OUR UNIQUE COMPETITION GROWS FRIENDLY ROOTS

STORY BY GUY HOLMES, • PHOTOS BY BILLY MCALAINE

WHILE TIM BLAKE and his dynamic crew were setting the crown jewel on the world’s premier cannabis event–The Emerald Cup, our very own rootsy team here at Grow Magazine was hard at work on a unique little event of our own–The Grow Classic. The seed was planted, or rather clones were cut six months ago when we announced that we would be giving away $15,000 cash to the Oregon grower that did our genetically identical clones the most justice.

It was an Instagram direct message to over 150 of Oregon’s finest producers on July 6, 2017. The post simply stated: “You’re Invited! Growers cultivate identical genetics and compete to win $15,000 cash and over $20,000 in prizes.”

Within three days we had heard from over 60 of the invitees and the event instantly gelled and germinated. Each grower/ farm was willing to stake $1,000 on their ability to out-grow other elite growers from all around our great state, producing the terpiest and/or most potent cannabis on this level playing field – a proving grounds of sorts for each to demonstrate their methods superior using genetically identical cultivars, or so that was the plan. The premise/tagline for the competition was: “40 growers. One cultivar. $15,000.”

After narrowing the group down to 40 participants, each would receive four clones and four tickets to our exclusive awards ceremony. Each then had four months to cultivate, flower, harvest, dry and cure their buds for submission, laboratory analysis and peer judgment. Five gram specimens per team were to be analyzed by the Chief Science Officer at Green Leaf Lab for terpene and THC content. Those with the highest THC percentages would be awarded $5000 and the one with the highest terpene content would ultimately earn $5000 as well. The remainder of each growers harvest would be divided into jars and labeled with anonymous numbers, packaged into custom cases which were re- distributed to each contestant so they could examine, smell, smoke, taste and judge each of their peer growers fruits using their own unique criteria and nominating their favorite three, for whatever reason. The number with the most peer nominations would thereby earn our “Growers Choice” award for the remaining $5000. Straightforward and simple, or so it seemed.

It should be noted here that we set out to use our very own “Bay Exclusives” clones for this competition, straight from the underbelly of the cannabis cultivation scene. However, after enough contestants voiced their concerns about working with genetics that were not “legally transferred” to their gardens, we switched clone providers at the last moment and thereby cultivar. Our new clone provider shall remain nameless in the interest of keeping it positive, however, we were promised that our very young cuts were in fact the “Royal Truth” cultivar from the late and legendary breeder Mandelbrot aka Ras Truth We had heard great things about this gassy strain, but we were more overjoyed that this OLCC licensed provider could produce 200 legal clones, allegedly from the same mama. And so we will leave it at that for now–we were out of a bind and the event could continue on schedule.

CLONE DROP

We got the clones July 23rd and decked our custom rigged clone delivery vehicles (installed with T5 lights in back to keep the ladies vegging and alive) with tons of soil, worm castings, and nutrients packs from our Presenting Sponsor, Roots Organics, to be given out to each grow team. We set out early that morning and delivered the clones to all 40 growers by nightfall, meeting the entire team of participants and the vibrations were positive across the board-definitely feeling blessed to call this state home after meeting all these people. Anyhow, we were out of the starting block after a whirlwind day schlepping clones from Medford-Ashland to GP and Eugene up to Salem and Portland, Sandy, Hood, up to the high desert and all points in between. All said and done it was exhausting but surprisingly energizing and uplifting meeting this diverse and dynamic crew of people that has since become an extended family.

BOMB DROP

Picking up where we left off, Bear and Paully and I were celebrating a successful clone drop and now tinkering with the Grow Classic App, our exclusive forum where event participants could share progress of their adventure and tips and tricks with one another. Sponsors started rolling through with positive reinforcements, cheering the growers on through likes and comments. The app proved to be a fulfilling component of the four months leading up to our awards ceremony event, in fact beautiful and a fascinating space for growers to come together, network and share and grow with one another and each with their own unique operations, controls, styles and methodologies. Over the time this friendly group of competitors became a family and I must say, that in and of itself felt like one of the greatest accomplishments of this entire adventure. I digress here about the app to put off the bombshell about to explode within, but it is important to set the table since the app is where we first heard the news.

We were stoked watching post after post, picture after picture and comments, commenting ourselves and playing along, excited as growers to be a part of something so potentially revealing and historic and fun and blessed just to be a part of the genuine camaraderie. As our new family of growers shared the progress of their individual grows through veg and into flowering some incredible and informational stuff was disclosed. And the bomb dropped about the 16th day into flowering when Danny from Uplifted brought to my attention (via direct message on the app) that we might be working with two different cultivars and not the one royal truth strain of clones that were promised by our new “legal” clone provider to have been cut from the same mom. The next day I heard from Bruce at Truganic Hybrid Cultivation who had noticed the same genetic variance. One at a time each of the growers was contacting me to let me know of the mishap that could potentially ruin the very premise of our competition. Things were seemingly unraveling before my very eyes and my reputation and the magazine’s brand integrity were at stake and admittedly I wasn’t sure what to do. The thought crossed my mind to find my bed and assume the fetal position while I immediately fossilized in place in the weight of my own shame and guilt.

Instead I decided to pick up the pieces one at a time and figure out a way out. I surrendered to the humility of the situation and like a running back, found a hole up field, relishing the notion that we were at least only seemingly working with two different cultivars at this point and not a shit-show circus of genetics. Since our genetics were now of questionable origin, we weren’t sure what to call our mystery strain. We decided to name one “Royal Truth” and the other “Royal Lie” in light of how the cards hit the table. Furthermore, we upped the anti, offering $24,000 in total prize cash for six different awards total–$4,000 each for THC, terps and “Growers Choice” for each of our strains.

The Grow family of contestants supported my efforts 100%, continuing to cultivate the two increasingly different plants, enthusiastically posting progress of their grows on the Grow Classic App. As their ladies matured, each proved to be very distinctly coated and super-terpy, albeit definitely two different strains, impressive in their own rite.

I’VE GOT A GOLDEN TICKET!

So Judgment Day came: November 3rd, we picked up each of the growers’ harvests that very day. As noted, 5 grams of each harvest was submitted to Green Leaf Lab for analysis and we spent all day November 4th separating the remainder of the harvests into our Grow Classic “Grower’s Choice” cases to be re-distributed to our growers on November 5th. They had until the night of the event on November 11th to examine, scope, smoke and nominate their three top picks for each of the strains. So, they were to nominate the three “Royal Lie” nugs they liked best as well as the three “Royal Truth” nugs they like the best. The samples were meticulously separated, numbered and then labeled on top and bottom with black and white labels respectively to denote Truth from Lie.

Rewind with me, if you will to the day the bomb was dropped and Danny informed me we were working with two distinctly different genotypes. This day there in marked the start of another game to determine the actual genetic background of our mystery cultivars two. Many people were confident about the lineage of the strain we were calling “Royal Truth”–posting on the app, with confidence, some calling it Chernobyl, some “Golden Ticket”, and another “Slymer”–each persistent that their notion was 100 percent.

And so now, back to November 3rd when we set out to collect the harvests from participants. Our first stop was Danny at Uplifted-who insisted this “Royal Truth” was definitely Golden Ticket. I said, “It’s funny you mention that, someone else said that but others swear it is Chernobyl and another still Slymer.” That is when Danny took me to school and educated me about how each of the growers was correct in their assertion. He continued to explain how nine years ago when he was working at a local hydroponic store, his friend Subcool (the legendary Weed Nerd) gave him 30 unstable seeds from a Chernobyl cross with which to do a pheno hunt. Danny popped all 30 seeds and 27 of them were females. He continued to cultivate all 27 to flower and determined precisely which phenotypes he would continue to cultivate. Chernobyl phenotype number four cured up distinctly golden in color compared to any of the other phenotypes and therein earned the name Golden Ticket from Danny himself. This proved precisely how folks would come to call this both Chernobyl and Golden Ticket with certainty.

So we’ve come full circle with this royal mess if you still follow me, but we have still not determined the genetics behind our so called “Royal Lie” strain and frankly we knew nothing of it other than it was notably gassy. That is, until the night before our awards ceremony.

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE

Paully and I were working at the office enjoying some bong hits of the extra flower that had been submitted by the growers. First wiff of the “Lie” is when he verbalized the aroma of Triangle Kush amidst the gas on the palate. We had already determined the there might be some SFVOG in there, and that’s when he took to the web. Very shortly after he revealed the lineage behind the actual Royal Truth strain as bred by Ras Truth aka Mandelbrot and stabilized over several generations. It was The Truth x Royal Valley Kush. The Truth, another of Mandelbrot’s strains, is a combination of SFVOG x Triangle Kush x Chemdog pheno, hence the gas, and a solution to our game of cannabis clue. The strain which we had labeled “Royal Lie” was actually the Royal Truth… and so we’ve really come full circle turned upside down and back again.

CONGRATULATIONS ELITE GANJA FARMERS

Entering the doors to the awards ceremony night at the Northwest Cannabis Club in Portland, Oregon, guests could immediately take a fat dab off one of our three ice sculptures- turned water pipe, courtesy of Iceovation. Exhale and Ed Rosenthal was right there to greet you with a copy of the latest Grow Magazine and a issue you a warm welcome to the final night of the four month long journey.

We were all truly blessed to have such a positive vibe from all of our growers, sponsors and guests. Mr. Marlon Asher and his crew played the finest reggae music and we all relaxed and smoked the fruits of each other’s labors in what seemed like a giant catered family reunion. Talking with everyone and hearing first hand how much the Grow Classic was to be a part of was heartfelt and cherished. After the band wrapped up, each of our generous sponsors said a few words and began the prize giveaways. Gateway Organics won the amazing and 1-of-a-kind Grow Classic Edition Twister T4 Trimmer–custom purple anodized and branded by the very kind folks at Kierton. Greg from Lucky Acres took home a Titan5 LED grow light, and Pat from Heroes of the Farm scored a 1K, both donated from LED Exclusive sponsor Cirrus LED. All of our sponsors did an amazing job with interacting with the crowd, the giveaways, the Grow Classic app support, even the booths in the lower lounge of the club was the perfect quiet area to have real conversations (it was like a mini-expo down there!). Not to mention that’s where all the tasty hors d oeuvres and munchies were being served.

We received the lab results from our premier testing facility Green Leaf Lab that morning and the tallied results from the Grower’s Choice voting cards were all handed in. The winning lab tests for “Royal Truth”, taking BOTH awards for Most THC and Top Terps was Glass House Grown. The growers voted Sunstone Farms as the winner for the “Royal Truth” Grower Choice award. For the “Royal Lie” (the real Royal Truth), Mangled Manor scored the highest percentage for THC, while Bird Parrot was able to push the limits of her cultivar and took the Top Terps award.

We want to thank our presenting sponsor, Aurora Innovations–Roots Organics; Master’s Pack and soil bag giveaways packed in the vans for clone drop was one of the raddest things I’ve seen, everyone was stoked! Also want to send a huge thank you to our Premier and Classic Sponsors: Green Leaf Lab, Across International, Cirrus LED, Americover, Grodan, Integra BOOST, Kierton and the whole Twister crew, Foliar Essence, TrimBin, AirPot USA, Loney Law Group, Method Seven, The Caputo Group (the pastries were awesome!), and everyone else who helped and supported the event to make it what it was and will be!

After the smoke cleared (literally), it was a blessing of new friendship moreso than a competition. Each contestant proved to be and deserves to bear the title of Elite Grower… and they are all on board for the Grow Classic 2018 which is already underway!

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