Firmly established in the U.K and Dutch scenes as a purveyor of the finest cannabis genetics on the planet, High Times sat down with OJ from Amsterdam-based Connoisseur Genetics. Producing close to one million feminized seeds per year, we talk to him about the breeding scene, his influences, genetics, how he crafts his seeds, and what his top tips are when it comes to making a consistent, reliable, and delicious end product.
High Times: How different is the U.K breeding scene compared to America’s?
OJ: The American scene is very different to the UK scene as we are entirely illegal and still totally underground. We have no dispensaries so can’t trade or access clones as easily as the USA. It is tough to operate in the UK and stay under the radar. We do have one advantage, and that is cannabis seeds are legal, so we can trade in them but not produce them. This is the frustrating part of our challenging laws.
When creating a new strain, what are the desired traits you look for as a breeder?
When creating a new strain, I’m trying to merge some of the best qualities of each plant into each other and in my case, focusing on the aroma, taste, and effect as my priority. I also clone only plants that I’m just trying to produce the strain in feminized form. This is done by selfing the clone to create an S1, for people who don’t have access to these special clones, yet want the genetic in seed form now have an easy to work with feminized seed. For male plants I’m looking for the trait of the plant I plan to capture. I consider leaf shape to indicate pheno and structure of the plant. My number one goal for me is aroma, meaning I always select a stinky male that throws off that particular scent.
Can you explain what S1 means when breeding and how female pollen is produced?
An F1 or first generation is crossing two unrelated landraces together to create hybrid vigor. However, S1 is where you take a clone and reverse it using chemicals or Silver.
The process is logistically much harder than regular male breeding, due to the female pollen producing a lot less viable pollen than a regular male plant. This can result in a much smaller percentage of final seeds meaning a much lower conversion rate to regular seeds.
What are your breeding facilities like and how is everything quality controlled?
I have multiple breeding spots that are used to produce my seeds. Each place does one unique reversal or male project at a time, to guarantee there is no cross-contamination of pollen. For smaller testing spaces, I use males or reverse female clones that I have not used before. Once the choice clones have been selected from the smaller rooms, they are then used in my main breeding room. This ensures only the best of the best stock is used. The way I store pollen is in an airtight container in the fridge, but I would advise to use fresh pollen and only stored pollen if no other options are available. The viability rate of the pollen dies over time, which can be a total waste of time as a breeder.
What are your top tips for any up and coming breeders out there?
My top tips are: breed for the people and not for your taste. Unless you are home breeding for fun, then this is different. Try and be unique not like every other company, come with some exclusive flavors and effect. This will allow you to stand out from the rest at a commercial level. Get out there and try what’s going in the top dispensary, coffee shop, social club and cup events. Then you can know if your stuff is the best of the best and not just the best in your circle
How long have you been breeding for, and how would you best describe your work?
I first started breeding just for fun around 2005, but began selling seeds around 2009 through ICMAG.com which I have a forum there. I best describe my work as made by a connoisseur for connoisseurs focusing on taste and effect. This means growing with the best organic mediums and zero chemicals.
Who have been your biggest influences in breeding?
My biggest influence was Nevil of the seed bank Sensi Seeds, Greenhouse Seeds and Mr. Nice, as well as Soma of Soma seeds. Neville is a genius and responsible for over 90% of any top end plants that floated around Europe between the 1980 – 2005. He is the real Haze king producing the best plants that I have ever seen or smoked. Soma used to have his buds for sale in Amsterdam coffeeshops years back, and they were another level, so tasty it was like you were eating fresh fruit. They were grown organic in a hydro filled city, and they stood above everything. Soma’s New York City Diesel (Old Red Grapefruit cut) is in my top 3 ever and fighting that 1st place as the most delicious organic cannabis around. Long live the red grapefruit cut and let it find its way to me one day!
When did your pursuit for the original Hazes begin and can you tell us more about the origin of Haze in Amsterdam?
My love for Haze started after smoking the Northern Lights # 5 Haze from seed, then traveling to Amsterdam and smoking and growing all the best Haze I came across there. The origins of Haze started when Sam the Skunkman came to Holland from the USA with seeds in the late 70’s or early 80’s and shared some seeds with Neville who went to went to work like a D.J cutting and mixing it up. Known for best creating the world famous NL #5 Haze cuts that are responsible for 90% of Haze today.
What are your top five strains you’ve made?
That is quite tricky, but I would say number one is Super Silver Sour Diesel Haze. An Original release of SSSDH that I got from Reservoir Seeds and have made F2 for Reservoir seeds. I created the feminized line of the original SSSDH, which is sold through my seedbank. The second is Strawberry Cookies, which is a cross of Strawberry Cough x Girl Scout Cookies reversed. Third would be Hey Dave, who is a cross of OG Affie x OG Kush by Raskal Seeds x Casey Jones reversed. My fourth strain is the Diesel Dipped Cookies, who is a cross of the original Diesel x Girl Scout Cookies reversed. Finally, I would say Nevil The G which is Nevil Mango by MR Nice seeds x G13 Haze male ( Soma’s cut )
Will Connoisseur Genetics be at any expos in 2019, and do you have any social media platforms our readers can follow you on?
Yes, Connoisseur Genetics will be at Spannabis in Barcelona, High Times cup in Amsterdam and any other big European Canna event. Please follow me on Instagram @connoisseurgenetics and Facebook. You can find a lot of my history and grow diaries, tester threads and much more info at ICMAG.com. Thank you for the opportunity Soft Secrets and keep up the great work!