Danny Danko unveils HIGH TIMES’ choices for the most potent and finest-tasting pot varieties in the world – our annual, highly esteemed list of the award-winning ganja genetics available for true cannabis connoisseurs and weed aficionados.
Auto-flowering strains are all the rage in Europe and Canada, but they have yet to take off in the US. But as more and more farmers awaken to the convenience of growing cannabis plants that start flowering at a certain height regardless of the light cycle, we’ll see these varieties start to proliferate. Pushing the envelope ever further, Dinafem – a respected and award-winning breeding outfit from Spain – has introduced the world’s first auto-flowering Haze hybrid.
Combining the complex sativa flavor and psychoactive high of Haze with a ruderalis-tinged strain’s ability to bloom automatically, Dinafem has created a truly unique, useful and versatile cannabis variety. In most climates, you can simply plant the feminized seeds any time the threat of frost isn’t an issue, then walk away and return 80 days later to find mature, fully formed flowers ready to trim and dry – long before the typical harvest season has even started.
Over the past few years, the sativa-dominant Blue Dream has become a real dispensary favorite on the West Coast – especially in the Bay Area, where it’s a staple at many medical-cannabis collectives. Full-bodied in flavor, odor and high, and reminiscent of our beloved Strawberry Cough, this colorful strain provides a richness of experience lacking in many other “meds.”
The long-lasting high starts in the head and ends in the body, yet without the sedative effects typical of indicas, leaving you fully functional yet pleasantly stoned for a truly expansive and cerebral experience. The incense-like aroma of Blue Dream – capped by a spicy, fruity taste that lingers on the palate – also makes it a perfect strain for making hash. The only problem is that the mites love this plant as much as everyone else does, so stay vigilant and constantly check the undersides of leaves for damage.
East Coast residents familiar with the strain known as Headband will be quite excited to know that the “breeding bros” of DNA Genetics have released a superb version of this famous Diesel/Kush cross. Their Headband won third place at the 2009 HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup for the Green Place coffeeshop under the name Headband Kush, earning it the first of what will undoubtedly be many more awards.
Don of DNA Genetics tells me that they reversed the OG Kush to pollinate the Sour Diesel, and he assures growers that they’ll find a great mother plant out of a pack of 10 beans. Luckily, cloning this strain is easy too, with roots popping out within eight to 10 days of cutting. Headband possesses that familiar diesel-fuel smell and sour lemon taste and starts producing resin glands early and often, exemplifying the best qualities of its elite parentage.
Though not exactly new (it was the first-place sativa at the 1999 HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup), Jack must still be included this year. Named in honor of the late, great Jack Herer, noted activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, this strain delivers head-stash-quality cannabis with a unique flavor and supreme potency. A favorite of the Sensi Seed staff – they call it their “Champagne of Strains” – Jack grows frosty and covered with trichomes. Amazingly, even the stems of these plants have resin glands on them!
Cultivators will experience several phenotypes from Jack Herer seeds, and all are fantastic and complex. Related strains – such as Jack Flash, Jack’s Cleaner and Candy Jack – testify to its strength, beauty and versatility in breeding programs. The death of its much beloved namesake makes every puff of Jack Herer taste bittersweet, yet what greater honor than to have your name forever on the lips of tokers everywhere?
Lineage: Skunk #1 x Northern Lights #5 x Haze
Flowering time: 9 to 10 weeks
Contact: Sensi Seed Bank, sensiseeds.com
HIGH TIMES Seed Bank Hall of Fame inaugural inductees T.H.Seeds represent two decades of stupendous genetic achievements, including MK-Ultra, Kushage and A-Train. Now T.H.Seeds have combined their legendary S.A.G.E. (Sativa Afghani Genetic Equilibrium) with the famous Arcata Trainwreck for “two great tastes that taste great together.” The high is as unique as the odor and flavor, with an uplifting and cerebral effect that every true aficionado desires.
Sativa growers will be happy that the S.A.G.E. genetics have tamed the notoriously stretchy Trainwreck, but you’ll still experience some lanky limbs. Luckily, those branches will end in sticky, mentholated colas with that signature spicy sandalwood scent. The last two weeks of growth are a delight to behold, as the tops fill out with clumps of resinous, bulbous bracts. Always remember not to overwater or overfeed the Wreckage. These beans are available in feminized form as well.
After being gifted a Trainwreck cut on a trip through Cali, Subcool immediately set about finding a way to incorporate it into the TGA Genetics breeding program, enlisting his bud Dioxide to pollinate it with his Jack the Ripper male and study the results. What emerged was the Chernobyl, a devastatingly beautiful plant with incredible coloring late in life and a singular taste all its own.
Growers – especially those in the Pacific Northwest – will love the fact that Chernobyl resists the scourge of powdery mildew. Sub loves the “unique lime-sherbet smell” and praises Dioxide’s ability to choose special strains for the TGA quiver. Always experimenting and on the lookout for new gear, Team Green Avenger continues its dominance of dank with the devastatingly powerful and supremely tasty Chernobyl.
Though he’s become known as the “Midas of Marijuana,” Chemdog’s original intentions were just to grow the highest-quality pot he could find. Almost 20 years since he popped the seeds from a bag of kind bud purchased on a Dead tour, those rare beans are still causing a ruckus among cannabis aficionados worldwide, and the original Chem’s Sister from 1996 was no exception with its powerful and long-lasting high.
The new Chem’s Sister, started in 2006 using selfed seeds from the older version, exhibits the same dark orange hairs and “skunky sandalwood” smell, as well as that fruity-candy bite the whole family of genetics is known for. Chem tells me he loves the Sister’s mold resistance, noting that “pests don’t really like it either.” He calls her a “heavy yielder, getting very tall but with even the lower branches getting nuggy.”
The second-place winner at the 2009 HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup, Vanilla Kush proves the adage that not all indica-dominant strains are created equal. It’s hard to nail down the intoxicating scent these buds exhibit upon grinding, which is both complex and varied: Vanilla and sandalwood compete with citrus and lavender as they all dance upon the palate. The smoke is full-bodied and sensuous, with the strong medicinal properties associated with heavy-duty Kushes. The higher-than-usual CBD level will especially soothe certain symptoms, such as severe headaches and muscle spasms. In fact, medical patients report immediate relief from smoking or vaporizing it.
When cultivated, the Vanilla Kush boasts dark red hairs surrounding tight, frosty clusters. Even the fan leaves are crystal-coated almost out to the tips, and the buds fill out quite nicely. It’s yet another winner from Barney’s Farm, and it’s also available in feminized form.
Amsterdam’s finest coffeeshops pride themselves on their Haze strains, but only the Green House can claim back-to-back wins at the last two HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cups. This citrus-flavored Haze/Skunk hybrid delivers in aroma, taste and potency, and growers will be pleased by its dense growing characteristics, which give higher yields than the typical sativa-dominant variety.
The true complexities of Super Lemon Haze are best experienced with a good vaporizer, as the subtle lemon and spice flavors linger on the tongue. My colleague, cultivation editor Nico Escondido, says: “A subtle citrus aroma complements the fuller Haze smell that comes out of each nugget.” The high hits the body first and then the head for a long-lasting and pleasant stone. She’s a heavy feeder, so don’t skimp on the nutrients when growing this variety, which is also available in feminized form.
Outdoor growers often feel that they have to sacrifice flavor and potency in favor of cannabis varieties that can produce big yields under less-than-favorable conditions. Not so with the Texada Timewarp, named for the pot-prolific island off the coast of British Columbia, where they’ve been cultivating this particular strain for over 30 years. Pest- and mold-resistant, the Timewarp grows stocky branches capable of withstanding winds while supporting big, piney colas of citrus-flavored bud.
Canadian farmers typically prune the sativa-dominant Timewarp several times throughout the summer in order to widen its profile and create several tops, which will turn purple in the last few weeks of flowering. If you’re growing in less-than-perfect hillside or greenhouse conditions, try the Texada Timewarp for a tasty, fruity alternative to the typically hardy outdoor fare.