There is demand for early-flowering cannabis (Cannabis sativa) cultivars to hasten harvest and avoid late-season detrimental weather conditions. A field study and greenhouse studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of gene dosage at the autoflowering locus on flowering timing for diploid and triploid hybrids between autoflowering and photoperiod-sensitive parents. Autoflowering × photoperiod-sensitive hybrids were all photoperiod sensitive, but their critical photoperiods were longer than for homozygous photoperiod-sensitive plants, which resulted in earlier flowering. For triploid genotypes, decreasing dosage of the photoperiod-sensitive allele (A), from AAA to AAa to Aaa, reduced the time to flowering. Flowering timing for the diploid genotype Aa was intermediate between Aaa and AAa. These results provide evidence of incomplete dominance of the A allele at the autoflowering locus. Plants of genotype Aaa flowered 32 to 40 days earlier in the field than genotypes of AA, 15 days earlier than genotype Aa, and were ready for harvest by the second week of August in Connecticut. Plants of Aaa were as tall as other diploid and triploid photoperiod-sensitive genotypes studied, which suggests that they have similar yield potential. The use of tetraploid autoflowering (aaaa) maternal plants in combination with diploid photoperiod-sensitive (AA) pollen parents to produce Aaa genotype seed is a reliable approach for developing early-flowering cultivars of cannabis for flower production purposes.
Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) grown for flowers containing cannabinoids requires all female plants, which are susceptible to seed set from exposure to pollen. Created triploids demonstrated reduced seed production compared with diploids in field and greenhouse studies in which plants were challenged with pollen from males. In the field, seed production as a percent of floral biomass ranged from 6.7% to 18.0% for triploids and from 52.6% to 57.1% for diploids. The photoperiod-insensitive triploid genotype ‘Purple Star’ × ‘Wilhelmina’ had 98.5% fewer filled (containing a developed embryo) seeds than the photoperiod-insensitive diploid genotype ‘Tsunami’ × ‘Wilhelmina’. In the greenhouse, triploid ‘Wife’ had 99.5% fewer filled seeds than diploid ‘Wife’. Plant growth and flower production were similar with eight triploid and seven diploid genotypes evaluated over three greenhouse studies. There were a few superior triploid and diploid genotypes; however, their performance was more likely attributable to the parental cultivar combination than ploidy level. The optimal cross direction for producing triploid seed in large quantities is tetraploid × diploid because the diploid × tetraploid cross exhibits triploid block caused by endosperm paternal excess. Colchicine-induced tetraploid parent plants should be tested over a prolonged period to eliminate cryptic chimeral mixoploids or tetraploid plants should be derived from seed produced by crossing two colchicine-induced putative tetraploid plants to ensure that seeds from tetraploid × diploid crosses will be triploid. The latter approach is necessary for photoperiod-insensitive cultivars because a prolonged period of ploidy testing is not possible for these plants. These findings indicate that triploid plants have significantly reduced fertility and are a suitable alternative to diploids in situations in which pollen exposure is possible.