What Are the Best Cannabis Strains to Grow in 2023? OG, Kush and Diesel Genetics Are New Again
There has never been such a diversity of strains and genetics as there is right now in cannabis—not to mention more grows, more phenohunters and more breeding operations popping up in legal markets around the world. Unfortunately, there’s also more mislabeled cannabis product out there than ever, too. So what lies ahead for genetics in 2023 and beyond?
We predict that 2023 will be a year of big strain nostalgia in response to unprecedented novelty, and as connoisseurs reconsider the classics. Now is the time to reach back in your lineup and see what can be refreshed for added vigor, to increase commercial viability and reintroduce OGs to new markets and consumer demographics. The new flex may be to show some of the genetics that you have carried for 10, 15 or even 20 years as a pioneer—not the current hype.
Why Classic Cannabis Strains Are Always Primed for a Comeback
Take Diesel, for example. It never went out of style, and it never went away, but we could all use a little more Diesel in our lives. After all, not all versions of a strain are created equal. When we ask the genetics specialists in our circle which single cut they wish they could have back that was lost over the last 15 years, there’s one simple and immediate answer that everyone can agree on—a specific Sour Diesel cut that was prevalent in our genetics circles about a decade ago.
What considerations should cannabis producers make about reintroducing these classics to the market? It’s easier said than done to find an expression of a particular strain that’s not only high quality but fully embodies the flavors, effects and cultivation metrics of a generations-old iteration.
Are you willing to pay a little more for all the extra work that goes into sourcing older genetics that only a few, committed gardeners have preserved? Heirloom seeds and clones are well worth the extra effort, whether you’re talking cannabis or tomatoes. But not everyone is willing or in a position to make that investment.
If the market calls for a nostalgic sativa strain, is it enough to bring back any old Sour Diesel, or is it better to find one that simultaneously fits into cultivators’ grow room schedules and has the right characteristics to satisfy connoisseurs nostalgia, while also appealing to consumers’ current tastes?
Genetics Define the Best Cannabis Strains to Grow in 2023
The Sour Diesel from 10 years ago was perfect, and I would happily smoke it today over other strains. But if that vintage Sour Diesel isn’t available a decade later, I will take the next best thing— a version that smells, tastes, and smokes the same, but isn’t such a diva in the garden.
If we could slow down the growth cycle, shorten the flowering time and tweak our Sour Diesel to be a little less finicky in the garden, it would scratch a nostalgic itch while updating a classic strain in a way that’s practical for growers and retailers alike. This is what breeders do—select the desirable traits from different strains and try to create the desired example for the garden and the consumer.
This is the real conversation behind every discussion of what the next Gelato or Runtz or Girl Scout Cookies will be. Identifying trendy strains is as easy as talking to growers, retailers and cannabis sales experts. But figuring out how to create what those stakeholders actually want—and don’t know how to ask for—is where the craft of phenohunting cannabis genetics comes into play.
So many strains on dispensary shelves are middle of the road, to be frank—a B or B+ in quality and expression of the strain. But a good gardener can take whatever is in front of them to bring out the full potential of that particular plant and its genetics. That’s one reason why nostalgic OG strains remain a strong bet even in a consumer market that places a premium on novelty above almost all else. Once a strain has proven itself over time, it will always have an edge over a newer varietal that was never well-bred to begin with.
What strains will be the next big hitters in 2023? Time will tell. But we’d place our bet on growing old favorites like well-bred Diesels, TK, Skunk and Haze. There is enough variety within each of these strains to meet more niche demands, and they can still wow both younger members of the cannabis community who haven’t experienced some of these varieties, and the enthusiasts who truly chase the craft.
At Next Big Crop, we’re currently most excited about LIT Farms Optimus Prime (bred from East Coast Sour Diesel and Project 4516), Archive Seeds’ Killer Bees (bred from 1995 NL Haze x MoonBow #75) and SkunkTek’s Triangle Kush x Bandana crossbred. These are all old-school classics mixed with current players to create new, elite strains.