darko.gh

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  1. 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.
  2. This article is the number twelve and the last one 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 unimaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their characteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combinations. 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: Brazilian Manga Rosa Brazil is a place of large numbers: it is the largest south American country (covering three time zones), the fifth largest country on the planet, both for number of inhabitants and for square kilometers, and the Brazilian economy is one of the fastest growing and the eight largest worldwide. Brazil has the greatest biological diversity of any nation; almost 200 million people live in Brazil, but the number is just an estimate based on the last census data. Brazil is also the number one consumer market for cannabis in south America. The country is situated on the eastern part of the south American continent, and share borders with all of the other countries on the continent except Venezuela, Ecuador and Chile. Brazil was colonized by Portugal between 1500 and 1550, and only gained independence in 1822. For over 350 years the land was exploited for its resources, and the local population exterminated or enslaved. The Portuguese also imported slaves from Africa (mostly from the west coast of the continent) to work in the sugarcane plantations and, after the discovery of gold in the 1700s, in the mines. Slavery was officially banned in 1888, almost fifty years after the independence from Portugal was proclaimed and fought. During the first 100 years of independence, Brazil was ruled by military dictatorships, until the end of World War II, when democratic elections gave the country its first real elected government. But until 1985 the Army kept control over the government, and real democracy was always an illusion. Nowadays Brazil is an example of productive democracy for all south american countries, under the guide of elected president Lula Da Silva. The geography of Brazil is extremely complex: the land goes from sea level to 1200 meters of altitude, including tropical (central parts), equatorial (the north), and temperate areas (the eastern coastline). Water is abundant, with thousands of river systems feeding the Amazon, the world’s second largest river. Cannabis is very popular in Brazil, despite strict laws against cultivation and consumption. People like to smoke weed, while hashish is very rare. The first cannabis seeds to arrive in brazil were imported from west Africa with the slaves, and flourished in the local climate. Different regions developed different landraces over the centuries, and nowadays there are several distinct names that can boast international recognition amongst stoners and connoisseurs alike. Names like Cabeça de Nego and Santa Maria. But the most famous of them all is the Manga Rosa. The name comes from a strain of mango, the pink mango, one of the sweetest and smoothest fruits from the region of north-east Brazil. The Manga Rosa is a very tall sativa, a plant with long internodes, long branches and long buds. Leaves are long, thin, with non-overlapping leaflets and a very light green color. The shape of the plants depends on the settings, but generally they grow up to 2,5 or 3 meters and produce very long, narrow colas, covered in pink hairs. The seeds came hundreds of years ago from Africa, and adapted themselves to the mild tropical climate of the north-east coast of Brazil very easily. The fertile soil and the abundant rain guarantee succesful crops even with no irrigation systems and no fertilizers. The Manga Rosa has a very unique smell and flavor: it is one of the fruitiest and sweetest sativas, with a deep rose-like and mango-like smell that translates very true to itself after combustion. The high is energising, psychedelic, active, very “Brazilian” in its character. There are no large cannabis production areas in Brazil, at least not comparable with the large areas cultivated in other south american countries. In fact, most of the weed that is consumed in Brazil comes from neighbouring Paraguay (the largest producer and exporter of cannabis on the south American continent). The Brazilian production of Manga Rosa is kept exclusive for a relatively small elite of breeders, growers and connoisseurs. It is a very underground movement that keeps tight links and that preserves the Brazilian landraces from coming in contact with all the other genetics imported from other countries. Brazilians love to grow cannabis, and internet seed sales are booming. Everyday hundreds of people introduce to Brazil new strains by acquiring seeds over the internet; most of these seeds are cultivated outdoors, and the chance of changing the local landrace keeps increasing. The lack of a massive production area where the genetics of the Manga Rosa keep inbreeding onto themselves creates a delicate situation, where the growers and breeders have the difficult task of keeping their plants isolated and far away from other strains. But Brazilian growers are doing it very well, and it is still possible to find real Manga Rosa seeds all over north-eastern Brazil (mainly in the areas of Bahia, Alagoas, Maranhão, Pernambuco, and Sergipe). By coincidence, the area where the Manga Rosa grows is also the best tourist coast of Brazil, guaranteeing that the name will keep its international fame for many years to come. 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. 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.
  4. This article is the eight 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: Kazakhstan Ruderalis Cannabis grows in all continents, in very different climates. It is possible to find it in very dry semi-desert areas, as well as in tropical humid climates, on high mountain ranges as well as in lowlands and swamps. No matter where it grows, no matter how different the expression of different strains of Indica and Sativa, cannabis relies on photo-period to regulate the growth and flowering processes. But there is one area of the planet, in central Asia, where this rule of nature found its exception. in Kazakhstan, and in parts of its neighboring countries like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, grows a cannabis landrace that does not rely on photo-period to grow and flower. it is the Ruderalis. Some botanists consider the Ruderalis as a separate genus of the cannabis family, distinct from Sativa and Indica. Others consider it as a landrace belonging to the Indica genus. The arguing can go on forever, but what counts is the reality of facts: this is a different type of cannabis, different from Indica or Sativa. In my opinion, it is clear that Ruderalis cannabis is a separate genus, because its flowering mechanism and resulting traits are completely different from Indica or Sativa species. Ruderalis cannabis has evolved over thousands of years to be able to survive and thrive in a very harsh environment, where the summer is very short and temperatures drop very low at night all year round. In this part of Asia the continental climate ensures always a very hot, short summer followed by a very short autumn and a long cold winter. The seeds lie dormant under the snow for several months, until the snow melts and the sun warms the wet soil, around end of May, beginning of June. The seeds germinate and start growing, but after just two or three weeks that they are born they suddenly start flowering (in the middle of June, with a very long photo-period of around 18 hours of light). By mid July the males have already opened and pollinated the females, and by end august all the seeds are ripe and ready to lie under the snow for the winter. The plant has changed the metabolic functions that regulate the most important of all life processes: the flowering. This has not happened overnight. This kind of process takes hundreds, thousands of years. But it clearly shows the power and the flexibility of the cannabis plant. Moving north from the Hindu-Kush area the plant had to slowly adapt to a new, rigid environment, one where by end of July or beginning of August the night temperature begins to drop fast, and by September the first snowfall covers the ground. So in order to be able to finish their natural cycle the Ruderalis plants have to flower fast, and make new seeds, all before the snow comes. This is an incredible accomplishment, one that produced a plant that is short, squat, very resistant to weather, wind and cold. And most important, it does not rely on photo-period to start flowering. It just flowers when it reaches sexual maturity, around 2 to 3 weeks after sprouting from the ground. The internode is extremely short, and the leaflets are slightly overlapping, revealing an Indica-related lineage. But this trait, like the others, has been modelled by the natural environment and by centuries of surviving tough winters. Branching is well developed if the plants are spaced, and the shape reminds a bonsai Christmas tree. The total package stays very short, which really helps when having to deal with extremely windy conditions. The flowers are very hard, compact, round nugs, they do not form a closed long cola but rather a series of round flower clusters. Towards the end of flowering they color of a dark shade of grey that borders into blue and purple. This is clearly a product of the environment, where the drop in temperature during the night time stimulates the Anthocyanins pigment to come out. This way the branches can stand the weight of the buds and the seeds until maturity. The males in nature are very fast at spreading pollen, and tend to stretch a little more than the females, allowing the wind to do its job effectively. The Ruderalis has never been considered high-grade pot, because the resin is scarce and the cannabinoids content not very exciting. THC tests around 6% to 10%, while CBD seems very low. The terpenes are quite underdeveloped if compared with other landraces. The flavor and aroma are quite mild, sweet, fruity, but do not have great character, they somehow miss a kick. Smoking the Ruderalis is a mild experience, with a very average taste and a rather bitter aftertaste due to the combustion of pigments. But in central and northern Asia this is the best weed around, the only one that thrives naturally. The greatness of the Ruderalis is the autoflowering trait, the one that allowed all the different autoflowering strains to appear on the markets of Europe and the world. Thanks to these traits, crossed and developed, today there are several possible choices for the grower to produce cannabis outdoors when normally it would not be possible. On the balconies of every major big city in Europe there are now flowered buds ready to be harvested as early as June. The Ruderalis has changed the concept of a single outdoor crop per year, and revolutionized the way we think about growing. Thanks to many pioneers who have been retrieving the Ruderalis genetics in the 1990s and early years of this century we all now know that even a low-potency cannabis plant can have a huge value. The Ruderalis is another example of how versatile the cannabis plant is, and of how we can learn to breed great commercial strains by crossing it and stabilizing it the right way. Landraces like the Ruderalis are so unique and special that they deserve to be collected, catalogued, preserved and crossed into many more great hybrids. 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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. This article is the fourth 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 combinations. 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: The perpetual weed of Reunion The island of Reunion lies in the southern Indian Ocean, east of the coast of Madagascar. The closest land is Mauritius, another small island, 200 km away. Reunion Island, or ‘Ile de la Reunion”, is a small but very exclusive tourist destination, catering to the rich and famous of Europe and to the ever-growing Asian and African elite. The island is a French oversea department, and it is considered the 26th region of France; police and military are French, and on the island the Euro is the official currency and the French the official language. Reunion is a tiny island, just 60 km long and 45 km wide, but has an active volcano 2600 meters high and another inactive one 3000 meters high. The active volcano erupted over 100 times in the last 400 years, and is under constant monitoring. The first men to arrive on Reunion were merchants from the Arab and Indian empires, between the years 800 and 1100. They never settled on the island because they feared the active volcanoes, so until the 17th century Reunion was completely inhabited. Then the Portuguese used it as a trade-post for their ships until 1665, when the French took control of the island and stayed. Reunion became part of France and was a very important naval port on the route to the Far East until the middle of the 20th century and the opening of the Suez Canal. Now the island’s economy is based on tourism and sugar, and it has a very wealthy population for an African country. The capital city and other villages are scattered on the coastal land, where all the agriculture takes place as well. There are few long white beaches on Reunion, and lots of rugged rocky spots where huge black lava stones clash with the crystal clear waters of the reef. It is an amazing natural environment, more similar to Hawaii than to Mauritius actually. The legal status of Cannabis on Reunion is a bit of a paradox, like on many other islands. The French law is very strict, and does not tolerate any use, not even for religious purposes. But the reality is very different: the population of Reunion is a mix of African, Asian and European heritage, colorful and very easy-going. The locals, especially the men, like to smoke ganja to relax, but they do it privately, avoiding public places or beaches. This low-key attitude has made possible the preservation of very secretive plantations, hidden in the forest at the base of the volcanoes. Growers hide their fields under the thick canopy of the forest, scattering the plants in small patches of cleared undergrowth. Camouflage and secrecy are essential, and it is almost impossible to find them without a local guide willing to take you there. Irrigation is not a problem as the forest is quite humid all year round and rain showers are regular and generous. The biggest problem comes from animals eating the plants, especially birds and rodents. The perpetual weed of Reunion is considered a local landrace. It is a powerful indica/sativa cross, probably arrived from India or from Madagascar with the European merchant ships hundreds of years ago. It is not impossible that it came even earlier, with the first Arab sailors that reached but did not settle; it is impossible to establish. What is sure is that it grows quite tall and stretchy, with long branches and very long fingered leaves. The fertile volcanic soil makes the plants dark green, almost shiny in the humid air of the forest. Under the canopy the sunlight is filtered and this contributes to the internodes stretching up to seek the light. The growers plan their crops on one main season and a secondary season, in a similar way to what happens on Mauritius. The best season is December to April, with another shorter crop possible between May and August. The long buds are usually harvested too early, so they retain a very active and energizing kind of high, at the expenses of a cured flavor. The perpetual weed of Reunion burns quite bitter at first, to reveal a more complex bouquet of incense and sandalwood. But the most incredible trait of this plant is neither its taste nor the effect. It’s the fact that it keeps growing and flowering for two, sometimes three years in a row. For some very mysterious reason the plants that have been imported hundreds of years ago have developed a unique ability to regenerate vegetative growth once the buds have been removed, and to flower once again when the days shorten again next winter. It is not a uniform and stabilized trait, and some of the plants actually die after the first harvest, like any other annual cannabis plant. Probably other genetics have been sporadically introduced by visitors, polluting the unique characteristic of the perpetual. This perpetual cannabis landrace allows the growers to chop off all buds, leaving a small skeleton of stem and branches. Few weeks later new growth slowly begins to show and in a matter of days the plant is boosting vegetative growth again, to eventually start flowering again for the next crop. The most experienced growers tell tales of plants that have been planted in December, harvested the next April, then went back into growth for two months, then flowered again and were harvested a second time in August. And some say they swear to have seen plants harvested even a third time the next April, one and a half year after being planted. I cannot confirm the truth of these claims, but I can testify that it is considered common knowledge on the island. Interestingly, I once met a musician from Reunion traveling through Africa. He had brought with him some seeds from perpetual plants and tried to grow them in two different locations on the African continent, without being able to replicate the result. This makes me presume that the perennial trait might be induced by unique environmental factors rather than genetics. There might be a specific soil composition on the island that stimulates this character in the plants. Or, to make a very thin hypothesis, it could be the huge magnetic field generated from the volcanoes, the same one that troubles satellite TV reception and small aircraft instruments. Whatever the reason, the perpetual weed of Reunion is one of the most incredible landraces known to man, and surely one that deserves to be hunted, retrieved and preserved for future generations to enjoy. 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. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. This article is the eight in a series that tries to analyze the situation of the cannabis plant in different countries around the world. Working as a manager for Green House Seed Company I had the chance of travelling to quite a number of destinations worldwide, and after many years of experiencing firsthand the ups and downs of many places, it is with great pleasure and pride that I am sharing this information with all Canamo readers. This month we have a look at one of the most amazing islands in the Indian Ocean: Mauritius In the next months I will move on to a different area of the globe: the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados & St. Vincent. Mauritius is a beautiful tropical island located in the middle of the Southern Indian Ocean. It is one of the most exclusive resort-destinations worldwide, catering to the highest segments of the tourism industry. The island has only half a million inhabitants, but the number of tourists visiting every year is far larger. Tourism and agriculture (sugar cane) are the main sources of income of Mauritius, but the island is emerging in recent years as an offshore financial centre for Indian, Asian, African and European companies. The main harbour, Port Louis, is an important transhipment point for goods moving by sea from South Asia to Africa, Europe and the Americas. Mauritius is really expensive to travel to, and there are very few cheap hotels. Most of the tourists come with organized packages and stay in expensive golf or spa resorts (there are more than 100 all around the beautiful coastline). The island is protected by a very healthy coral reef, and there is even a big-wave spot that attract surf adepts from all over the world, and is considered one of the best breaks of the whole Indian Ocean. Cannabis is not very common or easy to find on Mauritius, mainly because of very strict law enforcement. The penalties for possession of even the smallest amounts of cannabis are very harsh (10 to 20 years in jail, with no possibility of parole). Penalties for production of cannabis (even just a few plants) can rise up to life imprisonment. And this is already an improvement, considering that until the end of the 1990s drug trafficking (even in small quantities) was punishable with the death penalty. This very strict attitude against cannabis is common to most island-states in the Indian Ocean, including Seychelles and Maldives. Currently there is a focus on the rapidly expanding role of the island as a money-laundering centre thanks to the well developed offshore-banking and financial sectors. An increasing number of Asian companies are establishing offshore financial centres on Mauritius, attracting money-laundering activities from all over the world. In spite of all the anti-cannabis activity that creates such a regulated and repressive situation, there are many small grow operations on Mauritius, hidden under the forest canopy in the most inaccessible mountain areas. The island population consists of 4 main ethnic groups: African-Creole, Indian, European and Chinese. Between the African-heritage groups, there are few small communities of dedicated Rastafarians living in small villages on the mountains of the Southwest of the island, and some of them maintain small, flexible guerrilla-grow ops. There are two yearly cannabis crops on Mauritius, one harvested in September-October (known as the “petite saison”, or small season), and one harvested in March-April (known as the “grande saison”, or big season). The crop that is harvested in September-October is usually not very successful, as the plants feel the hours of light increasing and they tend to shoot out more leafy buds. The flowers are fluffy and the final product very leafy and green tasting. But the March-April crop is usually higher quality, thanks to the decreasing photoperiod and less rain. Unfortunately, due to the extremely dangerous circumstances, the plants are often harvested far too early; growers are very afraid of getting caught and they want to sell the weed as soon as possible. When the plants have developed some flowers and some resin they are already considered ready to harvest; and because of the fact that they start smelling, each plant becomes a higher threat. The scarcity of weed on the market guarantees that anything will sell, no matter how early it was harvested. Usually leaves and sticks are crushed and mixed with the buds after drying, further lowering the quality of the final product. The crops that are harvested in March or beginning April could easily flower for another month or six weeks before reaching the optimal ripeness. Growers do not use fertilizers because of the logistical issues and because the island is entirely volcanic, with an extremely fertile soil. Watering is also rarely necessary, because it rains very regularly for most of the year. The cannabis growing on Mauritius is all very similar. One could say that there are not many strains on Mauritius. In my view, there actually is just one strain growing on the island, and it differentiates into several phenotypes due to slightly different environmental conditions and microclimate factors. Mauritian weed is a mostly sativa plant with a squat and sturdy attitude, relatively short internodes and long thin buds. The aroma is spicy and nutty, but it has a fruitiness that reminds of pineapple and leeches; the trychomes are scarce but oversized, with long stalks and large heads. Growers are extremely careful to not keep any plants nearby their homes, and the planting is often done directly in the grow-area, on the most remote and inaccessible mountainsides and deep down in gorges. Most growers do not visit the plants very often, and males are left to pollinate the females, thus ensuring seeds for the next crop and a higher profit margin on sales. The demand for cannabis comes for the largest part from a small percentage of the local population, while most of the tourists do not look for cannabis, in part because they are not the smokers types, in part because they are too afraid of the local laws. There is a high level of social control, as it always happens in small communities. The best way to find something to smoke is to venture outside of the tourist circles and join the local crowds on public beaches at weekends, or at one of the ever-present religious festivals around the island. Mauritians are very hospitable and friendly people, and they live in an almost completely friction-free social environment, despite the fact that there are many religions on a small confined island nation. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Animists and Jews all live in very peaceful and respectful manners; there are no ghettos or shantytowns, everyone lives and work next to everyone else. And this, together with the rare Mauritian bud, makes for a great destination. Peace, Love & THC 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. 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.
  13. This article is the number nine 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: Oaxaca Sativa Mexico is a hugely diverse federal country, comprising 31 states. The state of Oaxaca, located along the Pacific Ocean in the southern part of the nation, is quite different from the rest of Mexico. It is a colorful place, where 16 different ethnic groups of indigenous people live side by side with the Spanish-descent whites, making a total population of 3 and a half million. The indigenous civilizations flourished around the 12-13th Century, establishing agriculture, fishing, mining, trading. In the 15th century the Aztecs conquered the area, soon to be toppled by the Spanish. When the Spanish troops conquered the area and settled, the agriculture of the area had a boost, and cannabis continued to flourish. In 1821 Mexico became independent from Spain, and since then Oaxaca has been on of the poorest and most underdeveloped states of the country, with a poor road network and limited links to the capital city. The area has several mountain ranges, and a main central valley, with an average altitude on the sea level of 1500 meters. The population lacks education, basic infrastructures and proper sanitation. Nevertheless the quality of life is slowly improving over the last 10-20 years. The main resource is agriculture, with a large production of coffee beans. Tourism is increasing, but remains marginal in the generation of income. Cannabis represents the most effective survival crop for the poorest people in the region. Cannabis is present on the Oaxaca mountains since a very long time. Nobody knows exactly when it arrived, and from where. Some speculate that the first seeds were brought by the Spanish fleet in the 15th and 16th centuries, while others predate the appearance of cannabis to the first migrations of men from Asia into the American continent, around 20000-15000 years ago. What is sure is that by the time the Spanish conquered the area imposing their civilization, cannabis was being used by the local indigenous tribes for medicinal as well as religious purposes, together with a large number of other psychedelics. The central valley of Oaxaca is one of the most fertile areas of Latin America, and cannabis has been thriving here for very long, and nowadays the Oaxaca Sativa is considered one of the most famous Latin American landraces. It is a tall, lanky sativa, with long branches and long flower clusters, non-overlapping leaflets and a generally thin shape. The plants are usually planted very close to each others, preventing the formation of a conspicuous branch system. When the space between plants allows it, branches grow long and tend to spread out in a very horizontal fashion. The buds grow long, not extremely compact, and covered in long hairs, turning orange to red very soon in the ripening process. The scent is minty and fresh, woody, with a fruity background that reminds of sweet mango. There is a sourness to it, and it translates very true to its scent after combustion. Flowering time is long, at 11-13 weeks, but the subtropical latitude ensures almost all-year round flowering possibilities. The Oaxaca Sativa belongs to the group of sub-tropical sativas that flower at any photoperiod under 13-14 hours of light, making it a very flexible genetic for many areas of the planet. The Oaxaca Sativa grows at any altitude between sea level and 1800 meters, and most of the times it is planted is small patches under the forest canopy. The limited amount of direct sunlight the plants receive in this particular setup is also responsible for the tall development and the stretchy attitude usually attributed to the landrace. The first time the Oaxaca Sativa became famous worldwide was in the 1970s, when many American and Canadian travelers brought back seeds to the west coast of the US and Canada and started breeding them to obtain faster flowering versions of the landrace. The Oaxaca Sativa became a true hippie legend, one of the most sought-after strains during the endless University rallies and anti-war demonstrations of the 1970 throughout America and Europe. Some of the most famous cannabis breeders of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Haze Brothers and Neville, used the Oaxaca Sativa for some of their creations. To this day, the genes of the Oaxaca Sativa live on in famous strains like Neville's Haze, Super Silver Haze, Mexican Haze. The Oaxaca Sativa was at the base of the creation of pure Haze, the most famous sativa hybrid ever, in turn at the origin of hundreds of famous crosses available today. Over the last 10 years several cannabis tourists have imported seeds from other origin into Oaxaca, in the quest to increase local production and shorten the flowering time. These imported strains have somehow diluted a bit the gene-pool of the landrace, but it is a minor effect, visible in isolated parcels. Most of the cannabis growing under the thick forest, is still the original landrace. In Oaxaca cannabis is a cash crop, and small scale production is side by side with larger operations under the control of organized crime syndicates, or cartels. Mexico is the most violent country on the planet, and drug trade is one of the engines of the economy, creating social despair and thousands of victims on the streets. Oaxaca is less violent than the northern parts of Mexico, near the US border, but the proximity to South America makes it an ideal stop-over for cocaine transports on the way to north America. It is not an easy situation, and it seems not likely to change anytime soon. Luckily, the plants don't bother and keep growing.... 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. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. This article is the fourth in a series that investigates and exposes the situation of the cannabis plant in different countries around the world. Working as a manager for Green House Seed Company I had the chance of travelling to quite a number of destinations worldwide, and after many years of experiencing firsthand the ups and downs of many places, it is with great pleasure and pride that I am sharing this information with all Canamo readers. This month we have a look at The Netherlands and we close the focus on Europe. In the next months I will start writing about Africa (Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland and Mauritius), and some of the Caribbean islands (Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados & St. Vincent). In The Netherlands cannabis can be very popular, or very unpopular, depending on the political and social views of the individual in question. Nevertheless, cannabis is officially tolerated, and this is a very special status. It is very important to specify the difference between legal and tolerated, because most tourists coming to Holland think cannabis is legal, while it is not. The Netherlands signed the 1961 United Nations treaty on drugs (including cannabis), so it is not possible for the Dutch to completely legalize the status of the cannabis plant. International laws forbid governments from making profits from sales of illegal substances, so the Dutch cannot legalize the cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes. What they do instead is tolerate the sale, possession of small amounts and consumption of cannabis (but not the production). This choice stems from the social-health need to separate soft drugs from hard drugs, and to create a safe and controlled environment for cannabis users. The tolerance started in 1976, when the first officially tolerated coffeeshop started operating in Amsterdam). According to the Dutch law, it is tolerated to carry 5 grams of cannabis on one’s body at all times. It is also tolerated to smoke cannabis in specially licensed Coffeeshops, private properties and open-air public places (excluding children’s playgrounds or school parks). Coffeeshops do not have a licence to sell cannabis; they have an exemption from prosecution. Each municipality is free to decide if coffeeshops are allowed on its territory (more than 60% of Dutch small and medium-size towns have no coffeeshops at all), and it is the city mayor, with the approval of the city council, that allows coffeeshops to operate, not national law. Cultivation of cannabis for sale to coffeeshops is illegal and more or less actively prosecuted, depending on the government in charge. During socialist mandates the police tends to close an eye on cannabis and focuses on hard drugs instead (Holland produces most of the ecstasy circulating in Europe). But in the last 6 years the conservative Christian-democrat coalition has been in power, and cannabis growers are having very tough times. The conservative government is trying to crack down on large-scale cannabis producers because they are involved in exporting cannabis to other European markets, while trying at the same time to reduce the number of coffeeshops in the country. Amsterdam has now 228 coffeeshops, but 43 of them will have to close or relocate before 2011, due to a new application of the law that forbids coffeeshops from being closer than 250 metres from a school. In the town of Bergen-op-Zoom, on the Belgian border, the mayor has ordered the closing of all coffeeshops; this is officially due to the disturbance caused by drug-tourists coming from Belgium to buy cannabis in large numbers, especially on weekends. In reality it is clear that there is a political push towards cleaning up the image of drug-tolerance related with The Netherlands. It is easy to see that the tolerance that made Holland so famous and infamous around the world is now starting to crumble under the heavy criticism of other nations, especially France, Sweden and the USA. While the majority of mayors in The Netherlands is actually in favour of legalizing the cultivation of cannabis to reduce the profits of organized crime, the central government is going in the opposite direction, strengthening rules and applying tighter checks on businesses and individuals involved in the sales of cannabis (coffeeshop owners, seed companies). Besides all these efforts from the government to give cannabis a bad name, the reality is that cannabis employs directly or indirectly over 50.000 people in Dutch society (coffeeshop, seed company and grow-shop workers but also souvenir shops, hemp shops, magazines). Then there are the induced benefits that cannabis brings to the Dutch economy (airlines, taxis, hotels, restaurants, and any other tourism-related activity gains from cannabis-related tourism as well). Growing cannabis in The Netherlands is becoming a difficult business. The climate does not allow outdoor commercial grows; so all production for coffeeshops is done indoors or in glasshouses. Dutch growers usually work with mother plants and cuttings, and rarely rely on seeds for their crops. Grow shops in Holland are large and well stocked with the latest technology equipment; the most professional ones even offer grow-advice and technical support to growers. The most active growers have a network of locations, because it is easier and safer than operating large centralized operations. There is much competition on the Dutch market, and usually the best quality weed ends up in the coffeeshops, while the lesser quality is exported to other countries (Germany, UK, Belgium, France and Italy being the most common destinations, but sometimes reaching as far as Japan and Australia). Dutch growers like to try new equipment and new techniques, and there are different trends that compete for the highest market prices. Bio-organic weed is always very requested, and so it is hydroponic high-potency bud. This creates a large variety of strains and types of weed on the market. The best coffeeshops have large menus boasting up to 30 different types of weed. Holland has been tolerant since the seventeenth century, when freedom of press started attracting prosecuted writers from all over Europe. And the trend continues in more recent times: many foreigners have come to Holland as cannabis-refugees over the last 30 years, and some have become popular figures in the cannabis scene through their genetics and their work. Some have opened seed companies. Most of the strains that are very successful today derive from clones brought to Holland from the US or Canada, as well as from Africa, Asia and South America. The commercial aspect of the cannabis production has brought many negative aspects into play. Organized crime is more and more involved in the large-scale production and export of cannabis, while keeping busy with a number of other illicit activities such as hard drugs and prostitution. Because demand is always more than supply, some criminal organizations started cutting the weed with heavy metals or glass-dust, a very dangerous practice that created much alarm in Dutch society. Many growers use pesticide and dangerous chemicals on their crops, and few coffeeshops test their product for presence of pesticides or toxic substances because the law does not require them to. The most established coffeeshops test their cannabis for pesticides and guarantee a high quality product. A different place in Dutch society is reserved for medicinal cannabis, produced and distributed by the Ministry of Health through the BMC (Office for Medicinal Cannabis). This office issues licenses to legal state growers and controls the production and distribution to pharmacies. The production process is strictly monitored and has to conform to the international norms for the production of medicinal herbs. No medicinal cannabis from government-licensed growers is sold in coffeeshops. The medicinal cannabis government program started in 2001, but never became very popular because the price for medicinal cannabis in pharmacies is far higher than coffeeshop prices, and the health insurance system does not pay for medicinal cannabis. As a consequence, most sick people that need medicinal cannabis buy it in coffeeshops, where it is cheaper. In the future it seems logic to expect that cannabis will become even more regulated and more accepted in The Netherlands, also on the production side. It seems that these last 30 years should represent a transition from illegality to legality, a sort of learning process for society. But sometimes political and economical forces lobby against cannabis to such an extent that it becomes impossible to make any realistic forecast. What is sure is that cannabis lovers worldwide still consider Holland as the center of the cannabis culture. And it’s still the only place on the planet where one can enter a shop, chose cannabis from a menu, and smoke it; knowing it’s not a crime; feeling it’s not a crime. It’s still a very special feeling, especially for those who have grown up in more repressive societies. Peace, Love & THC 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. Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance on the planet; a recreational herb and a powerful medicine, it is used on all continents and by almost all cultures, ethnic groups and societies around the globe. According to UN data, cannabis use transcends religion, race, age groups, social extraction and even economic status. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, from the shanti-towns of Johannesburg to the wealthy suburbs of London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, cannabis is consumed everyday by totally diverse groups of people for a very diverse range of purposes, and in many different ways. The most common way to use cannabis is through combustion, by smoking it, but cannabis can also be vaporized, or ingested, or even applied through the skin. In the last two articles I analyzed the ways in which cannabis is consumed without combustion and the different ways to smoke pure cannabis, a practice diffused mostly in North America and Australia. In this last article I explore the ways cannabis is smoked mixed with tobacco. History of cannabis smoking mixed with tobacco Tobacco arrived in Europe in the 1500s from the Americas, and in a matter of 200 years its use had spread to practically any civilization on earth. It is one of the first cases of true globalization of a product. Interesting enough, in almost every culture where tobacco use was introduced, cannabis was already being used, either consumed in extracts or smoked. It was only a natural process for tobacco and cannabis to integrate in the social use. In Europe in particular, cannabis was already been used medicinally when tobacco was introduced. Perhaps it was the introduction of tobacco-smoking that shifted cannabis use from potions, extracts and infuses to combustion. The costume begun in the harbor cities of the Mediterranean, where sailors smoked in the taverns and bars, and from there it spread pretty much everywhere, in a relatively short time. In the Middle East, around 1600, tobacco came as barter for spices and precious goods coming from Asia on the Silk Road. Tobacco started being smoked in hookahs mixed with hashish; and in India it started being burned in the chillum, to allow better combustion of hashish. It became a religious ritual and a social one, with powerful influences on the well being of a large part of the population. In the 1700s and 1800s tobacco use became very common, and cigarettes started to be widespread in the mid 1850s. During the Crimean War (1853-1856) cannabis-tobacco mixed cigarettes were rolled by soldiers on the Crimea front, and today, 155 years later, it’s still the most common way to smoke cannabis in Europe and North Africa. Pipe Any pipe that is designed for tobacco-smoking can be used to smoke tobacco and cannabis (hashish or weed) mixed. It is worth noting that hashish burns at hotter temperatures than tobacco; so thin-wood pipes should not be used to smoke hashish, because they burn through. The best pipes are the ones that are non-porous and easy to wash, because cannabis oil residues accumulate fast and must be removed for a pleasant smoking experience. Glass and metal are the best materials for cannabis-tobacco pipe making, because they can be cleaned with alcohol or oils. In Africa there is the largest variety of pipes, with the most different shapes and designs: from the thin and long Kifi-pipe used in Morocco to the large types made in Equatorial parts of the continent. Chillum The chillum has become one of the most diffused ways to smoke Asian hashish (charras or cream) mixed with tobacco. From India, its use has spread to Israel and Italy in the 1960s, and from there to most of Mediterranean Europe and Africa. The chillum is ideal to smoke hashish because temperatures in the burn-chamber reach higher levels than with any other pipe (due to the shape and crafting), making it very good to smoke oily kinds of hashish, like the ones coming from Asia, and also isolator and butane-based or methane-based cannabis extractions. Usually the tobacco is “toasted” with a lighter before being mixed with the hashish and smoked in the chillum, because this process releases harmful chemicals added by industrial tobacco-manufacturers and allows better and smoother combustion at high temperature. Spliff If a joint is a pure-weed cigarette, a spliff is by definition a weed-tobacco mixed cigarette. The terms can vary from country to country, but it is the most common way of smoking cannabis in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and millions get rolled and burned every day. There are countless ways of rolling spliffs, with countless shapes and types of filter-tips. In Europe people use to roll a small piece of thin cardboard as terminal mouthpiece for the spliff, while in Morocco it is common to snap off the extremity of a cigarette and use it for the same purpose. At most cannabis events, like the High Times Cannabis Cup, there are joint-rolling contexts that are sometimes won by spliffs, and libraries in Europe sell more than one manual on the different shapes and techniques to roll spliffs. Most people realize that smoking paper is very bad, both for the flavor and for their health, so they try to use the less possible amount of paper when rolling a spliff, by rolling it “inside-out”. Few conscious smokers even know how to roll a spliff without using the glue (that is the part that releases the most contaminants when burned). Blunt A blunt is a pure-weed cigarette, rolled using a tobacco leaf, or the outer-leaf of an emptied cigar. Blunts became very popular in North America after being advertised by rap and hip-hop artists in their songs, video-clips and movies, and now it is common for most American cannabis smokers to roll blunts. In places where good weed is scarce, aromatic blunts are popular: they come in all flavors, from banana to strawberry to cognac; but usually smokers only use them to cover bad flavor from poor quality weed. Blunts burn slow, and usually last much longer than joints, making them suitable for social occasions. Also interesting to note is the fact that most people that smoke pure-weed only, and don’t smoke cigarettes, usually don’t like to puff from a spliff; but they don’t mind a puff from a blunt from time to time. In the future, it is hard to predict which of all the delivery-methods I analyzed in this, and in the past two articles of this series, will become the most used and which will disappear. Logic would suggest that the healthiest methods (vaporizing, eating) will be preferred over the more dangerous ones (combustion), but it’s hard to say. Humans have proved throughout history that logic is not always a good predictor. 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. This article is the second 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 relatively 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 inbreeding in particular environments, 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 month I will tell you the history of: Malawi Gold Malawi is a very special African country. Landlocked in the south-eastern part of the continent, it borders Lake Malawi (the third largest in Africa, and the eight in the world). The Great Rift Valley, a complex system of mountains, hills and valleys, runs through the country all the way from north to south, creating an amazing geography of temperate high grounds, humid and hot valleys and lush tropical forests. The climate is shaped by the lake and the mountains, with a hot and tropical south and a more temperate north. Malawi was inhabited by gatherers and hunters from prehistorically times, but the first sign of civilization came around the 10th century, when the first Bantus came during their migrations from the sub-Saharan regions all the way to current South Africa. Some of the Bantus settled around Lake Malawi and created a complex society of tribes from common ancestors. These tribes evolved in a kingdom that eventually controlled the area well into the 19th century, when explorer David Livingstone opened the way to British colonization and rule. The British never really colonized Malawi; they were too busy fighting wars all over the place to dedicate manpower and resources to this remote corner of Africa. Instead, they administered the country limiting their control to the major cities and the trading activities. The British stayed from the 1860s until 1964, and then Malawi became an independent country under the dictatorship of Dr. Banda. He was a British-educated doctor, and during the 1950s he started the movement that led to independence. During his rule Banda established a huge personal financial empire, one that generated more than a third of Malawi’s GDP and employed 10% of the population during the 1970s. Banda’s rule ended in 1994, when a democratically elected President stepped in, pushed by international pressure. Only the South African government offered Banda support, and eventually a safe place to die an old man. Since the democratization process has begun, it has helped Malawi improve the personal and social conditions of its people. But the reality is far from being cheerful. Malawi is lacking a proper health care system and the education system has just recently begun to produce some skilled workforce. The country depends largely on foreign aid to foster development, even if in recent years there have been signs of improvement in the economy. HIV/AIDS is a real problem affecting between 20 and 30% of the active population, and child mortality is one of the highest in Africa, reaching 50% in some of the poorest enclaves. Malaria and related illnesses are the number one cause of death in the country, making general life expectancy extremely low (average 44 years). On top of that in recent years many skilled Malawians have migrated to western countries looking for a better life. But Malawi is also a very old agricultural society, and the third largest producer of cannabis in Africa, after Morocco and South Africa. Most of the cannabis that grows in Malawi is in the northern part of the country, where the rugged terrain and the temperate climate ensure better conditions for the plants and safer movements for the people involved in its production and trade. Traveling through the growing areas and looking at the various fields of large-scale operations, one can easily see that the plants are quite uniform and very similar to each other, clear sin of a very long-established local landrace, one that became known as Malawi Gold. The history of the Malawi Gold is a very intriguing one. The genetics became famous in the 1970s, when the first tourists traveling through Africa on overland trucks discovered the shores of Lake Malawi as a recreational destination. There were no resorts or hotels, just the tropical lake to swim and dive, the nature and the mountains to hike and trail, and lots of great weed to smoke while partying with the hospitable locals. The fame grew fast and more adventure-minded travelers started coming, but a real tourist industry did not start until the beginning of the third millennium, and it is still facing huge infrastructural problems. Now the southern shores of the lake are a very unique diving destination, attracting fishermen, eco tourists and scientists; and of course, many stoners looking for cheap beach holidays and great quality pot. But malaria and poor hygiene conditions continue to be a real problem for tourists and locals alike. So, where does the Malawi Gold comes from? Where did the landrace originate? The answers to these questions cannot be answered in sure terms. The truth blurs in the haze of time, in the mist of the African forests. What can be proved is that at some point between the 10th and the 15th century the local tribes started cultivating cannabis, as reported by Portuguese traders and soldiers during centuries of sporadic contacts. The seeds must have come from the north, most probably all the way from central and southern Asia, traded by Arab merchants on their exploration trips into the African continent. Some of the seeds that reached Malawi in this large period of time might have also arrived from western Africa, after being brought there by the same Arab merchants. When the British arrived near the huge Lake, Malawians were already cultivating cannabis and they were also using dried cannabis for its antiseptic properties. Until the 1930s cannabis was relatively out of the interest of the law, and only in 1961 the law started to punish growers and smugglers. Since the 1970s the production of cannabis has kept increasing exponentially, following a high demand from Europe and North America, as well as from other African countries. During the 1990s the production increased even more, due to the arrival of trafficking organization from Nigeria and other African countries that incremented the export and the flow of the Malawi Gold to the international markets. More recently, at the end of the 1990s, foreigners from South Africa and Europe started buying properties in the tourist destinations around Lake Malawi, creating a small but very lively backpackers tourist industry. Most overland African tours nowadays include Malawi in their route, and this maintains the popularity of Malawi cannabis while at the same time incrementing local tourist demand. The Malawi Gold is a truly amazing landrace, one that evolved to adapt to local conditions over a much extended period of time. The amount of time spent adapting can also be one of the factors that allowed several genetics from various regions to blend into one landrace with similar characteristics and several phenotypes. The common characteristics to all phenotypes are very well identifiable: tall plants, with a long-fingered saliva leaf and non-overlapping leaflets; long buds, with small calyxes and a low calyx-to-leaf ratio; extremely dense resin coverage, with trychomes very close to each other and long stalks. All these traits are now common, but maybe they just represent the middle point in between very different original ancestors. Nowadays the Malawi Gold is a very stable and inbred landrace, and the phenotype variations are related to aroma, taste and high more than anything else. Visiting several fields far apart from each others one can find back the same two major phenos: the fruity one and the woody one. Plants with a more intense fruity aroma are slightly shorter and have a more developed branching. Plants with a more distinctive woody aroma tend to stretch slightly more and to have less branches. The difference in the flavor after combustion is even more pronounced, while the saliva aftertaste gives solid common ground to all phenos. One of the biggest misunderstandings concerning cannabis from Malawi was created during the 1970s and persists today. While the strain is just one, there were two very distinctive types of cannabis from Malawi flooding the European and international markets: Malawi Gold and Malawi Black. This is simply due to the different methods for drying and curing the plants after harvesting them. In the case of the Malawi Gold, plants are cut and dried in full sunshine, then packed into cobs for transport (hence the famous Malawi cobs). In the case of the Malawi Black the plants are cut, then only partially dried. When they are still a bit moist, the buds are roughly manicured and packed into the skin of a goat’s stomach, then buried in a certain type of soil. After 3-4 months the fermentation process has transformed the appearance and the cannabinoid profile of the weed. It has turned from green into a mix of shades of black and gray, and the smell is pungent, stale, with hints of ammonia. Not the most cosmetic of buds, but definitely a very psychedelic experience. Next month we will travel more towards the southern tip of the African continent, and explore the history behind one of the most underground sativa landraces ever: the South African Rooibard, also known as Red Beard. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. This article is the sixth in a series that looks at the cannabis plant in different countries around the world. Working as a manager for Green House Seed Company I had the chance of travelling to quite a number of destinations worldwide, and after many years of experiencing firsthand the ups and downs of many places, it is with great pleasure and pride that I am sharing this information with all Canamo readers. This month we have a look at the second of the African countries in program for this series: South Africa In the next months I will look at Swaziland and Mauritius, and later on I will cover some of the Caribbean islands I had the privilege to visit: Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados & St. Vincent. South Africa is known as the “rainbow country” because of the diversity of its people and landscapes, as well as climates and coastline. It is indeed one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the planet, and it offers a great deal of contrasts between poor and rich, between first-world economy and third world social realities. Travelling through the country it is clear that a lot has changed since the days of Apartheid, but a lot has stayed the same. Despite boasting the most active economy and the highest GDP on the entire African continent, South Africans still deal with grim daily realities such as skyrocketing crime rates and HIV/AIDS, bad school and health systems, and chronic corruption at all levels of society. The nation is still healing from the wounds of a long period of racism and international isolation, and this process will take a long time. But many positive signs are visible, including a thriving tourism industry and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which will be a key event in introducing the new South Africa to the international arena of modern, democratic nations. Besides being a key tourist destination, South Africa is also the largest producer of cannabis on the continent, with an estimated yearly production of over 2500 metric tons. The UN published this data in 2008; in reality this estimate is considered very low by other sources. Cannabis, known locally as “dagga” or “zoll”, is very diffused. A large portion of the young population uses cannabis fairly regularly. The largest production comes from the remote area of Transkei, in the Eastern Cape region, which supports local as well as international demand. Other areas produce smaller crops, usually not destined to international markets. Some types of Transkei weed have been popular for many decades and received the name “Rooiebart”, or “Red Beard”, for the intense red of the hairs. These are considered the highest grade between the South African landraces. It is a woody, spicy type of sativa, with a mellow and mild high that lasts long. Unfortunately it is very rare to find it non-seeded and decently dried and packaged. Cannabis crops are cultivated in remote and underdeveloped areas, sometimes not connected by roads or paths, and entire villages are involved in the cultivation, harvest and sales. Cannabis is the only source of income for a large number of local people. The plants are usually patched in land that does not belong to the village, but near enough to be well attended. Wind and hard rain represent a major obstacle to trouble-free crops, and bud-rot is a very common issue. In South Africa there are few local landraces, all from the Transkei region, and all of them are sharing similar characteristics. They are tall sativas with a long flowering time and medium-low resin content. They present interesting terpene profiles, and very particular smells ranging from the very woody to the more spicy/nutty. In the Durban area, during the 1970s, the legendary Durban Poison was created crossing seeds from South India with local African landraces. Never completely stabilized, the Durban Poison is still the most known South African strain worldwide. Few seed companies claim to have the original, but most likely any cross between South Indian and Transkei can be named Durban Poison. Cannabis is illegal in South Africa, and law enforcement takes regular action against it. Every year government helicopters spray illegal pesticides (Round-up and Agent Orange between others) on the most cultivated regions during the harvest months of April and May. While these flights are unlikely to put a dent in the massive production, they create huge health hazards for the local population. They destroy food crops as well as cannabis, and pollute huge areas making them unfertile. But the authorities are too busy with bigger problems (violent crimes and hard drugs mostly) to dedicate too much attention to pot. The cannabis produced in South Africa is considered of low-medium level on a worldwide scale, and is often full of seeds and poorly dried and packaged. Consequently it has really cheap prices, and it finds its ways to most of the African and European markets. According to the latest UN Drug Report (data from 1995 to 2007) South Africa is today the fourth producer of cannabis after Mexico, USA and Paraguay. In the last 10 years there has been a steep increase in the number of South African tourists visiting Europe and bringing back genetics and the knowledge to grow them indoors. As a consequence it is now possible to find high-grade indoor pot in all three major cities (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban), at European prices (often over ten times the price of outdoor bud, only affordable to the very well off.). South African indoor growers usually keep their rooms pretty basic, focusing their efforts on the fight against heat and humidity Common solutions are the use of air-conditioning and reducing the amount of lights when the days get hotter. Most indoor growers do not use air filters to reduce smell, and anti-detection foil is unheard of. It is very rare to find a setup with mother plants and clones. The majority of indoor growers start each crop from seeds. Most of the high-tech gadgets available in Europe and North America are not present at local growshops, and anything imported is quite expensive due to long distance transport and high import taxes. Nevertheless the quality achieved by South African growers is pretty impressive. In Cape Town it is possible to buy strains like Cheese, White Rhino, Top 44 and Mazar on a regular basis, hydroponically grown and coated with frosty resin. The quality is great, the price between 5 and 12 Euros per gram, depending on the source and the time of the year. During the months of December and January (the summer months) demand increases steeply, and so do prices. Rarely it is possible to find imported hashish from India or Morocco, mainly in connection with the outdoor festival scene. Prices are roughly equivalent to those in Europe; availability is very random. As most of the world top pot-producing countries, South Africa is a great holiday destination for the cannabis-oriented traveller. Peace, Love & THC 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.
  22. This article is the first 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 relatively 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 in particular environments, 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 month I will tell you the history of: Moroccan Kif It is very difficult to identify the period when cannabis first made its appearance in Nort Africa and in the present region of Morocco. Sure fact is that starting 8000 BC the region was inhabited by Berbers, divided in several ethnic groups. The area was much more fertile and green compared to the present, especially in the mountain ranges closer to the Mediterranean sea, and the Berbers developed a very advanced agricultural society. One of the Berbers groups, called Riffians, established the center of their civilization in the mountains of the present Rif, in Northern Morocco. There are no references to the cannabis plant in the early Berber civilization, at least not that we know of. But around 1000 BC the Phoenicians started to found trading posts and cities along the coast. One of the theories about the arrival of the cannabis plant in the Rif mountains of Morocco is that the Phoenicians introduced the seeds, brought from central Asia during the travels on the way to European ports. The Phoenicians were experienced sailors and cunny traders; they dominated the Mediterranean for centuries, until they were defeated by the Romans in 146 BC. During both the Phoenician and the Roman colonization, the Berbers of the Rif were relatively free because no army dared to try defeating them in their own rugged mountains. They cultivated the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes, and they developed several ways to extract the resin of the plant transforming it into hashish. It is extremely difficult to give dates to this process, but by the time the Roman empire was defeated by the barbaric tribe of the Vandals the production and use of hashish in the Rif region were already known throughout North Africa, parts of Asia and Europe. The domination of the Vandals lasted short: the region passed under Byzantine control in the 6th century AD, and then under Arab domination, which extended until well into the middle ages. The Arabs rapidly and brutally converted most of the Rif population to Islam, but they could not eradicate the cannabis cultivation or the hashish making. As a matter of facts, they started allowing it, because they wanted to trade it back to Asia as a medicine and a recreational drug. In the 15th century many Moors, exhiled from Spain, moved into the Rif region, and a terrible period of war between Spain, Portugal and Morocco begun for the domination of the area. The conflict between Spain and Morocco lasted well into the 20th century. In the 1920s a strong guerrilla movement developed in the Rif, under leader Abd El Krim, defeated the Spanish Army under general Silvestre, and proclaimed the Independent Republic of the Rif. By then, an large section of the European high society already was using Moroccan hashish on a regular basis, more as a pharmaceutical product than a recreational drug. In 1926 joint Spanish and French troops attacked the rebels of the Rif, and that was the end of the Rif Republic. It has been speculated that one of the reasons why the Spanish and French troops invaded the Rif in the first place was to control the profits from the hashish trade. In 1956 Morocco became an independent country and the Rif was annexed as a region, under the kingdom of Mohammed V. What happened next, is visible now: Moroccan hashish is exported to a large number of countries worldwide, and the production is estimated at 700.000 tons per year, or half of the entire world’s production. There are different versions of how this happened, and it is virtually impossible to trace back the truth. According to some of the tales one can hear in the Rif, the first ruler of the independent Morocco, King Mohammed V, secretly allowed the people of the Rif to grow cannabis and to produce hashish. This was a sort of tribute paid in exchange for their help fighting for Morocco’s independence from France and Spain. According to others it was his son, Hassan II, who first came to an agreement with the tribsmen and later on formalized it on a secret official paper. In any case, until the rule of the present king Mohammed VI the production of hashish was tolerated and practically legal. In the 1980s and mostly in the 1990s, when the hashish trade reached the previously unseen levels of over 1.000.000 tons produced per year, the United States and the European Union started funding government repression and eradication programs. This effort to try to contain the amount of hashish being produced and exported partially succeeded, restricting the area of production to some extent, and pushing farmers to grow deeper into the inhabited valleys and higher up the mountains. At the source of all this hashish there is a very special cannabis plant: the Kif, or “Kifi”, as it is often called in the Rif. When cannabis was first introduced in Morocco, it must have been a very different plant than the one now used to produce the famous Moroccan hashish. But over the centuries, the plant had to adapt to a very particular climate, and to a very specific desertification process that affected the region and that continues today. For centuries the plants had to cope with a very dry summer, and extremely hot temperatures (over 40 degrees Celsius) in the months of July, August and September. In the spring months this region was extremely fertile, only to see drought set inb every summer. This particularly hostile environment pushed the plants to become smaller, shorter, and to start flowering earlier, regardless of the hours of photoperiod. Over 2000 years and more, the plant has slowly but steadily adapted to earlier flowering, and today it starts as early as end May or beginning of June. The buds start forming during the weeks in which the hours of light are growing towards the summer solstice of 21 June. Then they keep flowering faster and faster as the hours of light start falling again, and by mid July they are ready to harvest. This is a genetic evolution that confirms the extremely versatile carachter of the cannabis plant. The most interesting part of the evolution process is not the morphology steps towards a shorter stalk or a smaller leaf surface, but the end of the normally indivisible link between light period and flowering. The plants adapted to a short season by inducing flowering earlier than they should have done, a process requiring complex production and interaction of several hormones. The result of all this work of man and nature that lasted for 2000 years is the Kif plant, a short autoflowering landrace, used to produce some of the finest hashish in the world. The leaves are very small, with short and thin leaflets, non overlapping or slightly overlapping in certain individuals. The branching is very limited, also due to the planting techniques adopted in the area. Today the entire Rif is dotted with large cannabis plantations, but only one area of the mountain range preserves the original Kif genetics. In several other areas seeds from other parts of the world have been purposely imported to improve the quality and quantity of the hashish, and to add new flavors and textures. During the 1980s several cannabis tourists brought seeds during their travels, and in the early 1990s the people of the Rif themselves traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan with the intention to bring back seeds from indica genetics, worldwide renowed for their hashish-making properties. So starting in 1995-1996 the production of the Moroccan hashish has been split into the so calld “Paki”, coming from crossed genetics and imported plants mixed with the local Kif, and the “Polm” made from the pure original Moroccan autoflowering landrace. On the international markets the “Paki” hashish has higher prices, because it’s stronger and creamier. Because of this, the regions where the original landrace is preserved are becoming smaller and smaller, as more farmers every year chose for more profitable crops. But on the other side, nature is fighting to keep the landrace going: every year, in the “Paki” fields mixed with local landrace the pollen from the Kif landrace flyes over the “intruding” females, and the autoflowering trait seems to be extremely dominant. Looking around in many of the “Paki” fields it is very clear that all the imported genetics tend to become autoflowering over a period of a few years. The explanation to the strenght of the autoflowering trait is probably in the effort made by the genetics during the adaptation process that lasted centuries. Moroccan Kif is a very special landrace, a unique development of the cannabis plant that produces connoisseur quality hashish, and is itself a very mild but pleasant smoke. One to be preserved with great care. Next month we will travel South on the African continent, and explore the history behind one of the most famous sativas: the Malawi Gold. 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.
  23. Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance on the planet; a recreational herb and a powerful medicine, it is used on all continents and by almost all cultures, ethnic groups and societies around the globe. According to UN data, cannabis use transcends religion, race, age groups, social extraction and even economic status. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, from the shanti-towns of Johannesburg to the wealthy suburbs of London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, cannabis is consumed everyday by totally diverse groups of people for a very diverse range of purposes, and in many different ways. The most common way to use cannabis is through combustion, by smoking it, but cannabis can also be vaporized, or ingested, or even applied through the skin. Last month I analyzed the ways in which cannabis is consumed without combustion, and how these ways relate to different areas of the planet. But most of the cannabis consumed is actually burned, so this month I move on to the different ways to smoke pure cannabis, a practice diffused mostly in North America and Australia. In the next months I will cover smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco, a more Euro-Asian-African-South American practice. History of pure cannabis smoking The first documented smoking of pure cannabis happened in Asia, in the period between 6000 and 4000 ago. Different civilizations left traces of cannabis use in their tombs and artifacts, but the first historically documented cannabis smoking in Asia was done by the Scythians. They used to burn cannabis on a fire while standing around in a circle to inhale the smoke. In India, around 2000 BC, the dried flowers of the cannabis plant were crushed and burned on coals (fumigation) or smoked pure in straight pipes called “chillum”, which are still very popular today to smoke hashish mixed with tobacco. Back then, the chillum was used to smoke pure herb, or hashish mixed with herb. In the Andes of South America local tribes were smoking several mind-altering herbs as early as 5000 BC in their shamanic rituals; they were using rudimentary pipes, but it is not sure exactly when they started smoking cannabis. In the Middle East, before the introduction of tobacco around the year 1500, marijuana and hashish were smoked in a waterpipe called “hookah” and they had a very important social role. Hookahs had several pipes stemming from a central chamber. With these devices many people could smoke together while socializing and relaxing. The Arabs also introduced cannabis smoking into Africa starting in the 11th century, and by the 13th century it was a consolidated tradition; soon the Ethiopians started spreading the use of a different type of pipe, the “calabash”, a terracotta smoking bowl. In the rest of Africa most pipes were carved in wood or stone. In North America smoking pure cannabis is a tradition inherited from the native tribes, who did appreciate the properties of the cannabis plant long before colonization begun. Cannabis smokers in North America always wanted to keep the herb separate from the tobacco, seen as one of the commercial reasons for cannabis prohibition. To this day most cannabis smokers in North America smoke their cannabis pure. In Australia this is also the case. Pipe Pipes for smoking pure cannabis are usually made of glass, but many other materials have been used including bones, stone, marble, metal and wood. They can be used to smoke pure weed or pure hashish. The problem with smoking cannabis in a pipe is the relatively high temperature of the smoke entering the lungs, so the best pipes are those that allow the smoke to cool off a bit during its travel from the combustion chamber to the mouth, creating a smoother hit. Hot smoke can be very annoying because it makes people cough, and it is bad because it damages the lungs and the throat very rapidly. The main advantage of smoking from pipes is that there is no paper combustion, only smoke from cannabis is inhaled and nothing else. Pipes for cannabis smoking must be easy to clean because resin oils and residues can make the taste awful. In Asia, Africa the Caribbean and Latin America the use of traditional pipes is still very common. Water pipe The pipe has evolved into the waterpipe, or bong, because smokers like to cool down the smoke as much as possible, allowing larger hits and increasing their intake possibilities. In a waterpipe the smoke travels from the combustion chamber through water then through a tube, and cools down considerably. But at the same time smoke becomes humid while traveling through water, something that can have a negative effect on the lungs in the long term. Bongs have been very popular in North America and Australia since the 1960s, and in the 1990s their popularity grew to worldwide scale. Joint The word joint normally refers to a pure marijuana cigarette, the most common way to smoke in North America and Australia (while the word spliff indicates a mixed tobacco-marijuana cigarette, more common elsewhere). There are hundreds of different ways to roll a joint, according to one’s personal taste and background. Until the 1990s there were only three types of paper to roll joints: hemp paper and rice paper. Nowadays there are many flavored alternatives (grape, banana, strawberry, melon, chocolate, cognac, and many more), but they are not popular because they alter the taste of the cannabis too much. Some smokers like to roll joints using a filter or a carton-tip, but most of the times the paper is just rolled with cannabis inside and closed tighter and smaller at the mouth side, and wider at the end to be lit. During cannabis-based events joint-rolling contests are very popular, and there are many books available on how to roll joints in different exotic shapes. Very large joints are usually rolled and shared at large pro-legalization gatherings around the globe. Hashish Most of the hashish consumed worldwide is miked with tobacco in cigarettes or pipes. But in north America and Australia people that smoke hashish, usually do not like to smoke tobacco. In a cannabis-smoking culture that does not want to mix cannabis with tobacco, smoking hashish is tricky, because of its form. The most practical way to smoke hashish is then in a small glass pipe. But since the 1990s more and more smokers prefer to roll their hashish in a small ball or stick and burn it the same way incense burns; as the flame extinguish, the smoke is available to inhale directly. This technique is popular in India, and it is easier to perform using oily hashish types (Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Afghan). to be continued... 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.

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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