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best cannabis strains 2021

Leafly Buzz: 8 cannabis cultivars trending up in 2021

Hundreds of thousands of cannabis lovers and newcomers, coast to coast, have an entire year of mega-flavors and potent, euphoric effects to explore in 2021.

The pace of innovation in cannabis keeps accelerating, and mouthwatering results are just a trip to a licensed dispensary away.

Just like sneakers and watches, different weed varieties and brands trend upward and downward across America—where one in four citizens now live in a legalization state. Search and sales data also agree: Americans show consistent, specific tastes in trendy, top-grade ganja.

For example, many of the national flavors of 2021 started with the Cookies cultivar five-plus years ago on the West Coast. Every strain listed below stands on the shoulders of past greats and reaches up into the future of weed Valhalla. Here are eight of the most well-liked trees in the US forest to try in 2021.

Gushers

Gushers comes from Gelato #41 crossed to Triangle Kush. In fact, four of the hottest strains going into 2021 are crossed with Gelato. Everyone loves Gelato, and you can’t blame them. Not liking it is like saying you don’t like pizza, because it’s gotten too popular. Don’t be that guy.

Gushers isn’t exactly a new strain—it took a 2018 Emerald Cup trophy—but the California staple continues to migrate across the US at a notable clip. Brand Connected Cannabis Co. in California offers a major source of Gushers, though other folks grow it as well.

Like all hot strains, Gushers packs in the THC. Its amazing smell comes from a hit trifecta of aromatic molecules called terpenes: lemon-smelling limonene, funky beta caryophyllene, and floral linalool.

Fans report getting relaxed, happy, and euphoric to manage stress and depression with Gushers, aka Fruit Gushers, and White Gushers.

And lots of seed breeders are also working the fruity Gushers line:

  • Colorado breeders Cannarado introduced crosses like Jolt (Vietnam Black x Gushers) and offspring like Frumpz (Freshwater Taffy x Grumpz).
  • In Cali, Oakland’s Purple City Genetics made Gusher Pie (Gushers x Rainbow Pie F2).

Gelonade

Like Gushers, Gelonade shows how strains typically debut on the West Coast and over several years become commonplace nationally in markets like Oklahoma and Florida. That’s a huge win for legal customers nationwide, as well as the influential breeders and growers still hard at work on California’s next big flavor.

Over at the highly sought after HENDRX Nursery in Humboldt County, owner Daniel Hendrix agreed Gelonade has got the goods. “It combines a new level of potency, purple, and gas with that intense fruit. It is so, so good.”

Connected Cannabis Co. of California made Gelonade from Lemon Tree crossed with Gelato #41—so it’s got gobs of sweet, thick, syrupy lemon terpenes mixed into the creamy berry and cookies flavor of Gelato.

So far that’s two strains that mention Gelato, and buckle up for more. Why did Gelato break away from the pack? Large-scale commercial cultivation, said Ted Lidie, founder of high-end cannabis brand Alien Labs.

“For strains to hit a certain level of notoriety, they have to have a certain level of supply,” Lidie said in an Instagram Live video, Dec. 29, hosted by Leafly freelancer Jimi Devine. “The reason Gelato #41 became so popular is it was the most widely grown exotic at the time.”

Sherblato

A veritable California relic from the Before Times of 2016, Sherblato gains more national fans in 2021 as Connected Cannabis Co. expands into other states, bringing their stable of thoroughbred pot to the masses.

Sherblato comes from crossing two classics Sherbert and Gelato. (Connected calls theirs “Sherbacio”). It’s got Pink Panties, GSC, and Sunset Sherbert in its lineage. Like its cousins, expect Sherblato to deliver a creamy, berry, fuel smell and flavor. As for the high-THC effects, Leafly readers report Sherblato makes them feeling relaxed, happy, hungry, and calm.

Apple Fritter

Let’s take a Gelato break, and celebrate the apple flavors on the rise in 2021.

Apple Fritter from Northern California’s Lumpy’s Flowers dates to pre-2018 medical marijuana era California, but it’s slowly climbing to the top of the adult-use era. It shows how hot strains don’t just fall out of the sky. They debut standing on the shoulders of past genetics, win over fans, seed the culture, then break out into mass recognition.

Speaking of ancestors, influential breeder/grower “Lumpy” bolted a killer apple smell onto a Cookies chassis—Apple Fritter combines Sour Apple (Diesel x C99) and Animal Cookies (GSC x OG).

Now that America’s Main St. customers are asking for Fritter, weed’s architects are at work on new crosses.

  • Lumpy’s released Lemon Trill (Lemonade x Reckless Rainbow) and Cherry Jane , and soon, LAX (Apple Fritter x LA Snow).
  • Lumpy’s also made Sherly Temple , which is Cherry Jane x Apple Fritter #39; plus, for the sativa heads, Lumpy made Sour Apple Haze (Super Silver Haze x Sour Apple).
  • Portland, OR’s Archive Seeds offers Fritter Licker—Apple Fritter to Face-Off.
  • California-based breeder/growers Compound Genetics sell a Grapple Pie #30 (Apple Fritter x Grape Gasoline).
  • Lastly, California’s Alien Labs grows the perfect strain— Atomic Apple (Triangle Mints x Apple Fritter); now on dispensary shelves.

How do you like them apples?

Kush Mints

2021 is all mints everything, and we’re here for it.

Dominating the strain game like Kobe did the NBA in ‘05-’06, Seed Junky Genetics of LA made Kush Mints by crossing Animal Mints with Bubba Kush. Let’s unpack all this good stuff:

Animal Mints draws on the power of GSC, OG Kush, and even some Blueberry. It’s a cross of Animal Cookies (GSC x Fire OG) and SinMint Cookies (GSC x Blue Power).

Stone-cold classic Bubba Kush comes from Northern Lights and Triangle Kush.

Kush Mints spawned its own minty lineage including LA Kush Cake (Wedding Cake x Kush Mints) and Pancakes (London Pound Cake #73 x Kush Mints #11).

And speaking of minty weed, don’t miss the sub-craze in The Menthol (Gelato x White Diesel x (High Octane x Jet Fuel), the hottest of which is Compound Genetics’ unofficial ‘Baby Yoda’ cut of Khalifa Mints (Khalifa Kush x The Menthol).

Jungle Cake

Los Angeles gets to have its Jungle Cake and smoke it, too, this year. Bred by Seed Junky Genetics, Jungle Cake crosses White Fire #43 aka Wifi43 (Fire OG x The White) and Wedding Cake (Triangle Kush x Animal Mints).

Jungle Cake looks so iced out and good, with light aromas of sugary icing and fuel. Indeed, the highest-THC consumers love Jungle Cake, because it is strong AF. The hybrid strain tests into the 30% THC range, assuring a powerful high; the antidote to life in the concrete jungle.

Garanimals

Colorado breeding kings Cannarado have one setting: beast mode. Their Garanimals have escaped the zoo and are running amok nationwide.

Built for Cookies fans out there, Garanimals infuses Animal Cookies with the cherry and grape flavors of strain Grape Pie (Cherry Pie x Grape Stomper). Garanimals is dark, dense, resinous, fragrant evening weed that pairs well with Netflix and your fridge.

In fact, all the most sought after strains in the US center around this relaxing, happy evening effect—as opposed to some racy, daytime, psychedelic vibe. You can’t blame people for just wanting to chill after 2020.

Ice Cream Cake

Lastly, Seed Junky Genetics strikes again with their indica cross of Wedding Cake (aka Triangle Mints #23) and Gelato #33.

Ice Cream Cake exemplifies when a virtuous cycle turns vicious: popularity leads to wider availability, inducing rampant growing, which eventually erodes quality control. Ice Cream Cake became such a sure bet, every Tom, Dick, and Heidi is having a go at it—with varying results.

At its best, this strain makes total sense, because Gelato crossed to Triangle Kush and Animal Mints makes total sense. They’re all awesome cultivars on their own. The combination is cakey, sweet and high-THC, with a fuel finish.

Still, it takes a master grower to tease out the best from Ice Cream Cake. In 2021, fields of not-so-nice cream cake are destined to become bargain B-buds, or, the horror, oil for vape pens.

As a strain, you either die a hero, or live long enough to become a villain to weed snobs.

And with that, we have arrived at the end. You’re probably feeling pretty stuffed on dessert strains, eh? We can already hear haters asking:
When, o’ Lord, when will savory flavors break the stranglehold of the sweet?!’

‘Where are my favorite sativas?’

Will the real old school classics please stand up?!

We got you, fam. Keep clicking on Leafly News, and we’ll keep pointing you to the best.

Padlock your fridge. The 8 hottest strains for the New Year include Gelonade, Gushers, Apple Fritter, and Ice Cream Cake.

The best new cannabis strains to grow in 2021

Americans smoke about 30 million pounds of cannabis each year, analysts estimate. All that dank ain’t gonna grow itself.

North America’s weed gardeners, big and small, have begun their annual run on marijuana seed stores. From California to Maine, ganja growers are racing to stock up for the spring thaw and planting season.

“We’re getting slammed,” said Nathaniel Pennington, founder of seed leader Humboldt Seed Company in California. They offer 57 strains in their 2021 catalog, available in California, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Maine. “We’ve never had this level of demand.”

California breeder and Equilibrium Genetics founder Jason Matthys works seven days a week right now. He drops seed packs at dispensaries from mountainous McKinleyville, CA, to postcard-perfect Pacific Beach, San Diego. “It’s really starting to pick up,” he said.

“Seeds are selling really well,” said Brian Smith, inventory manager at Satori Wellness, Humboldt County, CA’s leading genetics retailer. “It’s the peak of the [seed] season pretty much from January 1 through April. Come on down, because, yes, they are moving.”

“‘Corona year two’ is a superb year to grow,” said Matthys. “More people are checking out their backyard space, or setting up a little tent in their room to try something. They’re working from home, and remotely. It’s easy to check in on your tent when you don’t have to sit in traffic.”

Below, Leafly assembles its definitive, annual guide to the hottest pot popping off in America’s gardens. We mention 60+ strains, organized into six broad collections below.

Time to get growing, America.

  • Easy-peasy autos and fems
  • Friendly Tangie strains
  • Cookies and Cakes, MAC and nuts
  • OGs for the OGs
  • Purples, Zkittlez, and Runtz
  • Landraces, sativas, and throwbacks

Easy-peasy autos and fems

Growing can sound intimidating. So-called “autos” and “fem” seeds take the stress out of the learning curve. These two seed types are on track to upend regular seeds’ primacy.

Autoflowering seeds

Autoflowering seeds make your cannabis plant work like a clock. Put an auto in a 3-gallon pot, add water and sun, and in two and half months you’ll have finished bud, no matter the time of year.

Humboldt Seed Company’s boss says go for their Sour Apple auto this year.

“The Sour Apple is, I would say, our most beautiful autoflower that will really do well in any circumstance,” said Pennington.

Sour Apple in the fields. (Courtesy Humboldt Seed Company)

Exotic Oakland, CA. clone and seedmaker Purple City Genetics touts its Saltwater OG Auto, which hits 26% THC.

“That’s extraordinarily high for an auto,” said Eric Rosen, Purple City Genetics sales director.

See also: Ethos Genetics’ Lilac AutoDiesel; Barney’s Farm Runtz auto, and Do-Si-Dos auto; and I Love Growing Marijuana’s Auto 2.0 mixpack

Ethos Genetics’ Lilac AutoDiesel runs auto-magically. (Courtesy Ethos Genetics)

Fems in season

“Fems” are short for “feminized seeds.”

If you’re growing weed to smoke, it’s a females-only party, and dudes ruin it. Only females produce buds. Statistically, five males will lurk in your standard 10-pack of regular seeds. That gives new growers anxiety, said Matthys.

“It’s a lot of newer growers that are afraid of males and they want to get something that won’t have male seeds,” he said. “People don’t like the experience of having to throw away plants that they don’t want.”

For 2021 fems, try to beat Humboldt Seed Company’s Jelly Rancher. This cross of Very Cherry to Notorious THC and Jelly Rancher Bx3 sparkles with resin and smells like blue cotton candy, strawberries, and grapes. Jelly Rancher grows to a medium size and ripens quickly.

Make ’em jelly: Jelly Rancher fem seeds are sweet, berry, grape hybrid-sativa fun for ’21. (Courtesy Humboldt Seed Company)

They’re going to do great any place in California this year, said Pennington.

Exotic breeders Compound Genetics offer feminized seeds as well. Snap up Gummiez, Blueberry Octane, and Pink Certz fems from Compound at stores like Buds and Roses in the San Fernando Valley.

Friendly Tangie strains

If Autos and Fems are easy to grow, Tangie family strains are easy for beginners to smoke. They have bubbly, friendly effects that can go all day.

Found in fine Oregon dispensaries, Massive Seeds sells Yuzu Tangie, which is Tangie crossed to Lemon Pineapple, mixed to Orangeade. Breeders list lineage like a math equation: ((Tangie x Lemon Pineapple) x Orangeade).

Humboldt Seed Company enters year two of selling Squirt, which crosses an elite Blueberry Muffin to a superior Tangie.

“If you want to have a good time, smoke Blueberry Muffin, and smoke Squirt.”

Nat Pennington, Humboldt Seed Company founder

“If you want to have a good time, smoke Blueberry Muffin, and smoke Squirt,” said Pennington. “I pretty much only smoke Blueberry Muffin and Squirt when I’m going to be working with a group of people. It makes it fun.”

A pure Tangie resurgence continues as well, said original breeder Crockett, founder of Crockett Family Farms. The California team sells through DNA Genetics and beyond. Plant a field of Crockett’s new:

  • Strawberry Fields (Strawberry Banana X Tangie)
  • Sour Juice (Juice X Sour Chem),
  • Tangieland (Candyland X Tangie)
  • or BT7 (Banana Tangie #7 X OG#18)

Cookies and Cakes, MAC and nuts

It’s a Cookies and Cakes world. You just live in it.

That means scooping up leading California nursery Dark Heart’s fast-selling clones of Gelato (Ice Cream) Cake, Sweeties, or White Runtz.

“The Cookies and Cakes are very much in demand this year, for good reason,” said Dark Heart Nursery CEO Dan Grace.

Denver-based Ethos Genetics also gorges on cookie crosses with its End Game line, now in three varieties.

Thanos is a daddy: Ethos punches up Cookies with their “End Game” crosses. (Courtesy Ethos Genetics)

Also, try to get in on Purple City Genetics’ new, clone-only Gush Mints.

Gush Mints electrifies and colorizes the minty strain craze. It takes Kush Mints and crosses it with the fabled F1 Durban and Gushers. The result is, “creamy gas and kushy candy terps,” said Rosen.

Six types of Gush Mints crosses are coming in seed form in ‘21.

“Purple City Genetics is the very front tip of the spear. That’s us,” Rosen said.

Also in the exotic Cookies world, don’t miss Archive Seeds of Portland’s:

  • Animal Biscuits (Animal Cookies x Dosidos)
  • Cake Face (Animal Face x Faceoff OG)
  • Doughlato (Dolato #41 x Moonbow #75)
  • and Melon Fizz (Melonade x Moonbow #75)

And in the world of MAC crosses, breeder Capulator should have seeds for adult-use stores this year. Until then, Ethos touts their new MAC and Jack.

“It’s a very complimentary cross that checks all the boxes for almost every grower!” said Ethos.

Ethos Genetics’ MAC and Jack amps up the sweet sativa jack terps. (Courtesy Ethos Genetics)

Going a bit nuts

Quick note: a bona fide nutty strain craze is a-brewin’ in cannabis.

Demand for Peanut Butter Breath has gone crazy, according to major clone and seed provider Wave Rider Nursery in Salinas, CA.

Over at Humboldt Seed Company, their new Pistachio (Fortune Cookies x PistachioBx2 x P-61) “Smells just like burnt nuts to us; a roasted cracked-open pistachio,” said Pennington. “People will agree that it has a nutty flavor no matter what.”

Pistachio comes from intense hybridization, and luck. (Courtesy Humboldt Seed Company)

OGs for the OGs

The biting OG Kush strain family lives in the shadow of Cookies, but it’ll never fade.

Keep your gas station topped up this year by growing some Knight’s Templar OG from Dark Heart Nursery. Dark Heart calls their newest OG their heaviest yet.

“People love the gas profile and the supreme relaxation that OGs bring,” said Grace.

Mission accomplished: Knight’s Templar OG from Dark Heart Nursery. (Courtesy Dark Heart Nursery)

OG Kush cousin Triangle Kush never goes out of style. Just look at Wave Rider Nursery’s Black Triangle (Triangle Kush x 88G13) via Bodhi Seeds.

Or even better—mix nuts and gas with PB Triangles from Equilibrium Genetics. That’s PB Breath to Triangle Kush.

Need more new OGs? Go with legit, original gangsta’ Bodhi Seeds’ Ancient OG:

“A heavy duty, true OG-dominant hybrid that takes things to the next level,” stated Bodhi. “Deep, earthy, forest OG aromas, with creamy, citrus kush undertones, like Goji OG without the berry and added lemon pledge.”

—Bodhi Seeds

Hashmakers will want Dying Breed Seeds, who crosses everything to their OG Eddy Lep, including:

  • Lemon Zest (Lemonade x OG Eddy);
  • Ice Cream Bean (Blue Sherbert x OG Eddy).

This Colin OG RBX smells like a classic Sour OG kissed with cherry and grape. (Courtesy Ethos Genetics)

Purples, Zkittlez, and Runtz

Certain heavily stoned folks only smoke purple weed: GDPs, Purple Punch crosses, Zkittlez, and Runtz. This section’s for them.

Dark Heart Nursery claims to bring back the legendary Ken’s Granddaddy Purple from 2003 for sale this year.

“Anyone who remembers the old school, deep, and musky taste of purples should try this strain,” said Grace.

Dark Heart Nursery offers a 2003 Ken’s Granddaddy Purple this year. (Courtesy Dar Heart Nursery)

We’re huge fans of Do-Si-Dos to Purple Punch, called Slurricane—so we’re growing In-House Genetics’ Slurricane ix (Slurricane #44 x Slurricane #7) in our garden.

Wanna get crunk? Seek out Purple City Genetics’ clone-only Slurty3 ((Slurricane Cowboys cut) x Gelato 33). Crosses of it go into seed production later in the year.

Slurty3 smells like “grape, gas, and cream terps that have ‘new-new’ written all over it,” said Eric Rosen.

Caution, though. “This is heavy, dude. Not for the unsuspecting smoker,” he said.

Zkittlez and Runtz run amok

New Zkittlez crosses rain down upon us mortals. We’ve settled on growing Exotic Genetix’s Cookies cross Gazzungas (Zkittlez x Rainbow Chip). Up in Portland, OR, Archive Seeds hits gold with Rainbow Beltz 2.0 (Zkittlez x Moonbow).

Similarly, Runtz crosses are everywhere, but only Equilibrium Genetics crossed Runtz to their mold and mildew-resistant African Orange to create Orange Runtz. Great idea.

Another blingy Compound flavor: Rose Gold Runtz, a cross of Apples and Bananas to White Runtz.

Compound Genetics’ ultra-potent, tasty Apples and Bananas in your own backyard. (David Downs/Leafly)

“These guys who made this particular strain should be the gods of weed.”

—Leafly reviewer ‘a……..r”

One Leafly reviewer of Apples and Bananas said: “These guys who made this particular strain should be the gods of weed.”

Lastly, Compound Genetics recommends its latest collaboration with Colorado seed gods Cannarado. Look for Gastro Pop—that’s Apples and Bananas to Grape Gasoline.

See also: Savage Genetics’ Cheetoz (Cheetah Piss x Runtz); I Love Growing Marijuana’s Purple mixpack; Wave Rider’s cross of Wedding Cake Zkittlez x Modified Grapes.

Landraces, sativas, and throwbacks

The critics always tell me, ‘Play those old school jams, David. Where’s my landraces at? Those sativas? Where are my throwbacks?’

Equilibrium Genetics cannot be denied in the throwback, landrace, and sativa game. Look at their nearly sold-out Maui Pineapple, as well as their new Saturn Citrus and Pineapple Sonja.

Old-school Maui has billions of dollars of goodwill baked into the brand name, said Matthys.

“It’s crazy. Everyone wants that one. It’s such a wonderful strain to grow—very sativa with a sweet bit of cherry musk and funk, like a gassy funk,” he said.

Pineapple Sonja will reset the bar for thick pineapple flavor in California. It’s Pineapple Thai to another pineapple-smelling sativa from Maine, called Red Sonja.

Then strap in for a psychedelic rocket launch—Saturn Citrus is Super Lemon Haze crossed to Equilibrium’s African Orange.

Need more altitude? Wave Rider Nursery offers a unique Swazi Red Burmese that’ll get the heart racing.

And for a spotless mind, this year Bodhi Seeds has:

  • Soar (Columbian Red x OMG)
  • and Eternal Sunshine (Hawaiian Sativa x OMG)

Old school indica fans, we got you. Hash Plant lovers want to be sedated with Bodhi Seeds’:

Grandmas Hashplant (Irene x 88G13/HP)

  • and Lemon Hashplant (Lemon G x 88G13/HP)

Romulan landing

And speaking of sedation: set your phasers on stun—old school Romulan has landed.

“Our Romulan seeds are selling very, very well,” said Megan L., Romulan Genetics sales manager. “Nostalgia has been a pop-culture phenomenon lately, so anything that brings people back to their youth or high school years is a big hit with the Baby Boomer generation.”

This classic, high-THC indica can manage anxiety and PTSD, patients report.

“[The strain] leaves you feeling completely saturated but somehow still in control of your thoughts and actions,” said Megan.

Grow a bowl of Romulan this season. (Courtesy Romulan Genetics)

And that, folks, represents a fat slice of what’s going on out there in the cannabis seed world in 2021. It’s truly mind-boggling.

“There are so many amazing new strains coming out all the time it’s exhausting to keep up with,” said Conner Pollock, Wave Rider Nursery sales manager.

This epochal explosion in cannabis diversity only promises to accelerate, said Rosen. “It’s the most exciting time to be in cannabis. Even more so a day from now, and a week from now—it just gets more and more exciting,” he said.

2021’s Vanilla Cream Pie up close. (Courtesy Humboldt Seed Company)

More than 60 trending marijuana varieties in seed and clone form: autoflowers, feminized seeds, OGs, Cookies, Purps, and old-school sativas.