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Although we come across it a lot, very few cannabis growers actually understand what a phenotype is and how it effects their cannabis plants. Learn exactly what it is and the implications it has on your grow right here.
Every cannabis grower will have to deal with the term “phenotype” at some point in their time growing cannabis, but many cultivators and breeders have little or no knowledge of what it actually refers to.
To understand what a phenotype is, it is important to first understand what a genotype is. A genotype is the larger picture of the inherited genetics of every living organisms. It is almost like a category of genetics or a blueprint that all organisms within that category follow to define how the organism develops.
Although two organisms that have the same genotype have the same genetic foundation, they can have different characteristics and appearances, these are the phenotypes.
If we use the example of a human, whilst the human genotype will cause all of us to have two arms, two legs, two eyes and be “the same” etc. Our varying phenotypes will account for the variation you see between us, such as height, eye color, and hair color. It is actually much more complicated than this, but for the sake of basic understanding, this simple example will do.
Cannabis plants also have phenotypes. Let us say you have some White Widow seeds, all of these seeds belong the same genotype, but once you grow them you may notice that some of your cannabis plants are growing much larger than others or have slightly larger leaves. These variations are the different phenotypes of the White Widow strain.
Phenotypes can effect the following:
This means that you can grow 5 of the same seeds, germinate them in the same way, grow them in the exact same conditions, and some will still ripen faster than others, or taste slightly different to the bud of one of the others.
When you hear a strain being referred to as "stable", it can mean that the strain has one genotype as well as only one phenotype. This means that all the seeds of this strain should grow uniform in every aspect. However, this is quite rare and does not happen often. More often than not, a “stable” cannabis strain will have 2-3 varying phenotypes. When you have 4 or more different phenotypes within a strain of marijuana, it is classed as unstable by the cannabis community.
A lot of growers will pay great attention to the characteristics of the different phenotypes appearing within their grow room. When they see one they particularity like they will take a cutting so that the phenotype can be reproduced again and again. When you take a cutting, it produced the exact same genetics as the cannabis plant the cutting was taken from.
You will hopefully now have a much better understanding of what a phenotype is, and how you can use them to your advantage. A variation in phenotypes should not scare or worry you; it allows for a cannabis cultivator to experiment with their strains and tailor their grow further to their needs and wants.