Cannabis-seed companies have continued to grow and expand in 2003. Canadian companies dominate the North American market, while Dutch companies rule in Europe. New troupes have appeared in Switzerland, Spain, and central Europe.
Legal concerns and obstacles continue to cast a pall over the thriving underground movement. Numerous foreign breeders did their best to set up grow/breeding operations in Switzerland and were shut down by police. (All was cool until Switzerland joined the United Nations, and was forced to abide by antidrug treaties.) Humorless government forces closed down at least six of the major clone producers, many of which were supplying more than 20,000 clones a week. I also confirmed story after story of large growers who had their crop, lights, growing supplies, and business records confiscated by local and national police. Several of the big growers spent more than a month in jail, and Swiss activist/grower Bernard Rapaz just finished a 16-month sentence. Others, with their paperwork in order, were unscathed.
Since September 11, 2001 the retail seed market has seen minor shakeups. Paranoid growers ordered fast and furious to get seeds before borders slammed shut. Since the anthrax scare faded, there has been little more talk of irradiating the mail, which would make seeds sterile.
Many companies produce varieties with the same name, but they have slightly different genetics. To ensure genetic integrity, purchase Cannabis Cup-winning strains from the original company. Quality seed companies sell F1 hybrid seed. An F1 is the offspring of a cross from two (male and female) true-breeding parents. The resulting F1 hybrid has “hybrid vigor,” a phenomenon that makes the sprouted plant more robust and much faster-growing. When two F1s are crossed, the result is an F2. Such seeds (F2) are unstable and most often contain undesirable genetic characteristics. Seeds found in a bag of pot are from the F2 generation and easily could be an F3 or F4 generation.
Indoors, marijuana breeders are able to fool Mother Nature and grow up to six separate crops in the same room every year. Cramming six years into one allows growers to speed breeding programs sixfold. This technological advance makes it possible to develop new varieties very quickly. With this expedited schedule, breeders put business in the back seat so they can concentrate on their passion.
Before you buy, do your homework. Surf the Net, order seed catalogs, call seed companies, read HIGH TIMES every month. A computer wired to the Internet will make seed searches much easier. First, hit Green Man’s site, seedbankupdate.com, for a weekly update on the seed industry. You will learn more from this site in five minutes than you would in a day of surfing. Also surf by potsmokersnet.com/seedbanks/, which lists more than 160 seed banks, most of which are linked. For background on varieties, hit cannagenetics.com. Two recent books, The Big Book of Buds, by Ed Rosenthal, and The Cannabible, by Jason King with an introduction by Robert Connell Clarke (author of Marijuana Botany), give a lot of perspective to the seed business. The books are available through FS Books, (916) 771-4203 or toll-free (800) 635-8883.
SEED BANKS 2003 [con't]
SEED BANKS 2003
1. AAA Seed Co./Canada: The newest company on the block, AAA was started by two old hands in the industry. They carry 100 of the most proven strains from the original sources including all the favorites. This mail-order-only company adds extra value to each order by including 15 seeds in each packet. They also distribute Mila’s Pollinator for hash enthusiasts.
AAA Seed Co., PO Box 72088, 4470 West 10th Ave., Vancouver, BC V6R 4P2, Canada; phone, (604) 773-4660;
2. Amsterdam Seed Co./Canada:The Amsterdam’s leap from slinging seeds from 14 companies to purveying the products of 22 tried-and-true breeding houses demonstrates an expanding market and signs of maturation of this budding 15-year-old industry. Nailing down a silver medal at the 2001 Cannabis Cup in the seed-company category, a first for a Canadian company, is the payoff for five years of hard work and exponential growth. Karen, the owner, spent most of this year searching for companies to expand their seed catalog. She likes to keep her finger in the pie, and monitors each step of the distribution ladder, starting with Dutch, Canadian, and Swiss breeders. She backs her seeds with flawless service and expert recommendations. If you see Sativa Princess Karen and her stable of marijuana maidens, remember she is still searching for the perfect male, tall, sexy, exciting, intelligent and….
Amsterdam Seed Co., Suite #4253, 349 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, BC V6B 3Z7, Canada (catalog $5); phone, (604) 728-5617; To stay at Sativa Sisters’ completely remodeled bed & breakfast, call (604) 783-9567 for reservations.
3. Avalon Headshop/United Kingdom: This company’s seed business has taken British growers to new highs in resent years. They carry a complete selection from four quality companies, Kulu, Mr. Nice, Sensi, and Spice of Life. “We would rather do good seed strains well than be everything to everybody,” says Martin, the owner. “We keep everything in stock and can dispatch in 24 hours.” These guys mean business, and their word is good all year long.
Avalon Headshop, (011) 44 23 927 80600;
4. DJ Short/Canada: Blueberry is a favorite. It has a high THC content and is a very heavy yielder, fast-maturing and easy to grow. Blueberry Flo and Blue Moonshine are DJ Short’s new varieties for 2003. It also looks like the old varieties—Blue Heaven and Blue Velvet—will be available again. “Joint Project,” a collaboration between Breeder Steve and DJ Short, yielded the variety Blue Satellite. An impeccable palate for good ganja and relentless desire to offer his personal best to the public has earned DJ Short’s genetics space in many a grow show. Ten seeds range in price from $60-90.
5.Dutch Passion/Amsterdam: Developing “feminized” seed (virtually 100% female plants) in 1998 put Henk, the owner, on the fast track to success. Two years later, Dutch Passion toted off the Cannabis Cup for the best indica with their Blueberry. They also won several other Cup trophies and other cannabis competitions in Europe. They still produce the old reliable varieties, and have five new offerings for 2003: Skywalker, Dream Weaver, Isis, Delta 9, and Ultra Skunk. For complete descriptions of their varieties, check. Puff out and wander into their one-stop seed shop in Amsterdam, Seeds of Passion, and see their extensive seed selection from different companies, including Dutch, Canadian, Swiss, and South African breeders. 10 seeds will cost from $40-$200.
Dutch Passion, B.V., Postbus 1579, 1000 BN Amsterdam, Holland; phone, (011) +31-20-421-5051; Seeds of Passion, Utrechtsetraat 26, 1017 VN Amsterdam;
6. Federation Seed Company of Canada/Canada: This tried and true company has been selling seeds of consistent quality for the last five years, including one of my favorite sit-on-your-head varieties, Romulan. Although the Federation has no new offerings this year, they have an endless supply of their past achievements. This cost-conscious company sells seeds for $25-$40. Find Federation seeds at theamsterdam.com and many other retail seed outlets.
7. Flying Dutchmen /Amsterdam: Eddy, the owner, is a fixture in the Amsterdam marijuana/hash scene. Sowing seeds from this charismatic, conscientious icon will show you the years of careful crossing when you harvest the end product. They have 18 varieties, including five new strains: Kerala Crush, Haley’s Comet, Pineapple Punch, Arctic Sun, Fuma con Diablos (smoke with the devil). They make their seeds fresh every year and guarantee a 90% germination rate. Their all-new catalog reflects newly lowered prices. All their new strains germinated 100% at their test site, the Cannabis College, OZ Achterburgwal 124 (in Amsterdam’s red-light district), located across the street from the Flying Dutchmen.
Achterburgwal 131 (PO Box, 10952), 1001 EZ Amsterdam;
8. Greenhouse/Amsterdam: In 1993, the Greenhouse won their first Cannabis Cup. Two years later (1995) and again in 1998, they swept the competition, garnering most of the awards. Today 26 Cup trophies sit in their display case. Varieties based on White Widow genetics propelled them to center stage. This year, they will surprise Cup-goers with a Haze-like variety still unnamed at press time. (Owner Arjan and company were still smoking inspiration and conspiring to come up with a name.) Before investing $110-$250 for 10 seeds, you can buy their bud at one of their three coffeeshops in Amsterdam. Find their seeds at the Flying Dutchmen in Amsterdam, Amsterdam Seed Co., Kind Seed Co., and several others.
9. Gypsy Nirvana/Seedsdirect/United Kingdom & Amsterdam: Buy cannabis and psychoactive seeds from Gypsy and the Mrs. at this South London shop, or stop in the new location in Amsterdam, 163 Singel (first canal behind Dam Square). All you have to do is stop by and they will give you 15 Skunkman’s Skunk #1 for FREE and a free trial toke too! They carry 350 different varieties from 22 breeders. Orders also go out with 15 free seeds on the condition they are shared with fellow growers. They will release 10 new varieties/mixes at this year’s Cup from the Gypsy Nirvana ‘03 collection.
Gypsy Nirvana/Seedsdirect: Britain, 55 Surbiton Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, KT1 2HT, England, UK; phone, (011) +44-(0) 208-286-9899; fax, 208-286-6656; e-mail, email@example.com; Amsterdam: 163 Singel, Amsterdam 1012 VK, Holland; phone, +31-(0) 20-638-0404.
10. Heaven’s Stairway/Canada/United Kingdom: They carry a complete line of seeds from more than 14 different companies and recently established a satellite locale in the UK, eurohemp.com. Their Canadian site, hempqc.com, is packed with information about their varieties. Their unique online auction, C-Bay, found at cannabisworld.com, gives smaller, lesser-known breeders a chance to sell offer their strains publicly. Their outstanding Website gives growers tips and instructions on how to grow the best ganja indoors. Experts from Mr. Nice, Sagarmatha, the Flying Dutchmen and Spice of Life also help answer specific breeding and grow questions on their cannabisworld.com site.
Heaven’s Stairway, PO Box 91, Cartierville Station, St. Laurent, Quebec, H4R 2V7, Canada;
11. Hemp Depot/Canada: Deals in seed from 17 different Canadian, Dutch, and Swiss breeders. Five years in the trade have seen this company grow to offer much more than just seeds. Regular special offers on their site make it a good place to put on your surf list. You can find all the big-name seed companies and many hemp products there.
Hemp Depot, 1430 Prince of Wales Drive # 38070, Ottawa, Ontario K2C -1N0, Canada; phone, (613) 282-4230;
12. Homegrown Fantaseeds/Amsterdam: The 2001 Cannabis Cup for best sativa was added to their treasure chest of awards for Blue Haze. Good prices mark the many varieties they carry. They have a retail shop at Mieuwe Nieuwstraat 25, 1012 NG Amsterdam.
Homegrown Fantaseeds, PO Box 3204, 1001 AA Amsterdam, The Netherlands; phone, (011) +31-20-423-0035; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org;
13. Iron Seed Sales/Canada: This company turns orders around fast, and Ron, the owner, personally makes sure you are satisfied with yours. The joint agreement with Quebec Seed Bank, where they share seed stock, ensures an endless supply of hundreds of different premium and value varieties. You can find just about any variety you want here, including some proprietary strains. You can walk into their retail store in Toronto to personally inspect the merchandise and get the lowdown on cultivation and selected stones. This seasoned retailer is always running a special, giving away seeds or some other promotion that gives clients more bang for the buck.
Iron Seed Sales, 327 Lakeshore Blvd. West, Toronto, ON, M8W 1N1, Canada; phone, (416) 259-3429, 10 AM-7 PM EST;
14. K.C. Brains/Amsterdam: This breeder loves both heavy and soaring stones and breeds the same. Strains with Brazilian genetics include the citric Leda Uno, a favorite sativa from Cannabis Cups past. K.C. Brains is now perfecting several unnamed new varieties that are a 70 percent indica, 30 percent sativa cross. They are very strong, resinous, and good for hash-making. Only sells seeds via fax or telephone. Seeds are also available at many retail locales.
K.C. Brains, PO Box 637, 4200 AP Gorinchem, the Netherlands; phone, (011) 31-65-473-0608; fax, 31-18-363-6510.
15. Kind Seed Co./Canada: Their recipe for customer satisfaction is personal interaction. Patrons can telephone or walk in and talk with a real live person that really knows their strains at the retail office, #5-311 Hastings Street West in downtown Vancouver (next door to smoke-friendly Blunt Bros, “A Respectable Joint”) seven days a week from 10 AM to 6 PM. Kind Co. carries Cannabis Cup winners and a list of local favorites, including Maxwell Feminized strains and Dr. Atomic; all guaranteed a 90 percent germination rate. Request a catalog or check out their wares on the Web.
Kind Seed Co., Box 233, 2906 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6K 2G8; phone & fax, (604) 408-1198; e-mail, email@example.com; In Vancouver, stay at the smoke-friendly Casa Verde bed and breakfast; phone (604) 731-8192 for reservations.
16. Legends Seeds/Canada: Legends teamed up with Breeder Steve to create Legends Ultimate Indica and Big Funk (both are real stoney) and plan to release six new varieties, including two sativas, for 2003. They are still smoking over which varieties to enter for the Cannabis Cup. They also deal seeds produced by Hillbilly Dreams, Herijuana, Trainwreck, and Chimera Seeds. Legends keeps a serious supply of seeds on hand at all times, including Sweet Tooth and Shiskaberry from Spice of Life.
Legends Seeds, c/o Green Karma, Inc., PO Box 3114, 349 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, B.C., V6B 3X6, Canada; You can also contact Red, the owner, personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
17. Magus Genetics/Amsterdam: Gerrit, the owner developed several notable varieties in his 10-year breeding career, including Warlock, which was “field tested” by Illinois state troopers at 29 percent THC. No wonder patrons of the Bluebird in Amsterdam, his main outlet, love this variety. With the big halide in the sky willing, Magus Genetics will release a similar, heavier-yielding variety, Double Dutch, at the 2002 Cannabis Cup. Gerrit is a hands-on kind of a guy and works alone, which keeps the quality seeds he produces in his small company in the premium price range.
Contact Gerrit directly at email@example.com, or give him a call Tues.-Sat. 10 AM-6 PM (CET) at (011) +31 228 323 441.
18. Nirvana/Amsterdam: Nirvana started selling seeds in 1995 and has roots reaching back to Positronics in the early 1980s. Now they have expanded into smart drugs and proprietary hemp products. Nirvana has 50 value strains, including early-maturing outdoor varieties, and eight feminized seeds that fetch a higher price. They are developing new sativa strains in conjunction with an innovative company that debuts at the 2002 Cup. Look for their 2002 Cup entry, Crystal, a tongue-smacking indica. If you want to stop by their Amsterdam headquarters, go to Toldwarstraat 24. Look for their seed at more than 500 retail locales and Web shops worldwide.
Nirvana, Postbus 2108, 1500 GC Zaandam, the Netherlands; phone, (011) 31-20-364-0233; fax, 31-20-671-3745; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org;
19. Mr. Nice/United Kingdom: Howard Marks (a.k.a. Mr. Nice, who once controlled 10 percent of the world’s hash trade), a true hash aficionado, and the celebrated Shantibaba are at it again this year with three “new” strains, Mango (similar to Super Silver Haze), G13 x Skunk and Original Master Kush (reintroduction of the 1994 Cannabis Cup winner). Shantibaba, a steadfast and confident master breeder, recently said, “I’m working with great genetics… they all get you there. What I’m interested in is the taste and the quality of the high. I breed what I like to smoke.” To see if others agreed, Shantibaba, gave 10 growers he met online at cannabisworld.com seeds from his new varieties to grow. The results are posted by the independent growers in text and photographs on the Website under the Mr. Nice subtext. Hit their site for a complete rundown on these great varieties. Most Internet, mail-order, and retail outlets purvey their premium seeds.
20. Owl’s Production/Switzerland: The big winner of the 2002 Swiss Outdoor bud competition at Cannatrade (cannatrade.ch) in Bern was White Heaven, bred by Felix, an icon in the Swiss cannabis scene. I love his genetics and recommend them all the time. Unaffected by Swiss police actions, he continues to select plants from the thousands he cultivates annually to breed great cannabis such as Granflora, another winner. Besides selecting plants for THC content, aroma, and taste, he selects for cold tolerance and resistance to fungus and disease. You can find Owl’s Production’s seeds at numerous retailers, including Legends and the Amsterdam. Hit the Web for a look at some of Felix’s breeding operations.
21. Paradise Seeds/Amsterdam: After some bad luck at their now-defunct Swiss breeding facility last year, Luc has rebounded with new (at press time unnamed) varieties for the year. He hopes one of the new strains will place in the money at the Cannabis Cup, like his prizewinning Sensi Star, which took top honors at the 2000 event. They still grow organically, just like they have since they started in 1994.
Paradise Seeds, PO Box 377, 1000 AJ Amsterdam, the Netherlands; phone/fax, (011) 31-20-679-5422;
22. Quebec Seed Bank/Canada: Alain, the owner, stages the Quebec Cannabis and Hash Cup in Montreal annually. His trial for supplying 11 grams each to 500 attendees (12 pounds) at last year’s celebration will be decided before the celebration. No others were arrested, only Alain. Check quebecseedbank.com for dates and winners from the competition and the conclusion of his trial. He carries nearly 450 different seed strains from an increasing number of quality breeders, including local French-Canadian varieties. A seed-trading agreement with Iron Seed Sales keeps them in stock.
Quebec Seed Bank, 5751 Monk, Montreal, PQ H4E 3H2, Canada; phone, (514) 769-5698;
23. Sagarmatha Seeds and Psychedelic Gallery/Amsterdam: Since Tony opened Sagarmatha in 1994, he has managed to nail down 18 distinctive varieties, including their most coveted, Yumboldt, the 2001 Cannabis Cup winner in the indica category. New varieties include Matanuska Tundra (derived from Alaskan Matanuska Thunderfuck), Stuporsonic (finishes in 45 days), and Blue Thunder. In the works are two strains with Hawaiian genealogy and three others that were trapped in a 1970s California vortex. Tony grows out all the seeds he personally germinates.
Sagarmatha, PO Box 3171, NL-1001 AM Amsterdam, Netherlands; Shop address, Marnixstraat 255, NL-1015 WH Amsterdam; phone/fax, (011) 31-20-638-4334;
24. Sensi Seeds/Amsterdam: Quality and Sensi go hand-in-hand. Veteran Cup-goers will remember the many cups toted off by Sensi with such mainstay varieties as Northern Lights #5 and Jack Herer. Their all-new 104-page catalog is packed with their seed offerings and grow products. Request a copy of their catalog at their Website or stop by their store next to the Hash, Marijuana, Hemp Museum, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148, Amsterdam. They have three new indoor varieties, First LadyÂ® and American DreamÂ® (both flower in 50 days), Mother’s FinestÂ® (indica/sativa) and outdoor variety Guerrilla’s GustoÂ®, a good choice for the first-time outdoor grower who wants to harvest by the end of September. If you come to the Cup, you can ask head breeder Alan Dronkers specific questions about the strains, or you can e-mail him at their site.
25. Soma Seeds/Amsterdam: All-organically grown seed by Soma is becoming very popular among growers, Internet chat groups, and medical patients. His 2002 Cannabis Cup entries are NYC Diesel and Buda’s Sister, but he is holding off entering Soma’s Amnesia Haze. Warm-weather and tropical growers should like the new strains, soon available, that he crossed with a G-13 x Haze male. The flowering time is longer, but the strains are more potent and yield heavier. They also produce well in latitudes where day length fluctuates little. By the spring of 2003, the supply of Soma’s feminized seed should be stocked. You will learn a lot at his Website!
Soma Seeds, Postbus 16491, 1001 RN Amsterdam, Netherlands; e-mail, email@example.com;
26. Spice of Life: Breeder Steve released updated Sweet Tooth #3 and Sweet Tooth #4. He is also working on Blockhead, whose buds grow into huge round cylinders, and Shiskaberry. The last few years, he has been making his breeding selections from large stands of cannabis specimens in fields and greenhouses in unnamed locations. Breeder Steve also joined forces with DJ Short in the “Joint Project” to produce Blue Satellite and with Legends Seeds to conceive the super-stoney LUI (Legends Ultimate Indica) and Big Funk. He has also been working to develop and perfect Tropicana and Tropical Treat. Spice of Life seeds are very popular and stocked by a growing number of retail outlets, including the Amsterdam Seed Co., Hemp Quebec and Iron Seeds.
27. ThSeeds/Amsterdam: Keeping up with demand for their old tried and true varieties consumes most of the day at ThSeeds. Breeding quality cannabis seeds takes time, so they plan to release no new seeds until their genetics are completely stable. L.A. Kush originated with the same anonymous donor that helped develop their flagship strain, S.A.G.E. (Sativa Afghani Genetic Equilibrium). HOG is another pure knock-you-out indica variety from Southern California. It grows into huge plants, even for first-timers with limited growing credentials. NY Sour Diesel is an old standard.
28. West Coast/Canada: West Coast tenders one of the most extensive assortments of outdoor varieties under the sun. Their flagship, tough and tenacious Mighty Mite, forms the base of their breeding genetics. They grow seed stock exclusively outdoors, which limits supply and breeding velocity. They have no new offerings this year. Although small, Mighty Mite varieties have what it takes to tough out bad weather and to survive and resist pest and fungus attacks. The easy-on-the-pocketbook varieties come in packs of 10 and range in price from $40-60.
29. White Label Seed Company/Amsterdam: These folks have been researching and breeding seeds in conjunction with Sensi for decades. These valued seeds are copies of Sensi and other breeders’ genetics, including White Widow, Master Kush and Neville’s Haze. The reclusive owner prefers to dedicate his time to seed-breeding, while leaving the promotion and distribution to Sensi Seeds. White Label will debut at the 15th Cup. They don’t have a Website, but you can see their wares and ask questions at sensiseeds.com.
30. Willy Jack/Canada: This breeder is up front about knocking off original varieties and offering them at a discounted price. I like their honesty. The downside is that the genetic integrity of their seeds is not as stable as the original varieties. However, most growers appreciate the bargain-basement prices. Their seed list is constantly changing. They are currently working with and offering many Northern Lights and White Widow crosses. Keep up with the new offerings by hitting their supplier’s Website, theamsterdam.com, or give them a call at (604) 763-5617 for a catalog.
31. Worldwide Seeds/Amsterdam/Switzerland: Here is one company that managed to weather the Swiss storm and is still slinging seeds. They moved from Holland to Switzerland in 2000 to work more closely with breeders. The resulting strain, the THC-frosted beauty White Gold, is a White Widow x XXXtra Skunk. Besides their own varieties, they stock Sensi Seeds, Dutch Passion, Serious Seeds and Green House. They always do their best to answer questions within 24 hours, and their well-designed Website also has books.
Worldwide Seeds, Im Gus 414, CH-8884 Oberterzen, Switzerland; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org;
One seed company that deserves mention but missed our deadline is a new Spanish company that breeds sativa strains. They will be making their debut some time in 2003, releasing their name and contact information when they work out legal logistics. After tasting a few of the ALL-SATIVA varieties they are perfecting, wow! I almost forgot what it was like to smoke only F1 sativa varieties with a pure and true soaring high! This company’s seeds will be in high demand, so keep an eye out for their opening! The master breeder behind the seeds has the touch of SATIVA! He celebrates cannabis sativa first and foremost, and that’s what he breeds. Check solocannabis.com for updated information.
Hash lovers should check out the new seed biz Mila (of Pollinator and Hemp Hotel fame) started that offers varieties only for making hash. Find her company at pollinator.nl, or stop by the store at Nieuwe Herengracht 25, 1011 Amsterdam; phone, (011) +34-20-470-8889.