By Phunny Pharmer
Ok, my fellow cannabis enthusiasts! In my last article, I gave you some options for choosing a seed bank. Now, I am going to help you wade through the thousands of seeds to choose from. If you have taken a few minutes and looked at a major seed bank, it is easy to see that they can have an overwhelming variety to choose from.
Once recreational cannabis became legal in Alaska, my phone started ringing with friends asking, “How do I pick? There are so many to choose from.” This seemingly endless variety to choose from is necessary because there are so many different preferences – not to mention – grow space, setup, and ability.
You can start this search with the information you do know. Is this for commercial production or does yield matter? Is this for medical or recreational use? Do you have a favorite strain? Do you have a preferred effect? Are you growing outdoors or indoors? If outdoors, do you live in an arctic climate that only gets 24hrs of daylight in the summer or do you have a regular light-dark cycle like the lower 48 states? What kind of space do you have to grow in? If growing inside, what are you willing to spend on lights and ventilation? What medium are you going to grow in? Are you interested in soil or hydroponics? This can already be overwhelming for somebody just looking for a hobby and cheap, high quality smoke. So, let’s get started.
The importance that you place on yield can really limit the pool of strains to pick from. I prefer to maximize my yield and shoot for 2lbs per 1000watt High Pressure Sodium (HPS) light, but I am willing to trade off a high yield for an unforgettable smell, taste, or preferred high. If a strain has really got my attention, then I don’t really care what it yields. This is a decision you will have to make on your own, but I will give you a couple examples.
With today’s breeders always evolving the strains on the market, you may not have to make much compromise with quality, taste and yield, but if you want to grow a very popular strain such as Girl Scout Cookies or some of the O.G. strains, then don’t expect a high yield. Even dialed-in, these are not going to give you a monster crop. These are finicky strains to grow as well. So, that will need to be taken into consideration. There are very high yielding strains that are short (indicia based), tall (Sativa based), bushy (Indicia based), single cola (does not train well), multi-cola (takes well to training), orange tasting (orange creamcicle from MTG seeds), pineapple tasting (Cinderella 99 from the Brothers Grimm Seeds) and I have even found a grape soda smelling phenotype (Money Maker in the Strain Hunters Seed line from Green House Seed Company). As you go down the list of strains, you are preparing to choose from, you will need to start making selections from what you prefer. But don’t be unwilling to compromise your position or you may just miss out on a great strain. Most of your choices will have to be on a sliding scale of your preferences in order to get as close to what you want as possible.
Ok, now that you know how much importance you want to place on yield, then you need to make a selection based on medical or recreational use. Covering all the benefits of cannabis on medical conditions is beyond the scope of this article and could easily be an article series. So, for the purposes of this article, I am going to define “Medical” as High CBD strains as this is where a lot of the medical benefits come from. Notice, I said a lot and not all. Some of the benefits are from the ratio of THC to CBD and some are from THC more than CBD. It really depends on your medical condition and tolerance for cannabis induced paranoia. You may want to look at Leafly.com for some help with this as well. They have an “Explore Strains” tab that will let you choose from “Popular”, “Mood and Activities”, “Medical”, and “Effects” and “Symptoms” as well. Then you just pick one and start exploring strains and read the reviews. This can help you start to get a feel for all the different strains out there to make a more informed decision on medical or recreational. I would also like to add that medical strains can be used and are used for recreational purposes, as well.
Everybody has a preferred effect; even if you haven’t discovered it yet. I actually have more than one. I prefer a social, relaxed effect for during the day which I get from my Orange Creamcicle Strain. If I am doing chores, then I prefer my Blue Mystic Strain (from Nirvana seeds), this strain lets me focus on the task at hand. But I have to be careful with it because it can cause paranoia with me. For night time, I prefer a relaxing, couch-lock strain, to get me to sleep, such as Master Kush (from Nirvana) or Money Maker (Strain Hunters). For pain tolerance, I am currently favoring some Critical Kush (Barney’s Farm). If I just want to feel good and go on a road trip or hike or something to that affect, then I pick my Cinderella 99 strain which smells like pineapples when it’s trimmed. It is like a fine fruity wine when its jar cured, and gives a feeling that can only be described as euphoria when smoked. I really like C99!!!
As I live in Alaska, most of my choices of strains are based on indoor grow compatibility. I am currently playing with a landrace Thai strain that is the first generation of seeds grown outside of its wild environment and I am doing this indoors. I would never recommend a beginner take on a task such as this because it takes meticulous attention to match native climates and a 16-18 week flowering cycle.
Most indoor strains can be sprouted, vegged, and bloomed in less time than the flowering cycle of that Thai strain. This plant will have to be topped, tied, and trained to conform to an indoor grow room and many things can go wrong in the 5-6 months it will take to finish this strain. My point to this is with some experience you are not limited to indoor strains, but save that until you have a few years under your belt of successful cycles.
Most indoor strains will do well outdoors in other legal states because they are bred for fast finish and short bush plants. However, as I noted with the Thai strain – most, if not all, outdoor strains will be a challenge for even experienced growers, if attempted indoors. If choosing to do an outdoor strain in Alaska, then look to ruderalis based strains that can flower under 24 hours of light and finish early.
Make sure the growth cycle is no longer than 70 days from germination to harvest. Ruderalis based strains are also called auto-flower strains and can also be grown indoors and don’t require you to use a timer for the 12/12 flowering light cycle. This may be of some interest to beginner growers, but because they automatically start to flower based on time (not light) there is little to no room for error with these strains and the yield and quality can easily be lowered by a simple beginner mistake such as over watering or wrong pot size. So, it’s my recommendation to save a serious attempt at these till you get a good grasp of growing.
Grow space is going to be a big deciding factor for most. As with the Thai strain example form earlier you don’t want to put a plant in a closet that grows for 6 months before it’s done…it just won’t fit. Not to mention, its preferred wattage of light per sq/ft is 60 or better. If you are looking to do a small grow on a budget, then look to plants that are indicia based as they require less light, less height, and a shorter life cycle for things to go wrong in. If you are not going to spend a lot of money on climate control, you will also want to find a strain that is mold and disease resistant. Something important to note here is the more dense high volume colas require you to have a tighter grip on humidity and air flow than some of the OG Kush hybrid strains that don’t really form big colas.
Bud rot will ruin a crop for a beginner grower without that grower finding out until it’s too late. Larger colas, like the critical mass hybrids, will require you to maintain a 40% or lower humidity level in your grow room. This means a dehumidifier and more expenses. So, if you are dreaming of arm sized colas and giant yields, don’t expect to do it on a low budget grow. Some breeders will even recommend the type of growing medium that a specific strain responds to best. Some strains will do well in any medium. I prefer organic water only mediums for strains that you really want to bring the smell out in and hydroponics for low maintenance, set-your -timers and take- a- trip set ups.
Ok, now that we have covered some basic questions, I am going to do a seed bank search with seedsman.com. I feel like their selection options make it easiest for a beginner to search for what they want.
You will notice at the top of the page under the social medial tabs there is a link that says “Strain Finder”… click that link and it will take you to a page that lets you narrow your selections down to your preferences.
Next, you will see a list of things to pick from to help narrow down a selection. For the sake of this walk through, I am going to skip the name, description, and preferred breeder. I am going to start with the sex of the strain. I prefer to pick regular seeds for breeding purposes but for limited room to make female and male selections I am going to choose feminized, indoors and Indicia.
So, I just highlight everything that I want before searching.
For making multiple highlights, I just hold down the control key while clicking each selection I want.
Now for flavor, I like to leave flavor out and pick the best flavor from the search or search by flavor only. Then I look at the selections for the rest of my preferences. I find that selecting a specific flavor with specific effect, flower time, THC content, CBD content and whatever else I desire is so limiting because it will eliminate a greater percentage of availability.
My next selections will be couch lock, giggly, and sleepy, after all who doesn’t like to be unable to get up and laughing at everything before drifting off into a nap.
Even after a few changes, I still have no recommendations.
Now, I am going to open the search up a bit more. So, after upping the flower time to 10 weeks and adding in indicia/sativa hybrid, I have a hit.
Now, I go to the profile of the strain to make a final choice.
Upon further review of the description and characteristics list, I may actually pick this strain up for myself. Ha! It is a hybrid which can be the best of both worlds. It is feminized, moderate THC, low CBD, above average yields, short plant height, a fast 7 weeks of flower, and it fits my criteria for effects with sleepy, couch lock, and relaxing. I had to remove giggly from the search as I thought it was too limiting for everything that I added.
So, if you are looking for an easy to grow, hardy, and fast strain that will leave you relaxing on the couch with your stress melting away, then you may want to consider Candy Kush Express Fast from Feminized Seeds. I know it can seem overwhelming to make a choice, but when all is said and done the act of growing out any strain of cannabis can be a surprisingly spiritual experience that will create an enjoyment of your own stash that buying it can never compare with.
Next time, I will start to talk about room selection and set up, until then, stay lifted and enjoy the world around you.