If you spend any time visiting dispensaries or reading about trends in the cannabis culture, you’ve surely encountered some of the same strain names on multiple occasions. Although hundreds of varieties are available to smoke and cultivate, only a few dozen can be found in clone or seed form at local retail shops. Dispensaries tend to carry strains they know will sell quickly, and that information is largely based on word of mouth. Any other strains can only be acquired through underground sources, including European and Canadian seed banks. Caution: Importing and shipping marijuana seeds is illegal. Most people succeed at it, but it is not a risk-free endeavor.
The five most popular strains in the SF area are Granddaddy Purple, Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, OG Kush, and Girl Scout Cookies. Most of these have been around for years and stay around because they continue to satisfy in one way or another. They are all clone-only strains, meaning that the original creator crossed two different varieties and found a winning female child among them. That grower then cloned that one child plant and created thousands of identical plants for us all to enjoy! Some companies might sell seeds with these same strain names, but you cannot trust that they’ll produce the exact same plant. Clones from a reputable retailer are more likely to be authentic.
Granddaddy Purple (GDP) emerged on to the scene about 10 years ago as one of the most stable and frosty purple strains. Up till that point, finding reliably purple flowers that also had good potency was fairly rare. GDP, especially under cooler conditions, fit the bill. Further, it’s short structure makes it a perfect choice for winter grow rooms with limited ceiling height, producing colorful buds during a time of year when the Northern California outdoor harvest brings a glut of low-cost B-grade herb to the wholesale scene. Having something with a striking hue and a sticky surface guarantees successful market reception when times are tough.
GDP is fairly easy to grow. Because it is short and stocky, it requires less staking and trellising and, since the nugs are super solid, the trimming process is simple and straight forward. It’s a slow grower and only yields a moderate amount of finished smoke per sq. ft. That might make it sound unappealing, but no other widely known purple strains can do any better.
Sour Diesel is quite the opposite. SD is a production strain, with high yield being its main selling point. It can grow and yield twice as much as GDP, and thus has become an outdoor favorite, known for its lanky and branchy structure. The buds can be dank, frosty and potent. Due to its sun-loving nature, indoor growers have a harder time getting top-shelf results from Sour Diesel, but they still get plenty of yield. Sour Diesel stretches way out, making it a poor choice for confined spaces, unless trellising is your favorite pass time. Overall, it’s an easy strain to grow.
Blue Dream is another production strain that gives Sour Diesel a run for its money. With consistently great yield and quality, both indoor and out, and a flavor like a spicy-fresh spring day, the only reason NOT to grow this strain is because everyone else is already doing it. The plant structure is more sativa-like in appearance, but it doesn’t stretch out too much or have a long flowering period. Yield is excellent. Better still, Blue Dream has a wide tolerance for nutrient imbalances and other health problems without losing quality and potential. In the pantheon of excellent cannabis strains, this one deserves a seat at the top for possessing all the best qualities across the board.
OG Kush is mainly prized for its potency and strong indica-dominant flavor. It is neither very easy to grow nor high yielding, but it’s got urban appeal and is almost synonymous with the California pot culture. The plant structure is stretchy, a little bit weak, and the foliage is fairly sensitive to less-than-ideal environmental and nutritive conditions. The flowers are super frosty popcorn buds that are easy to trim. OG Kush is a good strain to grow in the off season when quality trumps quantity, and its got its own army of fans that will continue developing its potential as an all-around winner.
Girl Scout Cookies is the most recent Bay Area staple strain, having emerged onto the scene around 2010. It now sits along side OG Kush as offering such an excellent consumption experience, that it’s worth putting up with its less-than-perfect cultivation temperament. As with a few others of these clone-only contest-winning varieties, some confusion and debate exists around which “cut,” or phenotype, of this strain is the real deal. The phenotype that’s become standard in Bay Area retail stores has a similarly finicky nature to OG Kush, with stems tending to be purplish and growth easily delayed by minor nutrient or environmental imbalances. Unlike OG Kush, it has a stronger overall physical structure and a classic Christmas Tree shape. The yield is moderate, but the density and resin content are world class.