After spending 12 days celebrating the many festive facets of our favorite plant, it’s high time to give a little recognition to the people who make this all possible: the growers. This isn’t just about making a great joint or bowl — what comes out of the ground decides everything that comes after harvest. For example, any honest extractor will tell you that everything ultimately boils down to the quality of the flowers produced by cultivators, and there is no substitution for growing fire.
This list is just a small sampling of the countless cultivators who keep cannabis consumers feeling the holiday spirit all year long. So, to all the cultivators out there: Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!
1) Utopia Farms – C. Banana
This Santa Cruz, California-based cultivator is best known for their award-winning macaroons and their high-potency flagship strain, which tests around 33 percent THC. The “corporate trademark baggage” I mentioned in my profile of the strain formerly known as “Chiquita Banana” finally caught up with Utopia, so now you’ll find their flagship strain sold as “C. Banana.” Rest assured, with it’s pungent sweetness and sky-high potency, it’s still a fantastic stocking stuffer.
2) Mean Gene/Freeborn Selections – Cherry Limeade
Mean Gene is more than just a phenomenal breeder and cultivator, he’s a bit of a legend among NorCal cultivators because of his intuitive understanding of cannabis and his massive generosity. Not only does he freely spread long lost or entirely new “colors” for the palettes of breeders seeking unique phenos, he also uses his seemingly bottomless archive of heirloom genetics to raise money for charitable causes within the cultivator community. He’s a gift that keeps on giving, and if you can get a hold of his Cherry Limeade — or anything else he grows — it’s sure to be a holly jolly sesh for you and yours.
3) Fig Farms – Banana Fig 8
There are two basic kinds of good growers: the ones who expertly cultivate and push the limits of already popular strains and phenos and the ones from the Mean Gene school who invent brand new phenos and shatter the expectations of cannabis consumers. Fig Farms is is one of the latter. The farm possesses a deep stash of landrace genetics, and their in-house strains are all masterful expressions of complex, previously unknown terp profiles. One of their finest and most popular is 2017 High Times Cannabis Cup winner, Banana Fig 8, a powerful juxtaposition of a familiar flavor (banana) and the unmistakable but practically unplaceable complexity of their in-house flagship “fig” pheno. Make sure you put some of these trees under the tree this year.
4) Spire Ridge – Alien
Spire Ridge used to be multiple farms, which is part of what makes it so exciting. These aren’t just long-time Emerald Triangle growers with a deep knowledge of and love for cannabis, they’re also innovators keeping the traditional way of growing alive in the face of industry upheaval. There are many old school growers fighting to keep a slice of the soon-to-be cooled adult-use pie. And when it comes to their ferociously fiery outdoor flowers, few bring as much heat as the Alien — a hybrid of Alien OG and Lotus X2. If it’s couch lock and euphoria you seek, sit down by the fire and roast some of these dense buds instead of chestnuts — you’ll be glad you did. You can learn more about Spire Ridge in Issue 27 of Cannabis Now.
5) Harry Resin – Super Silver Haze
Harry Resin made a name for himself in Amsterdam during its “golden age” by producing bubble hash for coffeeshops there. He went on to cultivate legendary strains, including the incomparable Super Silver Haze, and is working on new breeding projects at his grow in San Francisco, California. If you want an unmatchable expression of classic haze pungency, Harry Resin is your super silver Santa. He’s also a Cannabis Now contributor!
6) Heroes of the Farm – Scooby Snacks
I can still almost smell the lingering aroma of Scooby Snacks in my closet, as few terpene profiles I’ve experienced were stronger or more complex. Most of the growers on this list are California-based, but the Heroes of the Farm cultivators are a reminder that the entire Pacific coast is more or less the North Pole of cannabis. You can read more about Scooby Snacks in Issue 24 of Cannabis Now.
7) Northern Emeralds – Titan OG
OG Kush is a perennial favorite in California — especially Los Angeles — but also throughout the rest of the country. For that reason, there’s no shortage of cultivators growing it, so picking one is difficult. The gassy phenos are increasing in popularity, and for good reason, but for some Christmas cannabis, it seemed appropriate to pick a piney expression of OG Kush, and the Titan OG from Northern Emeralds delivers like a fat man with a magical sleigh.
8) 3C farms – Sapsquatch
The Sapsquatch from 3C Farms took second place in the Cannabis Now mini cup (a hotly contested decision) but it was definitely a top favorite among the staff. 3C is one of those farms with dozens of strains and phenos to choose from, so picking out one is like choosing your gift from the floor of Santa’s workshop. They’ve got a lot of standouts, but you can’t go wrong with this funky staff favorite.
9) CRAFT – Super Lemon Haze
CRAFT knows what they’re doing when it comes to cannabis, and their in-house strains are no exception. With famous fans (and funk experts) like George Clinton singing their praises, it’s no surprise that CRAFT has earned a top spot in the NorCal cannabis cosmos. If you have a love of citrus — particularly lemons — the sharp, aggressive lemon edge of Super Lemon Haze will leave you so hungry you might actually consider eating fruit cake.
10) Gold Seal — Red Congo and Cherry Cheesecake
Gold Seal is famous for their Cherry Cheesecake, and for good reason. It’s a sweet, mild smoke with potent impacts and loads of bag appeal. But with their recent acquisition of Dragonfish Farms’ exceptional genetic catalog, thanks to a merger with Tyson of Dragonfish, they now also possess one of the most potent and popular sativas to hit NorCal in some time: Red Congolese. With a sharp, flavorful terpene profile and an invigorating but mellow buzz, it’s become a top choice even among cannabis users who usually avoid sativas. If that sounds like you, well, it’s beginning to look a lot like… you know. Keep an eye out for a Gold Seal feature in an upcoming issue of Cannabis Now.
11) Jigga & Cookies Fam – Thin Mint Cookies/GSC
The Cookies Fam is a given for this list. Some strains have their moment in the sun and fade into obscurity, either to be lost forever or kept on life support by a small, dedicated cadre of true believers. But then there are the strains that stick around in some incarnation forever — think of OG Kush. By now, it’s no longer a matter of debate; Cookies has also made it on that list. As with any cannabis strain’s lineage and origins, the matter is shrouded in uncertainty and a fair share of controversy. Who “started” the “real” Cookies? Read all about it. But if you just want to enjoy the unmistakable minty-sweet terpene profile of a (relatively) new cannabis classic, you’ll be reaching for the “Thin Mint Cookies” pheno cultivated by Jigga of Cookie Fam and made famous by Berner. These are the Christmas cookies you’re looking for.
12) Sherbinski – Gelato
It remains to be seen if Gelato will have the same staying power as Cookies, but it’s still a cannabis connoisseur favorite. And while may growers are running variations of the strain, you have to hand it to the man who created it (largely by accident, as it turns out): Mr. Sherbinski. You can read our profile of Sherbinski and Gelato in Issue 25 of Cannabis Now. Sherbinski’s illustrious roots in the Cookie Fam have certainly helped promote his new strains, but what speaks the loudest is the terps on the Gelato he grows — if they don’t put you in a festive mood, then nothing will. Or you know, maybe you just need some dabs — just saying.
TELL US, what growers did we miss? What will you be smoking on Christmas Day?