When we brave pioneers of Cannabis Now went booth to booth at the Emerald Cup on a quest to search out the strains of the moment, we were frequently impressed. But when we got to Woodman Peak Farms, things took on a whole new level of hype. We quickly determined we were going to need to look at all of their cannabis. It was well above average.
Then they offered us a glimpse of their cup entries. There were two, but we can’t even remember what the other one was, because the Banana Jam simply absorbed all of our attention as soon as the mason jar cracked open. It felt like the scene from “Alice in Wonderland” where she falls down the hole, except this hole was some type of tropical daiquiri filled with Caribbean fruits we’ve never even heard of.
After we had a few days to collect ourselves following the Cup, Banana Jam’s breeder Michael Martin gave us the full tale of this strain we expect to make waves in the very near future.
The Genetics of Banana Jam: Mix and a Match
“Banana Jam brings together Symbiotic Genetics’ Banana Punch with our Strawberry Jam,” Martin told Cannabis Now. Martin was given 16 Banana Punch seeds by Symbiotic in the fall of 2016 and started them spring of 2017.
“We ended up with nine females, seven of which we kept, two of which we gave to close friends,” he said. Martin stress tested some of the cuts he held onto in a light dep situation. He flowered them out early to see what they were working with.
“But two plants were full-term plants in the main garden which didn’t finish until the first week of November,” said Martin. “Once the flowers started blooming in the dep greenhouse, they smelled so good!”
Martin found the resulting flowers to be very similar to the Strawberry Jam, “but less gassy, more fruit punchy.” Those initial phenotypes would range from super fruity to bland and super frosty.
“They reminded us of our Strawberry Jam, and we felt that those two would complement each other well,” Martin said. “Pollen was taken from our two Strawberry Jam males that we kept for breeding and dusted on the fruitiest plants of the Banana Punch.”
The Strawberry Jam Martin used came from a pack of Long Valley Royal Kush by Aficionado Seeds. Martin and his partner Ariel first started growing them out in Piercy, California in 2016.
“We started with 10 seeds and got nine females and one male. Royal Kush is typically a very gassy, piney smelling flower, but one of these nine females really stood out — it smelled exactly like Strawberry Jam.”
Martin notes a few others from that first run of the Aficionado seeds were unique, too. They put pollen on all of them, including the Strawberry Jam pheno. When it was time for harvest, they gathered the seeds, “and by spring I gave almost all of them away to friends, but still had 13 to start at our new farm, Woodman Peak, in the spring of 2017.”
Martin grew out those seeds and ended up with eight new ladies. Two of those phenotypes were Strawberry Jam dominant, while the others took on the normal Royal Kush smell.
“Out of the males, we rubbed their stems and the male flowers to get a smell off of them and also judged them based off shape and health. Two of them smelled super jammy. We kept those males around as our keepers for breeding tools that year in 2017,” Martin recalled.
Martin soon found himself heading back to those two Banana Punch plants in the main garden he’d let run full-term. One was super fruity, and the other was super frosty yet lacking smell. “So we hit the fruity plant in the full-term, and out of the 5 plants in the dep we hit the fruitiest smelling one in there too with Strawberry Jam pollen,” said Martin.
How the Woodman Peak Farm Grow Goes Down
Martin always starts his seeds in spring in an inert soil mix, transplanting up into bigger, more nutrient-dense soil a few weeks later. The seeds are started in a greenhouse while it’s still cold and chilly in the spring. Then, when the plants get a few weeks old, they start feeding them nutrient-rich teas weekly or biweekly.
Good compost teas are one of the big deciders when separating the good from the great. The Woodman Peak team brew their compost teas using Dragonfly Earth Medicine plant-based powders and fish hydrolysate as fertilizer.
While the seeds are still sprouting and small, they work in the garden, tilling the winter cover crop back into the soil as well as adding additional amendments such as kelp meal, neem meal, shrimp/crab meal and a variety of rock powders: azomite, basalt, glacial rock, greensand, gypsum and oyster shell flour.
“We also source compost from our neighbor, who has a herd of animals — over 30 goats, sheep, horses, ducks, turkeys and chickens,” said Martin. “The goats wander his land eating up the tall grasses, which help during the summer’s fire season. It makes for some great compost too!”
Martin grew out the Banana Jam in fabric pots on a hillside above the pond they use to irrigate the garden.
“This year, we planted on June 12, just before the summer solstice,” said Martin. “They were small little babies, less than a foot in height, but blew up in the hot summer months, some of which topped 12 feet. Once the flowers began to set in the middle of August, we switched from primarily nitrogen-based teas to Dragonfly’s flower tea, Fat Flowers, and began to back off on our foliar sprays.”
Martin also said they do their very best to let the plants express themselves in shape and form by not topping, and minimally training the branches. “This helps us get an idea of the true shapes for breeding purpose,” he said.
When harvest time comes, they work to push the flowers to the closest they can get to peak ripeness and maturity. This gives the flowers a dense, fully swollen look that most people only achieve in greenhouses or indoor.
“We harvest with care, and hang-dry our flowers in dark, cold rooms for over two weeks, keeping the humidity low and slowly pulling moisture out of the flowers,” Martin said. “After that, the flowers are boxed up to be in a closed space with more of itself, which really makes the aromas soak in and bring out the subtleties.”
From this point, they hand off the flowers to Flow Kana, one of the main distribution companies working with legacy farmers in the region. Flow Kana then bucks, manicures, and packages the flowers for retail.
When they went back to pick out their seeds to start for the year, Martin said they almost didn’t grow out the Banana Jam because of the risks associated with putting time into a new cross you’re not quite positive on yet.
“We didn’t really know what to expect, but we’re all really glad that we did at the last minute,” said Martin, “They were such pretty little starts, we decided to put them in the garden.”
We’re definitely glad they did.
TELL US, have you tried the Banana Jam strain yet?