If you’re someone who stays up to date with the cannabis industry, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed by now that hybrid strains are taking over the hemp landscape. While pure indicas and sativas are still out there, more people are going for unique cultivars that offer a balance between the two, and leading hemp breeders are responding to this increase in demand with some pretty stunning hybrids that satisfy us beyond belief.
Whenever you look up a particular hybrid strain, take notice that there’s a ratio, whether it be 50/50 indica to sativa, 70/30 indica to sativa, 90/10 sativa to indica, or so on. What determines this percentage then, and how much should we use it, in order to determine whether or not a strain is right for us?
Sativa and Indica: What Do These Terms Actually Mean?
Before we actually discuss what the percentage of indica to sativa means, let’s quickly go over what determines an indica and what determines a sativa strain of hemp. There are actually two ways in which we go about doing this. One is based on appearance. A sativa cultivar is easy to spot in nature, since it grows tall and lanky, and its flower buds are particularly dense. Meanwhile, indica cultivars are short and compact, with a bushy appearance and wispier, lighter flower buds.
The other way we know whether we have an indica or a sativa is by looking at its terpene profile. Indica strains have more than 0.5% myrcene, which is an anxiolytic terpene which explains why indica strains behave the way that they do compared to sativas.
Hybrid Strains: Bringing Together the Best of Both Worlds
A hybrid strain is neither a pure indica nor a pure sativa. By definition, it’s somewhere in between, resulting from crossing together an indica and a sativa somewhere back in its linage. There are 50/50 hybrids, being equal parts indica and sativa, but the ratio can go all the way up to 90/10 indica or sativa-leaning.
What Makes a Hybrid Indica or Sativa-Dominant?
Breeding two strains together doesn’t produce as predictable results as you may think. For instance, crossing a pure indica with a pure sativa doesn’t automatically give you a 50/50 hybrid. Think about when two parents produce an offspring. That offspring doesn’t carry exactly 50% of the traits of one parent, and 50% of the other. If two parents have several children, each child will carry different traits of each parent in a way that’s seemingly random. And, the same rules of biology apply to breeding hemp strains with one another.
And, this is why we have what are known as phenotypes in the strain world. A phenotype is one offspring of two parent strains. The breeder can keep breeding the same parents together to keep getting different phenotypes which all carry the traits of its parents, but at different ratios from one another. This means that one phenotype may be a 50/50 split between the two parents, one phenotype may be a 70/30 split and one may be a 90/10.
Why Can the Ratio Sometimes Be Misleading?
While the percentage of indica and sativa can be helpful when picking out a hybrid, it doesn’t tell you everything. Like we said, genetics are unpredictable, and sometimes you’ll have a 50/50 hybrid that is balanced on paper, but it behaves far more like, say, an indica than a sativa. This is why you should always read the full description of a strain before deciding if it’s the one for you.