NORTHWEST LEAF — Seth and Eric Crawford are brothers and co-owners of Oregon CBD, an innovative Cannabis genetic company based out of Corvallis. Oregon CBD is known for such hemp strains as Special Sauce, Lifter, Suver Haze, Hawaiian Haze, Sour Space Candy, Elektra, Pineberry and the pure CBG hemp varietal of Stem Cell CBG.
The affable siblings urge us to “throw out what we thought we knew” about genetics when discussing their work.
When did you start growing Cannabis and when did you transition to hemp?
We started growing Cannabis in 2003. We started growing hemp in 2015, the first year it was federally and state legal.
Why did you decide to breed hemp genetics over THC-dominant genetics?
We stayed out of the adult-use THC market because it was very apparent that it was destined to crash due to overproduction. The reality is that Oregon is a prolific Cannabis exporter, but home to a very small number of people (Seth’s Ph.D. dissertation was on the political economy of Cannabis and provided the first in-depth analysis of Oregon Cannabis consumption and production.)
Seth was teaching the first Cannabis policy course at Oregon State University right after Measure 91 passed (legalizing the adult use and hemp production) and the 2014 Farm Bill (legalizing hemp) went through.
Upon close inspection of both, we realized that there was more promise in the emerging CBD market and that some of the plants we had developed for the medical market might qualify as hemp. We received Oregon’s 3rd issued hemp license in March 2015 and started the grand experiment.
What hemp genetics did you start breeding with and why?
For hemp production, we started farming with a clone developed for the Oregon medical market. This plant was originally derived from a type II variety (equal parts CBD and THC) and we bred out the THC through inbreeding, testing, and selection. When we moved to a 63-acre field the next year, we knew that feminized seed was the best path forward.
Can you tell us about the hemp strains and cultivars that you’ve created?
Throw out everything you thought you knew about Cannabis varieties when considering our creations. Varieties are less important than the different overarching types of plants we have invented (well-known variety names of these classes in parentheses). We bred the first high cannabinoid content auto-flowering CBD plant in 2016 (DNA, RNA) and the first early CBD varieties that start flowering shortly after solstice and finish in September (Special Sauce, Lifter, Suver Haze, Hawaiian Haze, Sour Space Candy, Elektra, Pineberry, etc.)
In addition to those well-known lines, we also created the first publicly available pure CBG variety in 2017 (Stem Cell CBG).
We are finishing field trials on our newly developed pure CBG auto-flowering varieties and “early” pure CBG lines. Our most recent invention is 100:1 CBD to THC ratio high CBD varieties. Each variety that we create requires two unrelated parent plants, each of which must be inbred for as many generations as is possible before going sterile; these two lines are then combined to create our F1 seed that is sold to farmers after thorough field trials. It takes us about three years to go from concept to seed in a farmer’s hand for planting.
What is your least favorite aspect of hemp breeding? The rip-off artists (breeders, brokers, etc.) who lie to farmers. What do you look for in ideal hemp genetics? Structure? Flowering time?
“Ideal” depends on your breeding goals and each project is different. Our goal from the start was to develop a library of unique varieties that will allow farmers to succeed in any environment and produce any cannabinoid. Every year we get closer to that goal.