Croptober: Best strains from this year’s cannabis harvest

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“There's not a flavor out there that you can't find a cannabis corollary for, and we're still on day one of strain development,” Leafly Senior Editor David Downs says of the best strains coming out of this year’s Croptober harvest. Photo by David Downs.

Fall isn’t just the season of changing leaves and chunky sweaters, it’s also Croptober. The unofficial weed holiday ushers in a new era of cannabis strains and flavors.

Leafly Senior Editor David Downs breaks down this year’s harvests and what new flavors are likely to dominate the cannabis scene. 

What is Croptober? 

Cannabis is an annual, fast-growing flowering plant that is planted in the ground in spring and harvested in the fall. So the annual cannabis crop that's grown outdoors is coming in now, [and] it’s called Croptober.

The plant responds to the shortening of the days by finishing up its flowering process, and the unfertilized female flower buds get chopped down and dried out. That’s the main thing that people enjoy smoking. 

There is a huge industry behind innovating the cannabis flavors that come out each year, and we're seeing that in this [year’s] crop.

Does California’s cannabis industry play a role in the annual harvest?

Very much so. Global cannabis culture rides the waves that are emitted from San Francisco, Humboldt County, and Los Angeles. These three regions in California call the global shots in terms of the design of flavors. 

[California], along with Colorado, Washington, and Oregon — the western states — really set the tempo for what's hot in pot. 

What are some popular strains in California from this year’s Croptober?

The pace of strain development is accelerating this year. At the top of the multi-billion dollar strain stack are strains that I call the “dessert strains.” 

The most popular strain in California is Wedding Cake, which comes from Seed Junky Genetics in Northridge, California. We are living in the era of cakes right now. You'll see tons of them in stores, along with strains like Devil’s Food Cake and Ice Cream Cake. Those provide an indica-hybrid effect that goes well at the end of day. Most people want to use cannabis for relaxation and flavor, and it shows up in the popularity of these cake strains.

Any surprising popular strains?

Stains and cannabis are becoming like fashion. Strains used to be able to last for years before they went out of style. Now, in downtown LA, [sellers] are saying that a strain’s lifespan might be six months.

However, we continue to see the persistence of some old school 1990s strains, specifically Blue Dream, and Jack Herer — they occupy two spots in the top 10 [of strains]. They're like the beer equivalent of lagers. 

Jack Herer in particular has this terpene or flavor molecule called terpinolene that is very unfashionable amongst the cool kids. But it continues to persist because of all the people who enjoy it. 

What strains are diversifying?

Mint-flavored strains are a perfect example of breeders emulating popular non-cannabis flavors. It started with Kush Mints from Seed Junky Genetics in LA, but behind it is a whole raft of mint strains, including Gush Mints, Pink Certz, and The Menthol. Look for those Mints to provide a refreshing taste that is novel on top of that indica hybrid effect 

A corollary to the mints would be the sweet,candy-tasting Z strains. These come out of the original Z, which also used to be known as Zkittlez before they got sued. Z crosses are everywhere this year — ZOAP, Unicornz, Rainbow Belts, and Rainbow Sherbert. That bright candy flavor is super “in” right now. 

Are Indicas or Sativas more popular this year? 

Indica-hybrids are the core of the industry. Sativa lovers are in the minority. 

There are new Sativas coming in with much stronger flavors than the originals, like Hella Jelly from Humboldt Seed Co., which has a strong cherry-blueberry aroma, or Pineapple Fruz, which has a really pronounced pineapple flavor. [Breeders] are working on Sativa plants to make them flower faster, because they usually take longer, and thus cost more to make. 

What popular strains do you recommend this year?

I'm really excited by the Burger line of cannabis. It's very savory and comes out of the GMO Cookies [strain]. It actually tastes like a hamburger. 

Second, I’m obsessed with this Root Beer line of cannabis that's blowing up from a breeder named Mean Gene from Mendocino. We’re going to see it take over, it’s already been brought into 1,500 menus across the country. It just goes to show that there's not a flavor out there that you can't find a cannabis corollary for, and we're still on day one of strain development.




Matt Guilhem


Tara Atrian