Remember El’s Army, the winning cultivar selected by patients at our Cannaversary celebration? Our staff recently harvested this new flower, and we are excited to share it with you. Assuming all goes well with independent lab testing, it will be arriving on dispensary shelves soon!
But before you try the new flower, we want to finish telling you the story of these plants. As we reported previously, our growers planted four El’s Army seeds on August 24. The seedlings were up-potted on September 9, and each plant was labeled with a unique barcode for tracking purposes.
Unfortunately, as we mentioned in our first El’s Army blog, “much can go wrong during the growing process.” While three of our young soldiers appeared to be healthy females, plant #3 began showing signs of intersex traits. When this happens, we immediately remove the plant from production.
You might wonder how three little plants are supposed to produce enough cannabis to supply patients. The answer is “propagation.” On October 17, our staff took approximately 18 cuttings from each of the three plants. If all goes well, each cutting is expected to develop into a mature, flowering beauty! From this point forward, the original three plants will be known as “mothers.”
Preparation is key to successful propagation. A few weeks before we propagate a plant, the mother plant will be “topped” or “tipped” to encourage lateral branching. This increases the number of cuts that will be available. The practice is as simple as removing a top portion of the plant’s tallest stalk, known as the “leader.” Removing the leader causes plant hormones to be redistributed to lower portions of the plant, promoting new leaders to take the old leader’s place.
For each cutting, we carefully remove a branch and immediately place it into a cup with water. The cutting is then carefully trimmed to facilitate growth and placed into a pre-soaked “propagation plug,” where it can begin to take root and form a new plant.
To keep track of each new soldier, we place them on a tray and label each phenotype. Labels include the date of the cuttings and the initials of the employees who took them. The cuts are still very sensitive at this stage, so we spray a dome with water and place it over the tray for the first night or two to keep them moist. On average, roots will start to poke out of their plugs one week after propagation. These cuts will live happily in our “Mom Room” until they are ready to be transplanted and moved into the vegetative phase.
Now that each mother plant has produced offspring that are genetically identical to the mother, we have created three different “phenotypes.” At this point, you can already see clear differences emerging between the cuttings from El’s Army #1, #2, and #4.
So what happens to the mother plants? We keep them alive and happy while we wait to see what happens with their offspring! If one or more of these phenotypes produces amazing cannabis flower, we will surely want to propagate more cuttings from that mother in the future.
Next: Transplant Day and the Vegetative Stage