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Is this the beginning of an “industrial revolution” in cannabis cultivation?



The team at RCK creates tailor-made medical cannabis strains
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A seed company and cannabis genetics startup have struck up a multi-million-dollar partnership to produce a range of unique, ‘elite’, hybrid medical cannabis seeds – a “big step forward” for cultivation.

A partnership between Israeli agricultural tech startup, RCK and Dutch seed company Seed Tech is labelled a first of its kind and a “big step forward” from traditional methods for cloning cannabis plants.

RCK, which specialises in science-based cannabis genetics, is developing technology for producing new strains of elite hybrid cannabis seeds for medical and commercial use.

The company says that the development of these seeds will enable global mass production of medical cannabis and the development of new medications.

As part of the deal, which is valued at several million dollars, RCK has devised a dedicated breeding plan to develop unique cannabis strains for medical and commercial uses such as cosmetics and food.

In addition to the value of the deal itself, RCK will also receive royalties from the sale of seeds for the duration of the patent life for each strain.

The breeding technology has been developed by RCK over several years and is based on marker-assisted-selection methods; a process in which plants are selected for specific traits based on DNA markers.

“At the heart of our technology is the ability to incorporate genetic information within the breeding process,” Dr Noam Chehanovsky, co-founder and VP for R&D at RCK, told Cannabis Health.

“This leads to enhancements and better precision of the process, saving both time and money.”

Its R&D facility in Kibbutz Ruhama, Israel, is comprised of indoor growing rooms, 1,500 square metres of greenhouse space and a laboratory equipped with analytical and genetic equipment.

The firm is also developing new strains and investigating the potential use of cannabis for treating cancer, intestinal inflammations and skin diseases.

Shay Bar-Joseph, co-founder and VP for Business Development and Marketing at RCK, believes the partnership marks the beginning of an “industrial revolution” in the cultivation of cannabis from seeds.

The company says its development of hybrid seeds is a “big step forward” in comparison to traditional methods of cloning cannabis plants which require significantly more land area and resources.

According to Dr Chehanovsky, the company’s latest experiments have multiplied the yield of clones per mother plant by four and decreased losses in the production process to nearly zero.

“Our uniform hybrid seeds will replace the current laborious cloning method with a safer, easier, more uniform, and cost-effective [method],” he said.

“All of the breeding plans are based on two pillars: the consumers need and demand. Such as the precise cannabinoids and terpenes profile for specific therapeutic effects and the agro-technological needs of different growers, such as higher yield and less loss for the growers.”

Eindhoven-based SeedTech B.V. is considered one of the pioneers in Europe’s growing cannabis sector.

The Dutch company uses advanced technological breeding methods to develop new uniform and stable cannabis strains that are suitable for specific market segments.

RCK says the partnership with SeedTech will feed into its wider plans for growth, which include expanding its facilities and growing its team of researchers, technicians, agronomists and cannabis growers.

The company will increase its scientific workforce by over 30 percent, expand its R&D and breeding facilities and build a dedicated greenhouse to cater to the SeedTech breeding plan.