My next few days in Rasol are spent walking out of the village in different directions each morning for a few hours. I met some really amazing families along the way and made some friends that I will surely come back and visit again soon.
Many hours were spent chatting about the local cannabis phenotypes and how the arrival of western genetics has affected the crop. There is a general consensus that there are a number of flavour and smell profiles in the Parvati valley now that did not exist before the arrival of western hybrid genetics. Even with the inevitable back crossing year after year with wild pollen there still remains new distinct phenotypes.
I have been told multiple times by farmers old enough to remember pre 70’s era plant types that the mango smell profile I keep finding is original to the area, as is a tall pure purple plant with a sativa dominance which the locals often cull.
There is certainly a very wide selection of different cannabis genetics here now and much of that has come from seeds brought here over the years in an effort by westerners to improve yield or just add more flavours. It a practice which I’m personally not a fan of as interference with local landrace genetics especially when talking about introducing feminised or auto-flowering genetics could have a devastating effect on the local wild plant stock. One good thing up here is that so far there is so much wild pollen floating around during the flowering season that all the plants eventually seem to slowly resemble more of their original form after a few seasons of back crossing
It wasn’t long before I am presented with a large number of dried plants to sort through and check for distinct phenotypes. These were all from one small field that the farmer decided to dry in the dark and save for seed collection and dry sieve hash production. He tells me that all the plants came from one batch of local seeds. I can almost immediately see and smell that there are at least 5 distinct flavour profiles and both sativa and more hybrid dominant genes here.
It just goes to prove that up here the genetics have certainly been interfered with. It also means that unless farmers are very picky when they are rubbing Charas and only rub from similar plants all day, much of the Charas is inevitably made from multiple different plant types and therefore the flavour is often slightly confused as is the high.
I take this opportunity to start collecting seeds of the different phenotypes I find as well as a some-more mixed seed. I show the farmer what I am doing and explain that by doing this each year they can select out their favourite traits and smells, rather than always using mixed seeds. Its knowledge that they of course already know, but seeing how I process and clean the seeds and store them, and what kind of things I am looking for in the plants I think they found it interesting and maybe a little bit useful. Of course, regardless of planting out selected seed each year, everything will cross randomly every season so it’s an ongoing process here to try and maintain a stable gene pool.
As a seed collector and enthusiast, it is very interesting to have so much variety to select from but in an area where wild pollen is everywhere every year it’s basically impossible to selectively breed up here in the mountains.
I’ll show more of the seed collecting process in a later blog but for now, its time for me to prepare to hike out of this area as reports of imminent snow are becoming more and more frequent and if the snow is heavy there is no leaving the village afterwards possibly for weeks