Looking for a rugged, mega-yielding cannabis strain for your outdoor marijuana grow season? Well, look no further. We’ve unearthed a sweet, potent, resilient strain that’s perfect for this type of grow operation. It’s name? Frisian Dew.
The first time I ever laid eyes on Frisian Dew, it was growing outdoors in a drenching cold rain on a south-facing site near a rural canal a few miles outside of urbanized Amsterdam. The grower had seven Frisian Dew plants that had been started in a greenhouse and placed outdoors in late April. Each plant was in a 50-gallon container loaded with a Dutch version of supersoil. The containers had dozens of holes poked in their sides and bottoms to facilitate extra drainage.
It was nearing the end of August. The plants needed at least a month before their buds would be ready to cut. It was summer, so you’d think it would have been reliably warm and sunny, but the Netherlands is right next to the North Sea, and the country is below sea level. The combination of being a lowlands nation near the tempestuous, cold North Sea means that growers there can experience murky, rainy, foggy, cold, gray, wet weeks, even in the summer.
And this was one of those weeks. It had been raining for at least seven days, and temperatures hadn’t climbed above 64°F. The sun was but a distant memory, and the air was so humid that it dripped off you in rivulets.
In Northern California’s Humboldt County — and similar places where outdoor marijuana growing is a major industry — prolonged wet, cold conditions during bloom phase would have caused widespread panic. Growers would be contemplating whether they should harvest early, before gray mold and rot wrecked the buds.
But my Dutch grower friend wasn’t concerned, explaining to me that Frisian Dew could handle lots of rain. And besides, he said, rain is good because it washes dust and pollution off the leaves and keeps soil pH where he wants it to be.
I asked why he wasn’t worried about gray mold. He said that Dutch Passion, the marijuana seeds company that breeds Frisian Dew, told him the strain is impervious to gray mold and powdery mildew, and he’d found this to be true in two previous years of growing the strain outdoors.
When I looked at pictures of Frisian Dew online, I noticed that one of its phenotypes produces scarlet, purple and fuchsia buds more beautiful than any other buds I’ve ever seen in person, or in photos.
While my friend’s buds weren’t quite as scarlet and vivid as the ones in those photos, I still desperately wanted to photograph his beauties. But then again, without sunlight, and drenched in rain, it was kind of difficult to tell how colorful they were, let alone capture them photographically in a manner that would do them justice.
I left the Netherlands before my buddy harvested his Frisian Dew in early October, but he sent photos of the plants taken a week before harvest time. They were about 10–11 feet tall, 3–4 feet in diameter, expertly topped, trimmed and netted.
Each plant had approximately two dozen or more cola tops featuring unbroken buds 10–24 inches long and 1–3 inches in diameter. He only sent me a few bud close-ups, but those macro photos showed mountains of resin glands in very dense buds interspersed with red, pink and fuchsia pistillate hairs. Yummy. I knew that one day, when I had enough money for that expensive professional Nikon micro lens I’d been eyeing up, I’d have to grow this strain myself and stage a photo shoot.
Before I procured Frisian Dew seeds, I talked to Dutch Passion, the only seed company to ever breed this strain. They explained that the company founder Henk van Dalen created Frisian Dew using a three-year breeding program that combined Super Skunk females with Purple Star males to create a 50–50 indica and sativa hybrid.
Van Dalen is the first and only winner of the High Times Dutch Master Award in 2011, in part because he pioneered feminized and autoflowering cannabis.
His Frisian Dew has long been a popular strain because of its unique aesthetics, but as I talked to people who’ve grown it, they indicated that it also boasts a very powerful high and a very large yield.
I was stoked to get seeds and grow this strain, but here’s the catch: Dutch Passion makes it very clear that Frisian Dew is an outdoor-only strain. And I grow only indoors.
So, what is it that makes a strain outdoor only? A lot has to do with how it was bred, the genetics, and where it was grown as it was developing. As with many Dutch strains, this one was meant for the outdoors, in cold northern countries. Genetics and phenotypes were selected to accommodate the natural light, temperatures and weather of these outdoor locations.
If you’ve never cultivated marijuana outdoors, it’s difficult to fully comprehend how different it is from what plants experience growing indoors. Outside, the sun’s radiation spectrum and intensity changes over the course of each day, from day to day. The length of daylight versus darkness changes daily. Clouds and haze obscure the sun. Rain, sometimes even hail, comes down on the plants. Gale-force winds blow through. Temperatures and humidity change constantly.
In contrast, indoor marijuana plants are pampered and secure. They get 18 hours of tailored, consistent light in grow phase, and 12 hours of customized light in bloom phase. Indoor marijuana plants are fed and watered so they never get hungry or thirsty, and their environment is dialed to ideal temperature and humidity.
I used to assume that an outdoor strain would love to be indoors and would do extremely well in a controlled environment. I assumed that giving an outdoor strain a perfect indoor grow-room experience — including a rich feed program and intense, predictable light — would cause those plants to thrive.
What I found by growing Frisian Dew indoors is that some strains bred and intended for outdoor growing don’t adapt well to an indoor grow room.
In an outdoor marijuana strain’s DNA are developmental and adaptive features evolved from rugged, unpredictable outdoor marijuana growing conditions. Outdoor marijuana strains like Frisian Dew are unaccustomed to the intensity of indoor grow lights, the gluttonous nutrition of marijuana-specific hydroponics feed programs, and the sterility of an indoor grow-room environment.
And they’re definitely not used to the smaller root zones that are almost always the indoor standard.
In other words, outdoor marijuana plants have a genetic memory. They’re expecting sun, wind, rain; daily changes in day length, light wavelengths and angle of sunlight; and a very large root zone. When you grow them in a typical artificial indoor grow-op environment, they become confused, and it hurts their growth and yield.
I ignored the “outdoor only” warnings and started five Frisian Dew seeds, along with a variety of strains, in my indoor grow room. For the first four weeks, the Frisian Dew flourished just as well, if not better, than my other strains.
But when I started bloom phase, three of my Frisian Dews stalled and their leaves showed signs of distress, while every other plant in my grow room was behaving as normal.
At first I thought it was down to defective genetics, perhaps an unstable strain, but I know Dutch Passion doesn’t sell defective cannabis genetics, so I reached out to them.
The company’s technical advisor reminded me that Frisian Dew likes growing in cold, wet Northern European countries. He blamed the problems I was experiencing on growing the strain indoors, and bolstered his claims about Frisian Dew’s excellence by sending impressive crop photos from Dutch Passion customers who have had great success growing this strain outdoors in Norway, Denmark, France and the Netherlands — anywhere outdoor growing hardships make an indoor grow room seem like a luxury resort for plants.
So I now knew my Frisian Dew problems weren’t caused by defective genetics, but rather, by growing the strain in an indoor grow op instead of the cold, wet, cloudy places it favors.
Beautiful Frisian Dew purple buds hint at a potent high. Photo courtesy of Steve Davis, 2018.
My grow room and cultivation procedures are very professional, with the best grow lights, climate control, and a sumptuous Advanced Nutrients hydroponics feed program that fuels large yields — the exact opposite of the conditions that Frisian Dew plants are used to.
I wasn’t going to install a rain and fog machine in my grow room or turn off my grow lights just to give Frisian Dew the unpredictable outdoor marijuana growing conditions it prefers.
However, I did place my Frisian Dews well away from direct light and backed off on the hydroponic nutrients parts per million. I started grading the Frisian Dew plants, intending to cut my losses by eliminating the worst and keeping only the top performers. Eventually, I ended up with two healthy Frisian Dews.
I thought I was clear of any worries, but a couple of weeks into bloom phase, I noticed my plants were two completely different phenotypes.
Minor phenotypic variations are normal, even in the most stable marijuana seeds strains, but these two Frisian Dew plants looked so unlike each other that they could have been from completely different strains!
I checked with Dutch Passion, who explained that a dualistic phenotypic variation is normal for the strain. Frisian is a 50–50 sativa and indica split, and often starkly differentiates to one side of the genetic spectrum or the other.
So one of my phenotypes had popcorn, hard-as-a-rock scarlet and purple buds shaped like little Christmas trees. The other had fat, long, leafy buds lacking the vivid and photogenic coloration that first attracted me to the Frisian Dew.
Not only did these two phenotypes have divergent bud coloration, shape and size, but the buds smelled completely different, too.
The sativa-scarlet phenotype smelled like pepper, with a hint of fruit. The fat-bud phenotype smelled like roses and fruit. The phenotype differences extended to resin gland development. The sativa buds took a lot longer to develop resin glands, and the glands were shorter and smaller. The fat-bud phenotype had faster-developing, taller, larger resin glands.
By week four of an expected eight-week bloom phase, the scarlet buds were beautiful to look at, and I was taking photos of them daily.
There was one week when the buds were mostly composed of red pistillate hairs and resin glands. The interior of the buds looked like a confection I’d eaten in Holland, consisting of a porous wafer infused with raspberry syrup.
The fat-bud phenotype had swollen flowers that were much rounder than the scarlet phenotype, and the pistillate hairs were either white or orange. These buds were so dense that if I hadn’t been told Frisian Dew was resistant to gray mold, I’d have backed off my watering and dialed my grow-room humidity to 55–60 percent.
But as fat as they were, I never saw a hint of mold.
Dutch Passion predicts an eight-week bloom phase for Frisian Dew, but in my grow room, the fat-bud phenotype was ready at 60 days, and the sativa phenotype at 65 days. During drying and curing, the fat Frisian buds wafted out a strong scent of roses and fruit, whereas the sativa phenotype buds smelled like strong black pepper.
I originally wanted to grow Frisian Dew just so I could photograph its beautiful buds. I hadn’t thought much about yield or psychoactive effects, which are my usual priorities when I select marijuana strains.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the heavy yields of the fat pheno, and again when the buds from both phenos delivered crippling highs (although, the sativa pheno was slightly less crippling).
I got a glimpse of how potent the buds were when I did incremental early harvesting two weeks before my final harvest. The fat-bud pheno, the one that leans indica, was so potent at two weeks early that I couldn’t finish the gram I was vaporizing, even though I commonly vape a couple of grams of the strongest weed with no problem.
The high made me feel I was melting, like I was about to faint. I had a goofy smile plastered on my face. What was especially funny is that when I floated into the grow room to shoot pictures of the unharvested parts of the plants, I was so stoned that I couldn’t hold the camera steady and almost dropped it.
I did deep-breathing exercises, trying so hard to control the high and steady myself. But when I downloaded the pictures from my Nikon into my Macbook Photo program to examine them, most were out of focus or of poor composition.
Both phenos create a déjà vu-type high, much different than the North American hybrid strains I’m used to. It reminded me of getting high at cannabis coffee shops in Holland 20 years ago.
Frisian Dew is a very high-yielding, resilient outdoor strain that resists molds, mildews, cloudiness and heavy rainfall. It has been field-tested and proven to deliver kilos or more per plant outdoors or in greenhouses, and the high is strong, lasting, and superior compared to many of the most popular modern hybrids.
TL;DR: My indoor grower friends ask if they should try cultivating Frisian Dew. All I can tell them is, I grew it indoors, had to get rid of most of the plants because they didn’t like it indoors, but I still got nearly seven ounces of very potent bud from the two plants that survived — and I got the beautiful photos I desired.