Empirical Evaluation of Inflorescences’ Morphological Attributes for Yield Optimization of Medicinal Cannabis Cultivars

Front Plant Sci. 2022 Apr 19;13:858519. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.858519. eCollection 2022.

ABSTRACT

In recent decades with the reacknowledgment of the medicinal properties of Cannabis sativa L. (cannabis) plants, there is an increased demand for high performing cultivars that can deliver quality products for various applications. However, scientific knowledge that can facilitate the generation of advanced cannabis cultivars is scarce. In order to improve cannabis breeding and optimize cultivation techniques, the current study aimed to examine the morphological attributes of cannabis inflorescences using novel image analysis practices. The investigated plant population comprises 478 plants ascribed to 119 genotypes of high-THC or blended THC-CBD ratio that was cultivated under a controlled environment facility. Following harvest, all plants were manually processed and an image of the trimmed and refined inflorescences extracted from each plant was captured. Image analysis was then performed using in-house custom-made software which extracted 8 morphological features (such as size, shape and perimeter) for each of the 127,000 extracted inflorescences. Our findings suggest that environmental factors play an important role in the determination of inflorescences’ morphology. Therefore, further studies that focus on genotype X environment interactions are required in order to generate inflorescences with desired characteristics. An examination of the intra-plant inflorescences weight distribution revealed that processing 75% of the plant’s largest inflorescences will gain 90% of its overall yield weight. Therefore, for the optimization of post-harvest tasks, it is suggested to evaluate if the benefits from extracting and processing the plant’s smaller inflorescences outweigh its operational costs. To advance selection efficacy for breeding purposes, a prediction equation for forecasting the plant’s production biomass through width measurements of specific inflorescences, formed under the current experimental methodology, was generated. Thus, it is anticipated that findings from the current study will contribute to the field of medicinal cannabis by improving targeted breeding programs, advancing crop productivity and enhancing the efficacy of post-harvest procedures.

PMID:35519806 | PMC:PMC9063709 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2022.858519

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