In our continuing series on heritage marijuana strains that form the foundation for today’s hybrids and that every grower should cultivate at least once, we’ve focused on landrace and heirloom strains from legendary Dutch cannabis seed companies Sensi Seeds and Dutch Passion.
In today’s installment, we’re introducing classic cannabis strains from another reliable Dutch seed company, Serious Seeds.
Founded by a biology teacher, known only as Simon, who at one time worked with the famed Dronkers family of Sensi Seeds, Serious Seeds has created some of the most famous marijuana strains, including AK-47, Kali Mist and Bubble Gum.
Although Serious Seeds wasn’t officially launched until 1995, Simon’s versions of Bubble Gum, White Russian, AK-47, Chronic, Warlock and Kali Mist were already popular at Dutch coffee shops such as Green House, Bluebird and Dampkring.
Each of these strains enjoyed early success, with AK-47 and Chronic both winning in Amsterdam’s 1994 High Times Cannabis Cup. The next year, Kali Mist won a cup, and in 1996 it was White Russian’s turn. In 1997, it was Warlock’s time to shine. This was just the beginning of a decades-long awards deluge for Serious Seeds, which has earned dozens of accolades from various cannabis competitions since the ’90s.
Perhaps the most famous Serious Seeds cannabis strain is AK-47, named for Russia’s lethal Kalashnikov assault rifle.
This strain’s creators say the name was never meant to glorify violence or firearms, but rather, to symbolize its mega potency and effectiveness.
There was a time in the 1990s when AK-47 tested out as the strongest commercial cannabis strain, always topping out way above 20 percent THC. Indeed, cannabinoid testing conducted at the 1999 Amsterdam Cannabis Cup revealed that AK-47 had the highest THC percentage of any entry in that year’s competition.
This no doubt explains why the strain is known as the “one-hit wonder,” meaning that you take one toke and you’re thoroughly baked, like a loaf of bread.
I recall being at the buyer’s window in a Dutch cannabis coffee shop and while the budtender was weighing up the little baggie of AK-47 I was buying, she asked, “You don’t intend to do anything strenuous this afternoon, do you?” Another budtender at a different cannabis shop said, “We ought to sell this AK with a warning label.”
The AK-47 high starts with up to an hour of very enjoyable effects that resemble the high of psilocybin mushroom, and then that high turns into a warm, womb-like, narcotic embrace that resembles an indica or Afghanica high.
This bud tastes spicy and piney, and can be one of those strains from which inhaled smoke or vapor expands in your lungs and forces you to cough.
Genetics & Growing For AK-47 Marijuana
The complex, entertaining AK-47 high is a result of its deep genetic heritage. Many of the heirloom marijuana strains we highlight are simple crosses of two Afghanicas, or an Afghanica and an indica.
AK-47 is more complicated than that. It contains landrace genetics from Colombian Gold, Mexican Sativa and Thai sativa, with Afghanica bred in to shorten bloom phase and provide body effects.
I have both grown AK-47 and have seen it grown. This strain offers you three phenotypes grown from authentic Serious Seeds AK-47 seeds. Two of the phenotypes lean sativa, one leans Afghanica.
The sativa-dominant phenos grow taller and have thinner leaves than the Afghanica phenotypes, and do best with a nine-week bloom phase.
The Afghanica-dominant pheno, on the other hand, grows out as a shorter, stockier, more branched plant, with tighter buds that you can flush and harvest after an eight-week bloom phase.
AK-47 has long been popular with cash croppers and commercial growers because it’s a very forgiving plant that has larger yields and a shorter bloom phase than you usually find in sativa-dominant strains.
Some strains with pure sativa or majority sativa genetics are temperamental. They can’t handle heavy feeding, grow-room environmentAL failures, crowding, poor lighting and general stressors. They sometimes go hermaphroditic, or fail to mature properly in bloom phase, so the buds lack resin glands and dense structure.
But AK-47 isn’t like that. It does well both indoors and outdoors, can handle a moderate-strength feed program, creates tight, crystalled buds, and even the sativa-leaning phenotypes are most often ready for harvest after nine weeks in bloom phase.
Be sure to feed Bud Ignitor in early bloom phase, and Big Bud, Bud Candy and Nirvana in peak bloom phase so you get your largest, most-potent buds.
However, there is a security warning for growing AK-47: It puts out a penetrating cannabis scent that’s very difficult if not impossible to conceal.
Another warning: Although AK-47 buds aren’t as thick, gooey and fat as buds from pure indica or pure Afghanica marijuana, they are thick enough to create a gray mold (botrytis) risk in grow rooms that aren’t humidity controlled. If you overwater or your grow-room humidity is higher than 55–60 percent, you risk bud rot, especially if your seeds grow out to be the more Afghanica-leaning AK-47 phenotype.
AK-47 contains landrace genetics from Colombian Gold, Mexican Sativa and Thai sativa. © Steve Davis, 2017
From A Top Gun To Bubble Gum
Serious Seeds gives us another cannabis strain Hall of Famer in Bubble Gum.
The first time I inhaled Bubble Gum marijuana, I surmised it was a novelty strain only famous because it smelled and tasted exactly like old-school bubble gum.
The high was nothing to get excited about — just a typical indica outcome that left me bored and tired.
However, it turns out I wasn’t smoking Bubble Gum grown from seeds bred by Simon from Serious Seeds. Nope, this Bubble Gum was from a different breeder.
Weeks later, I was at a different Dutch cannabis coffee shop and the owner came over and insisted I try the Bubble Gum.
I told him I had and that strain left me wanting. He said I must have smoked the wrong Bubble Gum. He gave me a gram of sticky, sweet-smelling bud that I combusted in a bong without water.
It tasted like strawberries and bubble gum, which was much different from the first so-called Bubble Gum I’d sampled.
Not only that, the high was bouncy and stimulating. There was the sensation of a body high, but most of the outcome I experienced was creative, euphoric, wonderful for telling jokes and laughing maniacally.
The coffee-shop owner informed me this Bubble Gum was from Serious Seeds. When I recently asked Serious about that strain, they explained the mysterious history of Bubble Gum.
It was first created in the 1970s in, of all places, Indiana!
Let’s face it, Indiana has never been known for marijuana breeding, but Bubble Gum was made in the Hoosier State and then transferred to the Netherlands in the 1990s, where Serious Seeds breeders worked to stabilize its traits and make it a reliable commercial seed strain.
They call it an inbred line, which means it will always breed true, with very little variation when grown from authentic Serious Seeds Bubble Gum seeds.
Nobody is sure what genetics were used in Indiana when the strain was initially created. The only sure indicator that a strain is actually Bubble Gum is that it smells and tastes just like the name suggests, with some strawberry overtones.
Because this strain is stimulating, people describe it as sativa dominant and it has won several sativa awards at European competitions. However, I’d describe Bubble Gum as only slightly sativa dominant, perhaps 60–40 in favor of sativa.
Growing Bubble Gum Marijuana
When growing this strain, I advise you to top it as soon as it has five leaf sets, and then again about a week before you flip it into flowering, because this strain tends to grow straight up and rather tall, with minimal branching if you leave it untopped. The extra topping gives you a stockier plant with more branches, so you get more harvest weight and shorter plants.
Note that this strain can take longer to germinate than others, and might be sluggish in grow phase. I recommend pouring on the light in grow phase, and using pH Perfect base nutrients along with the root-zone boosters Voodoo Juice, Tarantula and Piranha to give this turtle strain an extra kick-start.
If you want to take advantage of Bubble Gum’s tendency to grow straight and tall with no side branching, then don’t top it — grow it in sea of green. This is one of few cannabis plants that can be grown from seed in SOG (as long as you use feminized marijuana seeds). Minimal side branching and straight-up vertical structure mean it’s perfect for SOG marijuana growing.
The strain stretches a lot when bloom starts, so if you have eight-foot ceilings, don’t let the plants get taller than 32 inches before you start bloom phase, otherwise they could grow too tall.
Bubble Gum can handle a lot of nutrients in peak bloom, and I always feed it Bud Candy and Nirvana because these two products bring out the flavors and scents in strains that are known for exceptional taste and smell. Also, please be advised that you need 53–63 days in bloom phase for this strain.
Because Bubble Gum has enjoyed name recognition for years, has a deliciously sweet, candy-like taste and smell, and provides a euphoric but relaxing high, it’s easy to sell.
Bubble Gum smells and tastes just like the name suggests, with some strawberry overtones. © Steve Davis, 2017
Ready For An (Almost) Forever Bloom Phase?
Serious Seeds offers an authenticated, reliable version of the most famous, non-Haze, pure sativa ever commercially bred and sold — we’re talking about Kali Mist.
Many seed breeders and companies claim to have been the originators of Kali Mist, which first appeared in the Netherlands in the 1980s. However, expert growers generally recommend the Serious Seeds version as the one that’s worked out the kinks and boasts the highest percentage of pure sativa genetics.
Pure sativa strains often sit on the border between being worth growing and not worth the effort. This is because pure sativa strains that are poorly bred, and/or grown in stressful conditions often go hermaphroditic, never develop normal buds, are too sensitive to fertilizer problems and overdoses, take forever in bloom phase, or produce airy, thin, unmarketable buds.
Fortunately, that’s not what happens with Serious Seeds’ Kali Mist, as long as you give it good-quality nutrients and proper care.
Give Kali Mist grown from seed about 35 days in grow phase, topping at day 25. If you’re growing from clone, give it two weeks in grow phase, top it, and then send it to bloom phase.
Pour on grow-light radiation, especially ultraviolet light produced by the most modern double-ended HID bulbs or by quality LED grow lights. Pure sativas love ultraviolet light.
Watch your leaf tips for signs of nutrients burn, but Kali Mist can usually handle a moderate feed program comprised of pH Perfect hydroponics base nutrients to ensure your nutrients solution is the right pH.
When you start flowering phase, do a mini-flush using Flawless Finish. Set your light cycle to 11.5 hours of light and 12.5 hours of darkness. Use Bud Ignitor for the first three weeks of bloom phase to induce early flowering and more budding. After week three, taper off the Bud Ignitor, replacing it with Big Bud, Nirvana, Bud Factor X, Rhino Skin, and Bud Candy until the end of week seven, when you switch to using Overdrive instead of Big Bud, but continuing to use Bud Factor X, Nirvana and Bud Candy until midway through week nine, when in some cases (depending on phenotype), you may be preparing for flushing and harvesting.
Kali Mist has an unusually broad range of bloom-phase finishing times. I’ve grown Kali Mist plants from the same batch of seeds in the same grow room or outdoors, and some plants are naturally shorter in both stature and bloom-phase duration. Those shorter plants will be finished around 67–76 days. I’ve seen other Kali Mist plants that were taller and slower in bloom phase, finishing at 80–90 days.
Yes, these are very long bloom phases. They cost you money, and the additional time provides more opportunity for things to go wrong. You won’t find many growers using Kali Mist as a cash crop.
On the other hand, Kali Mist is an exhilarating adventure and gives you a pleasurable feeling of success when grown correctly. Just watching the buds develop is a treat, because they’re unlike any other you’ll ever see. Believe me, the buds hardly have any leaf in them! They’re long (but not thin) clusters of resin glands gathered around the central stem. It’s strange and exciting to see a bud that’s mostly resin glands.
After such a long bloom phase and all that waiting, is it worth it? You bet it is. Authentic Kali Mist plants grown using the nutrients I mentioned are resin bombs, with glands on almost every surface other than the main stalk.
At different times during bloom phase, and especially after you feed them with Bud Candy and Nirvana, the plants release a sudden bouquet of complex and volatile terpenoids that variously resemble pine, pepper, roses, lemons, overripe fruit, turpentine (almost a Chemdawg smell) and balsam among other scents and flavors.
When you flush, harvest and cure properly, the resin-rich buds retain all these terpenoid taste and scent nuances.
Of course, the real payoff is the soaring, trippy high. This isn’t a speed-demon sativa like some others that make you feel paranoid, jittery, nervous, irritable and brittle.
Rather, this is a sweet, psychedelic high that truly exemplifies the word “buzz.” You feel energized, inspired, enthusiastic and positively altered. If you’re going to a rave or a 3-D sci-fi movie, Kali Mist is the perfect strain to ingest. It doesn’t lock you down or make you feel heavy and sluggish. It doesn’t give you a hangover. It doesn’t make you ravenously hungry or confused. It’s a unique high. For growers who’ve only consumed modern hybrids, it’ll be an eye-opener.
Growing Kali Mist, Bubble Gum and AK-47 is a great way to enjoy heritage marijuana strains, but be sure to source them from a Serious Seeds authorized reseller (contact Serious Seeds to ask who they’d recommend).
In our next article in this heritage series, we’ll discuss how to procure high-quality marijuana seeds. It’s increasingly difficult to do so, and too many growers are getting ripped off. We’re going to help you get great seeds and avoid the rippers.