Simon from Serious Seeds is renowned as a gentleman among seed-pushing scoundrels, and a breeder of champions. His small but powerful stable of classics – Ak47, Kali Mist, The Chronic, Bubblegum, White Russian – has finally been joined by Serious6, a citronella-tasting sativa with an unusually short 8-week flowering time. CHRIS FOWLIE discussed these and other important matters with Simon at his farmhouse north of Amsterdam.
Chris: Simon, tell us about AK47. It’s very popular in New Zealand and won the indoor cannabis cup.
Simon: That’s great. It’s really an honour. I’ve lost count – so many local or national top 10’s – I put in the catalogue it won ten awards but it’s won far more than that. I started with a group of plants that were already good. I just collected the strongest plants around because I wanted to create the strongest smoke possible, at that time, and it still is one of the best. Definite plants were selected for that reason. You can’t really clearly say it’s from this or that origin but you could say it is about 3/4 sativa and 1/4 indica. The main ingredients came from tropical areas like Columbia, from South Asia, and some African. So from three different tropical varieties, and Afghani influences, and they were cross bred for so many generations that it makes it hard to pinpoint genetics.
What is it about AK that makes it such a champion of champions?
It’s very powerful, it’s very tasty and it’s very easy to grow. When you boil it down that’s what it is. Anyone can grow it, indoor or outdoor. The taste is so nice. The effect is so nice. It’s a combination of sativa high, which is the first thing to hit, and at the end you also feel the indica influences. It’s a very nice high, very strong. Now there is more stronger weed but when AK first came out it was really overpowering all the rest. I remember when GW Pharmaceuticals investigated, they tested I think 250 or 260 different strains from all the critical seed companies, and AK was stronger than all the rest for THC content.
The big trend is feminised seeds – what is your position on that?
The scientific foundation for feminised seeds is good. You are definitely able to make feminised seeds if you do the work properly. There are companies that do not do the work, they give out feminised seeds that are bad and you get males, hermaphrodites and so on.
Is there a risk with letting amateur pot growers breed with feminised seeds?
No, you’re not making a genetic oddity, you’re just using a female plant to make pollen. The genetic information of that female plant is crossed over. It doesn’t matter if it came from a male or a female. The plant is still a good plant. You’re not wreaking the genes or whatever, that’s all bullshit. It’s the same as the fear that’s going on with biotechnology. There’s a tremendous fear amongst the people because they don’t have a clue what’s going on. We’re using the old techniques that are used to [breed] pidgins, dogs and all the rest. I don’t see Frankenstein scenarios from that.
What sets you apart from the rest?
As you know there are only five varieties in my catalogue. I limit myself to only bringing out the very best, things I would be happy about. We put much more effort into testing things, really making sure they are fine tuned, before we put them out. I know there are seed companies who don’t even test, they just cross the things and put it out. There are a few good seed companies and an enormous amount of crap. The people are in there just to make a buck. They put out almost anything. We have a daily fight almost to stop people using our names. The name AK47 is used a lot. People just sell the name AK47 because it’s well known. If you go into a coffeeshop AK47 is on the menu but often it’s not the real thing. They don’t care, “we’ll just name this AK47” but it’s all PowerPlant.
The reason why we only had 5 is we are constantly growing to make new things, and I’m still not fully satisfied. Despite all the criticism I get from people, I’m not interested in that. I started this as a hobby basically for myself and then people asked me, can I sell some of your seeds, and that’s how we started. I started to do this for fun, for myself, because I enjoy smoking good stuff myself. And I still do it for that reason, not for any other.
To win the Cannabis Cup you need the new strain. There’s a lot of bullshit going on. To win prizes there they give it the new name but it’s actually, you know, Love Potion No 5 from three years ago and they just give it a new name or whatever. This is going on all the time. Do you really thing there are hundreds of different categories – of course not. They think the market is asking for new names all the time. But you see that with alcohol, beer is still popular, Bacardi rum or whatever, those really good things which people like, they are there for a long time. You have new things, but the really good things that prove themselves – and I think the AK, the Chronic, the Bubblegum, the Kali Mist, they really are good outstanding things, they are classical, they are so good they appeal still to people. I want to bring out something that is really good and also good for years to come. Not just a new name.
What challenges do you face?
It is still illegal. It used to be legal so make seeds. When I made the basis of the plants we have now, it was when seed breeding was legal so I had a big facility. The amount of space you have to grow out test seeds defines how successful you are and how quickly you move forward. Because if you make 10 crosses and from every cross you want to test 25 seeds of ten plants, then you have to grow out 2500 seeds to see the results. That’s what limits you. If it’s a legal thing you can grow out many plants. But space is limited because you have to do it illegally, you have to do it indoor, small scale. It changed about 4 to 5 years ago. Growing seeds is just as illegal as growing weed. That law made it more difficult for us to do our job properly – lots of running around and so on.
From one cross I grow out 20 or 25 plants then I kill the males and leave the females. I categorise everything, I take photos of the process and put it all on the computer, because two years later I want to be able to go back and see what the crosses are. I write out a test report, things like smell. If there’s a lot of variation it means the parents are not right. If they all look the same, good smell, we have good parents that give a very uniform result, we like the effects, then we move forward.
What’s next for you and for the seed industry?
There’s only a few real seed companies who do the real thing. Many just parasite on the work done by others. That’s why you have so many. There’s always room to make innovations. There’s no end to new things. We’re only limited by size which means it takes longer to come up with something new. We’re not even looking for stronger plants anymore, we’re looking more for interesting smell, scents, for plants that are almost leafless for instance.
Thanks Simon! Find out more at www.seriousseeds.com
Note: importing or possessing cannabis seeds, or cultivating cannabis, is illegal in New Zealand.
[Originally published in NORML News Winter/Spring 2010]