It is the middle of September and the heat is intense, sweat is dripping down my forehead as I walk down rows of plants that seem to never end. Myself and my crew, which includes my bandmate Bleezy from our rap group Mendo Dope and our business partner Mark Greyshock of Greenshock Farms, are just finishing up the biggest pheno hunt that any of us have ever done. Our noses are covered in resin after closely examining about 800 plants, searching for the next top strain among the phenos. We literally cannot smell anymore, our nostril hairs are sticky and the tips of our noses are raw.
As the sun sets, the colors in the sky are unreal, almost as if the clouds themselves were on fire glowing in a bright orange. We roll up a Backwood of Sour Apple bud, pack our gear and get ready to head out, reeking of fresh ganja. The road is winding, swerving through the rolling hills with such sharpness that it almost feels like we are on mushrooms as we drive into the night sky.
“We found some winners today,” Bleezy says, still smelling the tips of his fingers that are completely covered in resin.
The Road Before Us
Pheno hunting and creating new strains is a lengthy process. Greyshock explains that creating the award-winning Tropical Sleigh Ride strain came after many years of hard work.
“It all started with the Purple Candy Cane, which has placed in the top three at the Emerald Cup two years in a row,” he says of the strain’s lineage. “We got a hold of a Pineapple plant from [noted California cannabis breeder] Mean Gene and just out of intuition, I knew that there was going to be a winner by crossing these two plants.”
The strain was created in 2016 and grown for the first time during the 2017 harvest. Greyshock says he had more confidence in this particular breeding project than others he has worked on in the past. This confidence was due, in part, to the strain’s unique terpene profile. In fact, in 2017, Greenshock’s Tropical Sleigh Ride won the highest total terpene content award at the prestigious Emerald Cup, with 4.8% terpenes.
The fruit-forward Tropical Sleigh Ride has an ocimene-dominant terpene profile, something that is also found in other plants such as basil, bergamot and lavender. In addition, it has a high level of CBG (a cannabinoid that is a precursor to both THC and CBD), generally 2 to 2.5 %.
“It has an overall very high cannabinoid ratio with the THC itself in the neighborhood of 17% at its lowest and all the way up to 27-28%,” Greyshock says. “With high levels of both terpenes and cannabinoids in one plant, it makes this strain a very dynamic combination. The smell and flavor of this flower is unlike any other.”
It’s an uplifting strain with a woodsy, floral and tropical smell (think oranges, mangos, guava, pineapple, papaya, lemons and hints of pine) that could be applicable to lift a depressive fog, he says.
“Tropical Sleigh Ride makes you feel happy to be alive. It crushes negativity and brings out positivity. I would say its best medical trait would be treating depression,” Greyshock says. “The flavor is truly delicious and just smelling it will make you feel good. Smoking the Tropical Sleigh Ride is like snowboarding down a mountain of fruit, carving through oranges and mangos jumping over pine trees.”
And, in terms of its growth, Greyshock says the vigorous fast-growing Tropical Sleigh Ride is extremely adaptable.
“It handles a variety of conditions very well, performing great in all environments,” he says. “Here in California, we have grown it in the Sierras at 4,200 feet [elevation] and it grew very nicely. This year, we are growing it in San Luis Obispo County in a very hot and dry climate that reaches temperatures of 110 degrees regularly and it is performing great.”
Greyshock says the strain also possess a strong resistance to both bugs and mold, something that becomes very important when picking the winners from a new batch of plants. The buds themselves are generally very solid and chunky.
“Even with the sativa influence, these buds are not loose at all — they are very tight sativa buds,” Greyshock says. “We have had plants started from seed that have grown over 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide, towering over our heads, so she can definitely grow big. One of this strain’s best traits is its ability to fight off mold.”
Two Birds of a Feather
When it comes to the variations in phenotypes on this strain, Greyshock explains there are two basic types: the green pheno and the purple pheno.
“The purple pheno shows a lot of color on the leaves and stalk and a decent amount on the bud,” he says. “About 40% of the phenos exhibit the green version of this strain. One pheno that we love is the Passion Orange Guava (POG) and that is an example of a green variation. Another pheno we have took sixth place [in the sungrown category] at the 2018 Emerald Cup and this one has more of a purple influence that we call the Hawaiian Punch pheno.”
And when it comes to picking which pheno is best, you might as well ask a mother which daughter she favors more.
“It is hard to say which variation is better, both purple and green phenos are phenomenal,” Greyshock says. “In terms of the overall size of the buds, I’d say about 10% of the phenos have large big buds and those aren’t generally the ones we keep. It seems to be the tighter, medium, chunky phenos that we are after a lot, which fortunately the majority come out to be.”
Even though the Tropical Sleigh Ride is a fabulous smoke, cannabis breeders are almost always interested in taking their strain further.
“Once you have these type of plants in your collection, it is always about trying to make new and better things if you can,” Greyshock says. “Right now, we are playing around with the Tropical Sleigh Ride. This last year, we crossed it with another phenomenal California plant that was bred right here in Mendocino County called the Long Valley Royal Kush. Both of these plants have won awards at the Emerald Cup, so the combination of these two plants is making for some really exciting stuff this year.”
Breeder: Greenshock Farms
Genetics: Purple Candy Cane x Pineapple
Yield: Medium to Heavy
Height: Medium to Tall
Harvest Time: 56 to 60 Days
Profile: Sativa 70% / Indica 30%
TELL US, would you be interested in trying a strain bursting with tropical terps?
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE