What Does Hybrid Weed Mean?
If you’ve shopped for flower at a cannabis dispensary lately, you may have noticed that many cultivars are marked as “hybrid” strains. What does hybrid weed mean, why is it seemingly everywhere and are all hybrid cannabis strains created equal? To understand more about where these varieties come from and how to choose the best one for you, we need to go back in time to a world without hybrids, when only indica strains and sativa strains grew freely across the globe.
Defining the Term “Hybrid Weed”
Hybrid weed is any strain (also called cultivar) of cannabis that combines genetics from both Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants. Most strains you’ll find in the dispensary are hybrids, as they are selectively bred for their characteristics. In fact, there are comparatively few pure indica and sativa strains.
Origins of hybrid weed
Cannabis has evolved alongside human civilization, beginning in the form of the pure indicas and pure sativas known as landrace strains. These strains adapted to their local environments, growing naturally and developing distinct characteristics as a result.
Cannabis indica plants were more common in the Middle East and Asia, including strains such as Hindu Kush and Afghan. Indica landrace strains tend to be shorter and bushier plants with thicker leaves. The flower of these plants has been widely associated with a relaxing body high that may be ideal for pain relief and sleep.
Cannabis sativa plants are found in dry and hot climates like Mexico, South America and parts of Africa. Strains such as Durban Poison and Acapulco Gold come from these regions. Generally, pure sativa cultivars are taller and stalkier plants with thin leaves. Sativa strains are associated with energizing and uplifting feelings.
Within each species of cannabis plant, there are differences between each strain. Kush, for example, provides a different experience than Afghan, even though both are indica strains. Just because two strains are landrace strains of the same variety does not mean they result in identical experiences.
Humans took note of the similarities and differences between indicas and sativas, as well as between the individual varieties within each species. These early breeders realized they could selectively cross plants to emphasize the most desirable traits of each. By crossing indica strains with sativa strains in a variety of combinations, the many hybrid cannabis strains we have today were born.
How Have Hybrid Strains Evolved Over Time?
Back in the days of landrace strains, there was naturally some cross-pollination that occurred between different cultivars. It’s possible that indica-sativa hybrids even developed naturally at times, though it wasn’t until human intervention that hybrid cannabis breeding occurred at scale.
Thanks to cannabis prohibition, a great deal of history has been lost and forced underground in an unwritten, verbal tradition that includes legends, myths and uncertainties. From what we do know, the first cannabis hybrids were developed in California in the 1960s. Back then, pioneering cannabis breeders traveled east on the so-called “Hippie Trail” to collect new types of Cannabis indica seeds, bring them home for propagation, and then cross them with Cannabis sativa plants. Their goals were numerous, including increasing flower yields, boosting THC content, increasing plant health and developing robust terpene profiles.
In this way, breeders have continued innovating and developing new cultivars to this day. Today, there are roughly 800 strains that are available in legal markets worldwide today. Some of the most popular strains in the world today, including Blue Dream, Wedding Cake, and GG#4, are hybrid weed.
Understanding Different Strains of Weed
Today, hybrid cannabis strains are exceedingly common and include varieties that produce a wide range of different experiences. This broad category of cannabis can be broken down further into the following groups:
- Sativa-dominant hybrids: Hybrids with more sativa genetics than indica are commonly known as “sativa-dominant” hybrid strains. Much like landrace sativa strains, these hybrids are generally associated with more uplifting, heady effects, though that’s not always the case. Check the cannabinoid and terpene content of the individual strain and consider which indica genetics are present to more accurately anticipate what the experience may be like. Blue Dream is a notable sativa-dominant hybrid strain.
- Indica-dominant hybrids: Hybrids with more indica genetics than sativa are commonly known as “indica-dominant” hybrid strains. Similar to the landrace indica strains, these hybrids typically produce a more relaxing and subdued experience. However, the experience can vary from strain to strain and depends on the sativa genetics present and the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of the individual variety in question. OG Kush is a popular indica-dominant hybrid strain.
- Balanced hybrids: Balanced hybrid strains contain roughly equal amounts of indica and sativa genetics. These strains have an even blend of indica and sativa genetics, and the experience you can expect with a balanced hybrid depends largely on its parentage and the cannabinoids and terpenes it contains. Gelato is a common balanced hybrid strain you may encounter in a dispensary.
Even within these three groups of hybrids, you will likely find a significant degree of variation in terms of effects and flavors from strain to strain. The best way to anticipate what you will get out of a given strain, be it a predominantly indica strain or sativa strain, is to understand the cannabinoids and terpenes contained within and how the combination of these compounds will likely affect you. In many cases, that means trial and error.
What Are Some Common Hybrid Cannabis Strains?
If you’re looking for some hybrid strains to try, the following examples are some of the most popular at Airfield.
- Type: Indica-dominant hybrid
- Estimated THC content: ~ 27.8% THC
- Typical terpene profile: Myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, pinene
Manzano Gelato by CAM is a cross of the cultivars Banana Cream Pie and Jealousy. Expect a sweet, grassy and creamy flavor accompanied by the munchies and a cerebral experience.
- Type: Indica-dominant hybrid
- Estimated THC content: ~ 30% THC
- Typical terpene profile: Myrcene, limonene, beta caryophyllene
Kush Mountains delivers a seriously relaxing experience brought to you by crossing White Walker and Blue Flame #4. Kush Mountains is an excellent choice for day or night, whether you want to curl up and get cozy before bed or take a relaxing walk in the park.
- Type: Balanced Hybrid
- Estimated THC content: ~ 27% THC
- Typical terpene profile: Myrcene, pinene, ocimene
Made by crossing Jet Fuel Gelato and Mochi Gelato, Horchata is a balanced hybrid notable for its soothing, calm and cerebral high. Expect a combination of citrus and fruity aromas and a taste that finishes off with a hint of spice.
- Type: Sativa-dominant hybrid
- Estimated THC content: ~ 24% THC
- Typical terpene profile: Myrcene, pinene, beta caryophyllene
Double Dream truly is the dream if you love sativa-dominant hybrids. Combining the genetics of Blue Dream and Dream Star, this strain offers a cerebral high that doesn’t dull your senses. Its flavor profile is as complicated as its consumption experience, which combines earthy spice with notes of sweet berries.
- Type: Sativa-dominant hybrid
- Estimated THC content: ~ 27% THC
- Typical terpene profile: Beta caryophyllene, limonene, myrcene
Cereal Milk is a sativa-dominant hybrid combining Mendocino Purps x Skunk and Afghani traits. Expect a laid-back, giggly session from this strain, along with the sweet and creamy flavor for which it’s named.
The Benefits of Hybrid Weed
Hybrid strains are the result of generation after generation of fine-tuning genetics with the goal of emphasizing the plant’s most desirable traits. Breeders have selected for everything from THC content to overall flower yield to stalk thickness and beyond. Their motivations are similarly varied, from selling more flower to developing a strain that excels for a particular need to improving agricultural outcomes.
In short, the main benefit of hybrid cannabis is it allows cultivators to develop new cultivars that are useful to us, be it for medical goals, plant health or even business considerations. Just like the rest of the agricultural industry, the cannabis industry relies on selective breeding to increase yields, grow more disease-resistant plants and improve the efficiency of cultivating at scale.
As an example, consider the needs of a cultivator focused on consumer sales versus the needs of an industrial hemp cultivator focused on wholesale in the textile space. The first cultivator will likely focus on THC content and will want a range of cultivars – some with high THC content and some with more balanced THC:CBD ratios – to appeal to cannabis lovers from all walks of life. The industrial hemp cultivator, on the other hand, will be more interested in maximizing the amount of stalky biomass they’re able to harvest.
The selective breeding of hybrid strains has allowed us to enjoy a whole new world of cannabis flower. Breeders and cultivators have created an expansive range of hybrids, so there’s a strain for every kind of preference and need. Whether you want a potent strain or something low in THC; whether you’re looking for pain relief or sleep; whether you prefer a calm, relaxing high or an upbeat and creative session, there’s something out there for you thanks to hybrid weed.
Selecting the Right Strain for You
You may have heard that if you want an uplifting experience to reach for something sativa-dominant and for something more relaxing, opt for indica-dominant. While sometimes helpful, this generalization is far from reliable. When it comes to choosing the right hybrid weed strain for you, there are several details you should consider beyond which way a hybrid strain leans on the indica/sativa scale.
- Know your goals: The strain you choose depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, if you want to relieve back pain, you may select a different cultivar than someone who wants to get creative during their session. Think about your reasons for consuming before beginning your search.
- Understand THC:CBD ratio: The THC and CBD content in a hybrid strain can give you an idea of how intoxicating it may be to you. More balanced THC:CBD ratios generally provide a more mellow, less intense experience, while high THC, low CBD strains can be expected to pack more punch.
Examine other cannabinoids: It’s wise to check and see if any other cannabinoids besides THC and CBD are present in significant amounts. Cannabinoids like Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabigerol (CBG) could offer unique effects of their own, so be sure to note when they show up in higher percentages and how they affect you.
- Check the terpene profile: Terpenes not only contribute to the smell and taste of your weed but may also influence its effects. For example, beta caryophyllene may effectively alleviate neuropathic pain, making it a priority for many medical patients.
- Read consumer reviews: Ultimately, cannabis experiences can be subjective and varied, but anecdotal evidence from other consumers is never a bad thing. Check out some reviews of the strains you’re considering and see what consumers with similar needs and preferences as you like and dislike. There’s a good chance you’ll have a similar experience, so you can create a short list of strains to try based on this information.
Whenever you try a new strain for the first time, you should only consume a small amount to see how it affects you first. Additionally, you should always purchase your cannabis from a licensed dispensary; these cannabis products are tested by a third-party laboratory and certified to be high-quality, safe products.
Shop For Hybrid Weed at Airfield
At Airfield, we pride ourselves on carrying some of the highest quality hybrid weed available anywhere. If you’re looking for a strain that’s just the ticket for you, check out our selection of hybrid weed strains, which offer something great for every consumer!