeding to differentiate their female from their males. Quickly after that, in 2015, we established the Phylos Galaxy, which is the world's first 3D visualization and benchmarking tool that was used by a lot of people in terms of identifying what they had. Was the name associated with the product really that product or was it renamed somewhere along the way? Which is more often the case. In 2016, we published this genomic data and made that sequencing available publicly through the National Center of Biotechnology. Then in 2017, we started getting into genotype testing, where we would work with other growers and other breeders just helping them understand what they had in their program, as well as working with the cannabis supply chain.

In 2018, we partnered with Illumina, which is a leading sequencing company, in developing the first cannabis genotyping array with over 50,000 unique data points, or snips as we call them, which allows us to deploy this into our breeding program. In 2019, we started our breeding program, as Kevin mentioned, it's a long term process but we've made remarkably fast progress in a very short period of time. In 2020, we released a CBD autoflower cultivars in the hemp market through F1 hybrids. Quickly after that in the next year, we followed up with releasing F1 hybrid THC autoflowers, which we call our Automatic platform. Then in 2022, we're extending that out to include photosensitive types, both early and full season crops. I'll talk a little bit more about those platforms in an upcoming slide.

This slide is an overview of how we approach breeding. We're developing what we call true F1 hybrids. First of all, I want to acknowledge the great work that's been done historically in cannabis breeding. There's tens of thousands, if not maybe hundreds of thousands, of people that are actively breeding cannabis. I don’t think I’ve ever visited a cannabis production facility that wasn’t pheno-hunting. That’s a type of breeding that people have been successful with. It’s clonally based and has made remarkable progress in THC, terpenes, flower density, size and things like that. What we're talking about here is not pheno-hunting. We do that pheno-hunting for you. We develop true breeding, inbred lines and from those create F1 hybrids, which means the plants are very uniform - true F1 hybrids that are just as uniform as clones.

We develop a series of inbred lines from photosensitive material then another set from autoflower material which takes us about six, or seven, breeding cycles. Then we establish some test crosses between those where we're putting experimental hybrids together and evaluating those in a very staged, logical progression of testing and vetting, selecting a handful of products that perform well across a range of production environments.

We're also utilizing a lot of the tools that we developed, we touched upon some of those earlier. Some of the genotyping, the data analytics, trait linked markers, and the diverse germplasm selection that we have are allowing us to do smarter and faster breeding. The trait, or the marker side of things, where we've got a half dozen traits that we've deployed. We've got another half dozen in validation and about another 12 to 15 in the discovery phase. So, the utility of markers is very impressive.

Other crops that I've worked with, such as vegetable crops and agronomic crops, trait markers are now routinely used in breeding. Now we're bringing that and fast forwarding into the cannabis space. That also allows us to work with unique traits and different combinations that we can put together. We've got a THCV breeding program where markers are helping us to develop commercial products.

I come from what I call traditional ag, where I worked with agronomic and vegetable crops. Several of my colleagues come from that side, as well. Our intention is to develop what would be considered more of a legitimate, or traditional  seed company that is developing new genetics, testing them thoroughly to characterize, marketing them and providing support to growers. Along this process we work with our partners with those in trial, and most importantly, provide support as we recognize this is a production shift from clones to F1 hybrids.

Any crop that you go back to historically, when you make that leap, for example in corn from open pollinated corn to F1 hybrids that's a production system switch out. We recognize that it's a process. I touched upon the extensive testing that we're doing and I've got a slide that's going to talk a little bit more about that. There is also a slide on our pipeline. And lastly, a part of being a legit seed company is having a QA/QC manufacturing protocols in place where you work with AOSA standards like purity, germination, sex testing, fingerprinting, and chain of custody.

One question I often get when we supply people with seed is, “Well, how do I create this? I can clone that can’t I?’ Then, I respond  “No, no, no, we've got the seed and we're able to replicate that in order to give you exactly the same product that you've purchased and grew before.”

At any particular point in the year, all four of these steps are going on. We will evaluate and create new combinations, hundreds of combinations, that we will whittle down after a couple cycles. We get those into what we call second cycle evaluations. We've got three cannabis seed based platforms. You can see the number of hybrids that we have, about five to ten hybrids in each platform in the second round of evaluation.  At the same time, we're starting the manufacturing process by creating a breeder seed source and creating some pilot seed of the experimental hybrids. Ones that advance out of that second evaluation go into what we call our third cycle of evaluation. During this time, we get those out to our partners so they can use them in their particular production system, evaluating the seasonality of production, and trialing those products with those partners further, and further continuing the manufacturing process.

At the end of that, the best will then be advanced commercially, to what we call first year commercial, about one, maybe two hybrids a cycle. Then after that, you're off into the commercial realm, the successful product will be around for three, four or five years. This is a cyclic process and we've continued to do this and to create new and improved products.

As I mentioned earlier, the Automatic series which are autoflower I would consider that mature with us; we just released four brand new hybrids this year. Whereas the other two platforms, we’re at the beginning and will be releasing products from those quickly. The product series that we have touched upon (the Automatic series), in the right hand corner, are high THC autoflower hybrids which means they're independent of the daylength, very uniform, and highly dependable with a quick cycle time.

The next two, which are Velocity and Astral, are photosensitive series. The Velocity would be an early flowering cycle with both containing high THC, high yields, and diverse terpenes; everything that you'd expect in a clonal propagated crop. Lastly, we do have a minor cannabinoid breeding program and are looking at some things like THCV, where we've got some material right now being distributed to our partners for production.

I think it's important to stress the standards of quality of performance, which today have been set by clones being grown. There's tremendous advantages with seeds but at the end of the day, you have to be able to have product quality. The demand that the marketplace has out there such as unique and high performing flower cultivars, diverse terpene profiles, bag appeal, production traits for the grower, and then uniform, consistent crop performance.

Very often a question I get is, “How uniform is this because seeds in the past have not been?” That’s because they are what we call early generation material. It's highly heterogeneous, which means it's going to be quite variable. WIth our seeds  being true F1 hybrids, they’re going to have uniformity and consistency and significant cost savings associated with this. There's all types of production systems and seasonality of productions from Southern California, to where they'll go autoflowers in the early spring, come in with a photosensitive crop that's outdoors. And then follow that up with another autoflower series in the shoulder series. Whether you're mixed light or even indoor production, there's cultivars that fit the various production regimes. Amy touched upon the huge savings and opportunity of not having mother and clone rooms.

What's really exciting to me is just to see the vigor that you get from seeds. I know probably most of the people that are viewing this probably have pheno-hunted from seeds and the pop that you get from a seed versus a cut is impressive. That increased vigor translates into higher yields.

Amy touched upon reduction in disease and pest pressure, and the flexibility of having production planning responsiveness, the ability to scale and to alter your production. If you have to deal with mothers, clones and the scheduling you're really looking at a couple months, if not three months, before you're putting something into production. With seeds you can pivot, essentially, immediately into altering what it is you're growing commercially.

This (slide) is the development of the products and then the release of those. Stage one is where in our breeding program, we will have experimental hybrids in all three of the product platforms that we have. We look at hundreds of hybrids three times a year. We'll trial those a couple times back to back. Then we go into stage two, which is the very best of those from cycle one are evaluated again. At the end of the two stages of testing you're probably at 5%, maybe even less of the number of test products you started with. They need to  meet all of those criteria that the grower is going to expect. We get those into our partner trials, and trial them under their production system, their seasonality of production, making sure that the product is repeatable, and the characterization that we have is accurate. Then stage three, which would be limited release, we have a program called Head Start, where products are available for our partners, and then are fully released as commercial releases. So, from start to finish, it takes nine cycles. If you can do three a year, you can see it takes three years from when you started with developmental crosses to where you actually release the product commercially.

I mentioned that this is what we call a “Sea Change”, taking this crop from clonal production into a seed-based is significant change for everybody that's out there and we recognize that. So we do trials, we do support, and we have subject matter experts that are available to help people make that transition. We find that typically there's the trial, then there's kind of a pre-commercial trial, and then a full commercial production. We recognize that in any growers production system, you've got to prove it out first. So we work with you and have a program in place that allows us to do that.

This is some of the collateral that we have, you can get on our website and look it up. But we've got a seed catalog and these are just two examples, Yuzu Euphoria and Gelato Sunrise, which is a new release out of our Velocity series. This is a characterization that we have of our products after two or three cycles of production. Noting those key characteristics, quantifying those and making sure that they're repeatable and, most importantly, making sure they're going to create a valuable grow proposition for our customers.

This is probably one of the coolest studies we’ve done this last year. It’s the density trial, where we challenged ourselves and asked questions like, “how do I maximize my yield? What's the pot size? What's the density of the pots?” We had five treatments here where we had one gallon pots on the left hand side and then two gallon pots represented. On the right hand side with different densities, the denseness was, as Amy said, pot to pot. Below that are the two cultivars that we put in there Electric Daydream and Lime Glow, this is out of our Automatic series. And you can see the pictures of the plants. As you would expect as densities increased, plants got taller, and the yield per plant was less. However, when you consider the density of these plants a yield response curve blew us away. If we looked at the yield, on the one foot gallon at the widest density, we got 0.5 kilograms per meter squared. At the highest density of point three, it was almost triple that 1.2 kilograms per meter square. So it's almost a linear response to the yield. And the same with the two gallon, the highest density yielded the best. So if you go from the lowest density to highest density and the one gallon is a 240% more yield. Then the two gallon is 175% more yield. I’ll tell you, any crop that I've worked with in my career, if somebody came up to me and said I could double my yields by simply altering my density and my pot size. It's just a phenomenal opportunity. So it just shows you the power in working with people to do these just basic agronomic studies. Kevin touched upon the prohibition era. Hopefully soon with nationalization, we'll be able to start partnering with some of the people in the public sector to really help us take this crop and advance it into the 21st century. In the meantime, we're doing some of those agronomic studies ourselves working with our partners. In the next slide, there is an example when we worked with a partner.

They tried a new product and grew 50 plants and they were successful. The next grow is on the left hand side. You can see in their mix light operation, fairly dense crop, they were successful. Then on the right hand side is an example of their hoophouses. This is taken right out of our density trial, one gallon pots high density, and they're converting their entire production system over to the Automatic series products. Based on the experience that they had in their facility working with us and transitioning it over is a series of three steps.

Adam Rivera  40:04

All right, thank you John, Amy and Kevin, this was great. So like we mentioned at the beginning of the presentation, we will be doing Q&A with the audience. So if you have any questions, please put them in the Q&A box that's at the bottom.

I do have a question on my own but I feel like this one kind of relates to one of the previous slides that you just went over. John, can you please elaborate on the lineage of your autos, Lime Glow, and the other one Euphoria, it looks like they have the same primary terpene profile?

John McFerson 40:35

The original source of the autoflower was a particular strain, or possibly two. Breeders have bred with it. And you would expect by starting with a narrow set of genetic diversity, there wouldn't be much diversity, so everything would be fairly similar coming out of that. However, we're now taking photosensitive material, and converting that into the autoflower of growth habit. So we're bringing in the diversity of terpenes, the color, the THC, and all of those things that you expect in photosensitive into the autoflower. Those two were examples, which are fairly diverse from one another, particularly from the original sources that we're working with. But they're going to continue to evolve over time and we're continually expecting increases in THC and increases in diversity and terpene profiles that you have, and increasing yields along the way as well.

Adam Rivera  41:36

Awesome, thank you. So I'll go ahead and dive into the next question. So this is a question from Kyle, do you have any goals or plans for creating a seed line for regional resistance necessities possibly for fiber production?

John McFerson 41:53

We currently do not work with fiber. The first part of that question regarding regional, I suspect they’re probably alluding to maybe disease resistance that would be needed. Say in Florida, that may not be needed in the Central Valley of California? The answer is yes. We're working on that. That's part of the testing that we do. We do have some marker work that we're doing on powdery mildew that we're close to getting that validated, and working in the discovery phase with Botrytis. I'm super looking forward to when we can bring the public sector in and get involved in some of this, because I think that's when they're really going to jettison, particularly the regional performance part.

Adam Rivera  42:40

Great. So we have another question here from Trevor, are your seeds available in Canada?

John McFerson 42:50

No.  I'm hesitating, because I need my commercial partner here.

Adam Rivera  43:00

All right, we have a question here from Graham, what are the best resources for cannabis seed information?

John McFerson 43:11

That's a great question. Because since I can't answer that question, there's not much out there.

Amy Zents 43:17

It's the breeder themselves. So you really have to rely on the breeder really knowing their crop being thorough in getting information out there. So you kind of have to pick a breeder that you trust that's really diligent on getting the information out there. 

John McFerson 43:42

I think that increasingly people like myself are coming in that have other crop experience from formal training, not that you need formal training to be a successful breeder. But I think that, as Amy mentioned, there's a lot of parallels. That really allows you to take knowledge that exists in other crops and apply them to cannabis. I think a lot of the material and the research that’s available with other crops can be applied to cannabis.

Adam Rivera  44:21

Thank you. So we have another question here from Trevor, do you have extraction data for different cultivars?

Amy Zents 44:35

We're working on it.

John McFerson 44:36

Yes, we're beginning to get in that space now and beginning to develop that.

Adam Rivera  44:53

Okay, and so we have a question here from Roger. My question is for autoflowering. What light cycles are recommended? Is it possible to have 18/6 light cycles at all times or more of the traditional 18/6 veg stage and reduce lighting to 12/12 once flowering begins?

Amy Zents 45:14

I'll take this one. 18/6 is ideal for both the vegetative and flowering cycle. That being said, it is flexible, and so you can grow it in times of the year where it's not quite 18/6 and as your period of light goes down, your yield and size will go down as well. So it is possible you can run autoflower in the same room as a photosensitive, or alongside depending on the season for an outdoor crop, but it will impact your yield. 18/6 during the flowering cycle will maximize your yield.

Adam Rivera  45:55

Great, thank you, Amy. Are the autos geared more towards biomass/THC production focus? Or do they compare on flower quality as well? And if so, how does that flower quality change with increased density? Does yield go up, but does flower quality go down?

Amy Zents 46:17

It's interesting. A lot of our partners will start off thinking that they're going to send their autoflower to extract and that is their plan. Then once they start growing the autoflower and they see that the quality is actually really good, they start changing to pre-rolls and and direct flower market. So the quality is there. For the next question with the density trial, the ratio of A grade buds per plant went down but per square foot went up. So it's the same. You also had increased yield and you also had an overall increase in A grade flower as well.

Adam Rivera  47:15

Great, thank you. So we have a question here from Tim, do you have any density studies for outdoor grows? Amy shaking her head no. John?

John McFerson 47:31

No. The general rule is, well, depending on where you're at and time of year you’re planting. If you plant early in the season, the plants are going to get bigger. It is a bit cultivar dependent. The Velocity series plants tend to be a tad bit more apically dominant and kind of Christmas tree shape, so they can push up a little higher density than the others. So no, we don't but that's one of the things we’re working with our customers or partners on, getting those out there because we're limited in what we can do in terms of sampling. So we’re setting up density trials with their partners and seeing what their response is.

Adam Rivera  48:26

Thank you. So we have a question here from Phoenix. My concern is repeatable results, how close are the F1 generations to the parent plant?

John McFerson 48:35

They're highly repeatable. By that I mean, we can recreate the hybrid from the parents. They’re fully inbred. So when you go back to your seed stocks you have the exact same inbred genetics so you are recreating that same F1 hybrid every time. So the seed batch to seed batch is exactly the same and within that crop, the plant to plant variation is very, very minimal. So to the extent that the production environments can change from year to year just like they do in clones, right? I mean, every production cycle you have as a grower are slightly different and you get slightly different results. That doesn't mean your genetics change, it means the production environment that you created that crop under could have differed cycle to cycle. I hope I answered that question.

Adam Rivera  49:37

I think so. I think that's what they were looking for. So we have another question here from Kyle, have any of your cultivars been developed for high altitude applications?

John McFerson 49:53

Not specifically, it's not a breeding target per se for us. We have people at high altitudes that are growing successfully, yeah.

Adam Rivera  50:04

Okay, awesome. So do you expect any change in potency if you grow your plants in hydroponics/aquaponics?

Amy Zents 50:20

You know, so much of the potency has to do with the production system. The variabilities, the light, the CO2. It's not as easy as saying, you know, in soil will give you lower THC as hydroponics. It's a whole package that you have to sort of take into account.

Adam Rivera  50:49

Thank you. We have another question here from Cheryl, how do I verify landrace strain genetic purity? So they're asking some great questions here.

John McFerson 51:08

Genotype it. By definition, landrace is going to be highly heterogeneous which means the plants are going to be different from one another, for the most part. How you maintain that, that diversity is important. And by that, I mean, when you increase the seed you need to make sure that you're intercrossing enough of the plants that you're sampling the variation adequately. So, 15, 20, 25 plants would minimally be the amount that I'd want to, interpollinate to maintain that original level of heterogeneity that you have in there. However, a lot of people go into landraces and actually make selections. That's what Kevin was alluding to. Historically, those were starting points. You'd select a plant you like, and you take a cut, and you take a clone, and that's how you'd preserve those genetics.

Adam Rivera  52:09

All right. Thank you, John. We have another question here from Kyle, what are traits you're seeking from TRACE landrace species in order to better develop current projects?

John McFerson 52:25

Unfortunately, I can’t answer the question directly. However, I'm going to answer it by saying that, landraces are good for things like disease resistance, for instance. But the tremendous work that breeders have done over the past, in historical context, they’ve been doing breeding from original landraces where there's just tremendous variation in those. But what you're interested in is the useful genetic variation. Say, for example I want to identify Botrytis resistance, I would screen landraces for collections that may have some level of Botrytis resistance.

I would tend to just use the current material that's available, because that's already been bred. It's got a decent flower density, the color, the terpenes, the THC, the growth habit and those are desirable characteristics. If you go back into landrace, you're essentially re-mixing all of the progress that has been made. You're not starting from zero, but you have to have a very specific reason to go back. It’s typically for one or two or three unique traits that you see in that landrace. That's an area typically where public research is done. The public breeders are just so important for us in crops because they work on those and they maintain genetic collection. I know that Larry Smart and Cornell are trying to get on the hemp side, trying to get collections put together and preserve those and characterize those. So I super look forward to the day when we can actually open things up and do some of the preservation of some of the diversity that exists around the world.

Adam Rivera  54:20

Thanks, John. We have about four minutes left so we’ve got enough time for probably a couple more questions. One of the questions I have here was based on the pictures of those one and two gallon containers. What is your recommendation to top or to not top for better yields?

Amy Zents 54:42

We didn't top in that project. We wanted to see the effect of density and not complicated with other treatments because that increases the scale, or the size that your experiment has to be run at in order to be statistically experimentally valid. So we didn't top but we have had some partners that do top even their autoflower, or do some low stress training, and they do get higher yields. But you have to balance that with the labor that it takes to do that. So it really still is dependent on your facility, and what your costs are.

Kevin Jodrey 55:31

If I can jump in on that one too, when you're talking about topping to increase canopy it also implies that you're having to create a structure to support the canopy. So indoor, it's a far easier situation. But outdoor, for me, ideally, I want the plant to remain untouched. So I have optimal support so that I'm not having to overly structure and then tie it in. What I get from a natural frame is far better light penetration, which then gives me more even bud quality because I have light hitting all the flower. So, it really comes down to what fits your opportunity and what plan are you working with?

Adam Rivera  56:19

Thanks, Amy. And Kevin. We have time for about one last question here. So I do want to ask, this is a question from Phoenix. What programs do you offer to justice involved economically challenged individuals that are starting from the ground up, like in states such as New York?

Amy Zents 56:38

We have a great program where we donated hemp seed to BIPOC farmers and it's been very successful. We've done it for a number of years. Specifically, the Black Farmer Association. It's something that we really take a lot of pride in and we want to try to to help as much as we can in that area. We’ve donated 1 million seeds. 

John McFerson 57:05

Whoever asked that question, I encourage you to reach out to Stephanie Henning, who's our marketing person. I know she's very passionate about this. So if you've got some connections or want to inquire, I just recommend that you reach out to her and see if we can work something out.

Amy Zents 57:27

And we have more information on our website about that program.

Adam Rivera  57:34

Amazing. Well, that about wraps up our time. I just want to thank John, Amy and Kevin, for joining us today and give them a chance to give any shout out before we close out the day. Anything you all want to close out with?

Kevin Jodrey 57:46

Yeah, I just want to thank the audience for taking the time to show up and listen to the webinar. It's so exciting for us because we've been working on this for so long and I just want to say thank you. 

Amy Zents 58:03

Yeah, thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you, everybody.

John McFerson 58:08

Yeah, I enjoyed it truly. Appreciate the time and the questions were great. We could probably go on for another hour.

Adam Rivera  58:18

Definitely, yes. There's some questions that we didn't get to. But you know if anybody has any questions, feel free to reach out to Phylos. Reach out to John, Amy or Kevin. I'm sure they'd be happy to answer any additional questions. So we'll go ahead and close out today. I just want to thank Phylos again for their sponsorship of today's webinar, thank all our panelists, and of course, thank the audience for attending. I hope you all have a great rest of your week.

Archive

Recent post

Recent Post
Mar 02, 2023

Webinar: Scal...