Photo by Justin Cannabis.

HIGH TIMES takes a closer view, smell and taste of one of 2017’s hottest flower flavors: Lemon.

The citrus flavor explodes on the tongue mere moments after the smoke of a fresh chunk of Super Lemon Haze hits the taste buds. Then, the more clearly defined taste starts to distinguish itself; as the generic—yet always welcome—”citrus” piquancy gives way to a luscious lemon that almost gets your mouth juicing and delivers total sensory satisfaction not many weed strains can equal.

But this indoor-grown Super Lemon Haze smoke is far from completing its mind-enhancing mission, as it joins the bloodstream and begins to work its metabolite magic in cohesion with our body’s own endocannabinoid system. This is truly an energetic and inspiring strain.

Clearly, if there has been one dominant dank flavor for the first half of 2017 in legal medicinal and recreational states, especially when it comes to sativa strains, it has to be Lemon. Weed excels when it displays that fruit juicy taste, enhancing the overall smoking experience, compared to other strains that bare more woodland or hash-like qualities.

Consuming a Lemon strain can be akin to a wine tasting experience, in which the “bouquet” of the bud can be taken in first with the olfactory glands, enjoying the aroma to the point where it seems a shame to put the flower to the flame. 

With that in mind, we decided it was overdue to take a closer examination of Lemon-oriented strains and what makes them unique, tasty and oh-so-potent, by speaking to professional ganja growers and researching fans and cultivators’ commentary on Lemon strains via the web. We also included a bit of personal experience, to leave no Lemon question unpeeled.

ORIGINS OF LEMON

One of the defining Lemon strains is the 80 percent sativa-dominant Super Lemon Haze (SLH), which won the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup in 20008 and 2009, back when it was exclusively held in Amsterdam. Per Wikileaf, SLH’s parents are Super Silver Haze and Lemon Skunk, a pair of potent sativa-dominant hybrids that genetically unify to produce an even tastier, more mind-blowing sativa-dom.

According to DNA Genetics, Lemon Skunk is a 60 percent sativa hybrid with both domestic (Las Vegas) and international (Holland) parents, and a strain that can yield great taste if flowering is limited to 50-56 days.

Sativa-dominant Super Silver Haze is a legendary strain originating in the 1990’s, and it won three consecutive Cannabis Cups spanning 1997-99.

Super Silver Haze is a complex cross of potent sativa strain Haze, pure indica Northern Lights and classic hybrid Skunk #1. From this breakdown, it’s apparent SLH had a lot go into it to produce such a tasty, cerebral strain.

QUALITIES OF LEMON

Of course, the overwhelming attribute associated with Lemon strains is the pungent, fruity, citrus aroma, taste and even aftertaste. This is due to Lemon strain’s unique terpene profile; terpenes being the aromatic molecules on pot flowers that determine the particular flavor of a given strain, such as SLH. 

A strain’s “terpenoid profile” can vary significantly, for example, from a Lemon strain compared to another strain, such as indica-dominant Granddaddy Purple. This can affect everything from the intensity of the high to the medicinal attributes.

A cannabis cultivator in legal medicinal state Michigan provided insights into Super Lemon Haze harvesting. This grower noted the unique attributes of the psychoactive qualities of Super Lemon Haze: “The buzz is perfect for being active, it does not drag you down at all. It makes me get up and do stuff!”

An online board member of the Roll It Up forum praised SLH produced by Green House Seeds, noting that opening a jar “towards the end of cure is like sticking your nose into a sweet fresh lemon.”

Then, there are the indica-dominant Lemon strains—not as common, but still available, especially at legal dispensaries. 

One example is Lemon Fuel from Madrone Cultivators, which we’ve personally sampled from a local San Francisco dispensary. Lemon Fuel is quite different from any Lemon Haze strains we’ve tried—the indica being very potent, which seemed to correspond with the diminished flavor of the Lemon Fuel flower’s terpenes, as well as in the smoke, inhaled through a glass pipe.

MAKING LEMON

On July 13, we had the great fortune to speak at length with Matthew Woolley, executive director of Legion of Bloom, a quality cannabis company located in Northern California. Woolley described his cultivating process of growing in raised beds using amended soil (improved with additives), which are all free of chemical nutrients that produce a very flavorful outcome.

Woolley added that cultivating cannabis organically plays a tremendous role in producing a truly high terpene content. Producing a healthier flower with a superior smell and taste seems like a “win-win” as far as we’re concerned!

The marijuana farmer we spoke with in Michigan said: “The SLH phenotypes (the physical expression based on a plant’s genetic makeup) that I had (eight different phenos), all grew big outdoors, huge, eight feet around and eight feet tall. One could have grown 10 feet around and 10 feet tall, if I let it. The sativa genes made them grow so tall—even indoors.  

“SLH can handle as many nutrients as you throw at it,” he added. “The strain seemed to resist mildew, mold and bud rot very, very well.”  

The grower’s only complaint? “I wish it had a shorter flowering time, as it clocks in around 65-70 days.”

One online cultivator noted that the White Lemon strain from Green House Seeds didn’t produce the best quantity after vegging for 30 days under 400 mh lights and flowering under a 400 watt high pressure sodium grow light system. The forum member posted: “An average yield for a good strain, with a very fruity and citrus smell.”

PUNGENT & POPULAR

Regarding the recent popularity of flavorful strains such as Lemon, Matt Woolley commented: “‘I’ve noticed a trend with fruitier flavors, cannabis strains with fruitier terpene profiles have started to gain popularity. For the longest time, it seemed like the more ‘gassier,’ fuel-tasting type strains (like Sour Diesel) were the most popular, but now it seems like the Lemon strains and the fruitier strains are making more of a surge in popularity.”

“Fruit is a flavor everyone can identify with,” he added, “and with the same terpenes being in fruit also being present in these cannabis strains, that’s a correlation that people can make.”

When asked if more flavorful strains such as SLH will have even more appeal to novice pot users once the recreational market in California opens in 2018, Woolley was quick to agree, and elaborated: “I do think terpene profiles will be very important going forward in the adult-use (recreational) market. I think people will gravitate towards strains that have that pungent smell.

“By the very nature of it having a pungent flavor and smell, it’s going to set itself apart in the adult-use marketplace, and become the preferred choice over a strain that might not be so ‘loud’ in terms of flavor,” he continued. “The same could be said on the medical marijuana side, although patients are understandably more focused on the effects of a given strain versus the flavor.”

Matt Woolley and Legion of Bloom have cultivated several Lemon strains, one of the most trendy being a strain called “Nina Limon,” playfully named for pop singer Nina Simone. We’ve personally sampled this sativa-dominant hybrid, which is bursting with flavors that makes the user feel like they’ve downed a glass of lemonade, or maybe have a lemon candy under their tongue, with Limon’s bountiful aftertaste.

LEMON FRESH CONCENTRATES

Not surprisingly, cannabis concentrates of Lemon strains are also making an impact on the medicinal and recreational markets. Lemon extract products are not only wildly popular—they’ve been reaping rewards!  Products like Lemon Skunk Rocks by Got Meds took first place for “Best Medicinally Infused Product” at the 2017 Midwest Cannabis Cup in Michigan. Most impressively, “Best Sativa Concentrate” was captured by Lemon Punch, manufactured by Maze Floriculture and Moxie Michigan.

LEMON-AID

Finally, it’s always important that the use of cannabis as a healing agent never be overlooked in the ganja gold rush to profit off the recreational market. Seeking to enhance the flavor and taste of flowers can actually have significant medicinal benefits. 

In that regard, Matt Woolley noted, “there are links between the terpene profiles working with certain cannabinoids in an interaction producing what is commonly referred to as the ‘entourage effect,’ which can have what medical patients are seeking.”

When Matt referenced the ‘entourage effect,’ he wasn’t referring to a cable TV show, but rather, as noted by Project CBD, it’s the synergistic interaction of cannabis’ hundreds of trace compounds, including THC, CBD and, yes, terpenoids. This combination of compounds creating increased benefits defines cannabis as a polypharmaceutical plant. 

In the context of Lemon flowers, this means that all those incredible smells and tastes that linger long after the smoke is exhaled are actually working together to make a more healthier you, putting an added smile on your day along with that great buzz and flavor of SLH and her sister strains.

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Keep up with all HIGH TIMES’ grow coverage HERE.

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