After you have asked yourself the First Question:
” Why Do I want to Grow?” as asked and answered in The How to Start Section; AND you have decided how you would like to grow as per the What would Gaia Do Section, you now have to choose your strains.
There are some Wonderful Local Seed houses in SA and off course some insane ones internationally.
Check out www.leafly.com
Leafly is a superb site for you to browse thousands of strains with their effects, yields, terpene profiles and helps you chose a strain for you….be careful, there are so many you might get lost!
We also recommend sourcing some local clones from our preferred suppliers as it’s stable genes and you can fill your tent with 1 strain if you want to make a specific oil or extraction.
Otherwise, I say plant different strains, as you need to find your favorite and you need to understand that each strain’s (each plant actually) personality is completely different.
There are many willing experts and growers willing to help so don’t be shy if you don’t know, we are all learning together and a great network ensures that so many new growers are able to communicate with the more experienced not only to learn but to exchange new ideas.
We would also like all new growers to have a look at a Local grading System (5LS) that we believe is a great system from growers for growers to work their way up to. This initiative is not mandatory, but it protects our growers from unfair prices by middle men and it protects our patients so they know they get the right flower for their Rand.
Transparency is key and growing this industry with standards and morals is what we aim for.
Introduction to the 5-Leaf Grading System (5LS)
As the legal Cannabis movement worldwide is gaining momentum, it is crucial to follow international trends regarding quality. The current grading system in SA is based on the way in which it was grown i.e. Outdoor, Greenhouse, GreenDoor or Indoor.
However, these are growing techniques, not grades. It is a fact that Cannabis can be grown better outside than inside. It is up to the Grower, not the light.
Sun-grown Cannabis is becoming increasingly popular in the US, since organic doesn’t include artificial lights.
The 5-Leaf (5LS) grading system will keep the whole supply chain honest and will help the end user buy his bud at a fair price.
The 5-Leaf grading system will judge a bud on 5 criteria. The criteria is set up in such a manner that variances in grading opinion is minimized by using specific yet flexible benchmarks.
The growers will benefit greatly from this 5-Leaf grading system, as it will reward excellent growing and teach/motivate the lower quality growers to grow better than what they’re growing currently. The quality of growing in SA will increase and align with international best practice.
Distributors don’t have to say that Outdoor is Greenhouse grown just to reward good flowers with a better price.
There is no reason why Topshelf growers cannot include Outdoor in their portfolios. The quality is grower and strain dependent, not technique dependent.
The South African market is ready for a system where no one feels hard done by…because it’s fair…for everybody.
Cannabis 5 Leaf Grading System
- Trichome Production
Trichome production is important for your bud’s cannabinoid and terpene content. The bud will be harvested when the trichomes are 10%-20% Amber and 80% Milky. The shape of the trichomes will give an indication on how well the bud was handled during harvest. Density of the trichomes on the Calix and sugarleaves will give an indication on the potency/gram of the bud.
Terpene production during the growth stage is important. If the growth medium and nutrient cycle isn’t perfect for that strain then it will be difficult to get a full terpene profile. Micro-organisms have a lot to do in regards to terpenes.
The smell will be the first sign of mould as the bacteria breaking down the chlorophyll during the curing process starts becoming more fungal and you find that distinctive ammonia smell. A lack of smell profile can indicate poor curing techniques or premature harvesting for some strains.
- Bud Structure
Each strain family will be slightly different. The bud structure will be checked for density (strain dependant), calix size and structure (stress) and for seeds. The trim job will also be checked for any unnecessary leaves that does not contain trichomes (sugar) or leaves that may have grown because of late re-vegging.
The taste profile is similar to the smell category. Taste is affected by terpenes but also by the sugars, salt and nutrients left in the plant. The curing process is crucial for taste to develop as bacteria breakdown the chlorophyll and the excess sugars left in the plant after flushing. The flush is all important in order to help the plant use as much of the nutrients as possible before harvest day. This will ensure a natural tasting terpene rich flower that leaves a long lingering taste in your mount and nose.
When smoking the bud one can see by how white or black the ash is if the curing and flushing process was complete.
The effects will vary between strains and this will be judged on a case by case basis. The effects should be exactly as stated by Leafly. The potency profile will give a good indication of the expected effects. There are many variables that influence these 5 points. Time of harvest and curing/drying/storing process will have influence the potency of the bud.