When you go shopping online for cannabis seeds, how do you know what is a hybrid and what isn’t? You will have almost certainly heard of indica and sativa, but what is hybrid weed?
To explain this we must first clarify what a landrace is.
Back in the 60’s before cannabis breeding had become popular hybrid weed didn’t even exist, almost everything that was smoked was a landrace, strains such as Afghan, Mexican Sativa, Thai Stick and Kush are all landrace strains.
What is a landrace strain?
A landrace cannabis strain (cultivar) is a variety of cannabis that has not been altered by man and therefore their genetics have stayed the same for hundreds if not thousands of years. Strains such as Afghani, Thai, Durban Poison and Acapulco Gold are all landrace strains that are native to different regions of the world. More often than not landrace strains are named after the region from where they grow naturally.
Benefits of landrace strains
Landrace cannabis strains have not been altered genetically and so they grow as mother nature intended. With this come a few benefits. Because landrace strains have not been bred with any other variety of cannabis, their genetics remain stable and reliable so you know exactly what kind of plant you will get, how tall it is likely to be, how potent and what its overall characteristics will be. These varying characteristics such as height, color, shape and potency that we see in cannabis strains are known as phenotypes.
On the other hand the downside to using landrace strains for many growers is the lack of variety, potency and yield. Don’t get me wrong, landrace strains if grown well can produce some of the best bud you are likely to smoke.
I remember the good old days of smoking huge blunts rolled with some incredible tasting Thai weed. Thai weed gave me the perfect effect of feeling high enough that time seemed to fly by, whilst still being a mild-enough high for me to be able to function and carry out a days work. However, my tolerance has increased somewhat in the last 30 years and now I prefer something a little stronger which I feel is catered for best with hybrid weed.
You may not even realise that some of the strains you have been smoking are hybrids, take Skunk as an example, Skunk is a cross of three landrace strains, Mexican (sativa), Colombian (Sativa) and Afghan (indica). By crossing indica and sativa you have the best of both worlds and the potential to produce some super potent strains such as Bruce Banner and Gorilla Glue.
So now that we have sold the idea of hybrid weed to you lets take a closer look at hybrid strains and how they compare to landrace indica and sativa strains…..
What is the difference between hybrid, sativa and indica
Indica strains traditionally grow in the arid mountainous environments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Visually these strains are normally short, bushy and compact plants that grow into a typical Christmas tree type shape, with a dense foliage and wide fan leaves.
When smoked indicas give users a full-body relaxed high that can make you feel sleepy, hence why indicas are often used to treat insomnia and other sleep related issues.
Sativas on the other hand grow naturally in the warmer tropical climates of South East Asia and Central and South America. They are much taller than indica strains and their foliage is spread out more thinly with popcorn buds spread across their long branches. They have long thin leaves to match their branches.
The typical sativa high is uplifting and energizing and users often characterize it as a social smoke rather than one that will put you to sleep.
Hybrid weed on the other hand has one indica parent and the other sativa which gives you a nice combination combination of the two different types of genetics. Strains such as Gorilla Glue are made up of a 50:50 ratio of sativa and indica genetics, these kinds of strains provide you with a great alternative if you can’t make your mind up on which way to go. The benefit of hybrid weed is that you can also hand pick a strain that fits your needs perfectly. For example, if you want a sativa dominant strain but one that has some indica characteristics you can grow a strain such as Green Crack that is 65% indica and 35% sativa.
Are hybrid strains better to grow?
It really does depend on what your end goal is, landrace strains such as Afghan and Thai are very stable, and have fewer phenotypes. By cross breeding different landraces and their offspring, breeders have picked the best and most desirable traits and bred them together with the aim of creating the perfect strain. Therefore if you want to grow the highest yielding or highest THC strain, more often than not you can achieve better results from growing hybrid strains such as Big Bud or Critical that have been specifically bred to grow big. That is not to say that the quality of the bud will be any better or worse; however, hybrid weed is simply a mixture of different characteristics that would not have otherwise been produced had it not been for the breeding program that created it.
Hybrid vs sativa – what are the advantages?
Native to: Sativas are native to the warm humid climates of South America and South East Asia. One of the main benefits to growing sativas is that they are able to handle the heat and humidity with less chance of mold or heat stress occurring.
Appearance: Sativa strains grow tall and thin with long branches and fan leaves to match. Their less dense foliage allows them to thrive in humid climates without mold developing. They can grow as tall as 20 feet if grown outdoors.
THC to CBD ratio: Sativas usually have a higher THC to CBD ratio than indica strains. This does not necessarily mean they they are more potent, simply that they tend to contain less CBD.
Sativa effects: Sativa strains are known for their uplifting, energizing and creative ‘mind highs’. Many creatives such as musicians and artists like to use sativa strains to improve their focus and creativity.
Advantages to growing hybrid vs sativa strains:
- Most of the highest yielding strains such as Big Bud are hybrids
- Hybrids have often been bred with strains that are mold and pest resistant
- Able to grow in more of a variety of climates as they contain both indica and sativa genetics
Hybrid vs indica – what are the advantages?
Native to: Afghanistan, Tibet, Pakistan, Middle East – Because indicas are native to cooler climates they grow great in more arid conditions where their bushy foliage allows them to handle much colder temperatures and still thrive.
Appearance: Indica strains grow short, bushy and compact with fat fan leaves. They typically grow between 100 – 200cm so they are easily manageable in most indoor grows. They also tend to flower much faster than sativas with slightly higher yields.
THC to CBD ratio: Indicas generally contain more CBD than sativas, this is why they are used more often as medical strains.
Indica effects: Indica strains give a relaxing mellow high, they are often used for their pain relieving and sleep inducing effects.
Advantages to growing hybrid vs indica strains
- Hybrids will grow better in hot humid conditions because they contain both sativa and indica genetics
- More variety – there are hundreds of hybrid cannabis strains and only a handful of pure landrace indica or sativas
- All of the highest THC strains such as Gorilla Glue, Godfather OG and Bruce Banner are hybrids
What are the most common hybrid weed effects?
It is difficult to say exactly what the effects of hybrid weed are because in there are so many variations of hybrids with different phenotypes that the combinations are almost endless. However, to give you a rough idea and help you to decide which hybrid weed strain may be best suited to needs here is a hybrid effects chart.
|Sativa / indica ratio||Common effects||Which strains?|
|80:20 Indica||Heavy indica body high – may give you a couch locked effect and munchies||Bubba Kush|
|70:30 Indica||Heavy Indica body high with a mild euphoric feeling but still with some couch lock effect||Do Si Dos|
|60:40 Indica||Indica body high with a mildy energizing and uplifting after effect||Zkittlez|
|50:50 Indica and Sativa||Indica body high with euphoric and uplifting head high||Gorilla Glue|
|60:40 Sativa||Head high with a mild body high and an energized happy feeling||White Widow|
|70:30 Sativa||Energizing and uplifting high that allows you to function while feeling high||G13 Haze|
|80:20 Sativa||Uplifting and invigorating sativa head buzz that leaves you feeling alert and ready to get creative||Super Lemon Haze|
What are the best hybrid strains
There are thousands of hybrid strains out there, with so much to choose from it is difficult to know what the best hybrid weed to grow is. Here is a list of some of our favourite hybrid strains.
Big Bud – Highest yielding hybrid strain
One of the best indica hybrid strains, Big Bud, was first produced in the 1980’s by crossing landraces Afghani and Haze with Northern Lights. The result was a high yielding powerful indica dominant strain that was easy to grow and great to smoke. Yielding 600+ g/m2 Big Bud has been the biggest yielding hybrid strain for over three decades and it doesn’t look like it is going to lose its crown anytime soon.
Gorilla Glue – Highest THC hybrid strain
A 50/50 hybrid cross of Sour Diesel, Chem’s Sister, Sour Dubb and Chocolate Diesel. Gorilla Glue has been backcrossed with the aim of producing one of the highest THC hybrids in the world. At 32% THC Gorilla Glue still reigns as the most potent strain to grace the earth, taking all of the best traits from its parents.
Bruce Banner 3 – Best allrounder hybrid strain
A 60/40 sativa dominant hybrid strain Bruce Banner 3 is a hybrid cross of two popular strains, OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel. Bruce Banner is not only a high yielding strain at around 500g/m2 but also has THC levels of around 25-30% THC giving users the best of both worlds and producing some of the best hybrid weed you are likely to smoke.
Northern Lights Autoflower – Best hybrid strain to grow in cold climates
Indica dominant hybrid cross of Northern Lights and a ruderalis Northern Lights Autoflower is a fast flowering autoflower that will yield around 300g/m2 with THC levels of 12-15%. Ruderalis strains are native to the cold regions of Siberia and this has been crossed with the indica genetics of Northern Lights that are native to the cold mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Thanks to its indica and ruderalis genetics combined Northern Lights Autoflower is a hardy strain that can grow well in colder conditions. Northern Lights Autoflower is also a low smelling plant making it one of the best hybrid strains for any stealth grows.