The perpetual pheno hunting of Alien Labs continues to deliver for exotic cannabis lovers.

For years Alien Labs has sat firmly in the conversation when talking about the best cannabis companies in the world. From the early days of splitting booths with hash companies at events to the move to Sac, to the mountaintop, the quality of flowers has always been out of this world. 

A big part of that is its constant search for the heat. There are basically two ways legal operators get new genetics – they source them from nurseries or breeders directly, or they pop the seeds to find winners themselves. While it’s not always commercially viable for everyone, the latter is where you see most of the things we get the most excited about the majority of the time. Add in a dash of inhouse breeding and you’re really cooking with gas, and hopefully find the gas, strong fuel-smelling strains are a golden ticket in any pheno hunt. 

We caught up with Alien Labs’ founder Ted Lidie to hear about its pandemic breeding efforts at his office in Sacramento. The conversation started with Alien Labs’ effort to bring back awesome purps to the world reminiscent of the phenos of the late 2000s and their full-bodied narcotic effect. Truly medical cannabis for many that suffered from pain or insomnia. 

The work started with seeds of CSI Humboldt’s Purple Urkel S1.

“We found a couple of good ones, but really the #13 had the best nose,” Lidie told L.A. Weekly, “It was also a little taller.”

They ended up crossing that winning phenotype with a bunch of their most famous strains. The winner was the pairing with Planet Dosi. Not only was it gorgeous but they also loved the bud structure and how tall and lanky it was. Much of the hunt ran a bit bushier. Lidie noted it was basically the opposite of the traits people might come to expect with this kind of flavor profile. 

Purple Urkel can be rough to grow. While the supreme purple strain for many, it’s also super finicky. We asked Lidie if part of the goal was to capture some of its traits into something a bit more commercially viable?

“Yeah, exactly,” Lidie said, “I knew that we weren’t gonna be able to get a commercial variety out of the S1. Everything has a designation. When I bought those seeds, they were for a parent because we knew that we would need to do some crossing with it to get it to commercial viability.”

The project now has run for over two years since they first scored the seeds. The last 24 months involved a lot of reversing of favorite phenos and sifting through varieties. 

“​​We found that our processes are always more genetically viable than any other breeder,” Lidie said before noting he’s not totally convinced breeders are putting their best gear up for sale these days. “If you’re a breeder in this industry and you’re a grower, it would be foolish to put out your best shit.”

But aren’t the companies keeping the best and just licensing out second place? That’s cool, right?

“The gap between first and second is miles,” Lidie rebutted. 

The winner of the Planer Dosi x Purple Urkel S1 was the number six in a hunt of 40 and was given the name Y2K, certainly fitting for the throwback terps. Six has been a lucky number for Alien Labs over the years; Biskante’s winner also was six. 

“When you cross with old school shit, usually the bag appeal is what’s lacking,” Lidie explained. “That number six had really good terps, really good flavor, and pretty good bag appeal. It doesn’t exactly look like a modern strain, but it doesn’t look like an old school strain either.”

Keep an eye out for Y2K on shelves all over California.

The conversation would move on to the OG that put them on the map back in the day. It had been out of the rotation for a bit but they decided to bring it back.

“Our menu from the very beginning has always been very carefully curated for each kind of flavor profile and we were missing an OG and, to be fair, so was the industry,” Lidie said. “We brought back the Lemon Fuel.”

Lidie doesn’t feel like those older school genetics haven’t aged very well. 

“Even Lemon Fuel isn’t really exactly how I remember it. And it’s been tissue culture, the whole nine yards it’s just not. It’s crazy,” Lidie said. “It’s just slightly different; it’s still bomb. I still love it. We just finished a whole new round of lemon fuel crosses. And there was a bunch of good stuff in there that I’m really excited for.”

The work included crossing the Lemon Fuel with Y2K, Nightshade, and Alien Labs’ old-school Do-si-dos cut. 

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