In 1976, a coffee-table book called Sinsemilla Marijuana Flowers , by Jim Richardson and Arik Woods revolutionized marijuana growing in North America. Not only did the authors accurately and sensitively portray the sinsemilla technique with their excellent text and lavish color photographs, they made the first attempt to describe the proper stages of floral maturity for an optimally potent and tasty harvest. Most importantly, this publication, just thirty years ago, suggested to growers that if marijuana can be grown without seeds, it follows that select female flowers can also be intentionally fertilized with select pollen to produce a few seeds of known parentage.
This realization, in turn, gave birth to the expansion of conscious marijuana breeding and the myriad varieties portrayed in this article. Early on, marijuana growers worked with any varieties they could procure in the search to find potent plants that would consistently mature before being killed by frosts. Since most imported marijuana was full of seeds, many landraces (traditional cultivars grown by indigenous peoples) were available to growers. Early-maturing northern Mexican varieties proved to be favorites as they consistently finished maturing at northerly latitudes. The earlymaturing North American sativa varieties of the early and mid-1970s (such as Polly and Eden Gold) resulted from hybrid crosses between Mexican or Jamaican landraces and more potent, but latermaturing Panamanian, Colombian, and Thai landraces. (In all hybrid crosses, the female seed parent is listed before the ?x??the symbol indicating a cross?and the male pollen parent is listed after the ?x.? If the sexual identity of the parents is unknown, a ?/? symbol is used rather than the ?x.?) Traditional cultivars gave modern growers a strong start having been favored and selected for potent landrace varieties for hundreds of years.
Most varieties in the 1970?s were adapted to outdoor growing, but others were specially developed for greenhouse or indoor, artificial light growing, where the season can be extended to allow latematuring cultivars to finish. Once varieties that would mature under the given conditions were perfected, pioneering marijuana breeders selected for high potency?high delta-1-THC content with low CBD content?followed by the aesthetic considerations of flavor, aroma, and color. (Delta-1-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary psychoactive compound in Cannabis. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is not psychoactive, but may alter the effects of THC.) Modifying adjectives, such as minty, floral, spicy, fruity, sweet, purple, golden, or red, were often attached to selected varieties, and thus domestic sinsemilla connoisseurship was born. Continued inbreeding of the original favorable hybrids resulted in some of the legendary sativas of the 1970s, such as Original Haze, Purple Haze, Polly, Eden Gold, Three Way, Maui Wowie, Kona Gold, Matanuska Thunderfuck, and Big Sur Holy Weed, which were almost always grown outdoors or in greenhouses. From 1975 until the end of the decade, marijuana breeders had great success continuing to develop connoisseur sativa cultivars. Sweeter, prettier flowers brought the grower great pride and even g reater prof it. Purple varieties gained popularity, largely following on the coattails of the extraordinary Purple Haze of Central California. Durban Poison By 1980, commercial sinsemilla cultivation had become much more common. Professional growers developed sativa varieties that were both high yielding and early maturing, and police awareness of commercial cultivation increased, especially in the western United States. Small aircraft were routinely used to search for larger marijuana plantations located in remote terrain, and many small growers were turned in to the police by snoopy, alarmist neighbors. The authorities soon learned that marijuana matures in the autumn so a variety that could be brought out of the field and into the drying shed by early October avoided some of the problems that might arise with a variety that matured in late November. Faced with storage problems resulting from numerous seizures, the authorities often merely counted seized plants and burned the bulk of the confiscated crop immediately without weighing it. Prosecution was based on the number of plants counted. Just enough dried marijuana was saved for laboratory analysis to be used as evidence in court. Concurrent with increased sinsemilla production was an increased incidence of crops being stolen. The fewer large and early-maturing plants a cultivator could grow, while continuing to realize a sufficient yield and profit, the better the chances of avoiding detection by law enforcement or thieves. When Cannabis responds positively to lots of water, sun, and nutrients, it produces huge plants, sometimes yielding up to five pounds (more than two kilograms) of dried flowers. The more they are fed and watered, the taller and bushier they become, even when heavily pruned. The larger the plant, the easier it is to spot from the air or over a fence. This situation kindled a desire in growers for plants with a short, broad stature and high flower yield. Before 1975, almost all sinsemilla was grown from sativa varieties.
Correctly grown Colombian, Mexican, or Thai varieties averaged over eight feet (two and onehalf meters) tall when pruned or trellised, and could easily reach thirteen to sixteen feet (four to five meters) when grown unrestricted in full sun. As marijuana breeders continued to cross their shortest, earliest maturing, and highest-yielding sativa cultivars with each other and pruned frantically, they yearned for something new. Their salvation was manifested in a new and exotic foreign variety of marijuana called ?indica.? Most modern European and Nor th American sinsemilla varieties are a blend of South Asian marijuana varieties called sativas that spread throughout South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and North and South America, and have been (since the 1970s) crossed with Central Asian and Middle Eastern hashish cultivars, commonly called ?indicas,? a name based on the botanical name Cannabis indica. The most well-known indica varieties came from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Indica plants are characterized as short and bushy with broad, dark green leaves, which makes them somewhat harder to see from afar. They usually mature quite early, from late August to the end of September, often stand only three to six feet (one to two meters) at maturity, and produce copious resin-covered leaves and flowers. At least several dozen introductions of indica seeds from Afghanistan or Pakistan into North America were made during the middle to late 1970s. 1, Mazar-i-sharif, and Hindu Kush were some of the earliest indica introductions and are still available today.
Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, many more indicas have made their way directly to Dutch seed companies from neighboring Pakistan. Indica added economically valuable traits to extant domestic marijuana varieties, but it was considered rough by many smokers, being originally intended for bulk hashish production, rather than fine sinsemilla. Marijuana breeders still needed the traditional sativas to make hybrids that were both potent and cerebral. Marijuana breeders intentionally crossed early-maturing indica varieties with the sweet, but later maturing, sativa varieties to produce early-maturing hybrids.