From Landraces to the present day. The Importance of starting from seeds grown outdoors

It is called ‘landrace’ or ‘ecotype’, a variety of Cannabis that constitutes a group of populations that in a very long period of time have adapted to the environmental conditions of a given region, or a portion of territory that has a defined microclimate and characteristics.

The natural selection, the climatic conditions, the nature and composition of the soil, the succession of the seasons, the variations of humidity, temperature and light, the latitude and many other components linked to the presence of the local flora and fauna, have, therefore, exerted an evolutionary pressure, over  a very long period of time between the individuals who form these populations, typical characteristics will be found such as to make the same individuals uniform under an “autochthonous” type, typical of that region or portion of territory.

The vastness of the population, that is, the number of individuals, has meant that a wide range of genetic elements and genotypical characteristics have been preserved over time, making the reference population capable of possessing a wealth of nuances, imperceptible to our eyes, but fundamental for the survival of the same population over time and with respect to environmental changes that periodically, within a century, can invest a certain region on the planet (abrupt climate or environmental changes, arrival of an exotic parasite, chemical pollution and drastic reduction of population for various reasons) – Among these minimal differences within the population we mention:

* Slight differences in the height of the plants

* Variations in shades of color

* Slightly different notes in the aromas of the flowers

* Appearance and shape of the leaves.

* Minimal difference between the various phases of the plant cycle (birth, development and entry into flowering).

The obvious difference between a landrace and a modern variety (strain) obtained by man in these last decades lies precisely in the time span in which the two types were forming. A modern strain, however precious and attractive, derives from a network of intersections guided by the hand of man in a protected and artificial environment. The plants that from time to time generated seeds constituted a population that compared to the numbers that nature can host on vast territories without borders, is practically ridiculous. It follows that modern strains often have a fragile genetic constitution precisely because they are not very rich and poor in variation.

Today ‘s man tends to standardize too much the genetic  characteristics first and then the phenotypic ones  and to obtain standard plants that are easy  for the market and for the sales but less and less eco-sustainable in an optic of natural cultivation and conservation of the genetic heritage of native plants coming from geographic regions that are unique in the world with plants that have always different characteristics from country to country and a strong and indestructible genetic constitution with a strong component of adaptation to the environment that has consolidated over centuries.

These reasons are confirmed by the scarce adaptability of modern strains to the natural conditions, even of a common garden. In fact, they manage to grow at their best, only in the hypercontrolled greenhouses and in the grow boxes, where they replicate the standard and perfect conditions for which they were generated and selected. Increasingly shorter growth cycles. Plants that grow very little and come into bloom within a few months.

Recent studies have shown that these plants selected by crosses driven/pushed by the impatience of modern man, by now they lack some substances that guarantee the well-being of our body, substances more in line with the natural cycles and therefore also with our body. The demand for landrace seeds  and seeds coming from outdoor crops, today is increasing strongly. The breeders have realized that the recovery of the old types of cannabis with their characteristics of adaptability and resistance to pests is essential to bring new lifeblood to the future of this plant that in recent decades has risked losing a great variety of characteristics that after all have made it famous and special over the millennia.

Another trend, typical of the present day, is that of wanting to cultivate landrace plants in greenhouses and in artificial and non-natural situations and to demand that those seeds retain the typical characteristics of the landraces in question. This belief is wrong because in the artificial selection many natural characteristics are discarded and, generation after generation, there is a drastic reduction of the number of individuals and therefore of genetic pool that becomes impoverished losing 25% of variability to each successive generation. In the span of only 5 years you could cultivate plants totally different from the original landraces, you will only cultivate the illusion of owning a pure landrace.

You will have read many times that many varieties of the past are practically unobtainable today  even if you managed to buy seeds and pay them dearly, you would end up with different plants because they derive from indoor selections and the plants undergo an inevitable selection process. The pursuit of ever more powerful and thc-rich cannabis strains, with characteristics that affect indoor growers, has led to the loss of important stretches of DNA that only landraces possessed. Fortunately, some farmers have kept the old landraces cultivating them outdoor and entrusting the fertilization of females to the naturalness of natural fertilization. So they managed to bring us unique and resistant plants, preserving a treasure that has come down to us and that deserves to be kept to continue to give value (also cultural) to this plant that we so much love.

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