The RUST Genetics Guide

What is the Genetics System in RUST, and what is it used for?

The RUST Genetics System, introduced in April of 2022 with the Farming 2.0 Update, took the otherwise passive resource farming growth system and added a degree of purpose to potential outcomes.

Instead of just taking any random seed and planting it in any biome under any circumstances, players would need to cultivate and nurture new plants into existence with the perk of more output and the capacity to manipulate the plant itself to grow faster and more robust.

Like any sound system, there are steps to success. In the case of RUST farming, this system is too large to compile into a single guide. As we’ve already focused on The Farm itself in other guides, as well as how to take berries made via this system and turn them into wonderful tonics and tinctures, we will instead leave those aspects in their respective guides and instead focus on how to make the best clones possible.

Introduction to Seeds and Clones


While both function similarly, a huge difference exists between a RUST seed and a clone. Players can extract seeds in two ways:

  1. As a byproduct through the picking of naturally growing plants in the wild that weren’t the result of player planting
  2. Or through the eating of any edible-yielding food type. 

Randomly determined at the moment of planting, seeds are entirely void of predesignated genetic structure. The complete list of eligible seed-yielding plants is as follows:


Clones, on the other hand, are the direct result of “Taking a Clone” from a player-based plant. Players cannot acquire or take Clones from natural world spawns. Unlike traditional seeds from natural spawns, clones come with predesignated genetic structures that can be viewed when hovering over any applicable plant at or beyond its seedling stage (more on this later). 

Moreover, the system described further in this guide will explain how clone manipulation, while planting, can result in the genetic readout being manipulated to create ideal plants that yield more resources faster.

Genetic Anatomy

RUST Pumpkin Genetics Dialog

Any player-planted seed or clone will possess exactly six genetic signatures. Each one is represented by either a green circle with a central letter or a red circle, also with a letter. 

  • Green intuitively denotes positive or less negative than red. 
  • Red indicates a less-than-desirable genetic entry. Red genes are also considered ‘dominant’ when pitted against green genes.

Green ‘Positive’ Genetics

  • G – representation of genetic signature that controls the increased rate of growth, or how fast a plant will go from Seed to Ripeness
  • Y – representation of genetic signature that controls the yielded output of the crop, with more output per how many Y genetic signatures are present. For every two Y genetics present on a specimen, one additional clone will be received when creating offspring clones.
  • H – representation of genetic signature that controls hardiness, or the degree of resilience that the plant will exhibit when attempting to grow against outside influences such as poor box conditions or temperature extremes. They are considered redundant in completely controlled growing environments.

Red ‘Negative’ Genetics

  • W – representation of genetic signature that controls the water requirement for the growth cycle from Seed to Ripeness, with every W signature forcing higher mL consumption per minute for its applicable plant
  • X – representation of genetic signature that has no bearing on the plant whatsoever aside from now allowing for more growth, yield, or hardiness. While not necessarily negative, it is certainly a lack of positive.

‘God’ Clones

This term is thrown around a lot within the farming community of RUST and can denote any clone that has all positive attributes. Going one step further, perfection is often depicted as a GGGYYY clone, followed closely by GGYYYY or GGGGYY. These clones produce the most and fastest resources. 

Serious planters highly seek them out on maps everywhere. Depending on the time of wipe, the type of server, and the population, these ‘perfect’ clones can fetch anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand scrap to the right buyer.

Growth Cycles

Like the family road trip you endured as a child, there are roads or ‘steps’ that must be taken and gone through before we arrive at our final destination – a finished high-yield crop. Some steps are simple time-expending formalities designed to increase the time between plant and harvest. 

Others are milestone triggers, acting as the beginning of the ability to interact in a particular way with the plant. Percentages are used to further articulate the completion through each stage, after which reaching 100% will result in a transformative change to the next cycle. Below are the details surrounding each cycle, with times listed done based on a pumpkin seed with no Growth traits.


Once the player plants a seed, the introduction stage begins. During this stage, the only interactions that occur are genetic reveals for seeds that didn’t have predetermined traits and the quality of the specimen within the planter box. Health will naturally be at its lowest during this phase, yielding 0, and the stage itself will progress incredibly fast to Seedling.  

Total time in Seed Phase: 120 seconds (Converts at Age 2 Minutes)


The Seedling cycle also progresses very fast in comparison to later cycles, but the plant is more established at this point with a marked increase in health, ticking upward with stage completion.

Total time in Seedling Phase: 15 minutes (Converts at Age 17 Minutes)


One step closer, and the plant is now a bit larger. At the sapling phase, players may directly interact with a Menu Wheel by holding the E key while facing the plant. From here, your options are to Eat, Harvest, or Clone the plant.

This stage is crucial for those attempting to mass-clone their genetically engineered product. While the Harvest option will likely result in 0 return, cloning Hemp or any Berry will return three clones, and food-based plants such as Corn, Pumpkins, and Potatoes will return two clones.

Total time in Sapling Phase: 14 minutes (Converts at Age 31 Minutes)


This phase is the most integral to the genetic manipulation process. While we haven’t yet gone over the theocrafting required to develop stronger, higher-demand genetics, keep this stage in mind for the future.

Total time in Crossbreeding Phase: 2 minutes (Converts at Age 33 Minutes)


The maturity phase represents the first growing steps of newly formed genetic signatures. While most larger plants, such as pumpkins and corn, will not yield fruit during this stage, smaller things like berries and potatoes might yield one or two towards the 90th percentile of growth. It’s best to wait until ripe, though.

Total time in Maturing Phase: 42 minutes (Converts at Age 1 Hour 15 Minutes)


Fruiting represents the first stage of substantial Yield growth. Early portions of the stage hint towards the total yield that will come, but only through patience and waiting will you get the absolute most out of your crop. Yield fraction is also especially important to pay attention to, as 2.49 will give you two pumpkins, but 2.5 will give you three.  

Total time in Fruiting Phase: 39 minutes (Converts at Age 1 Hour 54 Minutes)


As with real-world fruit or berries, ripeness represents the peak of edibility. Plants at this stage have stopped increasing in yield amount and are now primed to be picked. This phase lasts an especially long amount of time to give players the opportunity to harvest their crop before it rolls over to our next iteration.

Total time in the Ripe Phase: 3 hours & 52 minutes


Plants during this phase have passed into the nether and are but husks of their former selves. Some plants will leave behind a visible, withered mess that can be cleared with some plant fiber. Nothing living can be harvested at this stage.

Conditions & Stats

Growing plants in RUST is a numbers game, through and through. Every growing plant has needs, and while reasonably consistent across the board, some might require more of one thing or less of another. While upfront, the newer farmer may find this daunting. The process is considerably more manageable if you understand each stat line.


Stats are the real-time facts that tell you how a plant is doing at any given time. They’re broken down as follows:


The physical health of your plant strengthens through the various stages previously laid out. Plants can be attacked and destroyed by any variety of weapons or tools, which is especially important if you make a booboo while doing gene altering.


This is the real-world age of the plant, represented as a chronological readout since the seed or clone was planted. It is not particularly important to the average bulk farmer, but the genetic trait Growth directly impacts it. Each Growth gene present decreases the required real-world time required to go from Seed to Ripe.


Stages, as described above, are the varying growth cycles a plant must go through to reach ripeness. There is a percentile readout per stage to indicate how far through a stage each plant is.

Water Intake

This is the real-time water requirement (fresh, never salty) for a particular plant in milliliters per real-world minute. The average sprinkler positioned directly over a large planter box will dispense 7mLs of water every six seconds, or 70mLs per minute. 

While our other farming guides go into greater detail about setting up automated sprinkler systems, this guide will be limited to the range of saturation that is ideal for each plant type. 

Overwatering and Underwatering are detrimental, if not disastrous, to any growing plant. The numbers below are an estimated range per plant, contingent on genetics.

Water mLs Minimum in Large Plant BoxWater mLs Maximum in Large Plant Box
All Berries~4250~7250

Plant Yield

Yield represents the number of expected items that would be harvested if you picked the plant right now. The yield is always presented both as a whole and as a decimal, with the decimal being the more specific. Players may intuitively pick a plant early if they estimate that a plant won’t round up to the nearest decimal point before growth is complete.


Condition is how a plant is doing ‘physically.’ Just as you’d have things like shady spots or root rot in a real-world scenario, conditions present a numerical scale of how your in-game plants get along. 

This scale ultimately results in an ‘Overall’ condition that follows the Slowest Buffalo logic. The herd is only as fast as the slowest buffalo; hence, a plant’s overall health is only as good as its lowest-scaled condition. 

These conditions are as follows:


A ceiling light hanging over a large planter box

These plants aren’t going to photosynthesize themselves. They need a little assistance. Natural sunlight is fantastic, but during nighttime, this condition can suffer unless farmers use a method to synthesize sunlight.  

We went ahead and tested every known light source in the game for effectiveness. Ceiling lights are the only light that plants respond to besides sunlight. The test was performed with industrial lights, simple lights, siren lights, flasher lights, ambient candles, lanterns and torch lights, and even huge searchlights. 

Ceiling lights are it. Install one above your planter box, and you will be ready. It’s the easiest 100%, aside from Ground.


Be sure to read above about ideal water intake. A simple pump system near an inland lake or river is ideal unless you want to set up a desalination system via a Powered Water Purifier, but that can be time-consuming. Consider how you will satiate your farm’s water requirements before building it, and ensure that whatever you choose is easily scalable.  


Assuming you’re using a planter box for all of your farming, getting 100% for your ground condition is as simple as looking at said planter box and pressing E when the “Open” option appears. Insert Fertilizer into any of the six slots, and you’re finished. 

Each seed immediately consumes one Fertilizer when planted, or if already planted, 1 when the Fertilizer is inserted. Remember that a planter box without Fertilizer will never exceed 67%. 


The design for the temperature statistic is fairly intuitive to how you’d expect plants to react in real-world scenarios. 

  • Green Biomes areas are fairly consistent and nearly 100% at all times, as the weather doesn’t deviate from what you’d assume to be warm. 
  • Desert Biomes are good during the daytime but will need an Electric Heater during the night cycle. It gets mighty cold in the desert at night. 
  • In Arctic Biomes, you will need an electric heater pointed at your planter box at all hours if you expect them to survive. 

Plants with H genetics due stand up to drops in temperature better, but when planting resources, you will want that consistent 100% across the board.


Just remember, the slowest buffalo dictates the pace of the herd. Any one condition will impact your plants negatively, so focus on each and ensure that your plants are always Overall 100%.

Genetic Manipulation

It needs to be prefaced that the RUST world of competitive farming is an absolute bloodsport – everyone wants the best clones right away so that they can profit and provide for their clan better than the competition. There are rumors that humble farmers will even go so far as to craft satchels if they hear that their unfriendly neighbor has acquired a God Clone that they don’t have yet.

With this in mind, we will go through the basic process of how genetic cloning works in theory and will be providing links for the fine folks at Rustbreeder with our final thoughts. We are going to greatly limit the theocrafting and hypothetical min/maxing, instead leaving that to the true heroes within the community that break into game files to figure out the mysteries of the farming universe.

The Hardest Part is Getting Started

Without getting overly dramatic, producing consistent perfect clones can be tough or downright daunting to the uninitiated. Even for those of us who do it wipe in and wipe out, the job ahead can be staggering. Aside from getting your farm set up, there are a few things that you can do to get a leg-up on your hempire (or potatopire?).

  • The absolute best thing you can do, short of being given perfect clones by benefactors, is pick up every type of crop or berry that you intend to plant and keep the seeds. Spend hours in the deepest, darkest wooded areas, just running around collecting as many berries, bushes, and potatoes as you can. It will help a lot later. Aim to have at least 50 of each seed type you wish to propagate into perfect clones.
  • Orient your planter boxes so that the default furthest point from you when placing is oriented, pointing North (more on this later).
  • Socialize with other players in chat and use trading windows or vending machines at Bandit Camp or Outpost to buy good starter clones or decently priced perfect clones.
  • Encourage your teammates not to discard seeds when they eat pumpkins, corn, or whatever you have for calories. Put small boxes around your base for quick seed depots.

A Few Rules

There are a lot of questions with any system with as many possible variables as planting and cloning. We could get them out of the way right off the bat.

  • Plants of different types or species have ZERO impact on any plant that isn’t the same in name and color. Potatoes only impact Potatoes, just as Green Berries only impact GREEN berries.  
  • Planter boxes do NOT cross-pollinate. Regardless of orientation or closeness, what you plant in planter box number one CANNOT impact planter box number two.
  • Negative Genetic Traits are always the dominant trait, which is why we must go through such a hassle to manipulate them into something else.
  • Genetics isn’t an exact science game; sometimes, the odds are too much to overcome on the first try. Always protect your most positive clones, and ensure you have plenty before attempting to cross-strain them into something better.
  • Genetic traits do not rotate from position to position within a clone – a plant with the genetic signature GHGGYG cannot transpose to GGHYGG spontaneously. It will remain from left to right as it is, no matter how many times the clone is planted until genetic crossbreeding takes place.

Specimen Acquisition

A Large Planter Box with directions as a visual aid

Assuming you positioned your planter boxes to all have a fairly northern side, we will use the above visual aid to demonstrate positioning moving forward.  

When we told you that the most challenging part was getting started? HAH! Honestly, luck or random number generation is a large part of quick success or a long, drawn-out process. The first step in genetic crossbreeding is getting clones.  

What does this mean for us? Planting all of those seeds, we gathered earlier. We don’t need fully conditioned plants in the early portion of attempting to get viable clone clippings for manipulation. As stated before, seeds inherently do not have genetics until they’re planted, leading us to one popular community favorite strategy for getting desirable traits—plant seeds until they spawn good clones. 

For all but hemp, if you feel that you aren’t going to get lucky within the confines of your seeds, simply let them grow to full form, eat them, and begin again. Hemp, unfortunately, must be gathered directly from the plant to receive a seed.

Seriously, that is where we start. Plant a full nine-slot large planter full of seeds. Go through and investigate each plant seeded and look for what we call 5/6 compatible. 

Five out of every six traits should be at least a positive, and for those planting in the temperate zone, you may consider viewing Hardiness traits as negatives. 

We want to avoid cloning any plant with double negative genes, as it will be challenging to overcome these in the future through genetic weight mathing. Furthermore, we want to ensure that we never take multiple clones with THE SAME NEGATIVE in the same slot. This will be relevant later.

We are looking to allow any plant that is naturally close to the end goal of the perfect specimen. Depending on your luck and the number of seeds you have, this could go very well or poorly. Once you have identified which specimens you wish to clone of your original nine plants, take a Hatchet to the rest—literally. 

Allow those remaining prospects to reach the Sapling stage, and then clone them. Repeat this process until you have run out of seeds completely or a perfect specimen has naturally presented itself to you. If the latter is true, congratulations – you’ve beaten the odds. If not, read on McDuff.

When deciding to crossbreed plants, we’re looking for the right positives in the right places. Traits appear and transcribe unidirectionally. When a plant enters the crossbreeding cycle, it will begin to take on the dominant or mathematically intuitive traits of its neighboring plants of the same type. 

If we use the above image as an example, True Center would be impacted by and take genes from all eight other plants around it. However, another slot, such as South West, would only be affected by those positions directly touching it, those being Center West, True Center, and South Center. Let us begin by looking at the unidirectionality we discussed for trait transfer with simple one-to-one plant exchange:

GGGYYY one-to-one added with GGGYYG can only ever become one of the starting genetic strains, in that the sequences are the same except for that 6th spot – Y or G. It has a chance to remain a Y or become a G. It can do nothing else unless another strain is introduced. Those slots that are equally paired with matching genetics will remain the same, and the 6th slot will have a 50/50 chance of remaining or transforming since both genetic slots are Positive.

Conversely, GGGYYY, one-to-one, added with GGGYYX, will ALWAYS become GGGYYX. 

Traits are transferred dependent on a system called Genetic Weighting. Green, or Positive genetic traits, have a genetic weight value of 0.6. Negative traits have a genetic weight value of 1.0. This means that if you were using a simple three-plant system, attempting to convert a genetic negative trait of a central plant to those of the positive flanking plants, you would need to have a similar G or Y on both flanked sides IN THE SAME SLOT with a collective genetic weight of 1.2 to overcome the central plants theoretical X with a genetic weight of 1.0. This is where the math gets really fun. 

We must begin to view planter boxes like equations. Let’s lay out a straightforward five-plant example.

Plant 2
Plant 1
Plant 3
Plant 5
Plant 4

In the above example, if all of these plants were seeded at the same time, the results are going to vary. Because all of the plants are different beginning strands, each will be impacted by the ones directly touching it. 

After that, we simply do the math to determine their outcomes. As far as equations go, we do basic addition/subtraction, stacking each genetic sequence on top of one another, as shown below. Each different genetic signature (G, Y, H, X, and W) can only stack with identical genes. Using two G’s gives a genetic weight of 1.2, whereas a G and a Y would remain separate as 0.6 and 0.6. In the game of genetics, only the king of the hill matters, so the largest combined weight wins out.  

Plant 1 will be calculated as such:

Plant 1
  • G or Y – 1.2=1.2 50/50
  • Y – 1.2 > 1.0/0.6
  • G – 1.8 > 1.0
  • G or Y – 1.2=1.2 50/50
  • H – 1.2 > 1.0/0.6
  • G – 1.2 > 0.6/0.6

The final product for plant one during crossbreeding would be GYGYWG – despite the positive gene found in the fifth position of both plant one and plant four, their non-similar nature doesn’t allow their genetic weight to increase beyond 0.6, and thus the 1.0 W wins out. Each other plant would then be tabulated on its own merits as separate equations based on the original genes present at the time of planting. For a more rich example, I have completed these alternate equations below.

Plant 2 will be calculated as such:

Plant 2
  • G – 1.2 > 1.0
  • Y – 1.2 > 0.6
  • G – 1.2 > 0.6
  • Y – 1.8 > 0
  • W – 1.0 > 0.6/0.6
  • G – 1.2 > 0.6

Plant 3 will be calculated as such:

Plant 3
  • X – 1.0 > 0.6/0.6
  • G, Y or H – 0.6=0.6=0.6 = 33%/33%/33%
  • X – 1.0 > 0.6/0.6
  • Y – 1.2 > 0.6
  • W – 1.0 > 0.6/0.6
  • G, Y or H – 0.6=0.6=0.6 = 33%/33%/33%

Plant 4 will be calculated as such:

Plant 4
  • Y – 1.2 > 1.0/0.6
  • X – 1.0 > 0.6/0.6/0.6
  • G – 1.2 > 1.0/0.6
  • G or Y – 1.2=1.2 50/50
  • H – 1.2 > 0.6/0.6
  • Y – 1.2 > 0.6/0.6

Plant 5 will be calculated as such:

Plant 5
  • Y – 1.2 > 0.6
  • X – 1.0 > 0.6/0.6
  • G – 1.2 > 1.0
  • G – 1.2 > 0.6
  • H – 1.2 > 0.6
  • G, Y or H – 0.6=0.6=0.6 = 33%/33%/33%

All of this math was done to illustrate the final bit of the equation – the blank center box we left out. What if we wanted to take a combination of all of these plants and create something entirely new out of them? This is where the central slot comes in.  

Begin by planting ANY random specimen in the center of the same plant type as the original five plants, given that it doesn’t have a Negative Trait in any of the slots that the original five do. Give it a solid 15 minutes to grow on its own to reach roughly the Sapling phase. 

The rationale is that we want it to reach the crossbreeding stage before the other five plants, thus having unadulterated crossbred genetics from the other five before they have future mutations. Now, the equation changes completely, and instead of worrying about five or six outcomes, we’re only concerned with one. It will look like this:

Plant 6 will be calculated as such:

Plant 6
  • G or Y – 1.2=1.2 > 1.0 then 50/50
  • Y – 1.2 > 1.0/0.6/0.6
  • G – 1.8 > 1.0/0.6
  • Y – 1.8 > 1.2
  • H – 1.2 > 0.6/0.6/0.6
  • G or Y – 1.2=1.2 > 0.6 then 50/50

Thus, as demonstrated above by the simple introduction of the concept of double-ups, it doesn’t matter what a central genetic structure is so long as it’s flanked by multiple, similar positive structures. Because we ensured during our original cloning process that no two clones would have the same negative gene in the same unidirectional slot, thus having a guaranteed combination of at least two positive genes in each slot, we have made it mathematically impossible for anything but positive genes to pass on to our center slot.

Once we adequately harvest a stable of clones with all Positive genetic traits, we begin the process over again using the 50/50 technique. Clone each strand until you have extra, and then work within your existing structures and the math used above to manipulate your H genes to a G or Y, or simply convert a G to a Y if you’d rather one or the other.  

If all this makes absolutely zero sense to you, believe me, you aren’t alone. As promised, we here at Corrosion Hour want to give a huge shout-out to the community as a whole that has come together to create such wonderful things as Apps and Calculators that can be used to do all of this for you. In particular, we want to thank the wonderful staff and community at RustBreeder (their Discord) for all of their hard work and for their easy-to-use calculator.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the position in the plant box make any difference?

There is data that indicates the orientation of the box can have some impact on 50/50 outcomes as shown above. Players are encouraged to take to the community and visit the RustBreeder discord linked prior for more information about this min/max theory.

Where can I find the most berries to get my clones started faster?

When looking at your in-game map, areas with the darkest green forest concentration are the hotspots for not only berry growth but also hemp, potatoes, and mushrooms. Run along the forests on foot; horses tend to result in missed bushes.

Final Thoughts

Just when you thought that you had every facet of a game mastered, you delve into something you previously thought to be simple and discover that you’re an absolute novice. Once again, the community came through on this one, answering questions and providing literal databases of information on genetic manipulation and growth techniques. 

This guide humbled me as a writer, so I hope all the information presented, combined with the links, answers any question you might have come here with. Be sure to check out our Discord for our most recent updates. Be good to each other, always.

No Limit Llama's avatar

About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

View all posts by No Limit Llama →