Autumn is here, marking the onset of a plentiful harvest season for cannabis cultivators, particularly those growing the best strains of weed. As the crisp autumnal air fills our senses, it's not the scent of pumpkin spice that fascinates us, but rather the rich, pungent aroma of freshly harvested cannabis, including the strongest strains of weed. According to our 2022 report, legal cannabis, including the best marijuana strains, ranks as the sixth most profitable cash crop in the United States. Much of this production comes from California, the heart of cannabis cultivation and producer of the best weed in the world, where Humboldt County sets the global trend with its top weed strains.
In this article, we will delve into the top 13 cannabis strains of 2023, each of them a product of years of meticulous selection and bred to thrive in an increasingly open market. These include the highest THC strains of 2023 and the best new weed strains, some even boasting a 40% THC strain.
The 2023 Cannabis StandoutsFrom indoor strains making a successful transition to outdoor cultivation like Apples and Bananas, to outdoor varieties that are flooding the market like Lemon Cherry Gelato and Gush Mints, 2023 has brought us a diverse array of cannabis strains. Notably, Blue Dream has made a comeback as a top choice among consumers in the western US.
Christina DiPaci, a greenhouse grower at Paradiso Gardens in Salinas, California, states, "There's no room now for anything that's not ticking all the boxes. They have to have high potency. They have to yield. They have to have color. They have to have visible crystals. They have to have nose. They have to smoke well." This includes having a rich profile of terpenes and cannabinoids.
Let's take a look at the cannabis varieties that made the cut.
Some strains, including certain sativa strains and indica strains, aren't suitable for outdoor growth. As such, we begin with a relatively new variety that has successfully transitioned and thrived outdoors, Glitterbomb. This strain, cultivated by Compound Genetics during Chris Lynch's tenure, originates from Grape Gas #10 x OGKB Blueberry Headband. If you're on the quest for high THC percentages, Glitterbomb, a hybrid strain, was awarded the silver medal at the 2023 California State Fair Cannabis Awards for its THC content. Fragrances of grape, berry, candy, and fuel characterize the 2023 market's core, and this sleep-inducing hybrid-indica perfectly complements holiday festivities. Exceptional outdoor or greenhouse-grown Glitterbomb has been observed from Paradiso Gardens in Salinas to Sonoma Hills Farm in Petaluma, showcasing its potential as one of the most potent cannabis strains.
Grapes N Cream
This year, an overwhelming number of farmers cultivated the Cannarado strain, Grapes N Cream, leading to a challenging situation. The renowned cloners at Phinest, based in Sacramento, CA, distributed this cutting to multiple farms, and in 2023, Grapes N Cream thrived exceptionally outdoors, producing large, compact, and mold-resistant colas. A cross between Grape Pie and Cookies N Cream, it's akin to Oreoz, another strain that saw immense popularity. Consumers appreciate its striking purple hue, the rich blend of creamy grape and gas aroma and flavor, and its high-THC indica impact that has a calming effect similar to Xanax. Besides, it's perfect for dabbers as it produces excellent hashes.
Nat Pennington at Humboldt Seed Co. stated, "The focus now is on identifying strains that perform well in both flower and solventless production. I am particularly fond of Grapes N Cream – we've encountered numerous bags of it."
Developed by Purple City Genetics in Oakland, Gush Mints replicated the success of Grapes N Cream. It found its way into every garden, evolving rapidly into a towering, aggressive hedgerow that stands 10 feet tall, armed with five-foot-long spikes.
Eli Melrod, the founder of Solful dispensaries and a wholesale cannabis buyer, commented, "It's too successful. It's a monster.”
Gush Mints is characterized by its stickiness and subtle kush and mint undertones that appeal to occasional smokers for its soothing, late-night effects. This is especially true for Gush Mints 1:1 version, which has an equal THC to CBD ratio. Gush Mints is a hybrid of Kush Mints x (F1 Durb x Gushers).
Nat gave credit where credit is due, saying, "PCG hit the mark with that clone, so kudos to them."
Lemon Cherry Gelato
Attractive, enticing, efficient, and unquestionably sought after, Lemon Cherry Gelato is the 2023 cannabis equivalent of Taylor Swift in her prime.
This autumn, cannabis enthusiasts can anticipate a broad selection of superior LCGs, thanks to a bountiful harvest that has made buyers more discerning.
The fusion of lemon, cherry, creamy, and berry-sweet aroma and taste, coupled with the indica-dominant hybrid effects, is compatible with all scenarios — except perhaps the workplace. LCG was dubbed the strain of 2022 by High Times, and it was also a contender for Leafly Strain of the Year 2022. The brand Cookies' Humboldt Grown Initiative features a greenhouse or light-dep Triple Scoop (Lemon Cherry x Gelato), which will be available on the shelves of California Cookies and Lemonnade dispensaries from October to December. Large-scale cultivators like Farmer and the Felon also offer PLCR (Platinum Runtz x Lemon Cherry Gelato).
Apples and Bananas
Apples and Bananas, a cross between Cookies’ Blue Power and Gelatti, is considered the most terpene-rich produce from our outdoor crop. Originally intended for indoor cultivation, this variant from Briceland Forest Farm's summer light-dependent crop, maxes out the season's terpene content at 4%, a figure eight times higher than the national aroma average. The scent profile is a robust fusion of apple, pear, and other tree fruits, denser than Nicki Minaj. It's potent without being overpowering, almost beckoning you to immerse yourself in it.
As Melrod from Solful puts it, "Just a small amount, an eighth, will fill your entire house with its fragrance."
It's a goodbye to negative feelings like stress, anxiety, and depression, and a warm welcome to joy, stimulation, and excitement.
Apples and Bananas have flourished in sunlit, sustainable gardens. We’ve observed A+B and its variants from Seed707, as well as Phinest Ian's new micro-batch clone brand, Uncle Dad Vibes.
Every contemporary harvest necessitates the inclusion of some Cakes - Wedding Cake, Ice Cream Cake, and now the Blueberry Cupcake. This strain is a hybrid of Humboldt Seed Company's foolproof Blueberry Muffin and America's beloved Wedding Cake, enhancing the THC level. Indeed, the experiment was a success. While meandering through the fields at Sonoma Hills Farm, the moment I squeezed and sniffed the Blueberry Cupcake, its authentic blueberry and sweet buttery cupcake scent made me crave the pastry immediately.
The 50-50 hybrid effects of Blueberry Cupcake complement any activity, be it during the day or night. Joyce Cenali of Sonoma Hills Farm points out that this cultivar thrives in outdoor runs and simplifies the farmer's life due to its low leaf-to-bud ratio, which minimizes work.
Cenali attests, "It's undoubtedly one of the easiest for us to groom."
Alright, buckle up for an unusual one. The Cheetah Piss strain makes a comeback to our harvest roster following a two-year break. Why, you may ask? It's because one of the greatest outdoor cultivators ever, Ridgeline Farms of Southern Humboldt, CA, continues to grow it, and they absolutely nailed their batch.
Ridgeline's cultivation of Cheetah Piss was highly successful in terms of yield—it's incredible," remarked Nat from Humboldt Seed Co.
The Cheetah Piss from the Cookies brand is a blend of three superior strains—Lemonnade, Gelato 42, and London Poundcake 97, and it's been on the market since 2019. Despite its sweet-sounding genealogy, Cheetah Piss has a sharp edge—consumers have noticed an aroma of ammonia, menthol, and a strong skunky scent. This fragrance stirs people up with a sativa-hybrid effect that leaves individuals feeling stimulated, amused, and content.
Cheetah Piss weathered the damp, chilly start of the year remarkably—resisting powdery mildew and yielding abundantly.
"Cheetah Piss certainly delivers a wallop," stated Daniel Hendricks from the renowned HendRx Nursery.
As anticipated, we indeed observed a significant number of crosses of Jealousy, which was notably recognized as Leafly Strain of the Year 2022. This was something we had predicted and were not surprised to see. The strain Adios MF, in particular, made a notable impression. It successfully united the strains Biscotti and Sherb with Jealousy f2, resulting in a unique and intriguing blend. This combination gave rise to an array of captivating smells, including the sweet scent of candied lime, the rich aroma of blueberry jam, and the comforting smell of marshmallows.
When it comes to taste, it is reminiscent of a fresh bowl of mixed berries and cream, garnished with a hint of lime. This strain also provides a potent, mood-lifting body high that is perfectly suited for activities such as watching movies, relaxation, and even sleep. Previously, Adios MF was primarily an indoor strain. However, this year, the Cookies brand decided to cultivate Adios MF in their greenhouse. This move resulted in a product that truly astounded us and exceeded our expectations.
Breaking News: Blue Dream has reclaimed its position as the most popular strain in the western US, and it's not just because of counterfeit Blue Dream cartridges or cleverly titled edibles manipulating Google search results. Cannabis enthusiasts are relishing a significant trip down memory lane this year, observers note.
"Classics like OG Kush, Blue Dream, and Sour Diesel are witnessing a resurgence. They're being grown in unison to meet the high demand," Hendricks mentioned.
Originating from a crossbreed of DJ Short Blueberry and Haze, Blue Dream was a unique discovery from the warm landscapes of Santa Cruz in the '90s. It epitomizes the '90s just like an old-school Nirvana t-shirt—offering a faint blueberry flavor and an effective anxiety-relieving 50-50 hybrid impact.
Blue Dream reached its zenith in the early 2000s when it was grown by almost everyone, leading to a price crash. Today, mindful cultivators in tune with market trends have reintroduced it, including Alpenglow, Raw Garden, Wave Rider Nursery, Lost Farm, and yours sincerely. Smoakland Delivery offers $99 ounces of light-dep Blue Dream from Sonoma County.
"When it's cultivated properly, the result is amazing. It's tasty, smells great," commented buyer/retailer Melrod.
As refreshing as a chilled Modelo on a sunny day and equally popular—reacquaint yourself with some Blue Dream.
Double OG Chem
Every year, our list must feature an OG Kush, this year we've chosen the multiple award-winning Double OG Chem by Rebel Grown. We cultivated it in our own garden and it's fantastic. Notably, it was also grown by industry heavyweights Farmer and the Felon. Double OG Chem represents the intersection of OG Kush, Chemdog, and Sour Diesel. The stunning green buds exude a lemon-lime, chemmy, fuel-like aroma coupled with a strong hybrid indica impact; ideal for a midweek happy hour or a laid-back Sunday.
With so many OGs cultivating their own, make sure not to overlook Farmer and the Felon's harvest, as well as Ridgeline’s Lambo OG, Biovortex’s Banana Cherry Lime Dog from Sonoma Hills Farm, and Blimburn Seeds’ LSD (Lemon Sour Diesel) nurtured by Swami Select.
When I visited Humboldt, prominent cultivator Tina Gordon from Moon Made Farms presented me with a bag of this novel strain, and she's not one to take lightly. We later encountered gigantic plants of this strain in Petaluma, CA, and knew it had to be featured. Sherb Haze originates from Abakaba Heirlooms—courtesy of Conception Nurseries—and combines two clear champions, Sherbert Bx1 x Neville’s Haze, yielding enormous, rocket-like colas that could induce envy in SpaceX engineers.
Its aroma is an enticing blend of hazy-sweetness with a dominant Sherbert essence that leans more towards floral rather than creamy-berry. The Haze enhances Sherbert’s calming influence, making it suitable for all-day use. It's a wonderful example of introducing something new that aligns with what people already adore. Enjoy rolling large, carefree joints of outdoor Sherb Haze.
As we finalize our compilation of outdoor strains, we can't ignore a superior strain for hash enthusiasts. It's not surprising that Papaya is back this year, powering all your rosin dabs and live resin cartridges. Its precise lineage remains enigmatic, with some conjecturing it as a rebranded Green Crack. However, it's recognized for its unique papaya aroma and flavor, indica hybrid effects, and its copious production of trichomes for hash creation.
Alpenglow Farm grew PCG’s Papaya Berry Runtz (a fusion of Strawberry Runtz and Papaya Bomb), adding a new spin to the conventional Papaya with an extra creamy berry nuance. Farmer and the Felon executed an impressive job with Purple City Genetics’ Peach Panther (a blend of Peaches and Papaya Bomb). Anticipate numerous small batches of Papaya hybrids. As experienced smokers are craving novelty quicker than ever, cultivators and retailers are launching new variations. Alpenglow’s Papaya Berry Runtz batch for Solful is limited, yielding merely 3 to 5 pounds, equivalent to a minimum of 384 eighth-ounce jars. Hence, make sure not to miss out.
Sour Lemon MAC
Wrapping up with a delight for our Jack Herer aficionados, the top-selling strain at Solful in 2023 was unexpectedly a 30-year-old variant. Specifically, the Sour Lemon MAC from Happy Dreams Genetics, with its high concentration of Jack's primary terpene—terpinolene. The Sour Lemon MAC featured 1.44% terpinolene and an overall terpene content of 3.71%. Impressively, its aroma was nearly seven times more potent than the national average. With its unique parentage—Mother’s Milk crossed with Lemon Blueberry, then mixed with MAC and Cheese—it’s undoubtedly intriguing.
Eli from Solful highlighted that consumers are leaning towards functional, traditional cannabis, rather than being swamped by fashionable, potent strains.
He conveyed that customers frequently recall cannabis from 5 to 10 years ago, implying modern variants make them feel lethargic.
Strains with terpinolene have a unique candy necklace characteristic, a pure sugary aroma and taste, and potent sativa hybrid effects, making them perfect for tackling those Saturday chores.
Have fun exploring these strains in the upcoming months. As the cannabis market continues to expand and evolve, the possibilities appear infinite!