Seeds, like wine come in many flavors, grades, and vintages. All with their own unique degree of desire for collection and consumption. I am sure we all can agree to that. Like many of you I source my seeds from reputable dealers, friends, and farmers markets. It can be tough to find great quality seeds that you can trust. Fortunately, I also live in Northern California where some of the best seeds known to man can be found.
I had the privilege of sitting down with Leo and Ele from Aficionado Seed over coffee. I wasn’t really thinking much about writing an article so much as I was thinking about enjoying a conversation with like minded growers, who have a deep passion and appreciation for plants. Aficionado Seed specializes in heirloom strains of cannabis passed down from generations of local growers. They curate and grow some of the finest boutique cannabis desired by connoisseur smokers.
Maybe you have heard of this annual competition called the Emerald Cup? I suspected you might. Aficionado Seed’s has more than one ribbon to hang their hat on. They have produced a number of top strains including the 2012 Emerald Cup 1st place winner “Chemdawg Special Reserve”, 2013 Emerald Cup 3rd place “Cherry Limeade”, 4th place winner “Royal Sour”, and 12th place “Cherry Pie Kush”. Thats some impressive accolades if you ask me.
I would be remissed if I didn’t ask them about their breeding technique. I wasn’t sure if they would answer at first. But they happily discussed their process with me and I thought I would share it with all of you. First of all, they do all of their breeding outdoors. Pollen is collected from the males that are kept indoors for obvious reasons. Females are then selectively pollinated.
I asked Leo and Ele about their thoughts behind pollinating outdoors and their response was quite simple. They have a strong belief that seeds allowed to develop outdoor gain environmental influences that make them stronger and more resilient. It makes sense that a seed that is able to survive cold weather, wind, or other conditions will grow into a stronger mature plant.
Due to the time and labor intensive nature of their select breeding they are only able to release a small number of seeds each year. Because of this, their seeds are only available at select Northern California dispensaries. I hope that someday their seeds will be more widely available because they really are a thing of beauty. If you’re interested in where you might find some seeds I suggest checking their website for specific dispensary locations.
So whats involved in the selective breeding process you might ask. Things get a little more complicated at this point. Breeding cannabis is something that Leo and Ela have been doing for a really long time and it’s part technical and part gut intuition.
When going through seed starts to find parents they might like to breed, one of the techniques they employ is “stem rubbing”. It’s exactly as it sounds. If you rub the stems of juvenile plants there are a few different feelings you may get. Leo says he looks for plants who have an oily stem versus ones who have “sandpaper like” stems. Leo feels that these plants have more terpene possibilities.
Ele says the plants sort of speak to her. If you have grown long enough, you will find yourself drawn to particular plants and you aren’t sure why. Maybe they are the first ones your eyes see every time you look into the garden. Call it a sixth sense or a gut instinct, either way it’s clear Ele and Leo know exactly what they are doing as evident by more than one Emerald Cup award.
The topics surrounding the legalization of marijuana is something that–one way or another –all of us are interested in. I am sure you are aware about the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington already. At this point I feel the number of states adopting similar laws are going to grow.
I asked Leo and Ele about their feelings on the subject of legalization. They feel that inevitably it’s going to be legal here in California, probably sooner than later. Leo and Ele have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, they want to share their genetics with the world. These are heirloom genetics that can make everyone’s garden better. On the other hand it also means bureaucrats will be sticking their hands into everything. They would hate to see growers told what they can or cannot grow. Personally I can’t agree more.
So what can we expect from the the Aficionado crew in the near future? It sounds like they have some good strains coming down the pipe. They informed me that they have a “Family Vault Purple” in the making; which is a Mendocino County Blueberry, crossed with a Southern Humboldt Purple Kush. I imagine this strain will be amazing! Leo and Ele said it should be available this fall or possibly this winter, so keep an eye on their website for that.