The industrial cannabis industry has given way to connoisseur level appreciation. This means as each state legalizes marijuana, more competition between cannabis companies, new advancements in technology. The majority of cannabis consumers don’t usually think of their favorite products in terms of cultivation and pollenation, but these are part of the foundation of everything we have come to know and love about this beautiful movement. The careful and intentional unity of flowers and pollen is what gives us the flavorful, magnificent, and potent genetics that have been popping up over the years. Recently, Canadian researchers made a breakthrough in the storage of cannabis pollen! This may not seem like an important moment in cannabis history, but it is more significant than one would think.
Breakthrough in pollen storage technology
In a recent study that was partially funded by the Canadian government, scientists discovered a new way to store pollen that could preserve its bioavailability indefinitely. Prior to this study, the standard for storing pollen was to keep it frozen which often led to a 78% reduction in viability after a short amount of time. The researchers harvested the pollen at its peak viability which is about halfway through the male flowering cycle. This ensured that they could determine how much the pollen degraded over time. They found that when they removed the moisture from the pollen, added baked wheat flour, and froze it with liquid nitrogen, it maintained viability for four months. According to researchers, this indicates that this new method could be used to store pollen indefinitely.
Why is this important?
The unique psychoactive and therapeutic properties as well as the specific flavors of each strain all come from the genetics of their ancestor strains also known as landrace strains. These are the pure Indica and pure Sativa strains that are native to various corners of the world. The strains that we have come to know and love today are the result of the breeding of these landrace strains. With improved ways to store pollen, we can preserve the old and new genetics. Each strain regardless of its popularity has a history, and we are closer to preserving that history. With the ability to indefinitely store pollen, we can keep and cross-specific genetics for specialized purposes such as breeding for an increase of minor cannabinoids, or therapeutic effect or flavor profile.
Other ways of keeping genetics going
While these findings are important to the future of preserving cannabis genetics, people have been storing and maintaining genetics for centuries. Most cannabis companies store genetics in the form of seeds. Though seeds are dormant until germination, they are living, and without proper storage, they to can deteriorate and die. An ideal climate for storing seeds is in a cool, dry, and dark place. There is debate over how long seeds will last, but some say that under the right conditions seeds can stay viable for up to a decade. Modern cannabis that is sold in dispensaries is produced in an industrialized and regimented way. Female plants produce the buds that people think of when they imagine weed. Those buds are the flowers of the female cannabis plant. In the wild, the trichomes and pistols are necessary for pollen in the air to stick to the flowers so the plant can begin to produce seeds. In an industrialized grow facility, there is actually little to no pollen. Since the cannabis sold in dispensaries is sinsemilla (without seeds), pollen is kept far away from the female plants. These female plants are typically clones of a mother plant. Mother plants are large and healthy female plants that are kept in a vegetative state. Cultivators are able to take cuttings of the mother plants to propagate multiple clones at one time. Mother plants can usually be kept for over a year, but genetics will downgrade over time.
It is a beautiful day to be a cannabis consumer or advocate. As the global prohibition of cannabis comes closer to an end, researchers are able to discover the full potential of this amazing plant. A new way to store pollen may not seem like a large step in cannabis history, but it could mean preserving the history of rare and sought after genetics indefinitely. Who knows what the future holds for the science of cannabis.