FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
NEW WEST GENETICS’ PRODUCTS
Yes! We currently sell both grain and enhanced CBD varieties. Because they are specialty bred for mechanical production, our genetics are best suited for larger-scale production, with producers who have farm equipment for row cropping: order here
Yes, available now: ABOUNDTM, a dioecious variety, check out our Seed Genetics page for more information.
Certified seed has been grown according to AOSCA Standards to maintain genetic purity. A seed certifying agency works closely with seed growers to help them follow AOSCA Standards throughout the seed production process. AOSCA Standards apply to hemp and a wide range of field crops, turf grasses, fruits, vegetables, woody plants, forbs and vegetative propagated species available for sale. Seed lots that successfully complete the seed certification process qualify for the official “Blue” Certified seed tag, providing assurance to the seed customer that the seed has met standards for genetic and varietal purity.
There is one other important point to remember about Certified seed and the assurance it provides…..every seed lot must be produced according to AOSCA Standards in order to earn the Certified seed tag or label. Seed certification is not a one-and-done process. Before planting each season, the seed grower submits an application to their local seed certifying agency that includes proof they will be planting pure seed of a recognized variety. The agency inspects the field during the growing season to confirm that the plants are uniform and true to type for that variety, and the seed grower uses good management practices to ensure that varietal purity is maintained from planting all the way to seed conditioning and packaging.
AOSCA seed certification provides growers third-party verification that a seed is a genetically pure variety that has been professionally produced to provide the highest quality seed possible, and will perform as labeled. In some states, like Colorado, the State Department of Agriculture or the agriculture university will test and validate that the variety’s THC is stable and below 0.3%, in addition to the seed being AOSCA certified. These are two separate processes. Just because a seed demonstrates THCV compliance does NOT mean it is also AOSCA certified, or vice versa. Be sure to look for both the 3rd party validation of THC, as well as AOSCA Certification.
Currently, New West Genetics offers NWG ELITE®, a dioecious grain variety that is both AOSCA Certified, and validated as having compliant, stable THC levels by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. NWG ELITESE (for the southeastern portion of the US) has also been certified. See varietal descriptions here.
The term autoflower is a Cannabis-specific term which defines genotypes that are insensitive to photoperiod (e.g. daylength). Simply put, photoperiod insensitive genetics do not require shortening daylengths to initiate flowering. It is common for “autoflower” advertisements to specify the number of days to flowering and maturity, some in as few as 60 days. However, this is a bit oversimplified as there are several environmental cues which plants sense in order to initiate flowering including temperature, water status, and the corresponding plant metabolic state of the plant. These factors can be controlled in indoor production so the lifecycle of a crop can be precisely estimated but this is obviously not the case under outdoor conditions. In general, this term should refer to genotypes which have the ability to flower under increasing daylengths, a characteristic which NWG cultivars possess.
Feminized seed is just as it sounds, a seed source which produces predominantly female plants. A higher proportion of female plants is desirable since females are the source of almost all of the economically important products whether they be seed for grain or flower (e.g. buds) for extraction. Breeders of feminized seed do not select for agronomic traits for mechanical harvestability, even for basic agronomic traits like germination. It is possible they are simply feminizing other’s genetics.
Feminized seed is created by inducing female plants to become hermaphrodites via the application of chemicals like silverthiosulfate (Lubell and Brand, 2018). Hermaphrodite plants will have female flowers which accept pollen to create seed, as well as male flowers which release pollen. The theory is that chemically-induced pollen created on a female plant contains the female sex chromosome (an X chromosome), rather than the male (Y chromosome). Thus, the progeny seed created by pollination with a hermaphrodite will inherit an X chromosome from the pollen and an X chromosome from the ovum of female flower. The resulting seeds will be primarily females but there is not yet a method which always produces 100% females. This has implications to production using feminized seed (see the PRODUCTION section of our website).
The greatest handicap of feminized seed is the feminization – it makes no further seed to multiply, thus you must recreate it season by season, it cannot scale. One hundred pounds of NWG seed will render 100x each season, so one season will render ten thousand pounds. One hundred pounds of feminized seed will render zero lbs. This does require more typical harvest methods, check out our discussion of production innovation here
A dioecious plant is one where the male and female reproductive systems occur on separate plants. While both plants produce flowers, one plant has the male reproductive parts and the other plant has the female parts. This is unlike a monoecious plant, which has both male and female flowers.
NWG is aiming to make access to cannabinoids more efficient, scalable and high-yielding. Dioecious production is the least costly production method, on average 100x less than any hand cultivation. Hand production of more traditional bushy type CBD varieties is not going away, as it serves the craft, smokeable flower market well. However, as markets mature, in both cannabis and hemp, the data (see BDS analytics reports) shows a shift from majority smokeable flower to majority extracted products. Hand or small-scale mechanical production solutions are not necessary to serve the extracted product market. In fact, a consistently threshed, while still well-enhanced cannabinoid flower serves the process of extraction even better, as that consistent product extracts better, regardless of which extraction method one uses.
As a side note, NWG has developed a genetically skewed gender variety of hemp. Hemp is naturally dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are found on separate plants. NWG has skewed the ratio to 90 percent female because having seed is valuable and scalable. In contrast, the common method of chemical feminization means the producer gets no seeds and must redo the costly process each season. NWG is aiming to make access to cannabinoids more efficient and high-yielding.
WHAT IS NEW WEST GENETICS?
We are a company that serves other businesses offering specialty bred hemp genetics (seed only), hemp grain for retail product makers, and wholesale CBD hemp extract.
Currently, New West Genetics has customers in the nutraceutical cannabinoid industry, the brewery industry, and in the human/animal food nutrition markets.
In compliance with the 2014 Federal Farm bill section 7606, we are registered with the applicable state department of agriculture, or the agricultural regulatory agencies in the other countries we work in.
The federal farm bill of 2014 defines hemp as “the species Cannabis sativa with a THC content of 0.3% or less”. The same species is grown in either instance but hemp undergoes selective breeding to ensure lower THC levels. Hemp does in fact contain all of the other 80+ cannabinoids and terpenes found in what is typically thought of as medical marijuana. We refer to marijuana as “high THC cannabis” and hemp as “low THC cannabis”. Currently, NWG works solely in hemp, due to regulatory fluidity and the fact that everything we improve in hemp will be applicable and transferred to higher THC varieties when the regulatory environment opens up.
- Well packaged seed with a label that conforms to federal law
- Get to know the company. Outlandish claims like 100% feminization, 100% germination, extremely high or low cannabinoid content should be validated with respectable 3rd party data.
- Proof of stability: Stability means the variety has performed consistently for a number of generations. Asking for data on the parent generation can be helpful in determining of the genetics are stable. This is particularly important for THC content. Well-bred seed should have stable THC content across at least 2-3 prior generations
- Look for AOSCA certified seed: This is 3rd party data that certifies that the particular seed has been grown according to AOSCA Standards to maintain genetic purity. A seed certifying agency works closely with seed growers to help them follow AOSCA Standards throughout the seed production process. AOSCA Standards apply to hemp and a wide range of field crops, turf grasses, fruits, vegetables, woody plants, forbs and vegetative propagated species available for sale. Seed lots that successfully complete the seed certification process qualify for the official “Blue” Certified seed tag, providing assurance to the seed customer that the seed has met standards for genetic and varietal purity.
- Look for seed that suits your production methods and equipment.
- Look for seed that has demonstrated performance in your region, or has been bred in your region using data based breeding.
- Buy seed once you understand the market that particular variety serves. Identify customers for your crop before you plant.
Yes, it’s true! However, the best seed is well bred for adaptation to your specific region and climate. Though major traits will remain stable, variety performance will vary slightly within a region. Importantly, cannabinoid content will not have significant variances. See FAQ above ELITE’s© THC content varied minimally across the landscape of Colorado. Every plant stayed well below 0.2% THC in every location regardless of altitude, rainfall, or other regional growing conditions.
In botanical terms, all three are generally defined as a group of offspring descended from a common ancestor which share common morphological and/or physiological characteristics. In cannabis, there is an unofficial distinction.
A cannabis strain can be defined as a group of plants created asexually through clonal propagation. This is the most common form of plant production in the marijuana industry. Clones, by definition, are nearly identical genetically with the exception of the random mutations during plant cell division in the development of the “mother plant” (the plant from which a population of clones is generated). Mutations are almost always deleterious. A single mother plant creates a finite number of progeny so the maintenance of a strain requires cloning from the progeny of the original mother. Mutations accumulate with each successive generation so that, eventually, clone quality (e.g. cannabinoid profile.) deteriorates to the point that the strain is abandoned. Some may refer to this mutational load as genetic drift but this is a misnomer.
A cannabis variety (or cultivar) can be defined as a group of plants created sexually through propagation of seed. The seed of selected plants (those expressing the characteristic of interest) are used for planting the following generation. Mutations undoubtedly occur during sexual reproduction but they only impact a single individual which can be removed from the population by the breeder. As soon as an individual carrying a mutation is used as a mother plant, all derived progeny will inherit the mutation.
Cannabinoids are a subset of terpenophenolics that are unique to the species C. sativa. There are 70 known cannabinoids in C. Sativa (Flores-Sanchez and Verpoorte 2008), with the most abundant being Δ9 THC (Δ9 Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol) and CBN (Cannabinol). Several of the genes controlling the biosynthesis of these compounds from a Cannabigerol precursor have been identified (Taura et al. 1996). The amount and type of cannabinoids produced is influenced by both genetic variation among C. sativa plants and the environment (de Meijer et al. 2003). Cannabinoids are at highest concentration in glandular trichomes of the plant, and therefore genes controlling trichome development will also influence the amount of cannabinoids a given plant produces.
In 1988 Devane et al reported the existence of cannabinoid binding sites in the human brain. This CB1 receptor was cloned in 1990, and identified as part of the family of G protein-coupled receptors. A second cannabinoid receptor, CB2, was discovered in 1993 (Munro et al. 1993). We now know that these 2 cannabinoid receptors exist in all chordates and evolved hundreds of millions of years ago (Pertwee et al 2010). The presence of these receptors implies that humans (and other chordates) produce their own compounds that bind to these receptors. Two such endogenous or endocannabinoids have been discovered and characterized. There is currently an ongoing effort to understand which cannabinoids are affecting which neuro-pathways will take a tremendous team of professionals from multiple disciplines in science.
Identifying what cannabinoid/s is/are affecting which neuro-pathways will take a tremendous team of professionals from multiple disciplines in science. The ability to use marker-assisted breeding will help this happen faster and pinpoint with certainty the pathways desired for selection. This will make medicinal solutions more stable and predictable for product makers and consumers. New West Genetics is building the background knowledge necessary to move Cannabis sativa’s potential into a data-based reality.
No. CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound defined by its chemical characteristics which distinguish it from all other compounds in the physical universe. Any suggestion that CBD derived from hemp is different from that of marijuana is false. This would be akin to suggesting that calcium derived from the milk of a cow is different from that of a goat. In fact, it is less contentious since hemp and marijuana are slight variants of the same species. It is true that the final CBD extract from a hemp cultivar may differ from that of a marijuana strain for features such as the terpene and/or cannabinoid abundance. However, these characteristics will also distinguish different strains of marijuana since they have been selected for different attributes (e.g. %THC). There is no reason that a hemp variety could not create a CBD extract identical to that of marijuana, differentiated only by its low THC content. The quality if either the marijuana or hemp may vary, but the essential compound of CBD remains CBD.
It’s true that environment plays a role in many plant traits. With some traits it plays a larger role, and some a smaller role. Scientists refer to this by “G by E” or genetics by environment. There is beginning university research to show that cannabinoid pathways are largely controlled by genetics – over 80%, and the remainder 20% is influenced by environment. This is great news! Stable cannabinoid profiles across regions is absolutely attainable in well-bred varieties, as evidenced by many EU and Canadian varieties. It is likely that the variation seen in the current market is due to poorly bred genetics.
As with any plant species, the best seed is well bred for adaptation to your specific region and climate. Though major traits will remain stable, variety performance will vary slightly within a region. Importantly, cannabinoid content should not have significant variances.
Flower samples are prepped and submitted POST THRESH, which means the content we report is post drying and post mechanical threshing, not flower that has been trimmed and gingerly handled. We submit at least 10 samples of post threshed flower each season, and select one that is most representative of the average content. Average content post thresh is an important factor for large scale production.
No, NWG is using traditional plant breeding techniques to create varieties adapted to production in the United States. However, we are incorporating modern sequencing technology and statistical genetics methods to speed up the development process. This approach allows us to make more informed decisions, thus minimizing the time to market for improved varieties. Ultimately, all stakeholders in the supply chain benefit from higher yielding hemp carrying value-added traits (e.g. high CBD flower).
At present there is not published, reproducible transformation system for getting transgenic events in to Cannabis. There are some who have claimed to have successfully created transgenic Cannabis but this has yet to be validated independently. Ever more product manufacturers are seeking to gain verification from the Non-GMO Project so the motivation to create new, transgenically-based products is waning. This is particularly true given that creation and deregulation of a transgenic event is on average a 13 year process with costs that can exceed $100M. New West Genetics does not plan on creating, much less, deregulating a GMO cannabis seed for the supply chain. However there is value in utilizing transgenic tolls for validation of gene function with in the R&D setting.
There are many editing targets of interest in cannabis, including some of the editing events that are of interest in other crops and vegetables. At present, the regulatory path for GE crops is not clear, but certainly very expensive. Many of the GE systems require a transformation system and suffer from the same methodological limitations of transgenics. Even GE systems which do not require a transgenic delivery system require a reliable system for generating plants from protoplasts which is also not a reality today.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the freedom to operate with CRISPR-Cas and other editing methods is uncertain due to litigation around the foundational patents.
THC or tetrahydrocannabidinol: the active ingredient in cannabis, giving it its narcotic and psychoactive effects. Thus far, THC is the only cannabinoid proven to give the user a “high”.
Cannabinoids are found in both high-THC cannabis, and low-THC cannabis, THC is one of many.
The species makes an acid version for each cannabinoid –CBDa, THCa, CBGa, etc. Acid forms naturally convert over time into active cannabinoids, or can be quickly converted in high heat conditions (typical industry method) –a process called decarboxylation.
There is some loss during decarboxylation. The formula for calculating total potential THC is: THC + (THCa*.877)=delta 9 THC (Total potential THC).
Again, THC (or Delta 9 THC) refers to the cannabinoid post-Decarboxylation, or total potential THC.
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