Humboldt Seed Company
Category: Humboldt Seed Company
Famous Strains: Blueberry muffin, purple panty dropper, pineapple upside down cake
Learn as much as you can first hand by helping someone who has been around as a grower and/or breeder for long enough to need help, like an elder. Then teach yourself through applied learning such as trial and error and don't be too afraid of a little pollen. Common sense is all you need to avoid unwanted seed.
genetic threads exclusive interview
Genetic Threads: In a few sentences, can you tell us where and when you got your start?
Humboldt Seed Company: I started breeding cannabis in 1999 in North Eastern Humboldt County mostly because I saw a need for good healthy vigorous seed plants for my garden and other Humboldt sun-grown organic farmers. Although we use clones often, I've found nothing's like a seedling and if you breed with plenty of research and intent, the buds will show it.
GT: What was the first strain you ever grew? Was it a clone or from seed?
HSC: The first strain I ever grew was the "Salmon Creek Big Bud" clone, at the time it was quickly becoming a Humboldt legend. That same year I also grew Matanuska Mist, Purple Haze and a number of old timer Humboldt genetic heirlooms from the Humboldt hills in seed form.
GT: What strains are you most known for?
HSC: We created the Blueberry Muffin, Purple Panty Dropper (see strain naming stories below), Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Cookie Monster, Royal Highness and many more. Humboldt Seed Co. is also known for maintaining classic, vintage genetics so we always have gems like the Trainwreck and Jack Herer for future reference and breeding.
I named the Purple Panty Dropper strain in 2004 after a party at our farm. I had called it a night early but I could hear the festivities raging on. I woke up early and went for my morning stroll through the garden. Right below this beautiful plant that we were honestly calling the Purple Passion was this pair of Purple Panties that were apparently dropped the night before. I imagined that the beautiful scenery, and the smell of the ganja, particularly that awesome purple strain, inspired some love and the name Purple Panty Dropper was born. Although I thought it was a pretty slick name when I was in my mid-twenties, we now have written "Panty Dropping must always be consensual" on all our packaging for the strain. The Purple Panty Dropper is a cross of Oregon Grape, Purple Haze and Matanuska Mist.
The Blueberry Muffin story goes like this: In 2009, we acquired a clone called Razzle Berry and bred it with our original Purple Panty Dropper strain. It produced small black seeds that turned into an array of phenos as an F1. One of the phenotypes that came from that cross had a distinct blueberry scent. We captured that pheno in genetic preservation and backcrossed her with the parental lineage. In 2010, the now F2 seed line had taken on a consistent blueberry scent but one plant in particular expressed the most wonderful, comforting scent that we had ever experienced from Cannabis. We backcrossed her with a selected male from the lineage. While we were harvesting the plant one of our trimmers exclaimed "this smells exactly like Blueberry Muffins.” I stopped dead in my tracks, peered around to the other side of the plant to look at him and said, "Dude, you just named this strain!" That was the birth of the Blueberry Muffin. Since then we have spent 7 focused years perfecting and stabilizing our Blueberry Muffin seed and clone line. We are very proud of the dedication and time we spent in the hills of Humboldt utilizing the science that we had at hand to create this healing strain. It's well known to comfort what ails you. William Watson, our new in-house strain tester has Cerebral Palsy. He uses Blueberry Muffin as a muscle relaxant. Many say the strain lacks the paranoia molecule – whatever that is, we're glad we ditched it with this one. The terpenes are through the roof on this strain and, although some Blueberry Muffin scents and flavors (Vanilla, Blueberries, Chamomile) are not yet being tested for at conventional Cannabis Labs, you won't miss them when you first taste our Blueberry Muffins! Use this strain any time of day because the effect is both energizing and ethereal but we think Blueberry Muffins are best served as part of a complete breakfast!
GT: What motivates you as breeder and grower?
HSC: I absolutely love cannabis, I love the medicinal effects and its ability to treat a wide array of ailments. I feel like cannabis is a teacher, a healer, and a friend to humanity. The diversity within the species intrigues me to no end. I've never seen a plant that has so many different compositions and subsequent uses. Breeding for unique and loud terpenes and the medical values they carry with them is one thing that really motivates us at Humboldt Seed Company.
GT: When you approach a new breeding project, what are the top three things you are looking for?
HSC: We like to do very distinct population crosses and then phenotype hunt, sometimes we land on something amazing, sometimes it’s a waste of time. Once we have found something amazing the project shifts gears into breeding our new creation into a somewhat stable seed line. We don't really sell seeds until we've put a ton of work into them. We share our F1s with friends and community members that know what they're doing and in return we get clones of the best ones.
GT: Do you have any special projects in the works you'd be willing to share with us?
The "Mega Hunt" is a collaborative project we started with Hendrx Farms and the Sun Growers Guild that involves a large number of cultivators around the state but particularly in the Emerald Triangle. Basically we're taking the scientific approach that we employ every year for our breeding purposes and opening it up into a larger, collaborative effort. We use a 30 variable rating system to select our breeding stock for each strain, each year, from thousands of plants. The wonderful thing about the Mega Hunt is that everyone who participates gets to grow some of the most amazing phenotypes that we find whether they are found on their farm or someone else's. It’s really about sharing and supporting the small farms that pioneered Cali cannabis for so long.
GT: Who inspires you in the cannabis industry? Who did you look up to when you first got started?
HSC: I moved to Cali in 1996 when I was 18 years old. I immediately registered to vote, not as much because I cared if Clinton won again but more so that I could vote “yes” on Dennis Peron's Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215), the voter initiative that really began the global effort for the legalization of Medical Cannabis (I believe all cannabis use is medicinal). My friends and I lived deep in the hills and we actually had to hike/hitch hike to vote. Anyway, the crafting of Prop 215 was brilliant and I eventually got to meet and bond with Dennis Peron. He is and always will be a huge hero in my eyes. Dennis passed only weeks ago [at the time of this interview] but his legacy will live eternally as cannabis prohibition slowly, but surely, becomes a thing of the past. He was and always will be a truly kind and compassionate soul and a wonderfully brilliant man! I also looked up to my mentor Petey as a fellow fisheries biologist, environmentalist and old school cannabis grower. He taught me the importance of growing organically, that science is our friend and that nature has so much to teach if you are open to it.
GT: Do you have any advice for new breeders/growers/producers? What do you wish someone had told you when you first started?
HSC: My advice to new breeders and growers is to learn as much as you can first hand by helping someone who has been around as a grower and/or breeder for long enough to need help, like an elder. Then teach yourself through applied learning such as trial and error and don't be too afraid of a little pollen. Common sense is all you need to avoid unwanted seed.
GT: What do you consider to be one of your greatest accomplishments or successes?
HSC: I'd say that my daughter is my greatest accomplishment (she's 18), I am also proud of the genetic research on spring Chinook salmon that I initiated, which was recently published in Science, a prestigious scientific journal, which was spurred by my instrumental role in the largest river restoration project in world history to undam the Klamath River. My genetic salmon research has helped to navigate and hone my skills with the current cannabis genomics research that we're now involved with. Creating the Blueberry Muffin strain is another great accomplishment, we got 6th place for it at the Emerald Cup for light dep with Casa Humboldt. Humboldt Seed Company was one of the first cannabis seed companies in the state, although we primarily only served Humboldt County for our first 15 years in business, we are quickly becoming a highly sought after company with followers all over the planet.
GT: What is something you would like to go back and change or do differently?
HSC: If I had a time machine I would go back and tell myself to store all our old seeds (i.e. 20-40 years) like we do now with our strain library, sealed and underground in a chamber with constant temperatures and moisture levels. I would also keep a 2-inch piece of dried stem from all of the parents of every strain I've worked with for genomics research. I would also tell myself to ignore trends in cannabis and just breed for what I'm attracted to, it’s easy to stray from your instincts because you are told something is great by some well-funded marketing campaign.
GT: Do you have any breeding/growing tips you’d like to share?
HSC: One tip, for growers in this changing marketplace, is that you may no longer want to just grow a ton of the strain that was popular last year. As cannabis gets more accessible, people are naturally choosing what strains they like best personally and are not as influenced by what they heard is the best. Grow big and grow diverse, in 2018, particularly if you are on the West Coast...exotics are what’s up! For the breeders out there remember that there are really only two distinct paths: research and development of new strains/crosses and stabilizing existing strains for the growers who just want stable seeds to avoid getting mites again or have another test fail for parts-per billion that came from their clones.
GT: Do you have a “fun fact” about you or your work?
HSC: We recently produced the world's first cannabis scratch n' sniff made out of pure cannabis terpenes from our Blueberry Muffin strain. We printed the scratch ‘n sniff ink into a 2-inch picture of a bud in our ad in the Humboldt Cannabis Magazine which was mailed to every registered cannabis business in California. More terp scratch ‘n sniff is on its way, too. We also have a calendar that we put out annually with all of the planting dates, organic gardening tips, birthdates of our favorite revolutionaries and even cosmic events – you can download it on our website.
GT: What’s your favorite part about breeding/growing cannabis?
HSC: We all have to rush around a lot these days but having a job that requires you to stop and smell the flowers is awesome! I also love being part of such an innovative community.
GT: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself and your work?
HSC: Humboldt Seed Company's main breeding ranch is 100% carbon neutral with solar and micro-hydro electric power, Clean Green Certified, and Registered Organic. We have sequenced the DNA of all of our strains and are building a Restricted Site Associated database to take a deeper look into the cannabis genome. We take pride in the fact that our strains are stabilized before we release them, meaning that our cannabis seeds should produce a consistent product. We also completely sanitize and then inoculate our seeds with mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria so you know you are starting your grow clean.
GT: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and for the work you are doing in the cannabis industry!