FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
NEW WEST GENETICS’ PRODUCTS
New West Genetics grain varieties are available for license now: order here
We will not sell our high CBD seed in the United States yet, but what New West Genetics can do is work with interested companies and contract to grow these high CBD seeds on the client’s behalf.
Brewers’ Hemp© refers to specialty varieties bred and designed after spending detailed time with brewers to ensure that the their precise terpene and cannabinoid content is present to enhance their craft brewed beverages exactly to the brewer’s specifications.
The similarities in the aromas emitted by the flowering plants Humulus lupulus (hops) and Cannabis sativa (marijuana) has led to a movement among commercial and home brewers. The Cannabaceae plant family is very unique and quite exclusive; among its’ limited members are Cannabis and Humulus. Aside from their similar flower structure both of these species contain terpenes, which are found in most of the plant and fungi across the planet. Terpenes are responsible for the aromatic compounds that give cannabis it’s aroma and beer it’s distinct flavor. Brewers are crafting new recipes using these varying and isolated terpene profiled hemp plants to make beer in delectably exciting new flavors.
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.
Seed certification provides grower and farmers 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 advertised. For hemp seeds, the State Departments of Agriculture or the agriculture university will test and validate that the variety’s THC is stable and below 0.3%.
Currently, New West Genetics offers for license 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) is undergoing seed certification in the 2019 season.
From section that includes Seed Genetics and Varietals:
New West Genetics creates hemp varieties bred for high yield and optimized for mechanical harvestability, as well as for various market traits. Upon commercialization, these varieties will enter the Certified seed process. To validate the performance of our seed, and to investigate where certain genetics perform best, we regularly enter trials across the US and other countries. See our most recent press release on the performance of our variety RELY/ELITESE in University of Kentucky’s trials. Currently New West Genetics is offering licensing for NWG ELITE®. NWG ELITESE (for the southeastern portion of the US) is undergoing seed certification in the 2019 season.. Read more about AOSCA certification 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
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 distillate or isolate.
Currently, New West Genetics has customers in the nutraceutical cannabinoid industry, the brewery industry, and in the human/animal food nutrition markets.
- The cannabinoid or cannabis industry is estimated to be 14 Billion by 2020. (Forbes)
- The craft brewery market was 22 Billion in 2015. (Brewers Association)
- The hemp grain market in 2015 was estimated at 600 million. (HIA)
In compliance with the 2014 Federal Farm bill section 7606, we are registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
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 both instances 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.
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. Rely’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.
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.
CITATIONS AND RELEVANT CANNABIS SATIVA RESEARCH
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Bócsa I, Mathé P, Hangyel L. (1997) Effect of nitrogen on N tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in hemp (Cannabis sativa) L.) leaves at different positions. J. Int. Hemp Assoc. 4: 80–81.
Clarke RC (1981) Marijuana Botany: An Advanced Study: The Propagation and Breeding of Distinctive Cannabis. Ronin, Berkley CA
Etienne P. M. de Meijer, Manuela Bagatta, Andrea Carboni, Paola Crucitti,
V. M. Cristiana Moliterni, Paolo Ranalli and Giuseppe Mandolino (2003) The Inheritance of Chemical Phenotype in Cannabis sativa L. Genetics 163: 335–346
Flores-Sanchez IJ, Verpoorte R. PKS activities and biosynthesis of cannabinoids and flavonoids in Cannabis sativa L. plants. Plant Cell Physiol. 2008 Dec;49(12):1767-82.
Flores-Sanchez IJ, Choi YH, Verpoorte R. Metabolite analysis of Cannabis sativa L. by NMR spectroscopy. Methods Mol Biol. 2012; 815:363-75.
Gadzicki D, Müller-Vahl K, Stuhrmann M. A frequent polymorphism in the coding exon of the human cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) gene. Mol Cell Probes. 1999 Aug;13(4):321-3.
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Lubell JD, Brand M (2018). Foliar sprays of silver thiosulfate produce male flowers and female hemp plants. HortTechnology. 28(6): 743-747
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Shannon L. Datwyler Ph.D. and George D. Weiblen Ph.D. Genetic Variation in Hemp and Marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) According to Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms. (2006) Journal of Forensic Sciences 51: 371–375
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Staginnus C, Zörntlein S, de Meijer E. A PCR marker Linked to a THCA synthase Polymorphism is a Reliable Tool to Discriminate Potentially THC-Rich Plants of Cannabis sativa L. J Forensic Sci. 2014 Mar 3..
Taura F, Morimoto S, Shoyama Y. Purification and characterization of cannabidiolic-acid synthase from Cannabis sativa L.. Biochemical analysis of a novel enzyme that catalyzes the oxidocyclization of cannabigerolic acid to cannabidiolic acid. J Biol Chem. 1996 Jul 19;271(29):17411-6.
Tholl, 2006, “Terpene synthases and the regulation, diversity and biological roles of terpene metabolism”, Current Opinion in Plant Biology 9 (3): 297-304)
US Farm Bill: Agricultural Act of 2014 H.R. 2642 http://naihc.org/images/stories/farmbill_ih.pdf
Van Bakel H, Stout JM, Cote AG, Tallon CM, Sharpe AG, Hughes TR, Page JE (2011) The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa. Genome Biology 12: R102.