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"Rust" Crossbreeding Guide

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A veteran "Rust" degenerate with 4.5k hours, a rock, and a dream.


Crossbreeding in "Rust"

Growing plants in Rust is a cornerstone for many people, especially groups that have higher resource demands and can afford to pay upkeep on more bases. It might be for different types of food, cloth from hemp, or teas from berries. In any scenario, even casual farmers need to learn about crossbreeding. Crossbreeding the right genes into your plants will dramatically improve the efficiency and output of your grow operations and are nearly essential to the process. However, crossbreeding is confusing at first glance, and intimidating to start doing. This guide will cover everything you need to know so you can create your own "God clones" and improve your farming output.

Understanding Plant Genes

In Rust, plants have 6 gene slots, each of which can be occupied by 1 of 5 different genes. The order of the slots and where the genes don't matter apart from how they are crossbred. There are 2 red genes and 3 green ones.

Green Genes

  • Y for yield. Yield increases the amount of product produced by the plant.
  • G for growth. Growth increases the speed at which a plant grows.
  • H for hardiness. Hardiness improves a plant's durability to low temperatures.

Red Genes

  • W for water. Water increases how much water a plant requires to grow.
  • X for blank. X does not negatively impact the plant, simply wastes a slot.

Generally speaking, the most desirable genes are Y and G and people prefer plants that have YYYYGG, YYYGGG, or GGGGYY genes. More details on this will be covered below.

Genetics Video Guide

Understanding Plant Phases

When growing, a plant will go through multiple phases. These phases are:

  1. Seed
  2. Seedling
  3. Sapling
  4. Crossbreeding
  5. Mature
  6. Fruiting
  7. Ripe
  8. Dying (The plant will no longer give produce at this point and start reducing its yield, so harvest during ripe!)

The different stages last for varying amounts of time, but they key stage to note here is crossbreeding. This is the only time when a plant will engage in the crossbreeding process.

How Crossbreeding Works

The instant a plant enters the crossbreeding stage, its new genes are calculated. This genes are a calculation made by comparing its current genes to the genes of all nearby plants of the exact same type (exact -- different color berries won't crossbreed with eachother.) This occurs regardless of where the touching plants are in their lifecycle, they do not need to be in crossbreeding. A nearby plant is a touching plant within the same planter, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Plants do not crossbreed across planters. This means a plant in the center spot of a planter crossbreeds will all other plants in the planter, but one in the corner will only crossbreed with the 3 touching spots. Understanding this is critical to generating samples to crossbreed with and ultimately executing the crossbreeding to get good genes.

Crossbreeding is calculated on a per slot basis, by comparing the existing slot to the same slot of all nearby plants. The winning gene is determined by the gene type that weights higher than all others. For example, if you have an X gene in the first slot, a Y gene in a nearby plant, and another Y gene in another nearby plant. The Y gene will overpower the X gene and crossbreeding will yield a Y. However, it's important to note that red genes weight higher than green. Reds always beat a green, it takes 2 greens to overpower a red. Additionally, ties in weighting come down to chance. A Y gene crossbreeding with a single G gene will have a 50% chance to be Y, and a 50% chance to be G.

This is fairly dense, and challenging to imagine putting together 6 slots of perfect genes by crossbreeding a handful. But we'll get to how to pull that off later. For now, know that you should clone and keep any plants you see with favorable genes. I like to keep anything with 4 of my preferred genes or better, such as YYYGXX or YYXXGG.

Efficient Cloning Setups

To crossbreed your way into a perfect "God clone" you'll need a collection of good clones to work with. This can take a while as you may need to accumulate 10-20 good clones to have the right arrangement of genes to generate a perfect clone.

Now there is something a little tricky here. To generate clones you may be tempted to fill your entire 9 slot planter with seeds of the plant you want and pluck out anything that is good. However, because red genes have more weight than green genes, a planter full of a single type of seed tends to skew negatively as going through crossbreeding will often create more red genes. You can clone things prior to crossbreeding, and let the rest of the batch get more red after you've gotten the clones you want. However, I personally prefer a different method that is more ideal for people who want to create multiple "God clones." I arrange my planters such that plants are not within crossbreeding range of each other, and fill slots with other types of plants. This way I can fill my planter to keep it efficient, but I prevent any crossbreeding from possibly ruining good genes. The visual below will help show how to arrange it so every slot is used but none will crossbreed.

Cloning Arrangement

Each color is a different plant type. I personally like doing hemp, red berries, yellow berries, and blue berries as those are the primary plants I look to grow. That way I get cloth, ore teas, wood teas, and max health teas.

Each color is a different plant type. I personally like doing hemp, red berries, yellow berries, and blue berries as those are the primary plants I look to grow. That way I get cloth, ore teas, wood teas, and max health teas.

Creating a "God Clone"

After you've collected a handful of good clones, you need to start checking for whether or not you can make a "God clone." You can do this manually by checking the slots you have to work with, and potentially arranging your clones in a box in the pattern you would crossbreed them with. However, it's a fairly challenging task. It's much easier to simply use this website to do the math for you. Input all your clone genes, and it will output the best clone you can create within a single crossbreeding session. It will also begin to show you which slots you cannot create good genes with so you can keep an eye out for better clones. For example, maybe you can make YYYYGX so you want to find a clone with a G in the last slot. Furthermore, the tool will only show what you can create within a single step, but sometimes you are 2 steps away from a perfect clone. For this reason I like to put a a handful of the best clones I can create back into that tool and see if they can be used to make the final "God clone."

The Perfect Clone

Y and G genes are the most important generally unless you have some specific circumstances where you need H. But the count of Y and G that is ideal can vary a bit. Generally people prefer YYYYGG, YYYGGG, or YYGGGG as they output the highest quantity per time. Genes have diminishing returns, so your 6th G gene has a lower impact than your first. As such, the above 3 options are all fairly optimal with YYYGGG delivering the highest output per hour. I personally prefer YYYYGG as the 4th Y makes cloning yield 4 clones instead of 3. This means I have to harvest clones less frequently. I also prefer to spend less time fiddling with my farm and have more produce when I do. Going to YYYYYY would push this further, but at a pretty significant cost in output per time, so YYYYGG is the sweet spot for me personally.

The Final Crossbreed

When you have every clone you need, it's on to the final step. Simply use the clones as specified by the tool. It will specify if you need to use a specific clone as the central piece to crossbreed with, or if any planted seed will work. In either scenario, plant the plant you intend to create the "God clone" from in the center spot of a planter. Wait until it's gotten partway through the sapling stage (so pretty close to crossbreeding) and then plant all the crossbreeding plants around it. It's safest to wait until about halfway through sapling, but really the idea is to avoid having a faster plant reach crossbreeding before your main plant and accidentally ruin your batch. To minimize the risk of this happening, plant your crossbreeding clones late, or use a clone with many G genes in the center so it grows faster than the others. Upon crossbreeding, it should run the calculations and spit out your perfect plant! Clone it and watch your output multiply!

How I Typically Make a God Clone

Making the Perfect Clone

In this example, I have the clones necessary to make a YYYGGG clone! I simply need to plant any seed or clone into the center of the planter, and surround it with the clones specified.

In this example, I have the clones necessary to make a YYYGGG clone! I simply need to plant any seed or clone into the center of the planter, and surround it with the clones specified.

Y and G Impact on Berry Growth


Final Thoughts

A perfect clone can more than double your farm's output, ensure all plants are done at the same time, and can even be sold to other players for sulfur given how valuable they are! If you intend to stay on a server for a week or more and plan to do some farming in that time, it's absolutely worth it, if not essential, to create some "God clones." With a little practice it's not too difficult to pull off either.