One of the frequently asked questions by LPs selecting genetics, according to Damian Nixon, Business Development Manager of Paradise Phytogenetics, is whether its selection of Californian strains actually come from California. "Some find it difficult to comprehend that a Californian strain bred and developed in Europe can be equal to ‘Cali’ genetics from source."
Can you only get a good Cabernet Sauvignon in France?
“The comparison I use is wine,” says Damian. "For example, a great Cabernet Sauvignon can come from Chile or Australia - not to mention California – but the grape actually originates from France. Nobody questions the quality just because it historically came from Bordeaux.”
In the case of Paradise Phytogenetics, its Californian genetics come from the library of Paradise Seeds, one of the world’s oldest seed banks. Strains such as Sunset Paradise, Space Cookies, Sweetopia and Gulupa carry the ‘Californian Collection’ tag.
"They have been bred in Europe, but the genetics most definitely carry the California stamp, with parent lines developed from original US cuttings and seeds of popular Kush, Cookies and Gelato varieties," Damian explains.
The California – Amsterdam Connection
Delve into the history of the cannabis industry and there is an extensive history of Californian and US breeders working alongside Amsterdam and Dutch breeders to share knowledge, widen expertise and develop better genetics, the Paradise team explains.
"This relationship goes back to President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, launched in 1971. Domestic cannabis producers in the USA, such as the legendary Sacred Seeds (the collective commonly recognized as being the creators of original Skunk), were casualties of this crackdown, with many of them fleeing to the Netherlands in the 1980s."
“The coffee shop scene between the 1980s and early 2000s was a very exciting meeting point between European and US cannabis pioneers who came together to innovate and push the frontiers of cannabis breeding,” says Luc Krol, founder of Paradise Seeds and Paradise Phytogenetics.
“There were many Americans who became exiles in the Netherlands and Amsterdam was a hub for international cannabis due to its tolerant legal situation. There was a real sense of being part of an international cannabis community at the time, with a lot of knowledge, skills and of course cannabis seeds and clones being exchanged," Luc says.
"In the early years of Paradise Seeds, California was one of our biggest markets due to our popularity on grow forums in the early days of the internet. I have no doubt that our genetics - varieties such as Sensi Star - went into the Californian breeding melting pot from which many of these modern-day Cali strains have emerged,” he says.
The Paradise connection with California played a role in becoming a partner with cannabis celebrity, Tommy Chong, in the mid-2010s. The result was Tommy Chong’s range of cannabis seeds, which is still popular today, featuring indica, sativa, hybrid and autoflower varieties bred in collaboration between Tommy and Paradise.
"The genetics chosen reflected a meeting between the rich heritage and traditions of Californian cannabis breeding and Dutch knowledge and experience of developing cannabis genetics. The strains represented in the range - such as L.A. Amnesia and Mendocino Skunk - very much represented the sum of the parts of the contribution of the two growing cultures."
As Tommy told THCene Magazine in 2017. “I’m really excited about the seed business. Seeds are my passion and so for me, it’s so important to work with friends. We only hook up with growers and seed companies with the best quality, because I am not going to put my name to anything else. That’s why I said yes when Paradise Seeds came to us with a proposition to work together because those guys make the best seeds.”
Personality vs origin
"The clandestine world of cannabis which existed at the turn of the century is hard to imagine two decades on, but it does help to give an insight into the transient culture of breeding and the open source nature of genetics which runs through the history of the cannabis industry," the Paradise team says.
"Just as with a winemaker using Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to produce a fine wine, it is the characteristics and the personality of the cannabis breeder which is reflected in how traditional or ‘established’ flavors (such as Cookies or Gelato) are expressed."
"For this reason, when it comes to a Californian variety, looking at the origins of the seed bank (or bodega to continue the analogy) rather than the original strains themselves is perhaps a more reliable barometer of quality and provenance. So to answer the question: Yes, quality Californian strains do come from Europe!"
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