The way we buy weed has completely changed. Along with the wave of cannabis legal reforms that have occurred around the world over the past decade, there has also been a marked change in how smokers choose the types of flowers to enjoy. The hype machine trends fueling cannabis cultivar trends are in churning making the lifespan of any given type of flower shorter and shorter, and many consumers today are making purchases aligned with specific growers and brands rather than with particular varietals. The results of cannabis cups once dictated the flavors we smoked for years to come, but in today’s market it can be difficult to shop with certain types of cannabis in mind due to their unsteady availability. This brings us to the deceptively simple question: What is the average lifespan of a cannabis strain?
When asked about trends in cannabis genetics, cannabis expert and author Elise McDonough Thoughts returned to the big Cannabis Cup upset in 2004, when Reeferman, a Canadian, came onto the Dutch scene and took first place in the sativa category for Love Potion #1.
“[Reeferman] He came to their sight, and swept everyone away [the Dutch] Strains from the map because he was bringing something fresh and new.” “In my opinion, what the Dutch were doing in the 1990s and early 2000s is the same thing Californians are doing now. The Dutch had certain lineages, and everyone would cross everything into everything else, and then eventually they had this kind of model where everything became very similar.”
McDonough explained that Reeferman created strains like Love Potion by “traveling around the world, finding these land strains, growing them in huge fields, selecting, and then breeding.”
She said that Rivermann was then able to create flowers that were very new compared to what was coming out of Holland at the time.
“I think the same thing has come to happen in California. Everyone’s tired of those cookies,” McDonough said. “Everyone grew up with the same things and inadvertently crossed it over to everything else, and it became a strange kind of ramble.”
Now director of marketing at PinskyMcDonough also sees the age of dynasties in a different light.
“The other thing about breeding hype and shortening the cycle for new breeds is that as a brand person, we feel [pressure] from retailers. “Retailers always want to have something new, different and fresh on our menu.”
She explained that retailers’ goals differ from traditional cannabis breeders, who spend years pinning down and preserving their genetics. McDonough likens the conversation about cannabis breeding to dog breeding, saying that it took generations from breeding Labradors to Poodles to produce Labradoodles.
“And they’re still pretty crazy,” she said.
In cannabis, as with dogs, it takes generations to achieve clearly defined, consistent, and predictable traits.
“[For breeders] “This is your IP address, and this is, you know, your sauce,” McDonough said. This work takes generations. It takes years to stabilize a breed. So what we’re seeing now are these strains of hype that are a flash in the pan, and they haven’t settled. “
Unstable genes could explain part of why modern cannabis varieties lack viability, but there are many other factors at play. Mike DotinChief Sales Officer at fig farmsUnique strains are thought to go in a parabolic popularity that goes up and down in about five years.
“We’ve had [strains] Like the Dark karma “We tried to retire,” Dotin said. “The distributor just says, ‘Demand is so high if you retire, you lose shelf space. Like the “you need to keep growing” kind of thing.
The more popular strains have a shorter lifespan, Dutin said, with lower consumer demand.
“For us to bring in a very popular strain, like Gelato #41, we probably have a six to eight month window where we can put the standard amount in before we start dropping it, lowering it, and down, and finally backing it up.”
Marketing also contributes to the longevity of the breed.
“Sometimes we introduce four or five new strains in one month, and we don’t have a marketing package on all of them,” Doten said. “Those are the things that would help extend the life of a breed as well, just having a proper marketing kit with it.”
Another element that keeps the strains in the spotlight is their flavor profile that fits into popular cross-cutting categories like gas and fruit.
“I think hype strains have a five-year lifespan,” he said Luigi Diaz, a comedian who has worked in the cannabis industry for nine years. “That’s when it becomes noise. Then everyone grows it to perfection. Then comes the crosses. By then, new noise has grown, and farmers keep looking for that new fire. Gas is forever though.”
For Josh Wert, Co-Founder of royal keyKnown for producing award-winning extracts, the key factor to finding a variety to bring to market often has to do with its potential to become a cannabis concentrate. Another element at play is the way a particular breed grows.
Vert has been in a few flower entries this year Emerald cup Including Riddles, a Red Pop phenotype that was caught from seed and then crossed with itself. He said the puzzles did not yield good enough results to convert to rosin.
He said, “There were a couple of Venusians… There was one called Yoplait and I don’t think we’ve officially killed it yet, but it’s so moldy-prone that it wasn’t cut.” “And you don’t find these details sometimes for a few rounds of them.”
It wasn’t until he cured Riddles—revealing the ever-popular tropical fruit-like scent and essence of bergamot in Zkittlez—that he realized he might have something special, Wert said.
“It turned out to be really special for me, but that’s okay,” Wert said. “We just look at people and notice what really hits and what gets people excited. What else might we miss, you know? We don’t see everything, we smell everything.”
Wert noted that the traditional market is driving a lot of trends. The Zkittlez’s terpene profile is great, he said, but part of the reason the breed “can’t/won’t die” is because the breed has a trademark behind it. The popularity of the breed has also led to many other brands being used in their breeding projects.
“Anytime you mate with this, it has a Z in it, so it’s marketed over and over again,” he said.
The question of a breed’s longevity is complex, Wert explained, “because you can see how much a brand has to do in marketing with the stability of a breed.”
“And then you have the perception of the market, the public acceptance, the desire for this thing. Zkittlez has those two things in spades,” he said.
Alyssa RobertsChief of Staff with Kayla ExcerptsHe agreed that the question of how old a mean strain is is a complex one and echoed McDonough in saying that the constant search for new flavors means that cannabis breeders do not always work on genetic stability.
“The age that we see in the genetics is four to five years when we see a breed really thrive and get that hype before they start crossing,” said Roberts. “Both stress fluctuations and differentiation depend on the market and what the market wants to see.”