SACRAMENTO—This time of year, leading cannabis cultivator Ted Lidie, founder and CEO of Alien Labs, lies awake at midnight, obsessing.
Nearly three acres of exotic cannabis—pungent and green Melonade contrasting with purple rows of Sherbacio and Area #41—sit ripening in 100-gallon pots in Yolo County, CA. As a farmer, Lidie’s livelihood is subject to the whims of fate.
By dawn, Lidie is up, one of thousands of licensed California operators bringing in millions of pounds of full-season, outdoor cannabis from the fields.
California is the world’s largest legal cannabis market, and the US’ biggest source of illicit herb. Licensed farmers report a bountiful, beautiful 2019 harvest, with off-the-charts flavors and powerful effects. Legalization is allowing compliant brands to produce at large scale.
Here are Leafly’s Harvest Strains of 2019: combining field reporting with sales and search data, with a focus on commercial cultivars found in licensed stores in California and other legalization states.
Let’s crack this jar and peak inside.
MAC stands for Miracle Alien Cookies, and 2019 is officially The Year of the MAC.
“I said it last year: ‘It’s the year of the MAC,’” laughs Humboldt County, CA, grower Dan “Mr. D” Eagan, part of the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild. He’s standing on the sales floor of the world’s largest wholesale event, Hall of Flowers, on Sept. 17, in Santa Rosa, CA. “But now it’s officially the year of the MAC.”
Consumers have a bottomless desire for high-THC, sedative Cookies strains. So farms across California are harvesting thick, dense, pungent, frosty colas of the MAC cultivar this year.
MAC searches are surging on Leafly as the first cuts of the 2019 harvest come in, and we expect MAC to elevate seshes into the new year. Available in California from Lit House, Saucey, and many others.
See also: 1Lyfe’s Grape Pie Cookies; Elyon’s Trifi Cookies
It has to be most destined cross of 2019: OG Kush, the industry standard-bearer and top-seller for 20 years, plus Zkittlez, an award-winning upstart, with effects and terps that judges and connoisseurs go nuts for.
Put ‘em together and you get OZK, also seen as OZ Kush. Sound the airhorn. Zkittlez lacks great bag appeal and the highest THC scores, and it’s hard to grow, but cross it with OG Kush and it’s a different story.
Even the people who started OG Kush—like grower Josh Del Rosso at Josh D Farms—are a fan of OZK. “God, it’s so loud,” Del Rosso said. “There’s nothing bad about it. It’s all really attractive aromas and flavors that get you high.”
Look out for this long overdue Zkittlez cross and many others in licensed markets.
See also: Josh D Farms’ ZTK; Connected’s Melonade; Paradiso’s Midnight, and Blue Vuitton
Alien Labs’ Sherbacio is on tap for October stores. (David Downs/Leafly)
Take two great cultivars ruling the day—Sunset Sherbert and Gelato #41—mix them together, select the best, and BOOM: Sherbacio. Fields of it are coming from Alien Labs and others. Look for it in 180-plus stores and statewide through Puffy Delivery.
“It’s what we have the most of out there,” said Lidie. “We love that plant because it’s so dark and fucking outdoor looks so much better when it’s purple.”
Growing under the sun is far cheaper than under lamps, so even the best outdoor can run half-off of normal prices—$25 an eighth. Each bag is packed with waves of dank, scrumptious, creamy berry that’s crazy high in THC. It’s a boon to terp lovers.
“We don’t see a middle,” said Lidie from Alien Labs. “We have super quality [indoor at $80 per eighth], and we have the outdoor [where] the process is cheaper. We try and let that be the bargain.”
See also: Monterey Kush Co’s The Fruit Stripe; Wonderbrett’s Orange Sunset
While indoor plants are prized for flowering fast, outdoor plants take their time. Consequently, long-flowering sativas can shine in the fall harvest.
Among the sativas, look out for early cuts of the classic, fast-finishing landrace sativa Durban Poison.
Durban provided the original sativa genetics in Cookies. It can be high in THC-V, which can suppress appetite.
Durban is sweet and spicy like ginger, high in THC and low in CBD, with energetic effects.
Aster Farms and Fog City Farms, both in California, exhibited a Durban at Hall of Flowers, and while indicas edge out sativa sales nationwide, “Sativas seem like they’re really hot right now,” a Fog City rep said.
Durban can be found in virtually every legal cannabis market in the US.
What a great matchup.
Purple Punch looks gorgeous and has a friendly, sweet, soft, and velvety grape aroma. But it doesn’t get you super baked.
By contrast, the heavily hybridized OG cross Do-Si-Dos is so gassy and peppery it can make you sneeze, and so strong it can give you a case of The Fear.
Both have heated up the sales charts over the last year, and now come together in this duet, Dosi Punch. Bred by Symbiotic Genetics, seeds of Dosi Punch have spread across California, so look out for new cuts of it from the likes of Sunrise Mountain Farms, as well as indoor growers Ember Valley. And look out for other great Do-Si-Dos and Purple Punch crosses this harvest.
See also: Paradiso’s Lemon Dosi Cherry; Alien Labs’ Moonbow
Occidental Hill’s Banana OG—the best of the bunch. (David Downs/Leafly)
Lovers of lemon, fuel, and high amounts of THC keep OG Kush and Sour Diesel at the top of the charts. But every season, variations stand out.
This year, we’re seeing really excellent outdoor and light-dep cuts of Banana OG from California growers Flow Kana, as well as Loudpack, just two brands of many bringing the pleasant hybrid to outdoor shelves this fall.
Banana OG softens the astringent fuel bite of OG Kush with soft, tropical, sweet banana notes. The trick for growers is capturing those delicate banana-smelling terpenes. Hasty drying or lengthy storage depletes them and turns Banana OG to meh-nana OG.
With so many cuts of it around, shop around and don’t settle for less than the full ‘nana this harvest.
See also: Maui OG, 3C Farms’ Banana OG
Shout out to the citrus lovers who need daytime energy! Banjo is a trending mix of Boost and Tangelo that’s perfect for people with more of a moderate THC tolerance.
Strains like Tangie, and citrus strains in general, never really took off with the high-THC toker who can’t get as big of effects off Tangies than OGs.
But with legalization bringing in a new range of more casual consumers, Banjo stands ready to play their tune. A bowl of outdoor Banjo is affordable, terpene-rich, and lower in THC than other major harvest strains.
Spotted for sale from Flow Kana, 1Lyfe, Pacific Stone, Goodflower, and Coastal Sun.
This year is a banner year for homegrowers, who enjoy more freedom now than almost any time in recent history. In California, Oregon, and many other states, homegrowing is allowed by law, and the 2019 champion of the homegrow just might be Blueberry Muffin.
Over the last two years, major California breeder Humboldt Seed Co. partnered with cloning factory Dark Heart Nursery to sell thousands of Blueberry Muffin clones into commercial and home gardens alike. With plants finishing off this week, the best of the rugged Humboldt County hills is available to many homegrowers.
Humboldt Seed Co. selected Blueberry Muffin from a lengthy, multi-generation seed hunt through the strains Blueberry, Razzle Berry, and Purple Panty Dropper. The commercial cut is a purple cannabis lover’s dream—dense, dark, sweet, fruity, bready, and extremely high in THC.
See also: Vanilla Frosting
For the final entry, let’s get tropical with our dessert and exalt the Mango Brulee from licensed California brand Lolo.
Lolo’s bud is a light dep: Outdoor herb that finishes early, thanks to light deprivation techniques that force an early flowering. Light dep allows for early harvests and the result can be as pretty as indoor, while staying almost as cheap as outdoor. It’s the future of cannabis—even if most consumers don’t notice.
But they do care that Lolo’s Mango Brulee is relatively cheap, ridiculously terpy, and loud, with intense tropical fruit notes wedded to a burnt sugar finish. Grinding it, rolling it, and smoking only confirms the sensation.
Don’t stop there. Investigate all the tropical dessert light deps you can find from Loudpack and Lowell.
See also: Talking Trees’ Pineapple Upside Down Cake; Lolo Lava Cake