What are hybrid strains and why do we love them?
Girl Scout Cookies, OG Kush, AK-47, Blue Dream, White Widow, Headband OG, Chemdawg, Tangerine Dream, Strawberry Cough, Sour OG, Larry OG, the list goes on. Classic strains, but what do they all have in common? They’re all hybrids.
“Sativa” and “Indica” are commonplace cannabis vocabulary now. They are akin to merlot and chardonnay, lager and pale ales, wagyu and ribeye – the basics that anyone can bust out and sound like you know what’s going on. But hybrids are the beautiful marriage of two different subspecies that produce balanced and pleasant effects.
Thanks to the magic of science and the wonderful individuals who have applied it to cannabis breeding, hybrids are the love child of Sativa and Indica that create the best-of-both-world approach for those looking to experiment with their high.
How are hybrids created in practice?
In nature, cannabis relies on wind for pollination. In the wild, the seeds produced would be a random mix of qualities from the female and the male pollen. A breeder would be able to combine subspecies like Indica and Sativa in a controlled way and solidify the qualities of the next generation. This is done by back-crossing. The breeder would force reproduction among the current and previous generation until the seeds produce plants with predictable consistent traits. Cannabis breeders have always strived to take a good thing and make it better – hybrids are just that. The best phenotypes and genotypes to give you a quality high. Hybrids are popular options, as they maintain the most favourable aspects associated with each of their parents and are a diverse class of cannabis cultivars.
Hybrids may still be Sativa dominant or Indica dominant, with some strains listed as “true hybrid” meaning they are balanced, or relatively close to balanced. However, there is a tendency to categorize hybrids based on the ratio of genes that are Indica to Sativa which is expressed as 60/40, 70/30 and so forth. While this is great for condensing the history of the plant to a simple number, such descriptions are educated guesses. Furthermore, an Indica-dominant 70/30 could cause different effects based on the nature of the genes that were selected for. These genes would be related to the terpenes and flavonoids that distinguish your typical Indica from Sativa. To complicate things further, these plants will produce different ratios and qualities terpenes depending on the environment they were grown in: the nutrients, light quantity, light, quality and others. So, the genetically stable hybrid you grow may feel completely different than the one I do.
Why should you care?
Hybrids provide a great means of experimentation to see what ratio may work best for you. Just remember to keep in mind the effect THC and CBD levels, terpenes and the growing practices and harvesting your cannabis will also have a great effect on your overall high. Hybrids give you an even greater range of effects and really allow you to dial in your high to give you the best experience. Many people don’t fully understand what a hybrid is, so they stay in their lane and stick with what they know. If you haven’t dabbled in hybrids, we sincerely suggest you add one (or two or three…) into your rotation. Cannabis is about finding what product works best for your personal needs, desired experience and tastes – hybrids just add an additional wealth of choice.
Enticed? Here are some of our favourite hybrids.
Sundial Lemon Riot Sativa Hybrid - This mid to high range hybrid is bright and punchy with strong notes of citrus. We think it's a perfect substitute for San Raf's Tangerine Dream.
Thamesview Dream Hybrid Flower - The terpene profiles in this 2:1 CBD/THC hybrid are not to be overlooked. Fresh hits of eucalyptus and mint make this a unique experience, and the high presence of CBD make this a great wake and bake strain.
Broken Coast Gabriola (Frost Monster) - Broken Coast is a mainstay fan favourite and for good reason. Their strains are consistently high quality and potent, Gabriola is no exception.
7 Acres White Widow - White Widow is from another prized LP and is one of the most coveted hybrid strains. This uplifting high is great anytime.
Aurora Banana Split - The low THC in the Aurora Banana split is great for those looking for a very mild high. The strain also features one of our favourite terpenes, Linalool, which is known to have properties similar to lavender essential oil.