5 Cannabis Breeders Who Changed the Game

5 Cannabis Breeders Who Changed the Game

[Editor’s Note: These are the breeders who paved the road to our happiness. They’ve changed the cannabis game with the creation of strains you purchase today. This article rightfully honors them.]

Cannabis—like asparagus, dates, mulberry, ginkgo, persimmons, and spinach—is a dioecious species, meaning that the male and female reproductive structures involved in propagation are typically found on different individual plants, rather than on a single plant (as in a monoecious species). Cannabis is also an annual, so it dies off each winter, but not before dropping seeds that will sprout the following spring, allowing the cycle of life to continue for another year.

In nature, those seeds form in the late autumn—when the male plants pollinate the females. Each time such pollination takes place the result is a genetically unique seed—one that contains DNA from both of its parents—but without the direct involvement of human beings, the amount of genetic diversity seen from generation to generation is practically pretty limited.

In theory, each time two unique varieties are crossed in this way, the result is a wholly new strain. But in practice, only the most successful of these hybrids will be stabilized and grow popular enough to earn a permanent place in the hearts of cannabis enthusiasts. Adding to the complexity (and potential confusion) of this process is the fact that until relatively recently, all of this breeding still took place in the underground, so the documentation of who created what and how is often unknown or in dispute.

But that’s just all the more reason to properly identify and honor the amazing cannabis breeders of yore who performed the alchemical feat of bringing into the world all-new, genetically distinct cannabis varietals that truly changed the game.

Dave Watson (a.k.a. “Sam the Skunkman”)

One of the most fascinating and controversial figures in cannabis history, Dave Watson (far better known as “Sam the Skunkman”) is lauded by some and vilified by others, but nobody can dispute the outsized role he’s played in the once very small world of cannabis breeders.

Watson’s journey began in Santa Cruz, California in the 1970s, where he was linked to two of the earliest cannabis breeding outfits to ever gain notoriety—the Haze Brothers and Sacred Seed Collective—both of which were instrumental in developing the early hybrid strains that helped transform American “homegrown” cannabis from a ditchweed laughingstock to the envy of the world.

In 1985, Watson was reportedly arrested on cannabis charges in California. A month later, he landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, allegedly with a box of 250,000 seeds that included Skunk #1, Original Haze, and Afghani #1—all of which had been bred or stabilized by his cannabis compatriots. Watson met immediately with emissaries from Amsterdam’s burgeoning cannabis scene, which at the time relied largely on imported hashish to supply its coffeeshops.

Along with Robert Colonel Clarke (Author of Hashish! and Marijuana Botany), he would go on to form Hortapharm, a company dedicated to collecting cannabis seeds from around the world, both to create a stable genetic library and to breed new hybrids with desirable traits. By the late 1990s, they were doing business with Dr. Geoffrey Guy, founder and chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals, which is now licensed by the British government to cultivate cannabis for use in making “whole-plant extracts” with specific ratios of THC and CBD for use as prescription medicines.

GW has since created “the first cannabis plant-derived medicine ever approved by the FDA,” but at the time, the company was in its earliest stages and still looking for cannabis seed stock to use in developing its pharmaceutical preparations.

Ben Dronkers

In the late 1960s, Netherlands native Ben Dronkers sailed on merchant ships to exotic ports of call, where he initially sought out fabric to start his own clothing company, but eventually began collecting local cannabis seeds instead. In time, his collection was truly unparalleled and boasted genetics from throughout Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. He then used those landrace strains to breed his own hybrids.

In 1985, Dronkers formed Sensi Seed Bank and began offering for sale the strains he’d collected and hybrids he’d created, including after crossing his own discoveries with recently arrived American varietals.

Among his most endearing and enduring contributions: Jack Herer, one of the all time most popular cannabis strains, named for one of the all-time most influential cannabis activists.

DJ Short

“#DjShortNewberry #DjShort. The red hue is from unintentional light bleaching. Photo and grow cred goes to: @secondgenerationgenetics” (@secondgenerationgenetics/Instagram)

According to a lengthy 2013 Grantland profile titled “The Willie Wonka of Pot,” DJ Short—the legendary, nearly mythical cannabis breeder behind Blueberry and many other classic strains—is part of a long line of plant medicine workers. His great-grandmother “used to grow pot, opium, tobacco, sage, and lavender in a backyard garden. The curtains in his grandmother’s house were made of hemp. His family used to joke, ‘If the house catches on fire, stay in for a little while and breathe.’”

Eventually he began collecting cannabis seeds from the bags of cannabis he bought as a teenager, carefully logging them and making detailed notes, as much later related in his own 2003 book Cultivating Exceptional Cannabis: An Expert Breeder Shares His Secrets:

Colombian Gold (“The smell was that of sandalwood incense, almost frankincense, and the flavor was that of a peppery incense cedar … truly psychedelic, powerful and long lasting”), Chocolate Thai (“deep, rich, chocolate, nutty, woody/spicy”); Jamaican (“Too damned strong and speedy! … It is a heart-lifting herb and I have a sensitive heart. So I am careful with the samples of the commercial J-ganga that I try”).

Then one day, in 1973, after moving to Oregon, he bought a box of cereal that came with a seed sprouter as the prize inside. That inspired him to try growing the sativa seeds he’d collected as a youth, but he found they took too long to mature and yielded too little. Next he tried smoking some indica, but found it didn’t stoke his inspiration or spark his imagination the same way as sativa.

So he set up a 16-square-foot closet grow and began to breed his own strains, mixing sativa and indica varietals and scrupulously smoking the results until he produced not just Blueberry, a marquee strain with the hue and aroma of fresh berries, but also Flo, Blue Velvet, Azure Haze, Whitaker Blues, Vanilluna, and many other varieties that have collectively changed the game—as has DJ Short’s tireless research into cultivation and breeding practices, a lifelong pursuit he continues today.

DNA Genetics

Don and Aaron (the D and A of DNA Genetics) met in Southern California and initially enjoyed the symbiotic relationship of weed dealer and customer. Then they became friends. And finally business partners.

There was never any question that they’d enter the cannabis business, as both men share a true and abiding passion for the plant. But rather than try to compete in the still grey market medical cannabis industry developing in the United States at the time, in 2004 they decided to pull up stakes and open up shop in The Netherlands.

The move put them in direct contact with Amsterdam’s legendary cannabis scene, which had been serving as a center of breeding and seed banks since the days of Dave Watson and Ben Dronkers back in the 1980s.

As new kids on the block, Don and Aaron brought with them not just enthusiasm and youthful energy, but also a whole new generation of prized California genetics which they used to create next-level cannabis hybrids like LA Confidential, Chocolope, Tangie, and Kosher Kush.

More recently, they’ve moved their operations back to California, where they’re firmly established among the largest and most respected cannabis brands in the game today.

Lawrence Ringo

Before humans began actively breeding cannabis strains for desired traits, the plant produced much less THC than it does now, and lots more CBD—perhaps even a 1:1 ratio of its two best known and most plentiful cannabinoids. But because CBD isn’t intoxicating like THC, underground breeders seeking higher highs for decades unwittingly bred CBD out of the cannabis gene pool.

Well aware of CBD’s therapeutic potential, however, in 2010 a non-profit organization called Project CBD formed to boost research into the compound, and help identify and proliferate what few CBD-rich cannabis varietals remained in circulation. From its inception, Project CBD partnered with California’s commercial cannabis testing labs to flag any bud testing high in CBD, in order to build up a breeding stock of high-CBD strains.

Sour Tsunami—bred by Lawrence Ringo of Southern Humboldt Seed Collective—was the first stabilized CBD-rich strain they found in California, a discovery that led to a revolution in medical cannabis.

Ringo himself had begun growing as early as 1971, though he remained largely in the underground until 2010 when he founded his seed company. That’s also when he had his crops lab tested for the first time, and discovered the unique medicinal properties of Sour Tsunami were due to its high CBD content (around 11%). From then until the end of his life in 2014, he focused on developing additional CBD-rich strains, including Harle-Tsu, Canna-Tsu, Swiss-Tsu, and ACDC.

Original Post: Leafly: 5 Cannabis Breeders Who Changed the Game

I Found a Seed in My Bag of Cannabis. Can I Grow It?

I Found a Seed in My Bag of Cannabis. Can I Grow It?

[Editor’s Note: Is that bagseed you’ve found good to grow? Find out what makes a seed viable here.]

You just picked up a new strain that you’ve been waiting to try. The moment you get home, you rip into the package and take in its smell. When you dive in deeper, you spot something buried within the bud. It’s small, round, and has an outer casing. Congratulations, you’ve found a seed. More specifically a bagseed, as the seeds found in packaged or bagged flower are commonly called. Maybe congratulations aren’t quite in order. Depending on where it came from, who you ask, and if the seed is viable or not will affect your level of excitement.

While finding a seed in your stash is not ideal for truly exceptional flower and much less common than it once was, it is a pretty ordinary occurrence. Anyone who has been smoking cannabis for some time has undoubtedly come across a bagseed. Sometimes you’ll notice one when grinding down some flower or you’ll see it pop, spark, and crackle as the heat of your lit bowl pops the precious kernel within.

Ok, so you found a bagseed. Now what?

Is Bagseed Good or Bad?

Seeds found in finished cannabis flower can develop for a number of reasons. A nearby male plant can accidentally pollinate a flowering female. More commonly, though, they’re a sign of stress and can be attributed to high temperatures during the final stages of flowering or an exaggerated spike in climate or environment.

Seeds can also form in plants with genetic disorders or instability, like hermaphrodites—plants that develop both male and female reproductive parts. Generally these conditions are viewed as negatives, and for that reason alone, temper your expectations with any plants you start from a bagseed.

If found before lighting it on fire, the first thought from excited smokers is: “Let’s grow some weed!” But before you jump in headfirst, ask yourself a few questions to help decide if it’s worth the time and energy to grow the seed.

Was the Seed Found in Good Cannabis?

The first and most apparent question you should ask yourself is whether you enjoy the cannabis that the seed turned up in. If you don’t like the flavor, effects, or even the looks of the bud, then it’s probably not worth growing. Strains like the legendary Chemdog wouldn’t be possible without adventurous smokers planting and proliferating the seeds they found in a bag. So don’t discount your bud just because there’s a seed or two in it. While not ideal, it could be the origins of the next great cannabis strain.

Are You Ready to Grow?

Growing cannabis takes a certain level of commitment. Plants need nurturing for months in the right environment with a close eye for detail. All this takes investment. Whether it’s time, energy, or financial resources, you’ll have to commit to the whole process if you want to produce something you’re proud of. Fear not! If you’re simply curious to learn how cannabis grows and less concerned with the overall outcome, you can plant a couple of bagseeds outside and see what the result are. If you’re ready for a more serious approach, make sure you have the space for a proper garden and pop the seeds to see what fruit they bear. That is, if the seeds you found are viable.

Is the Seed Viable?

If you like the strain and you’re ready to grow, then it comes down to whether or not the seed is viable, or able to successfully germinate. For a seed to be viable, it must be mature enough to have a completely formed genetic blueprint and it must be strong enough to “pop” through its hard casing and sprout its crucial tap root. Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell. Stress on a plant and unstable environments can produce bagseeds, and often, a bagseed’s viability is questionable at best.

There are a few indicators that will give you a sense of whether the seed is worth germinating. Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell. Visual signs like tiger stripes—dark stripes that resemble tiny roots or veins on a leaf—are generally good. A seed with a solid shell will withstand a little pressure when pinched between your fingers. If it crumbles or cracks, the seed will be effectively destroyed, but don’t agonize over your loss.

In some cases, even if a seed isn’t completely mature, there’s still a chance it could be viable. But often these are extremely weak, take long to develop, and express other unfavorable characteristics. Growers usually discard weak plants to free up space in their limited gardens. However, I’ve watched seeds that I had zero faith in their ability to germinate turn into strong, healthy plants—but that isn’t common. You might also find a mature seed that has been physically damaged through poor handling, like rough trimming. In those cases, it probably isn’t worth the effort to try and germinate the seed. But if the seeds you found look decent or even questionable, you might as well germinate them and see what sprouts.

Time to Germinate

Viable or not, there’s only one sure way to find out. Once you’ve decided you’re going to see what those beans can do, it’s time to germinate. Germination is the incubation period that encourages seeds to sprout and develop into a new plant.

There are a number of different ways you can germinate cannabis seeds, but they all require the same things to be successful: water, heat, and air. For a complete, step-by-step guide, check out our article How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds. Even if your seed sprouts fast and grows vigorously, it has roughly a 50/50 chance of being female and producing seedless, cannabinoid-rich flowers.

Remember, once a seed germinates, the real work begins. Sexing, selecting, vegetative growth, flowering, and the eventual harvest all lie ahead.

Original Post: Leafly: I Found a Seed in My Bag of Cannabis. Can I Grow It?

Indoor vs. Greenhouse vs. Outdoor Cannabis: Which Should You Buy?

Indoor vs. Greenhouse vs. Outdoor Cannabis: Which Should You Buy?

[Editor’s Note: This is the big debate. Indoor? Outdoor? Greenhouse? If the grower is good, does it really matter? It might just be a … well, read this and find out.]

When it comes to which type of cannabis to buy, the common belief is: indoor = that fire, and outdoor = that garbage. But in reality, there’s no such thing as a “best” type of cannabis. Instead, the choice all comes down to consumer preference and a desired experience.

The Methods: Indoor, Greenhouse, and Outdoor

There are three main methods of growing cannabis: indoor, sun-grown with light deprivation (greenhouse), and full-term sun-grown (outdoor). Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Indoor

Growing cannabis indoors gives growers complete control of the entire production process, including room temperature and air circulation.

However, according to Bryan Gabriel, CEO of Washington’s Gābriel Cannabis, this advantage can turn against you. “If you get [toxins] in your grow room, it’s harder to get rid of because it’s contained in a little environment,” he told Leafly. “If we keep it clean, it’s a pro, because we can control [the airflow]. But if you’re not watching your CO2 levels and reading your plants, and if those plants start spitting out some toxins, this can lead to CO2 poisoning.”

Gabriel says another advantage is that some of the newer cannabis genetics grow better in indoor environments. With damn near every strain on the market being a hybrid nowadays, this could be the explanation behind why cannabis retailers prefer indoor cannabis over the others.

Greenhouse

The second major method of growing cannabis is sun-grown with light deprivation, otherwise known as greenhouse. Light deprivation allows growers to block out the sun with tarps, tricking plants into flowering faster.

Growing with natural sunlight supports a full and natural terpene profile. Even if plants grow big and full under artificial lighting, the results will still be different from plants grown under true sunlight.

The greenhouse method also has less of an impact on earth’s natural resources. Sun-grown cannabis takes a lot less energy than all of those lights and fans used to power indoor growing, promoting sustainability by leaving a lot smaller of an ecological footprint.

Jeremy Moberg, CEO of Washington’s CannaSol, says that light deprivation produces the highest quality product with the least impact on the environment.

However, there are disadvantages to sun-grown cannabis, as growers have to work around the climate and season, while indoor growers can produce cannabis year-round.

Outdoor

Full-term outdoor growing is the most natural and least expensive way to grow cannabis. It takes no lights and no fans and no tarps, and only uses tents, sunlight, and soil. The obvious disadvantage of this method is that plants are exposed to the elements (environment, temperature, pests, etc.), which could have a detrimental effect on the quality of the flower.

However, when done correctly, Anders Taylor, CEO of Walden Cannabis, tells me, “As a point of fact, outdoor-produced flower will always enjoy a broader, more intense, more deeply penetrating spectrum of light. This advantage allows outdoor grown plants to more fully express their genetic potential.”

Which Should You Buy?

So, if there’s no “best” way to grow cannabis, it all comes to down your personal preference and sought-after experience.

When asked why consumers would choose indoor-grown cannabis over the alternatives, Gabriel says, “You have to be spraying [pesticides] on your plants outdoors, because there [are pests] outside. So if you compare indoor to outdoor, you would probably have a lot cleaner cannabis in general from an indoor grow just because of mold, spores, bugs, and things they have to spray [to protect the plant].”

Unlike fruit, which you can clean with water, anything sprayed on cannabis during flowering gets stuck to the trichomes. “I think that’s probably why the trichomes are a little more pronounced on an indoor grown,” says Gabriel.

For consumers who choose experience over everything, sun-grown cannabis with light deprivation may be the choice for you. “The sun does have different spectrums that indoor can’t really duplicate. It can feed off different terpenes or cannabinoids that enhance [plants] a little bit more, if someone does it the right way,” says Gabriel.

With a greater understanding that effects are most likely derived from terpene and cannabinoid profiles, cannabis consumers are turning to sun-grown cannabis.

“Whether it be called light-dep, sun-grown, or greenhouse, it is quickly becoming the educated consumers’ preference as they learn that light deprivation produces greater amounts of terpenes and cannabinoids. Light deprivation combined with living soils is, in my book, the best weed,” says Moberg of CannaSol.

For consumers who champion sustainability and environmental preservation over anything, the answer may be full-term outdoor cannabis, which is the most natural way of growing cannabis.

“Outdoor cannabis is best for citizens that care about our future,” says Taylor of Walden Cannabis. “Purchasing products made from outdoor-grown cannabis is the only way to support environmentally friendly cannabis production. Outdoor requires no energy for cooling, no energy to help plants photosynthesize, and we regenerate and recycle our nutrients.”

In addition to being the most sustainable cannabis option, full-term outdoor cannabis also tends to be much less expensive than the alternatives. This is not because it is trash, but instead, because full-term requires less overhead to produce, which allows growers to sell it for a lower price.

Still, we must acknowledge that not all full-term outdoor cannabis is created equal, as some is completely destroyed by outdoor elements. So if this is the choice for you, it’s best to find quality producers that have truly mastered the process of high-quality production.

Original Post: Leafly: Indoor vs. Greenhouse vs. Outdoor Cannabis: Which Should You Buy?

Patented Pot: What Is a Proprietary Marijuana Strain? 

Patented Pot: What Is a Proprietary Marijuana Strain? 

[Editor’s Note: There’s no telling what will happen if cannabis strains can get patented. How does a patent get applied to a weed strain? Read this and find out.]

As the crowds shouldering and elbowing for position at the cup winners booth at any given local cannabis expo demonstrate, marijuana genetics are a very big deal.

Seed-heads can tell you all about why this pack is really worth $1,000 or why these seeds from this hype strain are bunk or why it doesn’t matter what genetics you have if you don’t know how to grow it. With the right marketing, a good strain can even make a marijuana empire — for proof, take a peek at what Cookies is up to now.

But that’s also very Cannabis 1.0. What matters right now for any publicly traded marijuana company are proprietary strains and acquiring a bank of exclusive strains, as several firms have done over the past few months.

Or so they claim.

Pink Sheet Players Fall in Line

In November, an outfit called International Cannabis Corporation, which was trading on the penny-stock “pink sheets” at 0.27 a share at end of business on Tuesday, announced that it had bought out the 120-strain portfolio of a seed bank called Green Gene Genetics.

This was followed a little more than a month later by the news from Agraflora Organics, a Vancouver, BC-based firm that has an ownership stake in at least one Canadian licensed producer. The firm announced it had bought out a “large library of cannabis seed varieties” from a genetics firm called Vendure Genetics Labs, who will sometime this year roll out “184 new varieties” — all of which will be exclusively produced and marketed by Agraflora.

If you’re asking yourself, “who the hell are these companies?” don’t feel ashamed. They are not exactly prominent players in the marijuana world. Both Agraflora and International Cannabis Corp. operate on what you could accommodatingly call the margins of the legal cannabis world: the pink sheets, where companies can make any claim they please without raising attention from pesky regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Web searches for “Green Gene Genetics” turn up not much aside from press releases touting ICC’s acquisition of the firm, and there isn’t much of a presence of “Vendure Genetics Labs” aside from news of its deal with Agraflora.

In a way, both companies are aping earlier announcements from Canopy Growth Corporation, sometimes touted as the cannabis industry’s first unicorn, which in late 2016 announced to the world (and investors) that it was working on proprietary genetics.

Proprietary Pot in the Present

There are two ways to look at this trend. One is that some marginal players picked up companies nobody has heard of in an attempt to bolster their image for would-be investors, perhaps in an attempt to follow the winning blueprint left by an industry leader.

Another is that, eventually, there will be bidding wars for marijuana genetics by major publicly traded companies. But in order for that to happen, and in order for it to matter beyond the depths of stock-traders’ message boards, a few more things need to go down first.

There’s a reason why growers buy seeds rather than trying to reverse-engineer their competition’s hype strain: breeding is a pain in the butt. It takes a long time, a lot of effort, and a willingness to fail and to reassess before trying again. Not every investor has that kind of patience. Thus, there is a market for stable and solid genetics as a shortcut to an impressive “portfolio” of strains — good news if you are a cannabis company trying to stand out from an increasingly crowded field.

But in order for any kind of property to be truly “proprietary,” it must have an owner. And ownership can be decided in only so many ways, such as with a registered trademark or patent, which then must be defended in court. In order to patent a marijuana strain, you have to have a good idea of what exactly you are patenting, which means you need to know the strain’s genetic makeup.

There are companies working in this arena, but the science is still ahead of law and business. So basically, even if you have a pretty good idea of what your strain is, whether you can actually call it yours and prevent anyone else from growing it and thereby create a market for your strain beyond the seed bros, remains to be seen.

This is not to say it won’t happen. It will. Someday. And this is not to say companies don’t have unique strains all their own. They surely do — but for now, their competitors might, too, and there really isn’t much they can do about it aside from gripe on Instagram.

TELL US, does knowing that a strain is rare make you more likely to purchase it?

The post Patented Pot: What Is a Proprietary Marijuana Strain?  appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Patented Pot: What Is a Proprietary Marijuana Strain?  was posted on Cannabis Now.

Photos: Cannabis Goes Beyond Organic in California’s Wine Country

Photos: Cannabis Goes Beyond Organic in California’s Wine Country

[Editor’s Note: A fabulous day-in-the-life of a biodynamic cannabis farm photo series. For growers and those who love them.]

Terra Luna Farms grew almost 50 different strains on two outdoor parcels licensed for up to an acre of canopy in 2018.

Harvest yield totaled around 1,600 dried, cured pounds with an estimated wholesale value of around $2.8 million.

Terra Luna battled a late splash of rain that threatened mold in October. Biodynamic farmers cannot combat mold or mildew with powerful, synthetic chemistry.

“There’s no silver bullets,” said Mike Bensinger, a longtime biodynamic evangelist from the wine industry.  “If you have a problem you’re already fucked. It’s a super-anticipative type of farming.”

sparc Weed
(Jason Henry for Leafly)

SPARC’s harvest reaches consumers as high-quality top-shelf buds, as well as cannabis oil that goes into vape pens and edibles.

Terra Luna farms is situated in the Moon Mountain region of Sonoma County. The growing location and inputs influence the final product, they said.

“Both flowers flavors and effects are enunciated by the unique climate of the Moon Mountain AVA which benefits from a warmer climate just above the fogline and a consistent breeze with winds from both the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay,” SPARC states.

“The finish has been great,” said Terra Luna owner Ereneta.

“If anything it’s been a little scary. We’ve had deja vu with several red flag warnings up until today about windy dry weather. We have a little PTSD.”

SPARC founder Erich Pearson has survived not only the brutal transition from medical cannabis to recreational in the brutal market of San Francisco. Wildfire tested his renegade spirit in 2017.

SPARC's Erich Pearson after Nuns Fire. (Courtesy SPARC)(Courtesy SPARC)

Above, Pearson amid the ruin of the Nun’s Fire. The fires interrupted a multi-year plan to get the farm Demeter-certified.

Michael Bensinger at Terra Luna(Courtesy SPARC)

Biodynamic evangelist Mike Bensinger, left, helps remediate Terra Luna farms after the Nuns Fire.

“It’s really important for plants to have some relationship to humans,” said Bensinger, a local wine celebrity and biodynamic grower.

(Jason Henry for Leafly)

A tag denoting strain type sticks out of the soil next to a cannabis plant.

Biodynamic farming and demeter-certification is all about the soil. The unique, local soil gives a plant its terroir—or unique smell, taste and effect.

Terra Luna’s soil needed three year’s work to get demeter certified. Conventional farmland cannot qualify for five years unless they remediate.

Terra Luna grew in fabric pots with holes to allow the roots to tap into the ground soil.

(Courtesy SPARC)

After the fires, SPARC planted cover crops included purple vetch, fava beans and oat hay helped fix the nutrient nitrogen. Those crops got mulched back into the soil. “Biodynamic cannabis farming, with its emphasis on good health, natural inputs and cycles, and honoring the Earth, is the best way to grow this healing plant.”

“It’s not easy to grow this way, but it is simple, because it most closely mimics what nature would do itself,” Pearson said. “The result is a clean, flavorful cannabis with extraordinary powers. I’m delighted to be able to offer these two new strains to our patients and adult consumers alike.”

Biodynamic farming uses all on-farm inoute like manure for fertilizers, instead of synthetic nutrients.(Courtesy SPARC)

All-natural compost included worm castings, manure, all organic OMRI-certified inputs. Going biodynamic means sourcing all farm inputs from the farm itself. Terra Luna also fertilized with bat guano from nearby deposits.

SPARC worked to pioneer biodynamic certification for cannabis since 2015.

Finishing Strong

(Jason Henry for Leafly)

With trichomes ripe and mature, farm workers chop cannabis stalks and move them on trays into a processing building. Strains of 2018 included Cookies, Tangie, Bubba Kush, and Remedy.

Terra Luna demeter harvest(Jason Henry for Leafly)

Workers process the cannabis—removing debris and fan leaf, spreading out buds for drying. The fall’s full-sun harvest creates a seasonal spike in demand for labor. Processing wages are declining while regulatory costs have kicked in for the first time.


(Jason Henry for Leafly)

Hundreds of pounds of cannabis dries in a large drying room. The buds get laid flat in single layer per tray. The stackable trays go on rolling dollies. Buds dry for five to seven days in a cold, dark room humming with fans.

Later they go to move on to a stage called ‘curing’. During curing, buds get trimmed and polished.


(Jason Henry for Leafly)

A cannabis bud dries in the drying room. Fresh on shelves at SPARC’s four Bay Area dispensaries this fall, Biodynamic Black Light offers potent, high-THC indica effects. The musky, floral cross of Black Domina and Northern Lights #1 can help with relaxation and sleep.


(Jason Henry for Leafly)

A top-shelf cannabis strain sits in the gloved hand of a processor. Strains of 2018 include Biodynamic Purple Punch is an indica flower with a sweet berry-like flavor and hails from a beloved cross between Larry OG and Grand Daddy Purple which produces a sedating feeling perfect for winding down the day.

Terra Luna’s official demeter-certification coincided with its harvest hitting shelves.

Terra Luna's demeter certification(Courtesy SPARC)

Original Post: Leafly: Photos: Cannabis Goes Beyond Organic in California’s Wine Country

The Official High Times Magazine STASH Awards of 2018

The Official High Times Magazine STASH Awards of 2018

[Editor’s Note: Learn about the best of the best, for growing the best cannabis. A fabulous listing!]

Growers rejoice! The STASH Awards are officially here

Our yearly roundup of the best grow gear of the year started in 1998 and was dubbed the STASH Awards (for Significant Technological Achievements in Secretive Horticulture). Behold our informed choices for the finest cultivation equipment of 2018.

BC Northern Nights Roommate

BC Northern Nights Roommate

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Best Grow Box: The BC Northern Lights Roommate

For almost 20 years, BC Northern Lights has created and innovated the highest-quality grow boxes on earth. The state-of-the-art units the company produces are still the only CSA/UL safety-approved boxes available, and the BCNL customer-service team provides round-the-clock support. Aspiring growers interested in growing a few plants for personal use will love the Roommate—a compact, lockable, odor-free and automated box on casters that’s discreetly shipped and ready to plug and play in soil or hydroponic applications.

Price: $2250

STASH Awards 2018

Ultra Trimmer

Best Trimming Machine: The Ultra Trimmer

The biggest knock on industrial trimmers has always been that they destroy the gland heads containing the essential oils we’re after. The units from Ultra Trimmer simulate scissors and avoid manhandling precious flowers while preserving the trichomes. The company’s even been giving live demonstrations with microscopes at our Cannabis Cups for over five years to show how gently the machines work. It’s no secret why Ultra Trimmers are the first products to be federally patented specifically for trimming cannabis.

$4,250, Collective; $8,000, Industrial

STASH Awards 2018

Quest Dehumidifier

Best Dehumidifiers: Quest Dehumidifiers

High relative humidity causes excess moisture and condensation that can ruin a ganja garden quicker than a rabbit gets fucked. Avoid potential issues with mold, mildew, and pests by employing one of the powerful dehumidifiers from Quest, each built to powerfully yet efficiently remove water from the air. At Quest, there’s a unit for every size and application, including portable and overhead versions. So take control of your environment and reap the benefits of a proper grow room climate.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Stash Box

Best Grow Tent: The Stash Box from HighDroGro

If you seek an affordable grow tent that’s easy to assemble and take down, look no further than the Stash Box. This sturdy tent is built with three windows, heavy-duty lightproof zippers, a ducting port for venting and air-purification equipment, and a removable inner flood-prevention insert tray. It’s shipped in a compact and discreet box with everything you need to get growing including T5 fluorescent lights to keep heat at a minimum, carbon filters, humidity and temperature monitors, and quiet but efficient fans.

Price: $665

STASH Awards 2018

Wiggle Worm Soil Builder

Best Worm Castings: Wiggle Worm Soil Builder

Nature provides the best plant food, and smart farmers know that earthworms are the workhorse of a productive organic garden. Rich in nutrients and trace minerals, worm poop makes for a perfect mild fertilizer and soil amendment. The odor-free castings in Wiggle Worm Soil Builder come with a money-back guarantee—so give them a try and your plants will be thankful. Mix the castings into your soil and top-dress your plants as needed for the best results.

$9.10, 4.5 lbs.; $15.49, 15 lbs.; $26.89, 30 lbs.

STASH Awards 2018

Suite Leaf Finish

Best Flavor Enhancer: Suite Leaf Finish

Proper feeding during the middle to late stages of flowering can make or break a harvest due to the specific nutritional requirements of blooming cannabis plants. Suite Leaf Finish is a vegan formulation designed to naturally enhance essential-oil production during this all-important phase of growth. Perfect for soil or hydroponics, this nutritional supplement greatly improves the flavor and scent of your flowers and will increase the terpene profile significantly. Grow loud and finish strong!

$12.82, 250 ml.; $24.65, qt.; $56.95, gal.

STASH Awards 2018

Green Cleaner

Best Pest Control: Green Cleaner from Central Coast Garden Products

We’re always looking for safe and natural ways to combat pests and powdery mildew in our gardens. Central Coast’s Green Cleaner kills mature bugs and their eggs while discouraging and repelling mold as well. The mixture coats and suffocates spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, broad mites, and russet mites. Spray it as a foliar application as needed, making sure to drench the surface of your medium and the underside of your leaves. Also, try Central Coast’s Root Cleaner to fight pathogens and pests at the soil level.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Mykos from Xtreme Gardening

Best Mycorrhizal Product: Mykos from Xtreme Gardening

Organic growers have learned the benefits of colonizing their living soil medium with a beneficial fungal network. These microbes work in conjunction with plant roots to break down nutrients and also act as an inoculant to protect the plant from pests, pathogens, and disease. OMRI-certified Mykos contains a single species found to help store plant food and water while enhancing root uptake and increasing yields substantially. Available as a granular spread or a wettable powder, this miracle product works wonders.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Under Current Evolution 9XL

Best Hydroponic System: Under Current Evolution 9XL from Current Culture H2O

Explosive hydroponic growth rates result when plant roots have access to highly oxygenated nutrient solution. The patented Sub-Current Culture system in the UCE9XL utilizes premium pumps to recirculate a supercharged fluid rich with dissolved oxygen for previously unattainable levels of absorption. The nine-plant model is perfect for a 10′ x 10′ room or tent under four 600-watt HID lights, and the XL version provides extra room for lateral growth, which greatly increases yields.

Starting at $2,054

STASH Awards 2018

Advanced Nutrients

Best Wetting Agent: Wet Betty from Advanced Nutrients

The plant scientists at Advanced Nutrients understand that when plant-food solution sits on top of hard soil, roots can’t properly absorb the vital liquid and food. Wet Betty, a non-ionic surfactant, lessens surface tension while softening and enhancing water droplets for better uptake, leading to stronger growth and bigger harvests. Great as a soil drench or foliar feed, Wet Betty helps your nutes permeate more efficiently and effectively to maximize yields.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Can-Filters

Best Air Filtration: Can-Filters

Clean air is absolutely crucial to any successful marijuana-growing op large or small. Can-Filters have been at the forefront of ventilation and filtration for nearly three decades, and the company is still innovating with its line of dependable filters, fans, ducting and accessories. The pelletized and activated charcoal in the units acts like a sponge, removing odor particles from the spent air and scrubbing it clean of any telltale scents before being expelled out of the space.

Starting at $142.13

STASH Awards 2018

Solis Tek

Best Grow Lighting: Solis Tek

Solis Tek has been at the forefront of indoor grow-lighting equipment research and technology for over a decade. Its complete line of products includes the best digital HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting systems including HPS (high-pressure sodium) and MH (metal halide) fixtures as well as cutting-edge efficient CMH (ceramic metal halide) units with both single and double-ended lamps. Solis Tek’s controllers, remote ballasts and reflectors make safely growing cannabis with multiple lighting systems heat-free and simple.

Prices vary

The Official High Times Magazine STASH Awards of 2018 was posted on High Times.

The New Methods & Technologies of Curing Cannabis

The New Methods & Technologies of Curing Cannabis

[Ed. Note: Growing cannabis is just the beginning. Then it has to be dried and properly cured for the best quality weed. Read on to learn how cutting edge growers are experimenting with their curing process.]

After watching your cannabis plants grow for months and months, it’s harvest time. You trim your crop, dry the buds, and finally, you’re ready to smoke the fruits of your labors.

Not so fast. Now you have to let the buds cure.

Curing is an integral part of the growing process, yet often overlooked. Some may not pay as close attention to this step because they’re eager to start smoking or start selling. But curing is essential to bringing out the aromas and flavors in your cannabis, and the process accentuates your strain’s terpene profile.

Plenty of superstitions and old wives’ tales abound on how to properly cure cannabis. But there are some basic, tried-and-true methods that will get your cannabis smelling and tasting great.

Legalization has helped pave the way for innovation and new methodologies, allowing entrepreneurs to rethink the entire cannabis growing process, including curing.

Here we look at three companies who are changing the game in the final, sometimes mysterious, step in the growing process.

Gold Leaf’s Long-Cure Process

Gold Leaf Gardens, out of Lacey, Washington, is experimenting with curing cannabis for long periods of time, trying to answer the question: Why can’t cannabis be aged like scotch or wine?

“Curing is more of an art than a science. Flavors and tastes are highly subjective,” says Gold Leaf Owner and Founder Nate Gibbs. “A lot of it has to do with the market, and there are two camps of smokers: people who like fresh-dried cannabis and those who like long-cured. There’s a bias toward fresh, recently harvested product.”

Gold Leaf set aside 5% of every harvest, experimenting with how different strains taste and smell when cured for 6-12 months or even more. It tracks moisture content, how often a batch gets burped, taste, and smell, month after month, trying to find the point of diminishing return when curing ceases to help the product.

And of course every strain is different and ages differently. “Bright, citrusy notes might age worse, while earthy, spicier stuff ages better,” says Gibbs.

As a small-scale producer, 5% of every harvest can be a substantial amount of product, but they are committed to this experimentation process and believe that it’s worth the effort. They grow and produce the product that they want to smoke.

Even though the market may currently be skewed toward freshly harvested product, long-curing may appeal to high-end consumers, who are willing to pay top dollar for quality. High-end Cannagars, from sister company Leira, may be the key: “There’s no drop-off in aging. They only seem to get smoother and smoother,” says Gibbs.

Yofumo’s Terpene Amplification Processes and Enfleurage

Denver, Colorado-based company Yofumo—Spanish for “I smoke”—uses science and data to unlock the secrets of the curing process.

“When we started, curing was in the Stone Age. People were still using buckets and hangers,” says Yofumo CEO Alfonso Campalans. “It was a dark art or thought of as a dark art, but the science and technology are standard. Curing has to do with consistency, repeatability, and pulling data. We love data, we don’t put anything out that we can’t back up with data.”

Yofumo sells curing units for mid- and large-scale cannabis producers, which shrink down the curing process from months to just 5-7 days. Their Pro+ Cure units approach curing from three distinct perspectives:

  • Plant on self. The most traditional approach, this practice focuses on the development and expression of a strain’s native terpene profile, taking it to the maximum level of potential genetic expression.
  • Plant on plant. This perspective allows a grower to amplify or accentuate specific aspects of the native terpene profile of a given strain.
  • Natural botanicals. Also called Enfleurage, this allows growers the ability to completely manipulate the aroma and flavor profiles of their strains with naturally derived, non-cannabis terpenes.

(Courtesy of Yofumo)

“Knowing how to manipulate the environment is paramount to the process,” says VP of Client Applications and Deployment Joe Edwards. “Moving water through the plant is the key. Environmental manipulation is just as important in the post-harvest process as manipulation is in the growing process. Curing is about water and resin—as you move water through the plant, it becomes a transfer vehicle and pushes the resin through the plant to the trichomes.”

The natural botanicals process in particular is intriguing, as you can add any flavor you want to a batch of cannabis, similar to adding bergamot to black tea to get Earl Grey. This enfleurage process has been around for centuries and has been used by the perfume industry to pull flavors out of specific plants and flowers to put into perfumes, but Yofumo’s technique is a lot more high-tech.

“Specially designed rods are saturated in a terpene profile, which in turn fuel the saturation of the atmosphere inside the unit, allowing the plant to uptake and bind the new terpene profile,” says Edwards. “These units extend the plant life cycle by manipulating environmental conditions, and thusly the flower present in that environment, allowing the plant to absorb and bind the additional terpene compounds.”

For some, the natural flavor of cannabis can be a turnoff. Much like how different flavors can be added to e-cigs and vapes, this process could allow for a multitude of different flavors to be added to a multitude of different strains, with endless combinations and permutations of flavors and terpene profiles.

“It’s the greatest puzzle I’ve ever been able to play with, seeing the development of terpene profiles and to bring out those flavors,” says Edwards.

Harvest Right’s Freeze-Dry Process

Freeze-drying cannabis has been around for a while and it’s becoming increasingly popular for small- and large-scale growers. Salt Lake City’s Harvest Right has freeze-drying units that shorten the curing process to just 24-36 hours, and are affordable and aimed at both small- and large-scale growers, and even homegrowers.

Starting off primarily in the food industry, cannabis growers and producers started coming to Harvest Right, telling wonders of their units for curing cannabis. That’s when the company developed its Pharmaceutical units line.

Talking with Project and Sales Manager Nathan Cheney, their units preserve buds and terpene profiles better than standard curing because they don’t use heat. Because of the quick cycle of the units and because the curing happens in a controlled environment, there’s a reduced risk of mold or mildew.

Growers and processors working with concentrates like hash and shatter find the units to be extremely useful. Rosin press company Pure Pressure is a reseller of theirs and has even won awards using Harvest Right’s freeze-drying machines.

Their units cure buds in three phases:

  • Deep-freeze. This brings cannabis buds down to negative 40°F or below. The colder you can get your product, the fresher.
  • Sublimation. This process turns solid ice straight to water vapor, skipping the liquid phase. A vacuum pump then kicks in, sucking out the water vapor.
  • Final dry. Which brings the temperature back up to room temp (70-80°F), taking the last bit of water content out of the buds.

Growers can control the last step of the process, if they want to control the amount of moisture left in the bud for flavor or preservation.

The units are able to dry 10-to-20-pound batches at a time, making units available for everyone, from the homegrower to large-scale producers. These small batches allow even large-scale growers the ability to control small batches of product to keep an eye on quality, and also allow them to stagger their personnel so that they don’t have to cure hundreds of pounds at a time.

Original Post: Leafly: The New Methods & Technologies of Curing Cannabis

In Photos: A Tour of Washington’s Top-Tier Gold Leaf Gardens

In Photos: A Tour of Washington’s Top-Tier Gold Leaf Gardens

Ed. Note: Gold Leaf Gardens practices biodynamic farming. Most importantly, they believe in putting people and planet before profit. The 3 Ps business model – people, planet, then profit – sets them apart from others.

Gold Leaf Gardens is a top-shelf Washington state cannabis garden with sustainable growing standards that extend beyond your average “organic” produce. Free of pesticides and grown in biodynamic, living soil, Gold Leaf’s cannabis flower has become a fan favorite in the state. (Be sure to sample their White Tahoe Cookies, Purple Punch, and Peppermint Cookiesan original strain bred in-house by Gold Leaf.)

leira gold leaf grant hindsley
Gold Leaf flower, Polar Icetracts hash rosin, Diamond Tips, and Leira Cannagars (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Gold Leaf has partnered with Polar Icetracts, an extractor known for its award-winning solventless rosin and bubble hash. Concentrates are made using Gold Leaf flower and ice water extraction, and both flower and concentrates combine in Leira Cannagars, handcrafted cannabis cigars filled with Gold Leaf flower and Polar Icetracts rosin.

I decided to pay Gold Leaf a visit to learn more about the operation and what goes into making some of the state’s best-quality cannabis products.

Hawaiian sovereignty flag (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Gold Leaf’s business began during Washington state’s medical-only era, back in 2011. But the company has its roots in the soils of Koloa, a town on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where many of Gold Leaf’s employees first learned to grow cannabis using natural, sustainable techniques.

While some growers use powerful pesticides to protect their plants, Gold Leaf aims to create an environment that’s as close to nature as possible. The company avoids pesticides completely —even those allowed under organic standards. Instead, they use beneficial bugs to control pests.

Worm in Nate Gibb’s hand (Grant Hindsley for Leafly

The plants grow in no-till soil in which an entire microbial ecosystem flourishes. During my tour, founder Nate Gibbs plucked a healthy little worm from the soil, explaining how it lives symbiotically with the plants. It’s a labor-intensive process, but it yields spectacular results. “[It’s] all about the grower’s touch,” Gibbs told me. “Our secret sauce doesn’t come from a bottle—it’s the love.”

Gibbs sits on a Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) advisory committee that’s currently working on an “organic equivalency” program for cannabis. Since cannabis remains federally illegal and the term “organic” is federally regulated, he said, calling cannabis organic could technically be considered illegal.

Rondey Durano, in cultivation, examining fan leaves (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

“The program will run parallel with the WSDA’s organic agriculture certification program,” he explained. “They will apply the same rules and standards to cannabis as they do to anything else with the organic label.”

The program is expected to roll out sometime next year.

Sarang Ngam, Lead Hash Processor (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

One thing that most struck me about the visit to Gold Leaf was how highly employees spoke of one another. “The way we treat people is more important than the bottom line,” said Sarang Ngam, the company’s lead hash processor.

When asked what products the team enjoys most, Sarang told me he likes the focused high he gets from Diamond Tip pre-rolled joints. These contain flower and rosin that have been carefully selected to complement each other so that the terpene-rich rosin enhances the flavor of the joint.

Todd Mori, in cultivation, giving the plants their daily exercise routine (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Though Gold Leaf was already one of the my favorite cannabis brands in Washington, witnessing everyone’s true passion for their work, fellow employees, and quality cannabis was inspirational.

And as a fan of their more classic strains, I’m looking forwards to tasting new strains hitting the shelves. Keep your eyes peeled for Margaritaz, Piña Colada, Koloa Sunrise, Guava Cake, Gas Werks, Sour Cherries, and Rudeboi OG.

Dope Cup Award (Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Lead photo by Grant Hindsley for Leafly

Original Post: Leafly: In Photos: A Tour of Washington’s Top-Tier Gold Leaf Gardens

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