Top 10 Canadian Marijuana Strains of All Time by Danny Danko
In this exclusive excerpt from his book, The HIGH TIMES Field Guide to Cannabis Strains, senior cultivation editor Danny Danko reveals the highest-quality pot varieties hailing from America’s neighbor to the north.
British Columbia long ago established itself as Canada’s pot-paradise province, and the strain called Romulan led the way. First brought into the Vancouver Island area by Romulan Joe (a.k.a. Mendocino Joe) back in the ’70s, the strain was a favorite with local breeders, who worked with the rare clones in order to select for and isolate the classic “Rom” traits.
With a uniquely pungent and piney odor and peppery flavor, Romulan represents the finest in indica-dominant genetics. These buds are prized by medicinal patients for their pain-relieving properties and devastatingly powerful “couch-lock” high.
Cultivators love indicas for their growth patterns, and Romulan exhibits all of the classics, staying short and stocky, with a good amount of branching and less than a foot of “stretch” after flowering is induced. Boasting purple stems topped with wide, dark green fan leaves, Romulan packs on weight quickly, even under harsh conditions. She will typically turn a beautiful blue tint while ripening, especially in the cold of a Canadian autumn.
This is the strain that changed everything. The first commercially available auto-flowering cannabis variety rocked the ganja-growing world by eliminating the vegetative stage of growth altogether.
Lowryder seedlings begin flowering immediately after establishing their first few sets of leaves no matter what the light cycle, indoors or out. This allows the outdoor guerrilla farmer to finish short, stocky spears during short seasons and harvest before the choppers even get started – year round in some climates! (In Spain, Joint Doctor’s new feminized auto-flowering plants are all the rage.)
With its incredibly short life cycle (eight weeks from seed to bud) and discreet profile, the Lowryder’s appeal for growers is easy to see. Smokers will appreciate the added potency that’s been bred into the newer versions such as Diesel Ryder, and breeders will appreciate the opportunity to experiment with auto-flowering as well.
Lineage: William’s Wonder or Northern Lights #2 x a “Mexican ruderalis” cross
Grown out on Vancouver Island for decades, thissativa-dominant sensi staple continues to wow generation after generation of discerning Canadian tokers. The ISS’s unique flavor and odor – sugary sweet, with a scent that includes undertones of cedar and cinnamon – keep this tasty treat on the marijuana map despite her tendency to stretch during growth. The high can only be described as “cerebral” and “uplifting” – perfect for inspiration during long winter nights.
When cultivated properly, Island Sweet Skunk yields heavy harvests of trichome-coated, bright orange tops. She’s a heavy feeder early in life, but growers should cut back on the nutrients after a month or so. Let the stretch work for you by implementing a branch-training regimen, or use a Screen of Green (ScrOG) system to spread the plant out into the available light. Be sure to let ISS flower for the full distance to get the most essential-oil production.
As much as we lovesativas, we can’t forget about those dense and potent indicas. Growers in particular love to produce these branchy and fast-growing strains with huge yields and plenty of sticky resin. Jay from Next Generation Seed Company scored his first-ever Top 10 strain with the powerful indicaBlue Dynamite, a wonderful F1 hybrid that’s perfect for beginners and pot professionals alike.
Jay describes the Blue Dynamite as “a perfect strain for making hash, with amazing taste right down the joint to the end of the roach.” Jay created Blue Dynamite by crossing his male Avalon strain (Blueberry x Afghani) with his Dynamite strain (the famous Grapefruit clone from British Columbia). It’s a tasty and productive indica that turns hues of blue and purple toward the end of flowering.
DJ Short created the original Blueberry in an attempt to tame the wily “Juicy Fruit” Highland Thai and his own Purple Thai, while still retaining some of their legendary euphoric highs and fruity flavors. After backcrossing with an Afghani Indica male and making careful selections over time, the Blueberry (as well as a whole incredible line of relatives) emerged as a great find for connoisseurs and growers alike. The potency, odor and taste rival the world’s finest varieties.
The Blueberry stays short and dense, so be sure to vegetate the plants out a bit before inducing flowering. Fan leaves will turn all kinds of beautiful fall colors, and the buds will be tinged with lavender to darker blue pigments. This strain is perfect for the “long cure” – tightly sealed and stored in jars for six months or more before smoking, Blueberry ripens to a very intoxicating and complicated profile over time.
Lineage: Highland Thai or Purple Thai x Afghani Indica
Commercial growers prize indica varieties for their potency and big yields, but God Bud also has great flavor and aroma. Since winning the Best Indica–Seed Company award at the 2004 Cannabis Cup, this frosty selection (well-known in Vancouver) is getting its proper respect worldwide. The dense, crystal-coated BC God Bud has serious bag appeal and packs quite a punch.
Matt, the breeder for BC Bud Depot, says: “She’s a heavy feeder and can take longer to clone, but once you get it right, there’s no stopping her. Yields typically between two to four ounces per plant in indoor-production setups, and up to three pounds per plant outdoors in southern climates. From her density and stickiness to her aroma, taste and medicinal qualities, the God Bud is a connoisseur-gradeindica that will leave everyone wishing for your stash.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Super Sativa Seed Cub (SSSC)
Released in bean form years ago by one of the oldest seed banks in Holland (now long defunct), the M-39 was touted as a production plant extraordinaire from the very beginning. Heavyweight indica-dominant genetics and true ease of growth made this hardy strain a staple for Canadian growers from Quebec to Ontario and beyond.
M-39 clones easily, grows incredibly quickly and with good branching, and finishes with an easy-to-trim profile – all traits that appeal to Canadian cash-croppers from coast to coast. Discreet, low to the ground and fast to finish, M-39 also grows perfectly through the shorter seasons and harsher conditions of northern territories.
But beware of imitations! The buds known as “Beasters” are often poorly grown-out versions of M-39 or even pretenders mislabeled as M-39. The real deal has that old-school flavor and clean high familiar to growers and tokers of a certain age.
Yet another potent indicafrom the land of shorter growing seasons, the Chemo earned its name with a powerful narcotic stone preferred by the medicinal community for pain relief and nausea. Its unique, earthy flavor envelops the mouth, and the hashy odor of a hit lingers in the air.
When growing, Chemo stays true to its indica heritage – feeding heavily, packing on weight quickly and keeping a low profile. The plants smell skunky throughout both the vegetative and flowering stages, and yields are typically spectacular. Freshly harvested Chemo colas need plenty of elbowroom while drying to ensure better evaporation of moisture from within. Dr. Greenthumb, boasting over 25 years of growing and breeding experience in eastern Canada, tells me: “Year in and year out, people who have tried Chemo at its best say they’ve never encountered anything as good in an indica.”
Lineage: Chemo-clone backcross
3rd Place, 2007 Sativa Cup
HIGH TIMES Top 10 Strain, 2007
At the 2004 HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup, the BC Bud Depot guys were gifted the legendary Mendo Purps strain in clone form. Upon returning to Canada, they immediately began working to release stable seeds of this original and fantastic-tasting clone-only variety. The grape-candy flavor and deep purple color of the Purps are accentuated in this seed release to properly reflect its original heritage as one of California’s most unique contributions to the cannabis gene pool.
The Purps will yield copious dark nuggets with tremendous bag appeal and an uplifting high that will have you begging for more of Mendocino’s finest (by way of British Columbia). Joints of the Purps exhibit an almost impossibly candied flavor all the way down to the roach. Dry tokes reveal notes of black cherry, currant and chamomile. BC Bud Depot strikes again with boutique pot for the true aficionado.
Breeder Steve released Sweet Tooth in the mid-1990s to immediate fanfare from his pot-producing peers. Connoisseur cultivators cheered the arrival of a sweet-tasting, indica-dominant sensimilla specimen with a seductively “uplifting” high. Striking the perfect balance between flavor, potency and production, this lung-tickler quickly became a keeper strain in cannabis mother-plant quivers from coast to coast.
Sweet Tooth produces fat, lime-green buds with pink hairs and plenty of sticky resins. Grind some up, or take a dry toke on a joint, and you’ll immediately detect the many tiers of cannabinoid and terpene complexity. Scents of citrus rinds, blueberries and watermelon bubblegum reveal the many unique essential oils that make Sweet Tooth especially ideal for hash.
Sometimes, Sweet Tooth produces buds so dense that mold and rot can be a problem in humid conditions. The newer backcrossed ST hybrids available from Legends Seeds prove more resistant – but always put an emphasis on ventilation indoors, especially with chunky strains.
THIS ARTICLE WAS FEATURED
IN THE MAY 2010 ISSUE OF HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE: