For the past 20 years, the top-shelf California cannabis market has been dominated by cultivars defined by bouquets of exotic fuel-tones similar to the piercing fragrance of diesel and gasoline. In regards to the four definitive terpene profiles indicative to ganja (i.e. earth, floral, and fruit, and fuel) fuel-based strains have proven to be the undisputed favorite in the market making them among the most sought after varieties commanding the highest premiums.
With origins of various fuel hybrids stretching from Southern Florida to So-Cal, all the way up to Oregon, California’s Emerald Triangle region has remained the dominant realm in curating and creating a diverse ecosystem for avant-garde petrol-based strains. As the producer of over 70% of the cannabis in the US, the Triangle has stood for over 40 years as the elite proving grounds for developing, breeding, and commercially cultivating the world’s most prized and respected gas selections. Famed for its dense community of world-class commercial and top-shelf cultivators, the Triangle serves as the home to many pivotal breeders in the boutique-breeding scene.
Arguably one of the most influential breeders in Emerald Triangle history is Mandlebrot of Emerald Mountain, creator of the infamous Royal Kush line. In an era when it was difficult to acquire solid fuel genetics in seed, Emerald Mountains collections were available in a few clubs and often immediately sold-out upon release. Much of the original seed release was from 2009 it was bought and resold on the hills of Humboldt and Mendocino for staggering premiums. It wasn’t uncommon to find his work being pushed for $80-$100/seed in some areas. Emerald Mountain maintained the stance that “clones didn’t like being on shelves for long periods of time” and that seeds were the best possible route for healthy genetics so very few of his work before 2013 was available as a clone. And many growers reported huge success with the original seed releases.
However, his most famous work to date is an elite cutting selected by himself from a sea of 3000 starts from the original Royal Kush F1 seed stock. Bred on the Mendocino coast and further developed in Northern Humboldt, The Royal was a game changer during a time when your common choices for fuel were your classic OG or Sour. Given the common body for most of these strains echoed distinctive notes of sour milk, spilled diesel, and lemon zest, the Royal Kush was the first to cultivar to overwhelmingly transcend both worlds of extreme fuel funk and fruit.
The nose was a blend of gasoline diluted Pine-Sol and meyer lemons woven into a core of blackberry cobbler and raspberry scented diesel. For growers she was often described as the end-all-be-all of kush plants. Large yields screaming of gas, no pests, no mold, and flowers stacking into bluish-purple pillows covered in white snow finished earlier than any other fuel strain at the time with a photoperiod of only 50-55 days versus the 70-75 days required for most OG’s and Sours.
In the years of 2011-2013 when law enforcement ramped up their raids on grow sites throughout the triangle; the presence of the original Royal elite clones and the Emerald Mountain seed collections slowly disappeared from clubs and nurseries throughout the state.
During Emerald Mountain’s brief absence from the industry, the Long-Valley Royal Kush (LVRK) project between Mandelbrot and Aficionado Estates aimed to preserve the strain’s presence in the market. The focus was to strengthen the definitive sour-diesel characteristics found in the original elite as well as enhancing her raw gasoline expression and adapting her to the rigorous Long-Valley climate. Unlike the short and stout clone-only, the Long-Valley grew long-legged noodley branches shooting off into dozens of heavy crown bud sites. Her leaf structure wasn’t as broad as the original and her serrations hinted at the diesel lineage with closer more hacksaw-like cuts. The nose was composed of intense layers of jet-fuel and acetone integrated into a bouquet of lemon cleaner and skunk spray as opposed to the more balanced and nuanced floral and fruit, and gas tones found in the original. Although the LVRK expressed herself differently from the initial release of elite clones, the more pronounced fuel profile found itself to be increasingly resistant to pests and high-humidity mold prone conditions.
As time progressed, Mandelbrot would continue his search for the original F1 clone and dedicate himself to increasing the long-term genetic diversity of his collections until his untimely death in 2015. During the LVRK project, he would often mention during long selections in the greenhouse of “How awesome it would be to track down the original and backcross her to a male from each subsequent LVRK generation in order to restore the strains original genetic diversity found only in the F1 genetic code.”
In late 2015, the clone was found in the hands of a single 3rd generation farmer, Nick of HappyTrees 707 and gifted to world-famous Kevin Jodrey of Wonderland Nursery for preservation. Returning full circle, Kevin Jodrey is known as one of the exclusive clone providers of the F1 Royal Kush elite cut from back in the mid-2000’s.
In helping complete one of Mandlebrot’s ultimate breeding goals, The Magnum Opus was created to realize his dream of returning the original elite back into the finest evolution of the current Royal Kush line. During the LVRK project, there was a handful of phenotypes selected by Aficionado and Mandlebrot that were found to express themselves with heavier resin profiles, 27%-29% THC test scores, and resembled the F1 elite more than the predominantly sour-leaning progeny found in most LVRK seed stock. These specially selected family-only varieties of LVRK would be known as Long-Valley Reserve and shared only between select group of farmers in the areas between Laytonville and Leggett, CA. The Magnum Opus being the fusion of the highly prized 10th Generation Long-Valley Reserve Male with Mandelbrot’s original F1 clone will be the end of the line for breeding Royal Kush and serve as a salute to one of the greatest breeders and visionaries in the history of the Emerald Triangle.
It is certainly a blessing to see the growing number of farmers and seed companies honoring Mandelbrot’s work in the manner that his strains will forever live on and continue to bless the world with the magic he has created. He has touched countless hearts and if remembered as one of the most prolific organic farmers on Mendocino and Humboldt. Ahead of his time, he was among the first to recognize the power of 100% organic biodynamic based indoor commercial farming and predominantly plant-based eco-conscious fertilizer inputs. He was not only a teacher and a mentor but a dear friend to us all and will be dearly missed. One love for Ras Truth. #MandelbrotLivesOn.
Origininally published in Weed World Magazine 127