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The best new cannabis strains to grow in 2020

February 18, 2020
new cannabis strains, best marijuana strains
It's never been easier to bring some Cakes, Cookies, Zkittlez, or Runtz to your garden. (noxnorthy/AdobeStock)

Legalization’s onward march into the mainstream means that more gardeners than ever can grow some cannabis. Michigan and Illinois added medical marijuana cultivation rights this year. Oklahoma is in the midst of a legal medical genetics boom. The list goes on and on. Adult-use cannabis is legal in 11 states and more than 30 states have medical marijuana laws. Check your state’s cultivation rules here.

'The more people working with this plant, the more we are going to be able to do with it.'
Jason Matthys, founder, Equilibrium Genetics

As winter’s end nears and spring approaches, it’s time to get cracking on seed and clone plans for 2020. You can walk into a licensed store in California, Oregon, and several other adult-use state, show a valid ID, and pay about $50-100 per pack of ten seeds, or about $30 for a small starter plant called a clone. Online, seed sales are less regulated—for full details, read how to buy seeds legally.

Here are the best new cultivars and clones to grow in 2020—selected based on interviews with the world’s most influential breeders, what’s available legally in stores and online, and data trends in popular strains. Let’s grow a pound!

Update your OG

Take a modern mainstay—OG Kush—and give it a twist or refine it in your garden this year. Lots of breeders in many states offer OG Kush genetics of some form or another.

Watermelon OG

One classy, easy win is Watermelon OG, from Mendocino County’s Dying Breed Seeds. Undisputed champs of The Emerald Cup, Dying Breed Seeds’ founder Brandon Parker said to look for Watermelon OG seeds in the licensed California store Compassionate Heart, Ukiah. Online, Neptune Seedbank sells authentic Watermelon OG seeds.

Further refine your OG library with Dying Breed’s Sour Eddy Bx1 ($500 a pack of 10 unsexed seeds). Why priced so high? These seeds tap into a genetic pipeline that has been pumping out gas terpenes nationwide since the ‘90s. Dying Breed’s “Very Special” line is an OG Eddy #21 (Sour Pheno) crossed to OG Eddy. 

For more OGs, see also: Compound Genetics’ Supreme Diesel (Jet Fuel Gelato X Diesel); Humboldt Seed Co.’s Collie Man Kush; Chem Fuego from Lucky Dog Seed Co.; GaitorBait from CSI Humboldt; Rebel Grown’s Triangle Double OG Sour or Double OG Sour; Bodhi Seeds’ Black Triangle; Massive Seeds’ Playboi OG; Seed Cannabis Co.’s Humboldt OG in Oklahoma.

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Simplify with autoflowers

Over in Washington, DC, cannabis activist Adam Eidinger recommends any autoflowers to medical growers—as well as adult-use growers living under decriminalization. Autoflowers are user-friendly; fast-finishing seeds and clones for in or outdoor growing.

Autoflower Magic Melon

Found on the West Coast as well as in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Maine, Humboldt Seed Co.’s Autoflower Magic Melon is a no-brainer. Funky fuel and raspberry reek from ripe Magic Melon buds. The cultivar came from a selection of 10,000-plus plants over multiple generations by elite growers.

Magic Melon chunks out automagically. (Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co.)

Magic Melon chunks out automagically. (Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co.)

This autoflower version puts some of Humboldt’s finest cannabis genes into the hands of novices to play around with and get stoked. “It’s a lot of work so it’s great to see it out there,” said Nat Pennington, co-founder of Humboldt Seed Co.

See also: Dutch Passion Seed Company’s Auto Lemon Zkittle, Auto Daiquiri Lime, and Auto Critical Orange Punch

Level-up your hash stash

Cannabis culture has broadened past the crude, dried, cured buds. We appreciate rosin, dry ice hash, and flan. But to get to that next level, you got to grow something frosty.

GAK

For 2020, our money is on Dying Breed Seeds’ 2020 GAK crosses. Dying Breed keeps winning hash awards at the Emerald Cup, and their secret is great source material.

Award-winning hash comes from terpy, icy-looking buds; the more unique-smelling, the better. That’s what you’re dialing up when you run GAK. Its lineage is not public, but there’s GAK Nana (GAK x Banana Pudding), GAK Smooovie (G.A.K. x 4 Locoz), and GAK Gas (GAK X OG Eddy), for when you’re ready to get out of the Prius and into a Maserati.

Dying Breed’s Parker said GAK grows well indoors, outdoors, and in a greenhouse. “She’s a very large-producing, fast-finishing hash plant. The flowers look like a glistening disco ball of resin and its main flavors are pineapple, watermelon, and strawberry puree. We’re calling it #thenewfruit. We have a jar right here in the car, so I can open it up and smell those terpenes and put them in the air. It smells that good, and it’s what I pride myself on.”

See also: Rose Gold from Archive Seed Bank and Hermetic Genetics’ Oregon Hash Plant.

CBD it up

Not everyone is a cannabis macro-doser. Go super-light and approachable in your garden with some of 2020’s CBD strains to max out your CBD supplies for the year. CBD seeds can vary from equal parts THC to CBD, to near-zero THC varieties.

It’s a golden era for terpy, CBD-rich strains in 2020. Scoop up Dying Breed’s CBD seeds line; Talking Trees Seeds’ Pineapple Tsunami CBD; Dutch Passion’s CBD Auto White Widow, CBD Auto Charlotte’s Angel, or CBD Kush; and Delicious Seeds’ Blue Ace CBD Auto.

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Stay trendy with a Gelato, Runtz, or Cookies cultivar

Always a crowd-pleaser, Cookies descendant Gelato—and its offshoot Runtz—is number one because it delivers. It’s darkly colorful, dense, icy-looking, and loud.

The Bling

The number of new Gelato crosses is overwhelming, but our money is on a clone of The Bling, from Dark Heart Nursery in California, available statewide.

Go to a store that sells clones, plop down $30, take that cutting home, put it in some rich soil, add bright light and pure water, and Boom! Now you’re growing Gelato crossed to OG Kush and Humboldt Frost, selected from 3,000 plants via Humboldt Seed Co. and Happy Dreams Genetics’ Mr. D.

The Bling gives off 12 abundant terpenes, including gobs of myrcene, pinene, and limonene, and rarities like nerolidol and camphene.

See also: Cannarado’s Biscotti Dough, Crockett’s Lemon Banana Sherbert, Purple City Genetics’ Gelato #33 x Melonade, and Elev8 Seeds’ Runtz.

Get terp-tastic with Squirt

Since weed is legal, breeders can be more open about the work that goes into a new strain. Thanks to nationally available legal brand Humboldt Seed Co.’s 10,000-plant “pheno hunt,” anyone can stand on the shoulders of cannabis genius and grow something legendary.

New strain Squirt is intriguing because it comes from Blueberry Muffin—a blockbuster mega-pheno-hunt strain. Specifically, it’s Blueberry Muffin backcrossed three times with Tangie #118.

No males invited: Feminized Squirt makes it rain terpenes. (Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co.)

Squirt makes it rain terpenes. (Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co.)

“It’s probably one of the most strong terpene strains we’ve ever had,” said Humboldt’s Pennington.

Squirt pairs gobs of sophisticated terps with an average of 20% THC, which makes it mild enough for even novices to enjoy. Humboldt Seed Co. also sells feminized Squirt seeds so you never have to worry about male pollen ruining all the fun.

Chase pure landraces

Some consumers pine for old school landrace genetics. They reminisce about Acapulco Gold or Thai bud. Luckily, the Bay Area, CA, is home to decades of cannabis landrace explorers, and a lot of that stuff is surfacing post-Prop. 64.

African Pepper

In 2020, Equilibrium Genetics is touting an African sativa—Malawi—crossed to Trainwreck Haze—it’s called African Pepper. The plant stretches tall, gets huge, and finishes somewhat late, perfect for pros who stagger their harvests. Its spear-like buds are mottled green and orange with a dominant sweet, grassy Trainwreck smell.

Not for the low-tolerance novice, “It’s got that really spacey up high; it’s great for being creative or going about your day. It’s really energetic,” said Jason Matthys, seed operator at Equilibrium Genetics.

In 2020, EQ Genetics debuts Nigerian, Kenyan, Ghanaian, Ethiopian, and Swaziland-sourced seeds—”just stuff that’s made its way into my hands from different friends that may have taken different trips here and there,” he said.

This year, Humboldt Seed Co. works with brand Marley Natural to resurrect verified Lamb’s Bread, the mythic sativa of Bob Marley and Rastafarian culture in Jamaica.

See also: NorStar Genetics Chelumbian; Green Source Gardens’ Coyote Goo.

Try weird Breaths and Faces

It’s a big year for so-called “Breath” and “Face” strains. Whaaaat? you say. Bear with me.

This all started with OGKB, also known as OG Kush Breath—a really funky-smelling, couch-locking, pulse-racing OG. No surprise, high-THC breeders paired OGKB with another punisher called Face-Off OG. This stanky, gassy, awesome stuff powers the popular Do-Si-Dos of today. In 2020, Do-Si-Dos crosses proliferate, while other breeders work the parent lines, too.

Motor Breath

There’s Motor Breath, Garlic Breath, Peanut Butter Breath, and GMO Cookies—“All the breaths are firing in 2020,” said Kevin Jodrey, a longtime genetics expert at Wonderland Nursery in Garberville, California.

Pie Hoe Face

Over in Washington, researcher Dominic Corva would love to run some Pie Hoe Face—that’s Cherry Pie and Face-Off OG from Portland’s legendary Archive Seed Bank. Archive also has DosiFace, Larry Face OG, and Face on Fire.

See also: Notorious THC; Bay Exclusives’ OG Pie Breath; Elev8 Seeds’ Lemon Dosi; MediKind’s Rocket Fuel x Ghost of Lee Roy.

Notorious THC delivers maximum stone. (Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co.)

Notorious THC delivers maximum stone. (Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co.)

Attack that MAC

Beginning Dec. 13, for two days straight, from morning until after dark, industry growers from around the world lined up for hours and waited patiently to get their hands on some new MAC crosses.

Reclusive breeder Capulator held court while wearing a bearded disguise (a throwback to the illicit days) and sold seed packs for up to $240 a pack. MAC—which stands for “Miracle Alien Cookies”—is a strong contender for 2020’s strain of the year.

MAC reinvigorates Cookies with more genes rooted in Chem and OG, plus wild card landrace sativa Columbian. The resulting nugs are chunky, dense, dazzling, and dank. MAC has bag appeal, nose appeal, and maximum THC for the connoisseurs.

We’re trying some Sunset MAC (Sunset Sherbet x MAC) outdoors this year, while indoor growers are seeking out seeds online for MAC Stomper, Banana MAC, MAC and Cheese, and Jungle MAC.

See also: Cap’s Frozen Lemons F3 and Commando.

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Zkittlez in the garden

Popular cultivar Zkittlez emerged seemingly sui generis from the Emerald Triangle hills to upend Cookies’ terpene dynasty. Sweet, syrupy, fruity, thick, and stony, Zkittlez now has global fans and dozens of awards associated with it.

Watermelon Short Cook

In 2020, Zkittlez crosses are fantastic and widespread. Take a look at Watermelon Short Cook from Dying Breed Seeds, a foundational Zkittlez breeder. Also check out Rainbow Belts from Archive Seed Bank in Oregon, which features Moonbow (Zkittlez x Do-Si-Dos).

See also: Archive Seed Bank’s Light Speed; Barney’s Farm Gorilla Zkittlez Emerald Mountain Legacy’s Royal Limez

Have your Cake and smoke it, too

Lastly, we pay respect to the Cakes. Ice Cream Cake, Lava Cake, Wedding Crasher, Kush Mintz, Sundae Driver—we love the lot with these sedative, potent, dense cultivars. Homegrowers will produce tons of Cake-related strains in 2020 as the Cookies epoch marches onward.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

We especially like Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Humboldt Seed Co. because it’s so widely available as a clone from Dark Heart Nursery. It smells and tastes like it sounds, with a sweet tropical pineapple aroma coupled to a scrumptious sweet and spicy cake smell.

See also: Cannarado Birthday Banger; Elev8 Seeds’ Gelato Sundae, Giscotti, or Sundae Punch.

And this is just a taste of what’s popular and available in 2020. There are literally thousands of strains to choose from and the best part of cannabis is how you personalize it. Buy two beloved cultivars, cross them this season and select the offspring for your specific terroir in 2021. Having quality cannabis genetics on-hand can be an asset for yourself, family, and friends for generations to come.

“The more people working with this plant, the more we are going to be able to do with it. We can’t do this by ourselves,” said Matthys.

What strain are you excited about growing in 2020? Leave us a comment below!

David Downs's Bio Image

David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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