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  1. 6 likes
    This is the seventh article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for growing large outdoor plants. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on flowering indoors The flowering is one of the most rewarding phases of any crop, because the progress towards the harvest can be looked, touched, smelled. Plants are now developing flower clusters, and there are several factors that can guarantee success in quality and quantity. Indoors and outdoors, the goal is for plants to feel good about the conditions, the environment, and the grower. When working indoors it is important to notice that every single factor depends from the grower, there should be nothing left to chance. The ideal climate conditions for flowering at lamps on are at temperature between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius, and a relative humidity between 40% and 55%. When the lamps turn off it is normal that the temperature lowers to 20-22 degrees, while the relative humidity climbs to around 60%. If the temperature gap between day and night is larger than 8-10 degrees Celsius there is a risk of slowing down the metabolic of the crop. The relative humidity must stay under 70% to avoid mold and fungi in the crop. A good way to cope with high daytime temperature is to run the lamps opposite to daylight. This way the maximum temperature in the growroom will stay lower, but the disadvantage of this system is that the gap between day and night temperature will be reduced to a minimum, and sometimes this can create problems because plants actually benefit from a 8 to 10 degrees gap between the day temperature and the night one. Nevertheless, it is better to sacrifice the day-night gap, than to end up with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius in the growroom during daytime. Air conditioning is a very expensive and environmentally unfriendly option, but sometimes it’s the only one for indoor growers in warm countries. The benefits are cool air and a drying effect as well, ideal during flowering. It is worth noticing that plants do not like air conditioning directly blowing towards them, it is much better to direct the flow of air towards the ceiling, where it will precipitate allowing warmer air to climb. This way the diffusion of cooled, dry air is uniform in the room and not direct on the plants. Once the climate is perfectly under control, it is worth dedicating some energy to optimize feeding intake. During flowering the plants use mostly P, K and Micros to produce buds and resin. The N intake is still important during the first few weeks of flowering, but later on it must decrease, or the buds will get leafy and the calyx-to-leaf ratio will decrease dramatically, creating issues for manicuring as well. Only with extremely long-flowering sativas, the N intake can be kept a little longer, to avoid premature yellowing of the leaves. To allow plants to slowly intake less N and more P-K-Micros, the pH of the feeding solution should stay above 6.0 after the beginning of the flowering, ideally slowly climbing between 6.2 and 6.6 in soil, and slowly climbing between 5.9 and 6.3 in hydroponics, depending on the strain and the stage of flowering. The rule of thumb here is that the more a strain is long-flowering, the higher the pH should be at the end of the flowering process; with 12-weeker sativas pH usually climbs to 6.9 or 7.0 at the end of flowering. The most important of Micro-elements (Mg, Ca, Zn, Fe) are also assimilated at best if the pH is above 6.0 and these are very important in the formation of terpenes, cannabinoids and resin. The best way to make sure the plants intake the available minerals is to ensure that they are hungry and thirsty. The best is to create a cycle of dry-wet medium, where the dry spells allow plenty of oxygen to the root sytem and the wet spells allow enough watering solution to be absorbed. The one thing that flowering cannabis plants do not like, is a constantly wet medium. Besides the normal watering cycle, it is also important to regularly flush the medium to get rid of salts. This can be done with a mild solution at pH 5.5 and EC 1.0, so that the salt crystals can bind to the low-mineral-content in the solution and dissolve. Flushing should be integrated in the regular watering cycle, and after flushing the medium should be allowed to dry properly before feeding again. Once the feeding is optimized, it is good to take care of the other factors affecting a successful crop. Between them, supporting the flowers, and optimizing the pre-harvest and the harvest. After 4 weeks of flowering the plants have usually developed enough bud to start getting heavy, so it is advisable to support the branches with some system (bamboos, elastic bands, nets, yoyos or any system that prevents branches from collapsing under the weight of the flower clusters). Depending on the strain, support can be an important or a marginal issue. Large sativas usually need the most support. Pre-harvesting means removing most of the large fan-leaves from the plants during the last days of the flowering cycle, before cutting them down for manicuring and drying. Pre-harvesting helps reducing the total amount of green material (water and chlorophyll) in the crop. Once the big fan-leaves (the ones that have no resin on) have been removed, the plants reduce the amount of photosynthesis, and produce less starches. This allows for sweeter and better-burning weed, and makes the whole harvesting process much easier and faster. In conclusion, it is up to the grower to identify the weakest points of the grow, and improve from there. Curiosity and will to improve are the key factors to a green thumb. During flowering, a lot can be done to ensure a great crop; and it’s all worth it. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  2. 3 likes
    This article is the fifth of a series focused on the most important landraces of cannabis. All the thousands of strains of cannabis we use today are derived from a limited number of landraces, which have been used for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes during centuries. Cannabis originated in central Asia, and from there it has spread to all corners of the world. Sometimes helped by nature, sometimes by man, cannabis seeds have conquered unimaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their characteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combination. Some of these combination stabilized themselves through inbreeding, and resulted in landraces. Some of these landraces have preserved themselves, isolated in remote areas of the planet with no contact with other cannabis strains for long periods of time. My name is Franco, my passion is cannabis, and my work is strain-hunting for Green House Seed Company. And this is the history of: Thai Sativa Thailand is a huge country, located in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. The country is a kingdom and the largest city is Bangkok, the capital, which is also the country's center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities. 64 million people live in the country, and they are mostly Buddhist. During the 1960s Vietnam war veterans started going to Thailand between service tours, to relax and enjoy the tropical beaches and the unspoiled lush nature. After that, the hippies took over, transforming the islands along the coasts of the country into worlds apart of full moon parties and endless summers. Then in the 1980 came the sex tourism, and the troubled issues that go with it. And finally, in the 1990s, Thailand became a real pot-tourism destination, with thousands of people visiting every year in search of the famous Thai Sativa. Thailand became famous for its cannabis first during the 1960s, when the Thai Sticks started being exported and showed up on markets as different as USA, Australia and Europe. The Thai Sticks were made by pressing many small buds onto a stick (cannabis or bamboo) and then wrapping it with a small thread from the cannabis fiber, or with some other organic lace. Thai Sticks became extremely popular, because the high was extremely sativa-like, very uplifting, and more potent than the average cannabis available back then. After the 1970s, when breeders started producing high-potency hybrids, the popularity of the Thai Sticks decreased and eventually they disappeared from the main trade routes of cannabis. But more recently, starting in the mid 1990s, there has been a return in popularity of the Thai Sativa, because many smokers begun to get tired of high-potency strains and started smoking light sativas again. Especially more mature users, with a high-productivity lifestyle, appreciate strains that can keep them active and productive like the Thai Sativa. And so this old landrace made its way back onto the menus of several Dutch Coffeeshops, and into the dealer’s stash houses all over the world. The Thai Sativa is a very old plant. According to my opinion it is one of the first landraces, one of the original cradles of sativas that have then moved to the four corners of the planet through natural and human activity over tens of thousands of years. The geographical area of origin is the northern part of the country, in the Chiang Mai and Nan areas, and into Laos. It is a very remote area, covered by thick jungle and very hilly. The huge plantations are controlled by local gangs, involved in the opium trade as well as the production and trade of amphetamines, the most popular drug in Thailand. The territory is guarded by militias, and the Thai government does not have full control over the area, leaving most rural villages under the administration of local tribes. Endemic poverty have stimulated the cultivation of cannabis, and the crops are bigger every year. Entire hills are burned for fertilizing the ground, then planted. For as long as the there is human memory, cannabis has been growing abundant in this region. It is likely that the first seeds came here from the Hindu-Kush area, and then adapted to the local conditions by changing traits, evolving into the sativa that it is now. The hours of light do not change much between winter and summer in this part of the planet, and technically it is possible to grow cannabis all year round. But the wet season is very long and the amount of rain considerable, so the large production crops are planted just once a year at the end of the wet season and harvested after 5-6 months. The plants grow up to 1 meter before starting to flower, and the flowering is extremely slow. By harvest, they are 4-5 meters tall. The branches keep stretching even during the formation of the buds, making the plants very tall and often causing the branches to hang towards the ground. A typical trait of the Thai Sativa is the horizontal growth of the branches, parallel to the ground, with long skinny buds and very long hairs. The color of the leaves is lime green, and the leaflets are non-overlapping and very long, a true sativa trait. One of the most common traits in the original Thai landrace is the hermaphroditic one. More than 5% of Thai plants shows male and female flowers on the same plant, and this makes the production of seedless weed virtually impossible. One of the hardest selection processes ever is the selection of a true female Thai plant, with only X chromosomes. The high of the Thai Sativa landrace is legendary: very energizing and uplifting, creeper and long lasting, but with a particular smoothness and feel. It allows the experienced smoker to stay focused and to be very efficient, but at the same time it creates a very socially stimulating high. Unfortunately, weed is very illegal in Thailand. The local laws are extremely strict, and applied by a very corrupt Police force that is using any kind of illicit method to catch drug dealers as well as users and get money from them to avoid arrest. And the Thai law does not incorporate the concept of soft and hard drugs, cannabis is as stiffly punished as it is heroin. So cannabis tourists must be extremely careful when enjoying their favorite herb, even in the more relaxed islands of the south of the countries. And seeds are considered illegal as well, so best option is to mail them before leaving the country. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  3. 3 likes
    This is the fourth article in a series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for vegetative growth. This month, I give you... FRANCO'S TRICKS ON: FLUSHING THE MEDIUM Most growers use synthetic feeding to grow cannabis. This is mostly because synthetic feedings are ready-to-absorb, work fast, and are easy-to-dose. Nevertheless, compared to organics, there is one single main disadvantage: salt buildup in the medium. As a consequence, flushing the medium where cannabis grows should be seen as a natural, logical, unavoidable step to maintain a healthy, productive crop. A clean growroom, and clean tools, are just the beginning. It is also important to keep clean the environment where the roots grow, the medium. Roots develop in a dark, wet environment and are prone to absorb fertilizer if certain conditions are met. It does not matter what kind of medium is in use, synthetic fertilizer will cause salts buildup and intoxication of the plants, if proper flushing is not applied. During the crop, fertilizer gets absorbed by the plants in different quantities and concentrations, depending on many factors (temperature, pH, metabolism, mineral composition of the fertilizer). The plants intake feedings, and the leftovers sit in the medium and crystallize into small rocks of salts. This causes an increase of the medium pH and EC, and intoxication of the plants. Flushing the medium is a tailored procedure, one that varies according to the type of medium. In earth, salts build up at a slower pace than in hydroponics, but it is also more difficult to wash them away. Once the fertilization program is under way, it will take 3 to 4 weeks for salts to start building up, and another week before it can do any harm to the plants. Therefore, it is advisable to start flushing plants that are growing in earth around week 5-6 of the cycle. When flushing, it is important to avoid over-watering; this means that the flushing should be integrated in the watering cycles. Before the flush the medium should be fairly dry, and after flushing it is very important to let the medium become dry and light before feeding or watering. The dry-wet-dry-wet cycle in the earth (sponge-effect) is what maintain the plant metabolism at optimal levels. For plants growing in soil, the flush is very important at the end of the crop, during the last 2 weeks before harvest. If properly flushed, plants will produce tastier buds, and the combustion factor of the dried material will improve. If plants are not flushed properly, combustion is slower and the flavor poor, and artificial. When flushing the medium, it is very important to be organized to avoid water spills in the growroom. The purpose of flushing is to wash the medium, and as a consequence a lot of water flows through the containers down to the ground, and it is very important to drain away excess water from the growroom, so the climate stays good (too much water in the room will cause air humidity to climb fast, creating all sorts of issues). The easiest way of flushing is when working with elevated tables, and proper drainage pipes. Another way of effectively control flushing In hydroponic mediums (from rock-wool to pebbles to coco fiber) the flushing process is easier to implement, because there is a higher degree of drainage. The texture of hydroponic medium favors flushing, and it is also more necessary than in earth. When flushing hydroponic medium, it is very important to be exact with the values of the flushing solution. EC, temperature and quantity are very important factors. The EC of the flushing solution must be high enough for the salts to bind with the solution, but not as high as to form more salts. The ideal values are between 0.9 and 1.1. The temperature must be in the 20-24 degrees Celsius range, to allow salt crystals to dissolve and unbind from the medium. If the temperature of the flushing solution is lower than 20 degrees the salt crystals will not dissolve, and if it is higher than 24 degrees the tiny root-hairs will be damaged. And finally, the quantity of solution going through the medium should be at least double in volume (for example: 40 liters of flushing solution for a 20 liters container). In my personal experience, flushing with up to 3 times the volume is even more effective, as long as the drainage is quick. Flushing is best done at the beginning of the light-cycle, so to favor evaporation of excess water and to let the medium begin the drying process faster after flushing. Once plants are flushed, they tend to get lazy, and slow down growth for a day or two, but this is all part of the game. As soon as the medium dries again, the growth (or ripening) resumes fast, and even increases. To double check the effectiveness of flushing, it is easy to measure the values inside the medium before and after flushing. First, pour some flushing solution through the medium. Measure the values inside the first liquid draining from the bottom, then apply the complete volume of flushing solution. At the end of drainage, measure again. At this point, the pH and EC readings of the flushing solution should be similar to what is draining out of the container. In conclusion, flushing should be part of any synthetic feeding schedule, well integrated in the process. Water tanks capacity, and drainage, should be priority considerations when designing or building a good growroom. It can only improve the results of the grow operation. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  4. 3 likes
    This is the tenth article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for hunting landraces. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: breeding your own genetics A long time ago I started smoking cannabis, then soon after I started growing it. And that's when I realised, like many do at that stage, the simple truth that breeding is to growing what driving is to walking. Ever since I started growing cannabis back in 1989 i begun dreaming of breeding my own strains, of creating my own crossings. And thanks to Arjan and my work at Green House Seed Company, one day that dream become a reality. Now I want to share a few secrets about this magical art, a science that goes beyond measurable data and into the realm of feelings, perception and sixth sense. Breeding is the process of creating and stabilizing new strains, and it all starts from sourcing good genetics to start with. There are many ways of breeding, from simple selection of traits all the way up to cannabinoid, terpens and DNA profiling. But the basic principles are the same. For the home-breeder, the point is to find great starting genetics, cross them, and then to select until the desired traits are found. After this, the more tricky step is a matter of reproducing the selected individuals, by making a stable strain out of them. The starting material for breeding should be anything with great qualities that are easily identifiable. If possible, it is best to use regular seeds for home-breeding, but it is also possible to do it with feminized, although it requires more selection. Breeding should be targeting a single main train, or a selected number of traits. The larger the number, the higher the risk of overlooking something in the process. The rule of thumb is: keep it as simple as possible. There are many ways of home-breding: some do it for resin, others for flavor, others for production. Some for more than one trait, in which case it is best to do it by selecting and breeding for a single trait at the time. For example, if I would wanna take Super Lemon Haze seeds and cross them with a heavy-producing indica to increase yield without losing the typical lemon flavor, the best way would be to first cross the two, then select individuals for production, stabilize that trait, and then search for the specific flavor. Stabilizing can be done with back-crossing technique, where selected individuals carrying desired traits are crossed back with the original parent carrying the same similar traits. For example, if a Super Lemon Haze is crossed with a White Rhino for increasing production while keeping the lemon scent, the selected off-springs that are most producing will be back-crossed to the original Super Lemon Haze plant for boosting lemon flavor. The stabilization process of a selected crossing is a more complicated process, requiring large spaces to be able to check large number of individuals, and this is the reason why few seed companies actually stabilize their strains. Planting a crop of F1 hybrid seeds to select individuals carrying desired traits is one thing. Backing up several selected individuals to stabilize the lines is another. It requires space, to be able to verify the entire gamma of genetic combinations of the population (in cannabis this means planting over 10000 units of F1 to find the few individuals that carry desired expression of traits, then use them for the back-crossing to original parents). Depending on the strain and the cross, it is usually necessary to back-cross or inbreed 3 to 6 generations before true uniformity is reached. In the case of extreme sativas, for example, it is necessary to go down several generations before any uniformity is achieved, while with indica strains the task is a little easier. What makes the difference is also the desired level of uniformity: especially for sativas, it is usually very much handy to allow phenotypes to manifest themselves, so growers can select the ones that a best for them and their needs. With more commercial strains, it is usually more appreciated when plats are very uniform, to guarantee an uniform product. The point of home breeding is that it is rarely possible to plant as many off-springs to actually represent the population. Because of these reduced number of plants in use, finding exceptional individuals becomes also a matter of luck and, in part, “green finger”, or sixth sense. Let’s not forget that many champion strains were born simply as anomalies in a vast selection of individuals. This is exactly what happened with the Cheese in the UK. No matter how small the home-breeding operation, in my opinion it is always the most interesting, fun and rewarding way to grow cannabis. Making new flavors and new types of plants keeps mixing the gene-pool, keeps creating diversity, and most of all keeps increasing the number of seeds that go around between smokers and growers. In a few words: it is the best way to keep fighting for the cannabis cause. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  5. 2 likes
    (El Niño x Super Lemon Haze) El Niño: Haze, Super Skunk, Brazilian and South Indian.x Super Lemon Haze: Lemon Skunk (original skunk, citral) + Super Silver Haze (Skunk, Northern Lights, Haze) White Lemon Grow Report GH White Lemon is a very vigorous and very stable strain with a rubbery characteristic of the stem and grows tall, being ideal for SCROG grow setups and Supercropping. Two phenotypes are noticeable in this strain, with a third pheno much more ocasional. Leave shape is Indica-like despite the height grow rate of a Sativa. This factor, wide and dark leaves, will help this strain to deliver her dense and tight buds in flowering period. Bud's smell is distinctively lemony, the one from the genetic material of Super Lemon Haze and very frosty and compact from the El Niño side. Very easy to grow, ready in 8 to 9 weeks. High yeld ability. White Lemon Smoke Report Indica phenotype smells like herself, like a very good lemon, altough it comes with a twist of something more after grinding, it's a very sharp and strong spicy smoke inhaling and sweet lemony exhaling, with a oily after-tongue. High is workable but with a heavy brain and loose body high aswell. Sativa phenotype is more sweet smelling and tasting, think it realy resembles more the lemon haze side of the genetics then the indica one previously mentioned. Smokes as the first but with a sweeter tone. For a sour lover the indica pheno smoke will be better. The High of this pheno doesn't compare to the indica one, the stone setlles more on the body altough with same cerebral, but with lack of good awareness to do something besides couch, bed, hammok... Both are top notch smoke! Thank you, Green House!!! Take care http://www.strainhun...-smoke-reports/
  6. 2 likes
    This is the first article in a new series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. This month I explain some of the best tricks to take strong, healthy cuttings, and to speed up the rooting process. These are... Franco's tricks on cuttings The most important single factor determining the success in producing healthy cuttings is hygiene. A clean growroom and clean tools are essential to success. In my experience, the best way to keep a mother-room clean is to periodically empty it (take plants out, turn off all equipment) and then spray it with a solution of water peroxide (H2O2 35%) diluted in tap water 1 to 10; this solution can be sprayed over walls, equipment, lamps, pretty much the entire room. After a few hours of ventilation, the lights can be turned on again and the plants put back into place. It is a simple way to kill germs, bacterias, fungi, spores, and any parasites or pests (including their eggs). This treatment should be done every 4-6 months, depending on the situation. In mother rooms where cuttings are taken regularly, the treatment should be repeated more frequently. Mother plants have to be in very good shape to guarantee good cuttings. The best mothers are 1 to 6 months old, and in full vigor, under 18 or more hours of light per day. It’s important to let the mother plants rest between cutting sessions at least 2-3 weeks, to avoid stressing them. Feeding should be applied regularly, but not in the 3-4 days before taking cuttings; the day before taking cuttings, I like to water the mother plants with pH-balanced water (5.5-6.0) containing no feedings, and I make sure the circulation fans are positioned so that the branches keep a slight movement in the breeze, so to keep the cells that form the branches in an agitated and flexible condition; this will help the conversion into root-cells once the cuttings have been taken and rooting hormone applied. The best time to take cuttings is after a few hours of light exposure, when the bio-processes of the plant are fully active. Air circulation should be reduced to a minimum when taking cuttings, as the dehydration factor is an issue. I like to use rock-wool as a medium to root cuttings because of the rooting speed and ease to control and flush. 24 hours before starting my cut-session, I like to soak the rock-wool in a solution of water at 24 degrees, with a little Previcur in it (2 to 2.5 ml per liter), a very effective general-purpose fungicide used mostly in the potato-farming industry. This prevents fungi from altering or slowing down the rooting process of cuttings. When taking cuttings, I try to reduce the time elapsing between the moment the blade cuts and the moment the tissues come in contact with rooting hormone (gel or powder). By keeping this “air-time” the shortest possible, chances of damping-off (death of cuttings by Pythium fungus infection) are reduced to a minimum. To achieve a good rhythm I like to position the mother plant at a good height, so I am able to work fast, taking each cutting, cleaning it from the leaves in excess, then dipping it in the rooting hormone, and directly into the rooting medium. It becomes a very steady and fast motion, and on a good day I can cut up to 210 clones per hour (3 trays of 72 clones). My favorite tool for taking cuttings is the old-school double-sided razor blade. It is extremely sharp, sterile, and very handy. But it is dangerous, and over the years I have seen several very nasty cuts that needed some stitches to be fixed, so I always advise to have some practice sessions wearing protective gloves before going at it bare-hands (much faster, of course). After taking the cuttings and labeling them, I place them in a incubator-box, under fluorescent lights. Humidity inside the dome is around 85% for the first 3-4 days, then slowly lowers to 75%, then to 65% for real hardening. I like to harden my cuttings while they are still rooting, because this way the whole process is faster. I believe from experience that cuttings rooted all the way at high humidity are weaker and slower than cuttings rooted and hardened at the same time. Normally I use Clonex gel as rooting hormone because working with gel is faster, cleaner and less dangerous for the health than working with powder-products (the powders are very fine and highly volatile, and if inhaled are toxic for humans. So, if you use powder-form rooting hormone, wear a mask while working). My personal record at rooting cuttings is 6 days, but normally the rooting time is between 9 and 14 days, depending on the strain. In order to increase the rooting speed, there are a few tricks that can be implemented. Between them, the most effective are flushing after 3 days with a mild nutrient solution, and using reversed-osmosis purified water to mist cuttings periodically during the first 3 days of the rooting process. By misting the cuttings with purified water at regular intervals during the first 2-3 days of their rooting process, their vigor is diverted mostly to the production of root-cells. In my experience it is best to avoid feeding the cuttings through the leaves, because this slows root production; if the cuttings get fed through the leaves, there is less need to develop roots to absorb feedings. And by waiting 3 days before flushing the medium with a calibrated solution (5.5 pH and 1.0 EC made with synthetic minerals, ready for intake) the roots will be just shooting out from the cutting when they receive the first stimulus to intake nutrients. Once the cuttings have roots, I like to plant them in the selected growth medium within 2-3 days; this way the root vigor keeps going, as the roots translate from the rooting medium to the growth medium without stopping against a non-penetrable surface (as it happens when they sit in the tray, already rooted, for days). Cuttings are the starting point of most crops, and they should be produced aiming at maximum speed and maximum vigor. Timing the cutting session and preparing the logistics for rapid transplanting are the secrets to a fast, healthy production cycle. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  7. 2 likes
    This is the eleventh article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for home-breeding. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: drying and curing your crop. The harvest is the culminating moment of all the efforts made during months of cultivation. Once the harvest is done, it is time to dry and cure the buds for maximum flavor and potency. The drying and curing is a very delicate balance of factors, which must be monitored at all times to ensure success. Drying is the easiest part, while curing requires some experience and some very controlled conditions. There are two basic ways to dry: manicured and non-manicured. And there are two basic ways of curing: airtight curing and non-airtight curing. Which systems are adopted depend mostly on the purpose of the crop: commercial growers usually manicure the buds wet, and then they dry for a short time, in order to minimize risk and increase productivity by shortening the total crop time. On the other hand, people that grow for personal use will try to maximise quality and will dry and cure the buds until maximum flavor and effect are reached. Let’s now examine each option in detail: Wet manicuring - this technique has many advantages: it is easier and faster to manicure buds while they are still wet, because the leaves are not hanging and the resin is stickier and does not drop. Moreover this technique allows faster drying because plant juices are exposes by broken leaves; however the chlorophyll does not entirely break down with this method, and the final product can be a little bitter. Wet manicuring can be done manually (with the fingers, or using scissors) or by machine. Nowadays there are several options to manicure with machine, each of them perfect for a different setup. Large operations will require large rotatory blade systems that can handle quantity, while small operations can do well with small trimming machines that process branch by branch. When manicuring wet, make sure that the tools stay clean by applying a small quantity of oil or food-grade grease to the blades and to all metal parts that come in contact with the resin. Wet manicuring favors potency over flavor. Dry manicuring - this technique is preferred by some growers because the drying process is slower and smoother, allowing more chlorophyll to break down and evaporate with the water. However there is one disadvantage with dry-manicuring: the resin tends to drop from the buds as the dry leaves are crushed and removed. Dry manicuring prioritize flavor over potency. Whatever method is used, the purpose of drying is to get buds to a water content of 12-15% as slowly as possible. If water content gets below 12% buds will be too dry and will burn too fast, resulting in harsh smoke. If too much water is left inside buds will burn poorly, and taste green and bitter. Also the cosmetic-factor is affected by water content: the perfect buds are crispy, and break easily but do not pulverize. Once the buds are almost dry, it is time for connoisseurs to go to the next step: curing. Curing can be done in a variety of ways, but they all follow two basic principles: airtight or not airtight. Curing means allowing the last part of the drying to happen really slowly. Basically it involves a slow fermentation process, with some oxidation. THC will degrade into other cannabinoids, allowing for a deeper, longer-lasting, more physical effect. Terpenoids will blend and boost flavor and smell. Let’s now examine each curing option in detail: Airtight curing - Buds that are cured in airtight environment should be fairly dry to start with (around 12-15% to begin with) and will be placed directly in a glass jar. allow the jar to be full, but do not press buds too much, just slightly. Close the jar, and rest it in a dark place, at constant temperature around 16-18 degrees and low relative humidity (between 40 and 55%). Every week or so open the jar and let it breath for 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat for several weeks, until the product is cured. Try cured buds at several stages to see what you like the most, this really is a matter of personal taste. The more you cure the more potent and strong-flavor it will be, with a maximum curing time of 6-8 months. Non-airtight curing - This is a better way to cure large crops. It involves placing the buds in cardboard boxes, with few air-holes pierced through the sides. Buds can be slightly pressed, so the resin breaks a little. Place the boxes in a climate-controlled environment (temp around 16 degrees, relative humidity around 45-50%) and monitor every week. The curing with this system is faster and produces more oxidation, so it is advisable to cure for 2-4 months. Other alternative ways of curing are in cupboards, or in cedar-wood boxes, or in cigar humidors. Some African tribes, in Malawi and Zambia, even cure buds underground. This can be attempted but is very tricky. The soil must be very dry, and the bud must be placed in a thin leather bag, or in the dried interiors of a large animal. Curing bud is the key to a unique connoisseur flavor and effect, and should never be underestimated. The best bud can become average if dried too fast, while the most average bud can become a delicacy if properly cured. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  8. 2 likes
    This is the third article in a new series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks to maintain a clean, efficient and productive mother room. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on vegetative growth Vegetative growth, also called “veg” or “veg-time”, is the time between sprouting (seeds) or rooting (cuttings) and the beginning of the flowering period. It is a transitional phase, and most growers tend to overlook the importance of this time of the crop. Several tasks that are vital to achieve a high-volume and high-quality harvest are performed by the plants during vegetative growth: formation of a strong root system; growth of branches and support structure for flowers to come; and formation of leaves for photosynthesis, to name a few. Vegetative growth can be as fast as a few days, or as long as a few months. Indoors, vegetative growth is usually kept short to a minimum, for 2 reasons: growers want to shorten the total crop-time, and they want to keep plants short because of room-height concerns. Nevertheless, veg-time is the moment when the plants boost the most, when they create new cells at a staggering speed. Cannabis is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, with average growth that can reach over 2 centimeters per day at peak. During veg-time there are a few very important tricks that can improve the performance of plants. The most important one is surely to allow enough oxygen to the root system, by allowing the medium to dry properly between feeding cycle. Watering cycles should be far apart enough, and the medium should have very good drainage properties. A plant that grows with a constantly wet medium will slow down its metabolism and get lazy. On the contrary, when the root system is exposed to cycles of feeding alternated to dry ones, and the other factors (air, light) are at 100%, growth will explode. The EC for vegetative growth should be kept between 1.3 and 1.6, depending on the strain and the medium used. In very particular situations (fast-responding genetics, hydro-setup, experienced grower), it is possible to push the EC at higher levels to increase growth-speed, but this requires a very good control on the grow, and a lot of experience. pH should be kept around, or below, 6. This will allow a faster intake of Nitrogen, the most important nutrient during the growth phase. During vegetative growth it is also time to give the plants clear “instructions” on how to develop, based on the needs of each particular growroom. Most indoor growers like to “pinch” the tip of the growing plants, so to split growth into 2 branches. This can be repeated several times, to obtain very bushy plants with massive lateral development and a contained height. By splitting the growth of the main cola (a technique known as super-cropping) and the lateral branches, it is possible to increase the total production of a plant, keeping the height under control at the same time. The best moment to pinch plants is after they have developed 2 or 3 internodes. An alternative to super-cropping is to apply a net over the plants (SCRoG system) and to form a flat canopy at a desired distance from the lamps. This can be particularly effective with long-internode genetics, or very stretchy ones. Very important is to always clean the bottom of the plants, trimming away low branches that are touching the ground or the medium. Outdoors it is very difficult to control the growth of plants, because control over many factors (like temperature or light-exposure) is limited or nonexistent. But there are also factors that can be influenced positively, like controlling the development and the shape of the plants by pruning them, and supporting branches if necessary, keeping in mind the heavy loads of flower that they will have to support and the local conditions that can create issues (like wind or storms). Fertilizing outdoor plants during veg-time is important because it is the time when the plants build their immune system. The best solution to fertilize outdoor plants during veg-time in guerrilla-grow situations is to use slow-release fertilizer, thus reducing the number of necessary visits to the location. Leaf-feeding (spraying a light nutritive solution on the leaves for absorption) can help outdoor plants if they can’t get enough feeding from the earth. Outdoor plants tend to become very large, so it is sometimes convenient to bend them down and tie them to the ground (a technique known as LST). The best time to do this is just before the beginning of the flowering, when the stems are still very flexible and the plants have already developed the structure necessary to support the buds. You can use sticks and ropes to support long branches, and to point them to grow towards the desired direction. Some growers like to bend down long branches all the way to the ground, and put a stone on the branch to keep it down; it is an extreme but very effective way of LST. After bending the long lower branches all the way down to the ground, they make a few cuts and incisions in the plant tissue, right in the spot where the branch touches the ground. Finally, they apply some rooting hormone. The branches will shoot out strong roots, and become physical extensions of the plant. This trick can reduce vertical development considerably, and is great for camouflage and to increase the output of the crop. If plants grow too bushy or too dense it is a good practice to “make some room”, by trimming few branches and leaves, allowing light and air to penetrate the plants. This will prevent the dying of the lower part of the plants and will increase production. And last but not least, pest control; another key factor in any successful crop, pest control starts (and should end) during veg-time. Good growers know how to prevent problems, by applying pest-control as a preventive element during veg-time, instead of fighting bugs during flowering. Using a wide-spectrum synthetic pest-control agent during vegetative growth will not leave any traces in the finished product, as long as the treatment is done early enough in the cycle. With most agents, the important is to allow light exposure to break down the chemicals, and allow enough time for the plant to brake down the traces left inside. The vegetative growth is a phase of the life of the plants when few, precise actions can make a lot of difference in the final outcome. It is worth keeping it short, but also as effective as possible. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  9. 2 likes
    This is the fifth article in a series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for flushing the plant's medium. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on pH There are many ways to grow good cannabis; the path each grower takes depends on knowledge, background, and philosophy. Those who dare to adventure off the beaten path, and keep curious about new possibilities, usually end up becoming really good growers. By trying new systems, new mediums, new feedings and new genetics growers can improve the quality and quantity of their output. Due to the illegal status of the plant, there has been relatively little scientific research on how to grow cannabis. On the other hand, there has been abundance of practical experience, as cannabis is one of the most cultivated plants on earth. Trial and error has been the traditional way of learning for the large majority of growers, and only in recent years, thanks to Internet and to cheap air-travel, the cannabis community has been able to link and to exchange information, data and genetics at an unprecedented pace. This has resulted in an explosion of the cannabis industry in general. Soil, hydroponics, coco fiber, aeroponics, organic feedings, synthetic feedings; each system has its positive and negative sides, and each can deliver great cannabis, if done properly. Of all factors that determine a successful crop the most important are: air, light and feeding. And for feeding intake, pH levels are crucial for optimum results. A small minority of growers has completely organic operations (meaning they use soil collected from forests, use predators to fight pests, and make their own compost exclusively from organically produced food) where controlling the pH of the watering solution should be done exclusively using lemon juice (to lower the pH) or limestone (to higher the pH). But most growers use some form of synthetic feeding, so they don't mind using nitric acid or phosphoric acid to lower the pH of the feeding solution, and calcium carbonate to increase it. Most growers need to lower the pH of their feeding solution; it is actually rare to have to increase it. The difference is in the stage of development of the crop. During vegetative growth, nitric acid works best, while during the flowering period phosphoric acid is the most indicated. This is because of the binding that happens with Nitrogen or with Phosphorus already present in the feeding. But the question always coming back is: what's the right pH? The answer is easy, jet complicated. The easy part is: safe levels are anywhere in between 5.5 and 7.0. Cannabis can successfully assimilate most of the nutrients needed when the pH is in between these levels, especially if all other important factors (air, light, watering frequency) are at 100%. Of course, to optimize quality and quantity it is best that all nutrients are assimilated at the optimum moment. Therefore it is advisable to keep pH around 5.5-6.0 during vegetative growth, and to increase to 6.1-6.5 during flowering. This way the Nitrogen is best absorbed during vegetative growth, and Phosphorus, Potassium and microelements are best absorbed during flowering. Because of the different conditions and optimal levels, it is worth examining a few typical situations. In case of outdoor guerrilla growing, it is difficult to control the pH of the earth. The best is to make sure the soil does not contain too much clay. For the rest, the only control is trying to balance well the feeding solution. Best in these conditions is to start at 5.5 pH then move on to 6.5 during flowering, and up to 7.0 during the end of the crop. A high pH at the end will reduce the chance of bud-rot or fungus development. Indoors, it really depends on the medium and the strains. In soil, with most indica strains, it is best to start at 5.8 during vegetative growth, move to 6.2 during flowering, and end at 6.4 at harvest. With more sativa varieties it is advisable to start at 5.8 and then smoothly go up to 6.8 at the end of the flowering. In hydroponics, the trick is to remember that the pH of the medium tends to jump very high very fast. Therefore, it is best to stabilize the pH of the medium at 5.5 before starting the grow cycle, and keep it slightly lower than one would do in soil. Flowering can be done at 5.8-6.0, and the end of the flowering should be done at 6.2-6.3 for indicas, and 6.4-6.5 for sativas. In coco fiber the game is similar to hydroponics, while in aeroponics the pH should be stabilized between 5.5 (grow) and 6.5 (flowering) for perfect intake. Adjusting the pH at the right levels will ensure that even the microelements are absorbed properly, which will boost resin production. And will also ensure that the plants stay green well into the flowering, guaranteeing maximum surface available for photosynthesis when the buds are building up. During my career as grower, breeder and seed maker I met several growers that were able to produce the finest product without controlling the pH of their nutrient solution. But it was cases of serious natural-born green finger. The large majority of growers benefits from controlling the pH and applying the theory to the practice, while remembering that it is always useful to experiment and fine-tune the values to tailor the genetics and the unique environment. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  10. 1 like
    This article is the number ten in a series focused on the most important landraces of cannabis. All the thousands of strains of cannabis we use today are derived from a limited number of landraces, which have been used for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes during centuries. Cannabis originated in central Asia, and from there it has spread to all corners of the world. Sometimes helped by nature, sometimes by man, cannabis seeds have conquered inimmaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their carachteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combinations. Some of these combinations stabilized themselves through imbreeding, and resulted in landraces. Some of these landraces have preserved themselves, isolated in remote areas of the planet with no contact with other cannabis strains for long periods of time. My name is Franco, my passion is cannabis, and my work is strain-hunting for Green House Seed Company. And this is the history of: Panama Red The history of Panama Red is simply amazing. It is one of the oldest landraces of the whole American continent, and some say it is extinct. In reality, it has just become very rare, and very difficult to obtain. Panama Red was a true legend in the 1960s and 1970s, when entire generations of hippies considered it the best weed money could buy, the top of the line. It was one of the most psychedelic experiences cannabis could offer, and its name appears to this day in songs and movies. But nobody seems to be growing it today, and no seed bank offers it in its selection. There are many reasons to this: the genetics can only be found in a very specific, remote island. And the plant is very sativa, with non-commercial traits unacceptable to most of today's growers. Panama is located in the middle of Central America, in between Colombia and Costa Rica, and is a thin strip of land between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. The country has a tropical climate, with very mild temperatures all year round, mostly between 24 and 30 degrees. Humidity is high, with extreme peaks during the rainy season, from March to December. The rain is much heavier on the caribbean side than on the pacific side of the country, but in this part of central America there are no hurricanes. Only on the mountains on the west side of the country temperatures are lower, and can sometimes get close to freezing at night. Hundreds of islands, small and large, make both sides of the coast a tourist paradise. Nature is pristine, both above and under water, and development is still catching up with the abundance of amazing spots. Almost half of the country is still covered in lush tropical forest, and there are huge swamps. The Panama channel, connecting the two oceans, was built in 1914 on a tiny piece of land sold to the USA, and only in 2000 the Panama government took back control over the channel. Today, it brings significant incomes to the country in the form of taxes and international prestige, and it has allowed Panama to become an international "tax-heaven", a place where banks have high secrecy and where shipowners from all over the world want to register commercial boats. Panama's commercial fleet, as a result, grew to be one of the largest in the world. The history of the country is pretty bloody, starting with Spanish domination (that lasted 300 years), then the annexion to Colombia in 1821, and finally the independence in 1903. But even after becoming a nation, Panama was always troubled by racial tension between whites and natives, as well as by heavy criminality linked to cocaine trade and dictatorships (the worse being the one of Manuel Noriega, culminated with the US invasion in 1988). Today Panama is more peaceful, but still faces huge social, economical and logistical challenges. Tourists are increasing every year, and today they represent a source of development for several areas. The majority of the people live under the line of poverty, making mont's end with survival farming, and they have few animals. The majority of the wealth is in the hands of less than 3% of the population, mostly living in the capital city or abroad (USA, Caribbean, Colombia, Spain). Until the 1970s Panama produced large quantities of high-grade cannabis, mostly to be exported to the United States and Europe. The Panama Red was grown mostly along the pacific coast, slightly less rainy and more fertile. Then the cocaine trade changed the balances of money and power, and the locals dedicated themselves to the more lucrative business option. Cannabis cultivation continued on small scale, for local consumption, but basically most of the forest areas that were previously used to grow fields were converted in landing strips or jungle labs. The only area where the cannabis production continued basically unchanged was on a group of islands off the south coast, the Pearl islands (Islas de las Perlas). These islands have the perfect climate to grow sativas: mild temperatures, constant breeze, acceptable humidity, fertile soil, thick forest to hide and protect on the ground as well as from the air. Since a long, long time ago people grow on these islands, and seeds have been passed on from generation to generation, since hundreds of years ago. and they are still busy. This is the place where it is still possible, even if not easy, to find the true landrace. The Panama Red grows tall, skinny, with long internodes and thick stems, with a woody fiber. They branch almost horizontally, parallel to the ground, and stretch quite a bit. The growers usually choose locations under tall trees, so the plants stretch even more to look for the sunshine. The proximity to the equator makes the variation in the length of the day almost unnoticeable. In summer days are 13 hours long, in winter 11. This means plants grow to sexual maturity, then start flowering. The stretch in vertical growth happens almost entirely during flowering, and does not want to stop. Growers bend the tallest plants down and tie them to the ground with ropes, or use stones to hold down the lowest branches against the ground. Sometimes the branches break, and roots form from the branch into the soil, propagating the plant horizontally. The buds are long, thin, almost fluffy, but covered in long thin hairs that turn very red very soon. The leaves and stems also turn reddish and brownish towards the middle of the flowering, and maintain the red until harvest time. The flowering time is usually 3 months (crops grown November to March, the driest months, produce the best results. But growers plant also in January and in May if they want to increase production). The small patches of plants are hidden deep into the tropical forest, and very hard to access. Cannabis consumption is quite open and accepted, but cultivation carries heavy sentences. Tourists are now becoming the main market for the cannabis grown in Panama, but they also represent a danger to the survival of the original landrace, as they often bring seeds from other cultivars and exchange them with locals. It already happened on the mainland, and it is bound to happen on the islands as well. Smoking the original Panama Red is a true visual experience before any other sense is stimulated. The cured buds are usually seedless, and have a dark green color that softly melts into dark red at every tip of the calyx. The hairs are bright red, giving a surreal glow to the long thin buds. Braking it reveals a deep scent of berries, followed by an intense woody/spicy background. The flavor after combustion is slightly more bitter than expected from the smell, but translate fairly well. The high doesn't hit. It creeps, it gently grabs your attention and then explodes in a cloud of introspective high, long lasting, very trippy. It is one of the most psychedelic sativa highs and one of the cleanest. After the blast, the aftermath is almost non-existing. The Panama Red is great smoke for creative moments, for inspiration, for intimacy and for thinking. It is truly legendary, and it will survive jealously kept by a selected group of breeders. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  11. 1 like
    This article is the seventh of a series focused on the most important landraces of cannabis. All the thousands of strains of cannabis we use today are derived from a limited number of landraces, which have been used for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes during centuries. Cannabis originated in central Asia, and from there it has spread to all corners of the world. Sometimes helped by nature, sometimes by man, cannabis seeds have conquered unimaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their characteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combination. Some of these combinations stabilized themselves through inbreeding, and resulted in landraces. Some of these landraces have preserved themselves, isolated in remote areas of the planet with no contact with other cannabis strains for long periods of time. My name is Franco, my passion is cannabis, and my work is strain hunting for Green House Seed Company. And this is the history of: Himalayan Mal During my last trip to the Himalayas, I discovered that cannabis isn’t just another strong plant. It can outperform most crops in some of the harshest areas of the globe. Why? The answer is: adapting to the local environment. No other species of plant has evolved and adapted to new challenging environments the way cannabis did over the last 10,000 years of the planet’s history. The interaction between animals, man and cannabis made possible the worldwide diffusion of the plant. Cannabis made its appearance in central Asia, and from there it has spread to every continent, to every climate, with the exception of the poles. The slow process took thousands of years, and was made possible by two prominent factors: human intervention and cannabis adaptability to new and diverse climates. The first factor is very easily understandable: humans have used cannabis since the dawn of civilization, selecting and breeding for fibre (hemp) or resin (marijuana). The second one presents somewhat trickier answers: cannabis has been able to adapt to new environments fast, efficiently and with great success. How? The answers are still unclear to scientists and botanists, mostly because the illegal status of the plant has hindered research and discouraged people from investigating the truth. In my travels I had the chance to see cannabis perform in all kinds of environments, and I always felt I could explain the adaptation process with simple, logical assumptions on slow evolution patterns. But on the Himalayan mountain range, for the first time in my life, I have witnessed how adapting to new environment is a capability that the plant can manifest directly, without need for time, for slow morphological changes shaped by hostile factors over many generations. On the Indian Himalayas I have seen cannabis plants that are able to modify their appearance, growth pattern and general traits based on altitude on the sea level. Obviously with climbing of altitude, the summer season gets shorter, and temperatures can drop close to the freezing point at night, even in the warmest months. Cannabis from the Himalayan region is able to structure and shape some of its traits based on the altitude factor, creating what I came to define as different phenotypes. I have witnessed seeds from the same genetics becoming very different looking plants depending solely on the altitude at which they were planted. The higher the altitude, the more the plants look indica, with shorter internodes, thicker leaves, wider leaflets, and shorter flowering time. At lower altitude, down in the valleys, the traits are far more sativa: longer internodes, longer and thinner leaflets, longer but less dense colas, longer flowering time. The scientific definition of phenotype explains it as a genetic as well as environmental expression of defined plant traits. But before travelling on the Himalayas I always attributed the expression of phenotypes to transmission of characters and genetic code. Now I know that the story goes on. Environmental factors can play a huge role in determining the expression of phenotypes. There are many types of cannabis growing on the Himalayas, and none of the imported strains shows signs of change due to altitude. It is a peculiarity that is exclusive to the local landrace, one that becomes more and more visible when we start paying attention to it. Thanks to precise and clear indications from people who lived and worked all their life with cannabis in this region, I started understanding how to spot the local landrace and then it became very clear that the phenotype expression had a direct correlation to altitude, and all the factors that come with it. Few other regions of the planet present such a change of climate in such a small geographical extension as the Himalayas. Here we go from a fully tropical climate in the valleys, to almost artic conditions in a few hundred kilometres, sometimes less. What triggers such a change is simply altitude on the seas level. Plants grow up to 3500 meters on the Himalayas, and cannabis is one of the best high-altitude crops of the region. It would be very wrong to assume that altitude is the only factor involved. But certainly altitude is one of the key factors in one of the most interesting phenomena I ever witnessed in cannabis. Many experts and scientists will disagree with my vision, or with my choice of words to identify the phenomenon. Maybe these variations are not different phenotypes but just different expressions of the same landrace. It is not on the words and definitions I will argue. I have learned another very valuable lesson from the plant I love the most: staying flexible is a key to success.In the Himalayas cannabis is the main source of income for many isolated communities, people who live in harmony with the mountains and the environment, and use the cannabis as the only real cash crop. Himalayan Mal, the strain that gives birth every year to the best charras in the world, should be a protected cultural heritage of the region. Instead it is prosecuted and eradicated by local police forces, with contributions in money from the European Union and the United States of America. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  12. 1 like
    Strain Hunters are people that can’t sit still for too long. After completing the Malawi expedition in 2008, Arjan and myself began to think about the next mission. We had many destinations in mind, because the list of places where amazing landraces are awaiting is a long one. After much thinking and talking we selected a few “top-spots” on our list, and started gathering information and ideas. It became very clear that there was one place that could not be overlooked: the region of the Himalayas, particularly the Indian side, where the best charras and creams are from. Ever since 1993, when the Green House won the Cannabis Cup with a cream from Malana, Arjan wanted to explore the origins and the history of this wonderful hashish. His last trip to India was in the 1980s, when he acquired the genetics that gave birth to the Himalaya Gold, one of the most acclaimed outdoor strains ever produced. So we decided time had come to go strain hunting in India. Now we needed a good guide, someone that could show us the right path to the highest fields, the tastiest creams, and the holiest of mountains. A few years back, during one of the Cannabis Expos we attended in Europe, we met Italian book writer and connoisseur Franco Casalone, author of the most famous books on cannabis written in Italy. He lived in the Indian Himalayas for several years, living the life of a true charsí (master of charras-making). We suddenly had the feeling that he was the right man for our mission, so we contacted him. Loving the chance to get back to his beloved mountains, he accepted to be our guide, to become a Strain Hunter, and to make our dream possible. What started as an idea was now becoming reality. Time to organize a scouting-trip to have a look at the area and prepare the path for the realization of the second Strain Hunters documentary. In June 2009 we boarded a flight to Delhi, and the adventure began. We spent two weeks trekking the mountains and the valleys of Himachal Pradesh, meeting several key-players in the area, from mountain guides to growers, and we visited more than 30 fields for the production of charras and cream. In this area the seeds are planted in May, so we could see tens of thousands of young plants already growing in the fields. For most of the fields we visited, we sampled the charras made the previous season. This way one can select the best fields and the best growers and charras makers. Planning for a documentary involves truly challenging logistics: every route has to be walked in advance, camp sites have to be checked, and because electricity is needed to charge batteries and back-up of tapes it’s not easy to stay too long away from civilization. Moreover, moving through rough mountain terrain with a whole camera-crew can prove difficult, unless every detail is considered and every issue is addressed and solved beforehand. When we were satisfied with our plan, we went back to Amsterdam to start organizing for the mission ahead. We were excited because we knew that we had found an amazing place with amazing people. In these mighty mountains charras has been used for thousands of years, and only recently the Indian government, under US and EU pressure, is acting against it. Since 2003 the police started chopping down cannabis crops and arresting people who produce charras. New dam-projects are underway, and the life in this region will change forever once they are completed. The entire cultural heritage of these mountain will be washed away in a few years, unless people around the world become aware of the problem. So we felt it was our duty to expose the situation of the cannabis plant and the people that live in these areas, victims of an out-of-control globalization madness. We planned to go back to India at the beginning of October, when the first crops would be mature and the people would be busy making the charras and the creams the whole world want to smoke. The months went by fast, because life is busy at Green House Seed Company, and we never have time to get bored.. before we knew it, it was time to go back to the holy mountains of Shiva and Parvati. We arrived in India on a hot night, the air was sticky and the intense smell of the city was hard to accept after a long flight. Simon was there waiting for us, another Strain Hunter joining the mission from a far corner of Africa. The crew was complete, and the spirits high. After another short flight to Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, we started driving. The car: a Mahindra, the roughest of Indian off-road vehicles. For 14 days we drove, we rode Enfield bikes, but most of all we walked up and down the mountains and the valleys of this amazing part of the world. We smoked great charras and unbelievable creams, mostly 1 or 2 years old, but in some cases even 3, 4 or 5 years old; real connoisseur stuff, jealously preserved by many master makers. We rubbed many hands of cream, learning the secrets from those who have been doing it all their lives. We met amazing people along the way, people that are struggling to preserve their lifestyle, their environment, their values and their entire framework of living. Globalization is claiming their land, and forcing them to adopt the values of a consumer-driven society, where being self-sufficient in harmony with nature goes against the principles of the economy. For 14 days we witnessed the damage brought to these communities by the building of dams, roads and other massive infrastructural projects. During the traveling we were able to collect many seeds from different phenotypes of the same landrace, as well as some variations crossed with other genetics imported from Pakistan, Afghanistan and even from Swaziland. Now it's our time to give something back. In November we will release the first 10 minutes trailer of STRAIN HUNTERS INDIA, while the complete documentary will follow in the first months of 2010. Thanks to the cooperation between Green House Seed Company, the Green House Foundation and Gagarinpost Productions, a dream has come true. We are proud of it, and we look forward to the next dreams.
  13. 1 like
    This is the second article in a new series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks to take strong, healthy cuttings, and to speed up the rooting process. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on mother plants Maintenance of a healthy, productive mother room is the basis for a high-output cannabis farm. Mother plants require good care if they have to keep producing cuttings for a long time, and there are a number of tricks, besides normal maintenance operations, that can help insure a smooth flow of production. Mother rooms are often kept at an 18-hrs light cycle, sometimes at a longer one, to promote vegetative growth. Depending on the strain(s) present in the room, light cycle can be adjusted to prevent flowering. Some strains, when kept on vegetative growth for longer than 2 or 3 months tend to start flowering, or to show pre-flowers and to slow down their vegetative growth. A good way to prevent this from happening is to increase the photoperiod from 18 to 20 hours per day. An uninterrupted light cycle of 24 hours per day should only be used to revert to vegetative growth plants that have started flowering already, and must be brought back for sake of conservation. If applied healthy plants in vegetative growth, a non-stop light cycle will produce stress and eventually be harmful to plants and cuttings. The medium in which mother plants grow is a key factor in determining the length of the plant’s life. Soil, coco fibre, clay pebbles, and rock-wool are the easiest mediums to keep mother plants. In soil the micro-life and enzymes will die after a period of 2-3 months, so it is advisable to freshen-up the medium periodically by chopping the outside of the root-ball and re-planting using some fresh soil. Using this technique it is possible to keep mother plants in soil for longer than a year. Coco-fibre, clay and rock-wool are easier to keep clean by implementing regular flushing. The trick when flushing is to apply at least 2 times the volume of the container in litres, and slowly pour the flushing solution avoiding that it runs off on the sides of the medium, making sure that it passes through. The temperature should be around the 20-25 degrees Celsius, to increase salts solubility. After flushing the medium, it is vital to let it rest until it becomes light and full of air, creating a sponge-like effect that brings oxygen to the root system. Then feeding can resume, with the addition of some extra enzymes, or bacterial micro-life. A good way to feed plants if the medium is still too heavy with water is to apply foliar feeding (specific products can be used for this purpose, although a mildly-diluted synthetic feeding solution with an EC inferior to 1.4 will do the trick just as well). The logistics of each mother room are different, but in most cases it is a good rule-of-thumb to divide the grow-space into a “boost” area and a “parking” area. The plants that have to be used to take cuttings in the following weeks can be put in “boost”, while the ones waiting to be used in the future can grow at a slower pace in the “parking” area. This system comes particularly useful in rooms with a large number of genetics, where a rotation in production is part of the logistics. I like to use different lights in a mother room, because this helps creating a “boost and parking” setup. For example, in a mother room of 2 square meters it is advisable to use 1 metal halide lamp for a boost area, and some fluorescent lights for the parking area (the output of fluorescent tubes has more than doubled over the last few years, and there are excellent products on the market that use very little electricity). Plants can then follow a rotation pattern, to optimize growth, avoid stress, and produce many healthy cuttings. Ideally each mother plant should have a period of frequent cuts (every 2-3 weeks for a few months) and then a rest-period of a few months, with less frequent cuts. Temperature in a mother room is very important to ensure smooth conditions for growth. Compared to a flowering room, a mother room should be few degrees cooler (23-26 degrees Celsius). This prevents micro-life in the soil from perishing, as well as lowering the chance of fungi and bacterial infections. The metabolism of growing plants is optimal around 25 degrees during vegetative growth, allowing for a higher clone-to-plant ratio. Feeding mother plants is a relatively boring routine: the trick is to keep the plants in “parking” at a low-feeding regime (I normally feed every 2 or 3 watering sessions), then increase N intake during the boost phase, and stop feeding about one week before taking cuttings. Moreover it is very important that the plants are well watered when cuttings are taken. These simple tricks can considerably reduce rooting time and increase root strength in young cuttings. The feeding needs of mother plants include a monthly dose of enzymes (make sure the bottle is fairly new and the shelf-life was monitored, or the enzymes will be dead before you open the bottle. Never keep an open bottle of enzymes longer then a month, and make sure it is stored in a dark, cool place); and some extra micro-nutrients (especially Mg, Ca, Zn) every 2-3 weeks. Trimming plants is another major routine task in a mother room. Plants should be trimmed according to the needs, trying to split branches as much as possible and to keep the plants low by boosting low branching. A properly trimmed mother plant, at 6-7 months of age, should produce at least 50-60 cuttings per session. Finally, a mother room must be clean, neat and well organized. Always remove trash from the room, and disinfect tools with a water peroxide solution (90% water and 10% H2O2-35%). The room itself should be emptied and sprayed with the water and H2O2-35% solution once a year. The solution can be sprayed all over the room, including lamps, ventilation equipment and grow-tables. After the treatment ventilate until the room is dry, then turn on the lights for 6-8 hours to clear every residue of H2O2. Then plants can go back, in a very clean environment. Mother plants are the key to a productive cannabis farm, and they need to live longer than any other cannabis plant. They demand, and deserve, the most care. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  14. 1 like
    This is the 12th article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for home-breeding. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: Blending - the fine art of creating a flavor. Cannabis is one of the most varied and complex plants on earth, with thousands of different landraces and crosses. Over the centuries the amazing diversification occurring in nature has been exponentially boosted by human intervention through breeding and propagation. Because of this phenomenon, there is a constant evolution in the spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes combinations. Many experienced cannabis users recognize this diversity as one of the key-factors in their ability to enjoy flavor and effect of cannabis smoke over long periods of time with minimum tolerance. In fact, according to most regular smokers, using a single strain of cannabis for longer than 2 weeks lowers the pleasure and requires higher doses to achieve the desired effect; on the contrary, when there is a regular change in the strains used there is no need to increase doses to obtain desired effects, and the whole flavor experience steps up to a different level. Even if this amazing diversity presents smokers with an almost endless range of tastes and effects, it is very rare for people to have access to more than 2 or 3 strains at the same time, due to the logistics involved and the illegality of the product itself. Nevertheless, the fine art of mixing and blending can help achieve a higher efficiency and efficacy of use. There are two fields where blending can increase pleasure and satisfaction: flavor and effect. When we analyze the ways of blending to improve flavor it must be noted that every cannabis strain can be categorized into one of the four basic tastes we perceive: sweet, bitter, sour, spicy. From this point on, it is a very personal work of mapping the palate to identify the dominant flavors of a strain. Once that’s done, it becomes a fine art to be able to combine two flavors that can improve or complement each other. We are now leaving the realm of common smokers and entering the exclusive lounge of the sophisticated smokers with a chef’s soul and a sommelier’s heart. My personal favorite blends include: 1. Hawaiian Snow and Arjan’s Haze 2: this is an all-sativa blend, where the sweet roasted onion flavor of the Hawaiian Snow is fully supported and complemented by the pungent spicy of incense from the Arjan’s Haze #2. 2. White Rhino and Bubba Kush: I call this the fruity-mix, because both strains have a really fruity and sweet bouquet, while their background flavors are very different yet complementary. 3. Strawberry Haze and Lemon Skunk: here we go with a truly fruity experience, the dominant lemon side perfectly softened by the strawberry haze smoothness. It is one of my favorites in the morning, when taste buds on the palate are at their sensorial peak. The other side of blending addresses the more complex issue of creating desired effects combining different cannabinoid profiles. It is a very subtle and very personal experience, and medicinal users know all about it. The medicinal properties of cannabis are definitely strain-related, and combining different strains can amplify the range of beneficial effects thanks to the synergy between cannabinoids, and also thanks to the ability of cannabis receptors in the brain to benefit from this synergy by producing faster and better responses. It is difficult to advise in this sense, but my personal experience with hyperactivity and lack of sleep led me to experiment with a few successful blends: 1. The narcotic blend: White Rhino and Super Silver Haze. These two strains combined have the ability of putting me to sleep very fast when I am too stressed to fall asleep, and I am not the only one… 2. The “going out to party” blend: Super Lemon Haze and Alaskan Ice. This mix energizes every cell in my brain, with amazing giggly sessions. It’s a rush of cannabis energy, and it’s really good for appetite stimulation. 3. The “get high but stay productive” blend: Arjan’s Haze #1 and AMS. This blend is smooth yet very high, with a great long-lasting effect that keeps me going for hours. It’s being high but being productive at the same time. The best way to find the right blends for your taste or for your medical needs is trial-and-error, because the matter is too subjective to make generalizations. If you find a special blend that works well for you, let me know about it by filling in the contact form on www.greenhouseseeds.nl. The information will be used to compile a database of personal experiences. Whatever information medicinal science does not tell us about cannabis ewe have to discover ourselves. It is our right to use a plant, and it is our pleasure and our need to use it wisely. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  15. 1 like
    This article is the third of a new series focused on the most important landraces of cannabis. All the thousands of strains of cannabis we use today are derived from a limited number of landraces, which have been used for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes during centuries. Cannabis originated in central Asia, and from there it has spread to all corners of the world. Sometimes helped by nature, sometimes by man, cannabis seeds have conquered inimmaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their carachteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combinations. Some of these combinations stabilized themselves through imbreeding, and resulted in landraces. Some of these landraces have preserved themselves, isolated in remote areas of the planet with no contact with other cannabis strains for long periods of time. My name is Franco, my passion is cannabis, and my work is strain-hunting for Green House Seed Company. And this is the history of: South African Rooibaard South Africa is an amazing country, with very diverse climates and people. One of the strongest ethnic groups in South Africa is represented by the Afrikaaners, descendants of the first groups of Dutch colonizers who fought against the British for their new land and the preservation of their culture. Eventually they lost the war, and they merged into the white ruling minority that kept the country under apartheid regime until 1994. But their language and culture survived, and today they live peacefully side by side with white anglo-saxons and blacks, trying to transform the nation into a model of democracy and economic boom. During my travels in South Africa I had many encounters with old Afrikaaner smokers, people who have been growing cannabis since the 1950s or 1960s, under a very repressive regime with no tolerance for the plant. And from those people I first heard the stories of the Rooibaard (Afrikaaner for red beard), a plant that was considered the best smoke on African soil south of the Equator, way before the Durban Poison was created in the 1970s. According to the stories, the Rooibaard was discovered somewhere in the Transkei region, a vast coastal area stretching south of Durban for hundreds of kilometers. At the time the Transkei was a “homeland”, a segregation area created by the apartheid regime to host hundreds of thousands of slaves and plantation workers. It was not considered part of the South African state, and this allowed the construction of gambling resorts, a booming industry at the time. The Transkei became rapidly a holiday spot for rich white South Africans looking for gambling thrills and good bud. Some legendary entreprenurial carachters gave birth to a very lucrative trade, organizing the transport and distribution of Transkei weed to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, and later on to Europe and the international markets. But not all weed coming from the Transkei was the same. There were many variations on the same sativa landrace, with some areas consistently producing higher grade bud than others. The most amazing of all weed was always the Rooibaard, a skinny-bud sativa with long red hairs and a reddish glow in the resin. The Rooibaard became the choice of growers around South Africa, but at the time very few white people were growing cannabis, weed was exclusively produced by black communities on rural land. So nobody ever kept a mother plant. People relied on the seeds to keep the genetics alive, but like it happened for the Durban Poison, eventually the traits merged with other lower-grade weed and the Rooibaard got lost. When I traveled through the Transkei in 2006 I spent a great deal of time looking for this landrace, and even though I came very close more than once, I can honestly say that I never felt like I really scored it. During my travels I came across several isolated areas where cross-pollination with other strains or landraces is not a real issue, but the seeds I recovered were never uniform, always showing several phenos and few isolated individuals with traits that vaguely resembled the descriptions I heard and the rare pictures I had seen. What I was really looking for was a tall, long internode sativa plant, with a very typical long thin bud, covered in thick, long and dense red hairs, and with a reddish glow on the resin, almost a golden shine similar to that of single-malt whyskys. And in the hills of the Transkei I found many good sativa individuals, some of them with amazing red hairs, but not quite as they should have been. The sativa phenos that I found all had less reddish of a look, and the hairs were never extremely thick nor dense. I found several plants with a very golden resin, and with reddish calyxes, but I was sure not to be in front of the real Rooibaard. During the many nights spent next to the campfire, several of the people that helped me in the hunt told me that they had seen and smoked the real Rooibaard up until the 1980s, some say until the 1990s, when it was still available in some selected Johannesburg and Cape Town groups. But all of them agreed that what we found was a watered-down version of the original. Too many years of large scale marijuana production in the areas, with very little attention to pulling the males, have created a big mix of traits and carachters, resulting in a landrace that is now known as TK, or Transkei, and that carries the inheritance of the original Rooibaard, mixed with genetics imported from India, and other parts of Africa, over the last 40 years. One time only I had the chance to see a bud that was truly covered in thick, red hairs, and smelled very sweet and fruity for a sativa. A ranger of a Game Reserve (national parks for large herds of animals) showed it to me, and said it was from a secret patch he was growing. I spent a few hours smoking it, I truly enjoyed it, great taste and a very uplifting, energyzing high. But I could not find a single ripe seed in it, so I could not retrieve the genetics. The man who gave it to me knew, and laughed when I made a remark about the green seeds. Was it the real deal? I don’t know, and probably I never will know. On one hand I hope that the Rooibaard is still there, hidden in the thick vegetation or under the powerful glow of a MH lamp inside a mother room, somewhere in South Sfrica; jealously preserved in great secrecy, to be enjoyed by few selected individuals. On the other hand I know that today there are several young growers in South Africa who are trying to recreate the Rooibaard, by breeding the TK into some orange red-haired strain (the favorites of choice being the Californian Orange or the Orange Bud). It is a small scale, scattered experiment, and the results are likely to be enjoyed in the privacy of very selected groups, never reaching the international markets. But it’s the proof that a great landrace from the past has not disappeared, it has just gone underground to protect itself from globalization. South Africa is a huge country where man and nature live a very intertwined life, and where globalization and progress run faster than anywhere else on the African continent. South Africans are getting used to high-grade outdoor bud from Lesotho, Swaziland and Malawi, asx well as indoor high-grade from Canadian and Dutch seedbanks, grown hydroponically in Cape Town or Johannesburg. The markets evolve rapidly, and travel and internet speed up the process even more. But the legendary Rooibaard still one of the most-wanted buds for South African smokers. In 2010 South Africa will host the FIFA World Cup and millions of tourists will have a chance to see their teams play in one of the most amazing countries in Africa, and some will sample some South African bud. I wonder how many will get to sample the real Rooibaard. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  16. 1 like
    This article is the sixth of a series focused on the most important landraces of cannabis. All the thousands of strains of cannabis we use today are derived from a limited number of landraces, which have been used for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes during centuries. Cannabis originated in central Asia, and from there it has spread to all corners of the world. Sometimes helped by nature, sometimes by man, cannabis seeds have conquered unimaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their characteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combination. Some of these combination stabilized themselves through inbreeding, and resulted in landraces. Some of these landraces have preserved themselves, isolated in remote areas of the planet with no contact with other cannabis strains for long periods of time. My name is Franco, my passion is cannabis, and my work is strain-hunting for Green House Seed Company. And this is the history of: Afghan Indica Afghanistan is a large mountain country landlocked in Asia, between Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Over the last 25 years the country has been at war, and things are not looking too promising for the near future. The most recent conflict raging between the US-backed government and tribal Muslim groups is on the news every day, together with reports about opium production. In fact, Afghanistan is much more famous for its opium than for its cannabis. In Afghanistan opium is the first export and the largest cash crop, sustaining up to 50% of the population. And cannabis the second cash crop, producing large quantities of weed and hashish. The hashish from Afghanistan is one of the highest qualities in the world, and demand always exceeds supply. According to the opinion of most cannabis connoisseurs, Afghanistan is part of the area where it all started, where cannabis first made its appearance on the planet. The region between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, North India and South China is considered by most experts botanists the cradle of the genetics of cannabis. From this area it has spread all over the world, with intervention from nature and man. Afghan Cannabis is considered by most experts as “the” landrace, the plant that evolved into all other landraces, the mother of all strains. This theory is supported by several others, especially the one referring to the silk road. Cannabis seeds left Asia towards Africa and Europe following the first trade routes across Asia to the west. The Afghan Indica is a thick, short, bushy plant; the branches grow 45 degrees upwards, creating a round plant shape, often wider than taller and very bushy. The color is dark green, bordering shades of black, blue and purple. The leaflets are short and wide, fully overlapping each other, forming round and thick leaves. These are plants that grow in a harsh mountain climate, with extremely hot day temperatures and cold nights, and a burning-hot sun and strong winds. They flower for 8 or 9 weeks only, and the harvest is always at the end of the intense summer. The buds are dense, hard, compact, and extremely white and sticky with resin, which is loaded with cannabinoids and terpenes. The traits are perfectly built for the mountain conditions, making this one of the strongest, most rugged and most resistant cannabis plants on earth. There are several variations in the genetics of different areas of Afghanistan, so it becomes difficult to identify one single landrace. What makes it a landrace is the number of common plant traits as well as strong similarities in the flavor and effect. The high of the Afghan cannabis is very physical, stoned, relaxing, and somewhat heavy on the legs; for people used to smoke sativas, it borders the numbing-narcotic side of cannabis. The Afghan Indica was first retrieved as a landrace in the 1980s, and brought back to Holland. Already at that time Afghanistan was at war, and bringing genetics back meant dealing with guerrilla troops fighting the Russian Army. But some of the pioneers of the industry made it, and once the seeds popped up in Holland and America the Afghan landrace became famous as a strain in pure form, and was used for hundreds, maybe thousands of different crossings. The most famous of those crosses became award-winning strains, like the White Rhino (White Widow x Afghan). The Afghan Indica adds to any strain its dominant traits, usually shortening flowering time and adding density and overall size to the flower clusters. The ability of shortening the flowering time is particularly useful in crossings with sativas, where plants with an original flowering time over 12 weeks can be brought down to a much more commercially acceptable 9-10 weeks. Also production is usually positively affected by crossing with the Afghan, because the buildup of the flower clusters becomes denser and more compact. The taste of the Afghan Indica is very mossy and sweet but the terpene profiles usually does not overpower the cross, leaving plenty of room to create great new hybrids with the dominant flavor of the other strain used. Nowadays it is very hard to travel to Afghanistan in search of cannabis seeds. The best option is to go in nearby countries and try to get some of the exported bud, but this creates huge issues in trying to identify the exact origin, and it is impossible to select the best plants to collect seeds from. Because of this difficulties, those who have an original Afghan landrace are very jealous of it, and it is not easy to find even in the connoisseurs circles. And this adds to the legend... Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  17. 1 like
    This is the sixth article in a series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for controlling and optimizing the medium pH. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on growing large outdoor plants In this time of the year most outdoor growers already planted their seeds or cuttings, and the plants are already boosting in full vegetative growth. More and more growers these days have the possibility of growing large outdoor plants in containers or in open soil. As a passionate outdoor grower, I always enjoyed growing large plants because it is one of the most challenging and most rewarding ways of making cannabis. Growing large plants requires a good preparation, careful choice of the location, and a keen eye to prevent problems rather than fix them after they happened. To begin, it is always good to start plants in small containers, and re-pot them as they grow bigger. Starting the seedlings, or cuttings, in 3-5 liters containers, one can re-pot them to 20 liter containers when they have formed a beginning of root-ball, and then again into very large containers, or in open soil. This process of allowing the root-ball to begin to form and then re-pot allows the root system to grow to its full potential very rapidly. The root system boosts after having formed a semi root ball and more lateral root-shots are formed. The depth of the final large container of choice will influence the shape of the plant as well: large, short containers will produce shorter, bushier plants, as the tap-root cannot extend and forms root-ball. On the contrary, if the container is tall the plants will grow taller, as the main tap root goes down deeper. When the plants are 50-60 cm tall it is time to clear the bottom branches close to the soil, and allow 20-30 cm of clean stem from the level of the earth, to avoid contact between leaves and the soil. This prevents animals from crawling onto the plants, especially leaf-eaters, and avoids rotten leaf-material at the bottom of the plants. In some cases it is also good to remove some leaf material (especially with extra-dense indica genetics). When the plants have to grow very large, it is essential to boost feeding intake from an early stage, and to allow enough N to be absorbed. For this purpose mineral feedings work best, but also organic compost can perform miracles when properly prepared. The pH of the watering solution should be kept at optimal levels for growth in soil (5.7-6.0) until needed, and P, Mg and Ca intake should be boosted to form strong stems to support the large flower clusters. The structure of the plants depends on the genetics and the container, but in order to grow very large plants that can support the flowers it is almost always necessary to prune and to give some form of support to the branches. The plants are ready to be pruned at an early age, as long as they have 3-4 internodes, but in order to grow large plants it is best to wait and top them at 6 or more internodes. Topping the main growth will produce lateral development and make the whole plant structure sturdier. The same can be done to each branch if it tends to grow too long and become to weak to support the flowers. Any pruning can be done until the metabolism is still in vegetative growth starts changing into flowering mode. The plants should not be pruned after the flowering has started because this would reduce the number of flower clusters and reduce the total production. Furthermore, pruning plants already in flowering can shock them and produce hermaphroditic traits. The drainage of the container is essential to guarantee good flushing of the salts that will eventually buildup in case of mineral feeding. Drainage allows also a good flow of air to the root system, promoting a healthy growth. If the plants go in open soil, it is very important to dig a deep hole (over 1 meter) and deposit some drainage-material at the bottom. When plants grow very large, it is sometimes useful to cage them in a net-cage, to create a sort of external frame where the branches lean on. Other effective ways to support plants are bamboo sticks, or ropes. Whatever the system, the purpose is to support the branches and, at the same time, to allow access to the plant for feeding and pest control. Working with large plants can produce monster-size harvests (up to several kg per plant) so it is always good to plan the logistics of the harvest well in advance (cutting, transport, drying space, manicuring crew). The most important thing to remember is that quality should never be spoiled by quantity. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  18. 1 like
    This is the eight article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for flowering indoors. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on pest & disease control indoors The single most likely cause of crop failure, in any indoor grow operation, from large to small, are pests. Working in a clean indoor environment and applying logical, strict rules are the only ways to prevent pests and diseases from harming your crop. But sometimes even with many precautions it gets necessary to fight the problem. Prevention and cure are the two expressions of the same philosophy: monitor your crop carefully in order to prevent problems, or to cope with existing ones quickly and effectively enough. Prevention begins by sterilizing the growroom before putting any plant inside. The best way to sterilize a growroom is to use water peroxide (H2O2-35%) diluted 1/10 in water. With this mix it is possible to spray the entire room, at lamps off, including the entire equipment inside (pots, tables, buckets, tanks, lamps, controllers, fans, hangers, nets, bamboo sticks...). When spraying, apply the necessary protection (mask, goggles, coat with head protection) and after spraying wait until the room is perfectly dry before switching on any electrical appliance. Lights and ventilation should then run for 12 hours before putting plants inside). The sterilized room is only a good start. After that comes a proper prevention plan. Try to use sterilized mediums (or pasteurized ones) as purely organic compost can contain lots of bugs, and is most indicated for outdoor grow but a real nightmare to work with indoors. The ventilation should intake air from a filtered pipe (most of the mites and other bugs enter growrooms from the outside, through ventilation intake). When bringing plants in, the best is to make sure that the plants that are introduced to the room do not carry diseases already (if starting from cuttings) or that the seedlings are pathogen-free. Unfortunately this is rarely possible, as often the source of the plants or seeds is not offering any certification. So it is often the case that the plants themselves carry some sort of problem already. As a preventive step, all young plants in the room should be treated with 3 sessions of Vertimec (or equivalent) spray (available from Bayer or Syngenta in Europe), at half the normal dosage (1 ml per each 5 liters of water). Vertimec can be sprayed every five days, so in 10 days time it is possible to treat the plants 3 times and to make sure that any spider-mite egg or other bugs are killed on the spot. It is effective against most bugs, and it attacks the eggs as well. The active components inside the Vertimec brake down with exposure to light and air, and disappear completely after 15-20 days of the last treatment. For this reason, Vertimec should only be used on plants that are in the vegetative growth stage, and avoided on plants that are flowering, especially after the buds form resin. The most common threats to crops are bugs and fungi. Once the plants finish growing and turn to flowering, they become more attractive to bugs. Furthermore, the medium is getting older, and less air gets to the root system. At this stage monitoring the plants frequently is the only way to prevent problems. Experienced growers rotate the plants inside their growroom periodically, so to have the chance to check each plant individually and to avoid plants being left abandoned unchecked in a corner. If plants grow on fixed systems (slabs, rockwool blocks, acquafarms or similar) they are impossible to move but this should not be an excuse not to check regularly. When checking for trouble, it is best to start from the medium and the root system. The roots must be white and hairy, if they turn yellow and brownish they are likely rotting or they have some fungus infection. This is most likely due to excessive watering, or lack of air to the root system. The medium should never smell rotten (unless special organic feedings are applied) and should be free from bugs. Fruit-flies on the surface of the medium are common even in healthy environments, but if they are present in large numbers it can be that the surface of the medium is forming a crust (it should be avoided, otherwise transpiration is majorly affected). After checking the root system it is good to have a look at the lower part of the stem, making sure that it is free from small branches and leaves touching the medium. When this happens the leaf material tends to break and rotten, creating a way in to fungi and diseases. When checking for the presence of bugs and pests, it is good to look under the oldest leaves of the plant, and on the stems. Look for the most common bugs: ants, white fly, aphids, scale, mites. And for the most common diseases: algae, powdery mildew, botrytis, leaf spot. For the algae, the best is to deprive them of light (cover the medium surface), while powdery mildew can be treated organically using vinegar, or cinnamon oil. For botrytis it is necessary to apply a fungicide, or a specific product, but once botrytis appears it is almost impossible to get rid of it, so it is really a matter of prevention (controlling the humidity of the room and the watering is the first step). Each of these diseases or pests has a proper way of being targeted, but the most important factor is to spot the problem on time, take immediate action, monitor the success of the process, and evaluate the consequences so not to have any bad surprise. All over the Internet nowadays it is possible to find accurate information on pests and diseases, so it is really only a matter of applying common sense and be vigilant. And these principles go well with any aspect of growing pot. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  19. 1 like
    This is the nineth article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for flowering indoors. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: strain hunting for landraces Strain hunters are people that cannot stop searching for the best cannabis, everywhe they go. After having spent several years traveling with this exact intention, I think it's time to reveal a few secrets and a few tricks that can make a difference between succeeding and failing. I started strain hunting as a hobby, without even realizing it, when I started traveling on my own, at the age of 17. Back then I was just a tourist looking for good bud, like many others. But I realise now that my interest for the social, religious, recreational and biological aspects relating to cannabis in different settings was a clear sign of my passion for strain hunting. I started collecting seeds from my travels, and my curiosity kept growing. Then I begun working with Arjan, and he was already busy strain hunting for a long time. His collection of landrace genetics was most impressive, and since that moment our common passion led to many travels, and much strain hunting. Now strain hunting is a worldwide phenomena, thanks to the internet and to tv. When arriving in a country with the intention of discovering cannabis strains and landraces, it is always a good idea to have good local contacts in the scene. This is not always possible, of course, but the more preparation is dedicated to creating links, the higher the chances of getting on the right path straight away. It is mportant to read local news, to understand the level of prosecution that law enforcement is applying in the area, being able to target the right areas and to avoid unpleasant surprises. Once the contact with local farmers is made, it is best to go to their fields with trusted and well rewarded local guides. It is always interesting to speak to farmers from different areas, to understand the way they work and why. Ideally, it is best to plan 2 trips to the same country, the first one during the planting season to make good links and the second one just before harvesting begins, to be able to collect seeds and make great pics and footage. Usually strain hunters look for original landraces of cannabis, those varieties that have been inbreeding in the same location for a long time with little outside intervention. Most of the times these types of plantation are located in the most rural and less tourist areas of third world countries, and it takes a good dose of energy and will to reach them. But the real landraces are becoming increasingly rare, because travelers often exchange cannabis genetics, and local growers try to acquire high-grade famous strains that make them more money on the black market. So even in countries that have been landrace-based for centuries now are starting to produce small-scale high-grade European or American popular strains. In South Africa, Jamaica, Mexico and Thailand local growers are trying to get their hands on cannabis-cup awarded strains, whose names are cited by tourists coming from the four corners of the globe. In order to identify the history of cannabis in a certain area, it is always best to ask to elderly people, as usually they have more information and more experience. Young growers tend to be more prone to cross their crops or to be growing imported genetics. Old school growers also tend to implement old school agricultural techniques, and they tend to keep old seeds as backup. Depending on the level of illegality, corruption and prosecution of each individual country it is advisable to keep some cash at hand at all times, and to know the numbers of local embassies and consulates. It can come handy at the least expected moment. Strain hunting is fun, and it does a lot for the cannabis cause. The more people go strain hunting, the higher is the chance that original landraces are preserved for future generations. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

About us

Strain Hunters is a series of documentaries aimed at informing the general public about the quest for the preservation of the cannabis plant in the form of particularly vulnerable landraces originating in the poorest areas of the planet.

Cannabis, one of the most ancient plants known to man, used in every civilisation all over the world for medicinal and recreational purposes, is facing a very real threat of extinction. One day these plants could be helpful in developing better medications for the sick and the suffering. We feel it is our duty to preserve as many cannabis landraces in our genetic database, and by breeding them into other well-studied medicinal strains for the sole purpose of scientific research.

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