The best new cannabis strains to grow in 2021
Americans smoke about 30 million pounds of cannabis each year, analysts estimate. All that dank ain’t gonna grow itself.
North America’s weed gardeners, big and small, have begun their annual run on marijuana seed stores. From California to Maine, ganja growers are racing to stock up for the spring thaw and planting season.
“We’re getting slammed,” said Nathaniel Pennington, founder of seed leader Humboldt Seed Company in California. They offer 57 strains in their 2021 catalog, available in California, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Maine. “We’ve never had this level of demand.”
California breeder and Equilibrium Genetics founder Jason Matthys works seven days a week right now. He drops seed packs at dispensaries from mountainous McKinleyville, CA, to postcard-perfect Pacific Beach, San Diego. “It’s really starting to pick up,” he said.
“Seeds are selling really well,” said Brian Smith, inventory manager at Satori Wellness, Humboldt County, CA’s leading genetics retailer. “It’s the peak of the [seed] season pretty much from January 1 through April. Come on down, because, yes, they are moving.”
“‘Corona year two’ is a superb year to grow,” said Matthys. “More people are checking out their backyard space, or setting up a little tent in their room to try something. They’re working from home, and remotely. It’s easy to check in on your tent when you don’t have to sit in traffic.”
Below, Leafly assembles its definitive, annual guide to the hottest pot popping off in America’s gardens. We mention 60+ strains, organized into six broad collections below.
Time to get growing, America.
Easy-peasy autos and fems
Growing can sound intimidating. So-called “autos” and “fem” seeds take the stress out of the learning curve. These two seed types are on track to upend regular seeds’ primacy.
Autoflowering seeds make your cannabis plant work like a clock. Put an auto in a 3-gallon pot, add water and sun, and in two and half months you’ll have finished bud, no matter the time of year.
Humboldt Seed Company’s boss says go for their Sour Apple auto this year.
“The Sour Apple is, I would say, our most beautiful autoflower that will really do well in any circumstance,” said Pennington.
Exotic Oakland, CA. clone and seedmaker Purple City Genetics touts its Saltwater OG Auto, which hits 26% THC.
“That’s extraordinarily high for an auto,” said Eric Rosen, Purple City Genetics sales director.
See also: Ethos Genetics’ Lilac AutoDiesel; Barney’s Farm Runtz auto, and Do-Si-Dos auto; and I Love Growing Marijuana’s Auto 2.0 mixpack
Fems in season
“Fems” are short for “feminized seeds.”
If you’re growing weed to smoke, it’s a females-only party, and dudes ruin it. Only females produce buds. Statistically, five males will lurk in your standard 10-pack of regular seeds. That gives new growers anxiety, said Matthys.
“It’s a lot of newer growers that are afraid of males and they want to get something that won’t have male seeds,” he said. “People don’t like the experience of having to throw away plants that they don’t want.”
For 2021 fems, try to beat Humboldt Seed Company’s Jelly Rancher. This cross of Very Cherry to Notorious THC and Jelly Rancher Bx3 sparkles with resin and smells like blue cotton candy, strawberries, and grapes. Jelly Rancher grows to a medium size and ripens quickly.
They’re going to do great any place in California this year, said Pennington.
Exotic breeders Compound Genetics offer feminized seeds as well. Snap up Gummiez, Blueberry Octane, and Pink Certz fems from Compound at stores like Buds and Roses in the San Fernando Valley.
Friendly Tangie strains
If Autos and Fems are easy to grow, Tangie family strains are easy for beginners to smoke. They have bubbly, friendly effects that can go all day.
Found in fine Oregon dispensaries, Massive Seeds sells Yuzu Tangie, which is Tangie crossed to Lemon Pineapple, mixed to Orangeade. Breeders list lineage like a math equation: ((Tangie x Lemon Pineapple) x Orangeade).
“If you want to have a good time, smoke Blueberry Muffin, and smoke Squirt.”Nat Pennington, Humboldt Seed Company founder
“If you want to have a good time, smoke Blueberry Muffin, and smoke Squirt,” said Pennington. “I pretty much only smoke Blueberry Muffin and Squirt when I’m going to be working with a group of people. It makes it fun.”
A pure Tangie resurgence continues as well, said original breeder Crockett, founder of Crockett Family Farms. The California team sells through DNA Genetics and beyond. Plant a field of Crockett’s new:
- Strawberry Fields (Strawberry Banana X Tangie)
- Sour Juice (Juice X Sour Chem),
- Tangieland (Candyland X Tangie)
- or BT7 (Banana Tangie #7 X OG#18)
Cookies and Cakes, MAC and nuts
It’s a Cookies and Cakes world. You just live in it.
“The Cookies and Cakes are very much in demand this year, for good reason,” said Dark Heart Nursery CEO Dan Grace.
Denver-based Ethos Genetics also gorges on cookie crosses with its End Game line, now in three varieties.
Also, try to get in on Purple City Genetics’ new, clone-only Gush Mints.
Gush Mints electrifies and colorizes the minty strain craze. It takes Kush Mints and crosses it with the fabled F1 Durban and Gushers. The result is, “creamy gas and kushy candy terps,” said Rosen.
Six types of Gush Mints crosses are coming in seed form in ‘21.
“Purple City Genetics is the very front tip of the spear. That’s us,” Rosen said.
Also in the exotic Cookies world, don’t miss Archive Seeds of Portland’s:
- Animal Biscuits (Animal Cookies x Dosidos)
- Cake Face (Animal Face x Faceoff OG)
- Doughlato (Dolato #41 x Moonbow #75)
- and Melon Fizz (Melonade x Moonbow #75)
And in the world of MAC crosses, breeder Capulator should have seeds for adult-use stores this year. Until then, Ethos touts their new MAC and Jack.
“It’s a very complimentary cross that checks all the boxes for almost every grower!” said Ethos.
Going a bit nuts
Quick note: a bona fide nutty strain craze is a-brewin’ in cannabis.
Demand for Peanut Butter Breath has gone crazy, according to major clone and seed provider Wave Rider Nursery in Salinas, CA.
Over at Humboldt Seed Company, their new Pistachio (Fortune Cookies x PistachioBx2 x P-61) “Smells just like burnt nuts to us; a roasted cracked-open pistachio,” said Pennington. “People will agree that it has a nutty flavor no matter what.”
OGs for the OGs
The biting OG Kush strain family lives in the shadow of Cookies, but it’ll never fade.
Keep your gas station topped up this year by growing some Knight’s Templar OG from Dark Heart Nursery. Dark Heart calls their newest OG their heaviest yet.
“People love the gas profile and the supreme relaxation that OGs bring,” said Grace.
OG Kush cousin Triangle Kush never goes out of style. Just look at Wave Rider Nursery’s Black Triangle (Triangle Kush x 88G13) via Bodhi Seeds.
Or even better—mix nuts and gas with PB Triangles from Equilibrium Genetics. That’s PB Breath to Triangle Kush.
Need more new OGs? Go with legit, original gangsta’ Bodhi Seeds’ Ancient OG:
“A heavy duty, true OG-dominant hybrid that takes things to the next level,” stated Bodhi. “Deep, earthy, forest OG aromas, with creamy, citrus kush undertones, like Goji OG without the berry and added lemon pledge.”—Bodhi Seeds
Hashmakers will want Dying Breed Seeds, who crosses everything to their OG Eddy Lep, including:
- Lemon Zest (Lemonade x OG Eddy);
- Ice Cream Bean (Blue Sherbert x OG Eddy).
Purples, Zkittlez, and Runtz
Dark Heart Nursery claims to bring back the legendary Ken’s Granddaddy Purple from 2003 for sale this year.
“Anyone who remembers the old school, deep, and musky taste of purples should try this strain,” said Grace.
We’re huge fans of Do-Si-Dos to Purple Punch, called Slurricane—so we’re growing In-House Genetics’ Slurricane ix (Slurricane #44 x Slurricane #7) in our garden.
Wanna get crunk? Seek out Purple City Genetics’ clone-only Slurty3 ((Slurricane Cowboys cut) x Gelato 33). Crosses of it go into seed production later in the year.
Slurty3 smells like “grape, gas, and cream terps that have ‘new-new’ written all over it,” said Eric Rosen.
Caution, though. “This is heavy, dude. Not for the unsuspecting smoker,” he said.
Zkittlez and Runtz run amok
New Zkittlez crosses rain down upon us mortals. We’ve settled on growing Exotic Genetix’s Cookies cross Gazzungas (Zkittlez x Rainbow Chip). Up in Portland, OR, Archive Seeds hits gold with Rainbow Beltz 2.0 (Zkittlez x Moonbow).
Similarly, Runtz crosses are everywhere, but only Equilibrium Genetics crossed Runtz to their mold and mildew-resistant African Orange to create Orange Runtz. Great idea.
Another blingy Compound flavor: Rose Gold Runtz, a cross of Apples and Bananas to White Runtz.
One Leafly reviewer of Apples and Bananas said: “These guys who made this particular strain should be the gods of weed.”
Lastly, Compound Genetics recommends its latest collaboration with Colorado seed gods Cannarado. Look for Gastro Pop—that’s Apples and Bananas to Grape Gasoline.
See also: Savage Genetics’ Cheetoz (Cheetah Piss x Runtz); I Love Growing Marijuana’s Purple mixpack; Wave Rider’s cross of Wedding Cake Zkittlez x Modified Grapes.
Landraces, sativas, and throwbacks
The critics always tell me, ‘Play those old school jams, David. Where’s my landraces at? Those sativas? Where are my throwbacks?’
Equilibrium Genetics cannot be denied in the throwback, landrace, and sativa game. Look at their nearly sold-out Maui Pineapple, as well as their new Saturn Citrus and Pineapple Sonja.
Old-school Maui has billions of dollars of goodwill baked into the brand name, said Matthys.
“It’s crazy. Everyone wants that one. It’s such a wonderful strain to grow—very sativa with a sweet bit of cherry musk and funk, like a gassy funk,” he said.
Pineapple Sonja will reset the bar for thick pineapple flavor in California. It’s Pineapple Thai to another pineapple-smelling sativa from Maine, called Red Sonja.
Then strap in for a psychedelic rocket launch—Saturn Citrus is Super Lemon Haze crossed to Equilibrium’s African Orange.
Need more altitude? Wave Rider Nursery offers a unique Swazi Red Burmese that’ll get the heart racing.
And for a spotless mind, this year Bodhi Seeds has:
- Soar (Columbian Red x OMG)
- and Eternal Sunshine (Hawaiian Sativa x OMG)
Grandmas Hashplant (Irene x 88G13/HP)
- and Lemon Hashplant (Lemon G x 88G13/HP)
And speaking of sedation: set your phasers on stun—old school Romulan has landed.
“Our Romulan seeds are selling very, very well,” said Megan L., Romulan Genetics sales manager. “Nostalgia has been a pop-culture phenomenon lately, so anything that brings people back to their youth or high school years is a big hit with the Baby Boomer generation.”
This classic, high-THC indica can manage anxiety and PTSD, patients report.
“[The strain] leaves you feeling completely saturated but somehow still in control of your thoughts and actions,” said Megan.
And that, folks, represents a fat slice of what’s going on out there in the cannabis seed world in 2021. It’s truly mind-boggling.
“There are so many amazing new strains coming out all the time it’s exhausting to keep up with,” said Conner Pollock, Wave Rider Nursery sales manager.
This epochal explosion in cannabis diversity only promises to accelerate, said Rosen. “It’s the most exciting time to be in cannabis. Even more so a day from now, and a week from now—it just gets more and more exciting,” he said.