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Danny Danko’s Top 10 Kush Strains

Pure indicas tend to knock people out, but Sensi’s famous Hindu Kush has a more desirable zesty quality to it, as well as a rich, hashy smoke that tickles the nose and enlightens the senses. This odiferous strain has a super-short flowering time, coupled with the ablity to start filling out right away for big, fast yields. Great for beginners and experts alike, Hindu Kush is known for its pungent notes of sweetness followed by hints of sandalwood, which distinguish it from the Kush we know and love in the USA.

Ken from Sensi Seeds calls their Hindu Kush “a classic, definitive indica sometimes referred to as ‘Afghanica,’with the characteristic wide, dark green leaves and strong branching that make it an excellent building block for serious and hobbyist breeders.” Indeed, cannabis botanists worldwide use a Sensi Seeds Hindu Kush male in their programs for stability. It also makes terrific hash with an old-school scent and flavor.

Lineage: Indian landrace from the Hindu Kush mountains
Flowering time: 6 to 7 weeks
Contact: Sensi Seed Bank, sensiseeds.com

Photo Courtesy of T.H. Seeds

HIGH TIMES Top 10 Strain, 2007

T.H.Seeds have earned a stellar reputation for bringing the best of California’s genetics to Amsterdam and beyond. This proud tradition continues with their latest offering, the Burmese Kush (lovingly referred to as “Buku”). One of the most resinous strains available at coffeeshops in Holland, Buku is the result of crossing an authentic Burmese Kush with the clone-only OG Kush so well known in the Los Angeles area. As one might expect, the results are super “kushy,” with the telltale dark green leaves and unique piney flavor inherent in the Kush family of strains.

Anyone who smokes the real-deal Kush in Cali knows its tart diesel flavor and incredibly euphoric high. Combine those with a short flowering time and easy-to-trim profile, and you’ll understand why we’re cuckoo for Buku. Adam from T.H.Seeds suggests savoring the instantaneous effects of this strain in a nice clean bong filled with ice-cold water.

Photo Courtesy of Barney’s Farm Shop

Vanilla Kush proves the adage that not all indica-dominant strains are created equal. It’s hard to nail down the intoxicating scent these buds exhibit upon grinding, which is both complex and varied: Vanilla and sandalwood compete with citrus and lavender as they dance upon the palate. The smoke is full-bodied and sensuous, with the strong medicinal properties associated with heavy-duty Kushes. The higher-than-usual CBD content will especially soothe certain symptoms, such as severe headaches or muscle spasms.

When cultivated, Vanilla Kush boasts dark red hairs surrounding tight, frosty clusters. Even the fan leaves are crystal-coated almost out to the tips, and the buds fill out quite nicely. It’s a strain that’s also available these days in feminized form. Medicinal patients report immediate relief from smoking or vaporizing the Vanilla Kush – another sure-fire prizewinner from Barney’s Farm.

Photo Courtesy of DNA Genetics

East Coast residents familiar with the strain known as “Headband” will be quite excited to know that the “breeding bros” of DNA Genetics have released a superb version of this famous Diesel and Kush cross. Their Headband won third place at the 2009 HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup for the Green Place Coffeeshop under the name “Headband Kush,” earning it the first of what will undoubtedly be many more awards.

Don tells me that they reversed the OG Kush to pollinate the Sour Diesel, and he assures growers that they’ll find a great mother plant out of a pack of 10 beans. Luckily, cloning this strain is easy too, with roots popping out within eight to 10 days of cutting. Headband possesses the familiar diesel-fuel smell and sour lemon taste and starts producing resin glands early and often, exemplifying the best qualities of its elite parentage.

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This strain has gained an almost mythical status as the foundation of West Coast genetics. Hippie folklore marks the arrival of superior Afghan seeds from the Hindu Kush region into the hands of California’s growers as the beginning of a marked transformation in the quality of homegrown marijuana. This sea change in domestic cannabis cultivation reveals itself even today in the predominance of Kush traits found among many of the world’s most popular pot varieties. Kush offspring include a number of HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup winners and HT Strains of the Year, including the MK-Ultra and Sour Diesel. Plus, OG Kush offshoots such as the Bubba Kush and Purple Kush show wonderful promise as future prizewinners.

The DNA Genetics boys started Reserva Privada as a seed bank for some of their favorite strains being bred out by their buddies in Cali, and they now have feminized OG Kush seeds available for growers. The yields aren’t huge, but these dense little nuggets pack a legendary punch.

Another sensimilla stalwart from the T.H.Seeds collection, the Kushage has an epic high – one that hits almost instantly and has both staying power and that familiar Kush headiness. Even beginners will find her easy to grow and work with, resisting many of the common pests and pitfalls that plague first-time farmers. Kushage plants will stretch a bit but fill out nicely, with spicy, piney branches topped with lime-green colas surrounded by dark, waxy leaves.

Adam of T.H.Seeds describes his Kushage for me thusly: “The sandalwood flavor of our S.A.G.E. and the crystal-clear high add an extra boost to the almost addictive buzz of the OG Kush, making this a great plant for the Kush-crazy West Coast of the USA and the Haze lovers of Holland … truly the best of both worlds!” And he’s made it available in feminized form for the first time as well.

Apothecary breeder Bret, who created the Kaia Kush, named this strain after his daughter and promptly snagged an elusive HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup with it in 2007. Earthy and spicy – and very reminiscent of the Chemdog line of genes – this sativa-dominant hybrid has all the lemony-fuel taste and tartness of its predecessors, but with a relatively short flowering time for a strain of such note.

The Kaia Kush is a heavy yielder, packing on weight late into flowering. The abundant and pungent odor can be overpowering, so be sure to use charcoal filtration and whatever else you can find to control the rampant smells. This is the type of weed that can narc you out if you’re not careful, so apartment growers especially should take heed. Judging from the reception for this one at many medical dispensaries in California, I’m expecting big things from Apothecary in the future.

California has gone “purple crazy,” with hundreds of different varieties available in various shades from violet to deep blue. Combining the sweet flavor of the Purps with the lemony power of OG Kush, Purple Kush is a strain that exemplifies the best of both worlds. Strong bag appeal plus increased potency make the PK a perfect hybrid for growers interested in a product that sells itself.

Its short, squat stature and heavy harvests don’t hurt either. This clone-only, almost pure indica strain has its origins in the Pacific Northwest, but has become increasingly popular and available elsewhere as the rest of the country (and the world) quickly catches up to the aesthetically and spiritually pleasing qualities of these grape-flavored, violet-colored nuggets. Medical patients in particular will appreciate the Purple Kush’s deep body stone, which is helpful in treating chronic pain and depression.

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From eastern Cali comes one of the strongest cannabis varieties of all time, the Tahoe OG Kush – often imitated but never perfected as well as it has been by breeder Swerve from the Cali Connection, a breeding outfit that has earned much respect for its Kush-heavy stable of strains in seed form. Swerve pollinated the original and legendary Tahoe clone with his San Fernando Valley OG F3 male, and the result adds fuel to the fire for sure.

The Tahoe OG grown from Swerve’s seeds produces thick nuggets completely covered in glistening, glandular trichomes, but without the typical hermaphroditic tendencies of many closet-breeding pollen-chuckers’ watered-down versions. Medical patients will appreciate the calming properties of the Tahoe OG Kush, which relieves insomnia as well as bodily pains and stress.

Lineage: San Fernando Valley OG Kush F3 x Tahoe Kush clone
Flowering time: 9 to 10 weeks
Contact: The Cali Connection, thecaliconnection.com

The famed Larry OG cut made the rounds in Southern Cali for years and is an all-time favorite of Kush lovers everywhere. The archetypal “lemon-fuel/Pine-Sol funk” (as breeder Swerve perfectly describes it) is the tip-off that you’re dealing with a real-deal OG cross.

Grown from seed, Larry does some pretty serious stretching after flowering is induced, but makes up for it with good yields of super-potent and odiferous pot. Typically producing almond- or teardrop-shaped calyxes with bright orange hairs, this strain grows super-frosty, with crystals out to the ends of the fan leaves (which turn dark purple as the plants near maturity). The thin, stretched-out branches may need to be staked for support, and mites love the Larry OG Kush as well – so stay vigilant and keep checking the undersides of leaves for damage to catch them early if they happen to attack.

As wildfires ravage California, Davis-based reforestation center is on the frontlines of the future

In the first week of May, Katherine Bolte paused inside the Davis nursery she works in to admire 100,000 seedlings that were just sown. They were future redwood trees meant to be planted inside a battered, blackened scar left by the CZU Complex Fire near Santa Cruz. Sparked by a lightning strike last August, the fire killed one person, leveled more than 7,000 buildings and charred some 86,000 acres. Much of the destruction involved trees that are important to healthy air and sustainable wildlife habitat.

For Bolte, these redwood seedlings destined to heal the flame-desolated area also had a personal connection: Her own parents were evacuated from the CZU fire. Many of the people that Bolte grew up with in the Santa Cruz mountains lost their homes. She knew the next couple of weeks would be a nervous waiting game until the seedlings started to germinate; but by May 17, it was clear the first sprouts of infant trees were coming to life – and there’d be new greenery coming to the burn scar.

The operation Bolte works for, the L.A. Moran Reforestation Center, is a nursery and seed bank run by CAL FIRE.

In addition to the help it’s providing Santa Cruz, the center is also cultivating 5,000 new trees for some devastation closer to home. The Jones Fire in Nevada County was another inferno sparked by a dry lighting touch-down. It erupted in the backcountry between Grass Valley and Nevada City on August 17, forcing mass evacuations as it burned numerous buildings and 700 acres.

The work being done in Davis currently represents one of the only reforestation projects in California. With the state having just experienced five unprecedented fire seasons in a row – and the bark beetle and drought continuing to take their own pound of flesh from the Sierra – L.A. Moran’s small staff of environmental scientists have an out-sized mission ahead of them. They’re understandably trying to ramp up their efforts and expand their outreach.

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“Because of how extensive the fire damage is, we’re scrambling to figure out how we can increase capacity,” Bolte said.

Bolte’s nursery is a historic institution that now has a historic challenge in front of it.

A nursery at the L.A. Moran Reforestation Center in Davis.

The L.A. Moran Reforestation Center was established in 1921, just seven years after California’s first great conservation writer, John Muir, passed away – and right as the state’s newest poetic prophet of Nature, Robinson Jeffers, was coming into his own. The center’s first decades saw the rise of organizations like the Sierra Club and the beginnings of what would become the modern environmental movement. Over the decades, the center has developed an expertise on readying the seeds for conifer and oak woodland restoration. Right now it largely focuses on collecting and banking seeds for pines, sequoias, and cedars, before nursing them to life. After that, the new trees are planted in spots with the most need.

“We don’t just reforest state-owned public land,” Bolte pointed out, “a big part of our mission is supporting private land owners.”

That’s because massive tracs of private land in California have vital tree canopy and wildlife habitat – and in some cases they’ve been hit particularly hard by fire and tree mortality. As the latest hydrology data comes in from around the state, CAL FIRE is bracing for what could be the worst fire season yet.

“The entire state has some semblance of drought conditions,” Captain Robert Foxworthy said last month as it was announced that 1,400 additional firefighters had been hired. “The reason we’re getting the crews one early is, obviously, the weather conditions transitioning into fire season, and the drought we’re in.”

But it’s not as simple as the L.A. Moran center just handing out seeds to impacted landowners. Its team has to collect viable seedlings from many different regions of California; and then try to match those seed types to the same general areas that landowners are trying to restore. The idea is to regrow trees that are native to each burn scar.

“We’re collecting in different regions every year around June,” explained Denia Troxell, an environmental scientist who’s the assistant seed bank manager at L.A. Moran. “We really rely on our foresters to be our eyes and ears when it comes to covering the entire state of California.”

The team also relies on professional arborists and tree-trimmers who have the needed experience to climb to the top third of each conifer and collect superior seeds that reside in the cones at that height. In fact, L.A. Moran is current looking for more individuals with those skill sets to help with its increasingly necessary efforts. People with a background in forestry, arborary and tree maintenance who want to get involved can contact the center’s Seed Bank Manager Jessica Huang at [email protected] or 530-753-2441.

Given how omni-present the fire threat feels around California, the team is confident its network will continue growing.

“We’re trying to gain more of those public contacts,” Troxell said. “The work we do, it’s a good challenge to have. I think we’ll get more support as people become more aware of the work we’re going here.”