Advancements In Cannabis Genetics with Shwale from Farmhouse Studio

Trichomes Visible on Count Things App from Farmhouse Studio Genetics

Join us as we delve into the world of cannabis genetics with expertise provided by Shwale from Farmhouse Studio Genetics, where innovation meets dedication to produce extraordinary results. By gaining a firsthand understanding of their groundbreaking techniques, you’ll discover how to elevate your own growing practices to new heights.

At the heart of exceptional hash production lies the cultivation of top-tier flowers. Farmhouse Studio Genetics has made it their mission to pursue genetic excellence, driving forward their multifaceted innovative breeding techniques and putting them at the forefront of cultivation.

Measuring Trichome Density and Gland Size 

I know what you are thinking, everyone wants to grow plants with more trichomes. That part is obvious, but how exactly do you achieve greater trichome density, which ultimately equates to more hash? The answer lies in precise measurement and analysis.

measuring trichomes at 20x zoom
measuring trichomes at 10x zoom

Shwale combines his talent in macro photography with science to measure trichome density and gland size. He carefully analyzes each plant using a 5x lens and a 400-micron calibrated cross ruler. While there is no universally agreed-upon benchmark, the ultimate goal is to compare and identify different phenotypes to find the ones with the highest trichome density.

By moving the ruler to different areas of the microscopic image, they can quickly get an average size across each phenotype. He then imports the image into the ‘Count Things’ app, a handy tool for quickly and accurately counting high volumes of objects in images. In this case, they're counting trichome heads. 

Trichomes Counted with Count Things App
5x Cross Ruler Being used to Count Trichomes in Count Things App

Shwale’s pro tip: within the Count Things app use the Rebar (disorganized) counting template ID: 613 Version: 001

Count Things App on App Store
Disorganized Rebars Template for Count Things App

After comparing different phenotypes of the same strain, the one with the highest trichome density and other key characteristics they seek is selected for further breeding, ensuring that its best traits are passed on.

Advanced Microscopy for an Even More Detailed Analysis

Farmhouse Studio Genetics takes its analysis a step further with 10x and 20x microscope adapters. Using these tools, they have identified trichome traits such as stalk length, weak neck, and multi-gland characteristics. 

Weak Neck: A weak neck trichome is characterized by its fragile connection between the stalk and the head (often referred to as the abscission zone). This fragility makes the head more likely to detach from the stalk making it ideal for hash production.

Cannabis Trichome with Weak Neck
Cannabis Trichome with Thin Neck

Long Stalk vs. Short Stalk:
Trichomes come in all shapes and sizes. Shwale typically seeks out short stalk trichomes when making ice water hash whenever possible.

Longstalk Trichome Comparison
High Trichome Density

"Usually, the gland doesn't enlarge as the stalk lengthens late in flower. Yet we have found some genetics that will do exactly that," Shwale notes.

Multi-Gland: Multi-gland is when trichomes have more than one head per stalk.

All of these trichome attributes are taken into account when selecting what strains to breed. 

Tools for Trichome Observation 

To mimic the advanced trichome techniques used by Farmhouse Studio Genetics, you will need a combination of hardware and software. Below is a comprehensive list of necessary tools from professional setups to more accessible options for everyday growers. 

Professional Setup
For those seeking the highest quality observation analysis, a more advanced setup is essential. This includes:

  • A Cognisys StackShot focus stacking rail takes multiple images of the same subject and loads them into Image editing software to stack the images for better depth of field. If you are new to this brand of photo editing software, easy-to-follow YouTube tutorials are available. 
10x Magnification Microscope Adapter 5x Magnification Microscope Adapter 20x Magnification Microscope Adapter

Accessible Alternatives

For those looking for a more affordable option, here are a few budget-friendly selections that will provide more valuable insights than the naked eye.

Assessing Plants by Touch/Feel

"For most people it's much easier to just rub and feel late in flower, it should feel like oily sand in-between the fingers (not sticky or highly tacky). Or even just glands that will noticeably fall off from being poorly handled late in flower."

By incorporating these tools and techniques, you can elevate your cannabis cultivation to match Shwale's innovative standards. Whether you're a professional aiming for the highest quality possible or a hobbyist looking to improve your end product, these recommendations provide a solid foundation for trichome observation and analysis.  

Trichome Density Analysis
Detailed Trichome Density

Breeding Techniques: High Heterosis and Basket-Weaving

In addition to choosing strains based on trichome characteristics, Farmhouse Studio Genetics also focuses on high heterosis or hybrid vigor from breeding genetically distant plants together. This involves a combination of outbreeding and inbreeding, somewhat distant relatives, in a technique they call "basket-weaving." This approach has allowed them to steer the genetics via selection while pushing for faster-growing large plants that quickly give a lot of biomass.

Additionally, they've been selecting for slightly airy, nubby flower growth that provides more trichome surface area to wash. This thoughtful selection process ensures plants grow efficiently and optimize trichome production for better hash yields.

Large Airy Nubby FlowersLarge Airy Nubby Flowers
Nubby High Surface Area GrowthNubby High Surface Area

Practical Pheno Hunting Techniques

To further enhance their breeding techniques, Farmhouse Studio Genetics has developed practical methods for pheno hunting. One key method involves weighing each plant to factor in grams per square meter yielded. Here’s how they do it:

Digital Hook Scale: Using a digital hook scale, they weigh each plant upside down with most of the fan leaves removed. This helps them get an idea of the biomass size.

Wet Weight Measurement: By multiplying the wet weight by the percentage of biomass observed in test jars, they can estimate how a tray of clones would perform. This method allows for more accurate comparison and selection of the best phenotypes.

Cultivating More Than Plants

We would like to extend a special thanks to Shwale and everyone at Farmhouse Studio Genetics for sharing their knowledge and achievements. At Lowtemp Industries, we believe that community and education are the cornerstones of success. Gatekeeping information will only hinder growth and innovation. By sharing knowledge and working together, we can elevate the industry as a whole. 

All photos for this article were provided by Shwale from Farmhouse Studio Genetics. 

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Article written by

Levi Lanzrath

Levi Lanzrath is a cannabis extraction expert and founder of Lowtemp Industries.