Buying marijuana seeds is a business transaction like no other. You’re buying a high, a gardening experience, a set of genetics. You count on assurances that the seeds will produce a very specific type of cannabis strain, and that you will actually get the seeds you ordered.
Things can and do go wrong. You might never get the seeds you paid for, or you get shorted. From seeds that don’t germinate to seeds supposed to be fems that grow out males, growers who crave new genetics take a risk with every transaction.
This is especially true now that the marijuana seeds industry is increasingly plagued by bulk seed producers and hundreds of pop-up retailers selling inferior genetics, including pathetic copies of heritage or famous strains.
The good news is smaller seed companies run by breeder consortiums and solo operators created the vast majority of the high quality heritage and new cannabis strains in the past, and still do today…offering a brilliant alternative to generic bulk seeds.
Paul Prochaska, the founder of New420Guy Seeds, is one of the most honest, hardworking, cannabis-loving guys in the marijuana seeds industry. When we discovered his seed bank and tested his strains, we felt like we’d struck gold.
Paul personally breeds some of the elite cannabis strains on his menu, but also has dozens of skilled breeders and testers making and growing strains at his request under his supervision.
He evaluates hundreds of strains and thousands of seeds per year to find the few that make it onto his seed menu, which has more depth and exclusivity than most.
We caught up with Paul recently as he rode horses and played with goats at his remote desert compound. Take a listen to what this successful seedmeister has to say, and note that our questions are in italics…
How did you learn to breed cannabis strains and make seeds?
I basically learned by trial and error. I read all the articles and books, but there is no substitute for experience. I started making my own seeds for personal use back around 2008 and was making a little extra cash selling my strains to friends who were also starting to grow their own. I was not happy paying high prices for seeds and a lot of other growers felt the same way. Some of us formed a small company way back in 2010, and that’s how we got started.
My tester/breeder team has grown to almost 40 people, half testers and half breeders. These are very skilled cannabis cultivators with tons of experience who have been working on their own creations for years. Their broad range of genetics and breeding goals have resulted in us adding more than 80 elite strains to our menu in the last few years.
You have strains nobody else has, and fire versions that improve on popular name-brand strains. How do you decide which breeding projects to embark on?
I look for rare genetics that fit the exact needs of our customers, differentiating between genetics that are best grown outdoors, indoors or both. My breeding team is staffed by people with their own passion projects, trying to make the next great strain.
I am networked with thousands of growers via social media, and listen to their feedback on strains. I pay close attention to strains people love but they also wish there were improvements on the strain to breed in or out specific traits.
For example, growers might love the high of a certain strain, but don’t like its other traits such as too long in bloom phase, gray mold vulnerability, low yields. Our breeding program works to preserve favored traits and reduce or eliminate negative traits.
You handle landrace strains differently, right?
Yes, we have several landraces nobody else has, including true Colombian Gold, Panama Red, Mazar, and the Danish outdoor Sativa, Pieburt. With those strains, we leave them true to their landrace genetics, rather than mixing them with other genetics.
What is the longest and most successful breeding project you’ve been involved in?
This is a tough question, because I have worked on so many amazing, complicated strains that were very hard to make, but one project that stands out was my Original Grape 48.
It started as Nirvana AK48 x Seedsman Purple Bud in a 2009 breeding program. After a lot of crossing I finally landed on the pheno with such a strong, awesome grape smell that I used to just open bud jars and smell the terps.
You could smell it all over the house just from opening the jar for a few minutes!
I crossed that strain with several other strains, making Grape Afghan Kush, New Grape 48, and a couple others. I’ve continued to work with the original and new versions several times over the years, bringing both to F4.
Another standout project was Paul’s Purple Fire. The buds are one-hit killers. I started with bag seed from Purple Fire. The original Purple Fire was SFV OG crossed with Grape Ape. I crossed that Purple Fire with Nirvana AK48 and made a bad-ass Indica hybrid.
I almost lost that strain because of russet mites, but a tiny, struggling male infested with mites somehow survived. Paul’s Purple Fire is probably the strain I have done the most work on—I now have it up to a BX1F2 and it’s been backcrossed to SFV OG making it a more stable hybrid. It gets huge now, if you let it, with massive yields of very potent buds.
I’d guess you abandon some breeding projects because they don’t meet your standards.
Yes. There have been many strains I worked on that seemed promising at first but we gave up on for various reasons including unstable genetics, strains that are mediocre, horrible people who were the original breeders, and even death threats.
Wait. What? Death threats?
Yep, one of my strain breeders was using genetics made by another breeder. That other breeder called me from New York and said they were going to ride their motorcycles out here and kill us all—including my friend’s young baby and wife—if we didn’t stop selling what he claimed were his strains.
I tried to work out an arrangement but this was a dangerous situation, so I decided to sell off all the seeds with those genetics for a buck a piece and flood the market with them. We removed five different crosses from our site all made with those genetics. It was kind of a shame because they were great genetics.
Tell us your feelings about feminized versus regular seeds.
Obviously, feminized seeds save time and money because every seed you plant grows out female and produces buds so you don’t waste grow space, supplies or time on males.
Feminized seeds are made via several methods, but most of those methods aren’t reliable. You also have to be careful you’re not inducing hermaphroditic traits down the line, which is a huge problem with feminized seeds sold by other seed companies.
We closely monitor our seeds to ensure they don’t grow out with hermie traits and if we have even a hint of hermie, we get rid of that strain.
Regular marijuana seeds carry a broader range of genetics with more phenotype potential, which can make them more resilient and useful. Of course, you can only breed your own seeds if you’re growing regular seeds that produce males along with females.
What we find is that the most successful, experienced growers use feminized and regular seeds.
One of the big puzzles for people seeking to breed their own seeds is collecting pollen and storing it. Any advice?
My technique of collecting pollen is to place a fresh, sterile, large turkey bag under the males in an isolated grow chamber far from female flowers.
When the male drops all its pollen, I remove the plant and seal the bag with a little bit of air in it, so it’s air-tight. I label it and try to use the pollen very quickly. I don’t try to save pollen for more than a few months because I have so many breeding projects going all the time and besides, the quicker you use your pollen, the more viable it will be.
Just realize that pollen is very difficult to keep viable, and beware—the slightest bit of moisture sterilizes pollen completely.
Talk about ethical problems in the marijuana seeds industry.
One reason New420Guy is so successful is that we rigorously inspect our seeds, respond to grower feedback, and constantly work to improve strains. We get rid of strains if we have the slightest suspicion they have hermie traits or other defects. We immediately replace seeds when customers claim to have problems caused by our seeds, even though most problems are due to defective germination and cultivation techniques.
But for sure, the marijuana seeds industry can be dangerous and frustrating, and not just when somebody is threatening to kill you or they send you crappy seeds and refuse to make things right.
Let me share a story with you about how we almost went out of business because of the shittiest, most sour rip-off I ever encountered in my entire life…
You can imagine after years of selling bud and seeds for a living, I’ve been ripped off a few times. But the worst thing is that now and then someone still pops up like a skeleton in a closet and starts talking shit about a problem we had in 2018/2019, when we sold what turned out to be useless 100% male seeds to hundreds of customers over a three month period.
It happened because I trusted someone when I shouldn’t have. You see, usually I thoroughly vet every breeder before buying their seeds, especially if we’re spending over $1000 on one individual deal. But in 2018 I made the mistake of taking a chance with this guy Michael, who is based in Spain, by sending him $1500 for a bunch of feminized autos.
We were pretty desperate back then to put auto fems on our menu because so many growers wanted them, and several people in the industry that I trust vouched for him.
It was a dream come true to receive the seeds he claimed were the bomb! We suddenly got busy as hell selling auto fems and so I bought more seeds from Michael. It took two weeks to get them each time so I was always nervous until they showed up.
Our most popular auto fem ever was our Blue Haze Auto fems and that was one of the first 3 strains we got from him. I bought more seeds from him and got the same seeds two other times. He seemed to be a very trustworthy breeder who had killer auto seeds for cheap. We bought so many that he ran out.
Then he started trying to go bigger in his journey and started collecting seeds from people he obviously didn’t know. He lied to me three times telling me all the new seeds we were buying were tested thoroughly and were all excellent strains. I had no reason to doubt him so I sent him almost $4,000 for eight new auto strains, all fems.
We sold all them in a few months and I sent Michael another $3,000 for more seeds. We were on a roll!
But just about the time we received the newest batch of Michael’s strains, we started getting complaints like crazy from customers saying all their autos turned out to be males—all of them.
Every customer was saying the same thing. WTF? All these supposedly feminized seeds are growing out male?
I took all of those new strains off the menu immediately but the damage to our reputation had already been done, and it snowballed big time. We spent months and lost tons of money sending replacement seeds to everyone who had gotten those bogus male.
I’m sure there were dissatisfied growers who never complained to us, they just went elsewhere to get their seeds, and told people we were no good.
We almost went out of business because we basically gave away all the rest of our feminized auto stock to unhappy customers, which meant we couldn’t make any more money on auto fems until we got through this.
Every time we got more auto fems in stock, we ended up giving them all away to pissed off customers. The only way I saved my company was by putting customers first. I admitted we screwed up by trusting a shady breeder, and went out of my way to try to make the customers happy with excellent replacement seeds.
I spent over $7000 on worthless seeds, disappointed a lot of growers, and am glad to have survived it. This isn’t the only time I’ve encountered unethical people in my industry, but it’s probably the worst.
What breeding projects are you working on and what strains do you hope to debut this year (2022)?
We have Santa Marta Colombian Gold again and just added Panama Red—two of the most famous strains from the early days of marijuana imports. We just completed an amazing new strain called Electric Maui which is a cross of two pure Hawaiian Sativas.
I’m working hard to bring back older strains that have not been worked much over the last couple of years, but are favorites. I have Blue Cheese F5 and Deep Purple BX1F2 coming soon.
I just re-made my Blue Tahoe from scratch because we lost it a few years ago and it was one of our best strains. I’m now making F2s of that and will put it on the menu hopefully if it comes out frosty and with some good blueberry traits.
And another of our pure Indica strains that has been sold out will hopefully be back in the mix—Purple Haze Kush.
You can be sure that me and my entire team are constantly pushing to create new and better strains and to ensure that existing strains stay true to what growers love about them. Stop by our website for a visit, or shoot me an email, whenever you want fire strains and 100% reliable marijuana seeds.