Breeder Spotlight: Matthew Riot – Riot Seeds
By: Jed Sanders
Photo Strain: Soul Assassin OG Kush
As the San Diego attorney’s office wages war against safe access to medical marijuana, it has done nothing but pushes patients to, once again, find their medicine amongst a black market.
The timing of the federal government’s latest bust at 4:20 pm is an obvious mockery and hints towards an agenda that stretches far beyond the enforcement of federal law. Hopefully, voters will remember this day as Bonnie Dumanis plans to run for Mayor of San Diego.
While this is supposed to be a democracy and not a dictatorship, Dumanis has gone against the wishes of Californians who voted to put this law into place. Before it is all over, her actions will cost local taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuits and lost tax revenue.
Despite the war on drugs, it never held water to say marijuana is dangerous or harmful, especially when compared to products of our pharmaceutical industry with their endless lists of side effects. Even for recreational purposes, drunk driving and artery-clogging food establishments on every corner have proven to be more harmful.
While we don’t know what the future holds for medical marijuana, we do know that legalities and politics haven’t stopped the tremendous amount of progress and development with marijuana in the past. Huge advances have been made in increasing potency, improving taste, and isolating beneficial effects down to specific ailments to help aid the patient and end-user of cannabis.
So, who are these people who come up with these new strains, devote their lives, and risk their freedom for the plant that we hold so close to our hearts? This month we are proud to introduce Matthew Riot of the Riot Seed Company.
How did you get started breeding?
I had already been growing for several years by the time I started breeding. My best friend’s mother who raised me had passed away from pancreatic cancer and this is what tuned me into the true medical aspects of cannabis, especially certain strains. I made it my goal to find and work with a strain that could help sufferers of similar terminally ill conditions to ease their passing. It took a lot of hard work, as well as failure before I started making any progress.
You seem to be a kind of punk rock seed company. How did that come about?
I grew up in the punk rock scene when it was still dangerous to go to punk rock shows. Everything I’ve done has had some sort of punk rock edge to it, from all the bands I was in, to the way I designed certain things for my design company. Bringing it to cannabis seeds, I learned that it almost became a necessity to make it. With all of the slanders and crazy competitive (might I add unnecessarily) nature of this business, I had to learn to say, Fuck it, I’m going to do what I want and if you don’t like it, tough shit. That’s what gained us this reputation, and frankly, I love it.
What is the story behind Clockwork Orange?
Wow, that’s a crazy tale. I met this dude, Crazy Doug, when I first moved down to San Diego. He had the craziest collection of rare strains and ran in circles where the most elite clone-only cuttings made the rounds. I got a good reference for him from the Hawg (R.I.P.), so we decided to do some trading. Anyway, Crazy Doug, as you can tell from his name, is not the most stable guy to walk the face of the earth. Doug showed me a specific plant he had and explained how this phenotype was as strong as the hash made from the other seeds that came from the same pack, and they were strong as well. This particular plant had a crazy leaf mutation. It had what we call a “leaf crinkle” and can only be explained by saying it looks like someone walked up behind the plant and scared the shit out of it. On two different occasions I asked him how it was found and he gave me a different story each time. The first time he told me he made it in a colchicines experiment. The second time he told me it came out of the seed pack that way. The truth…Who knows. I bought that particular plant from him and, as sure as rain in Seattle, it was the strongest plant I had ever encountered. Hell, it’s still the strongest plant I’ve ever encountered. We tried to start breeding out the mutation and keep the potency for the first year, and we were able to breed out the “leaf crinkle”. However, when the leaf crinkle phenotype would pop up in the progeny, it was still way stronger than the ones that didn’t have the leaf crinkle. By this time, we had made a huge mistake by worrying about how aesthetically pleasing the leaves looked. However, we had lost that original cutting, so we spent the next three years trying to recapture the original smell, taste, structure, and leaf formation of the original mother cutting. What we ended up with is identical to the original clone we received from Crazy Doug, and this is what today is called Clockwork Orange. Now there are certain phenotypes of Clockwork Orange that showed up from the feminized selfed seeds that don’t display the leaf mutations and still have that crazy potency. One of these we named Smart Alex after a song by the punk rock band, The Adicts.
Not many breeders will talk about how they make feminized seeds. Can you explain how you do yours?
Sure. I’ll be happy to lay down a trade secret. There are several different ways to make feminized seeds using a few different chemicals or the natural way. A few of the chemicals that can be used are silver nitrate combined with sodium thiosulfate. You can also make homemade colloidal silver, and some breeders use gibberellic acid. The natural way would be to push a female plant to sprout male flowers (yes, this means to cause it to herm.) When we reverse a plant to throw male flowers, it must have already passed a test and not produced male flowers from stress, that way it doesn’t pass on any hermaphroditic tendencies. The chemicals basically trick the plant into thinking it is in the last stages of blooming and about to die. When cannabis plants are pushed to this stage of flowering, they naturally produce male flower clusters to make seeds. That way when the plant dies, the seeds drop to the ground, allowing some of them to plant themselves. The natural Johnny Appleseed as it were.
How do you come about the names for your strains?
Wow…That’s never an easy process. I’m pretty well-known for having profane names for my strains. Basically, it all depends on my mood. Sometimes women give me inspiration, sometimes music or bands. Sometimes it’s straightforward and just a mishmash combining the names of the genetics involved. That’s how I end up with strains named Clockwork Orange, Angelfuck, and Blue Velvet Cindy.
What is the “sex change ” spray that you sell? How do you use it?
The sex change spray is our modification on the traditional silver nitrate/sodium thiosulfate mixture. It’s modified, so it doesn’t stain clothes. It has antibacterial properties, so it works well in fighting any mold that could occur from foliar spraying during the flowering phase. Basically, it comes premixed in a spray bottle ready to use out of the package. You spray the chosen plant (in isolation and away from other plants) once a day on the first day of flower for three weeks straight. Male flowers will appear and produce viable pollen, at which point you collect the pollen as you choose and then pollinate the target plant that you wish to produce seeds. BAM! Brilliant! And it’s completely idiot-proof.
What do you feel is a big misconception with a grower choosing their genetics?
I think most new growers tend to choose strains like OG Kush, Chemdawg, etc., in hopes that it can make up for their lack of skill in growing. In all actuality, OG’s and Chems unhybridized are not easy plants to grow. It does take some skill to grow them correctly, and they can throw male flowers from being stressed, so they end up with strains that they cannot grow. I always recommend new growers to start out with a Skunk #1 hybrid, just to get their feet wet, so they can learn how plants respond to nutrients, their environmental conditions, lighting, how to deal with pests, etc. In the end, it saves them money and they end up growing better bud.
What is the most difficult strain you have ever worked with? Why?
Our Original Sativa OG Kush is very hard to work with and grow. At the least bit of heat stress or nutrient stress, if the medium gets too dry, it drops all of its leaves and stops growing and withers away. The first few years we were working with her, we’d get near the end of flower. It’d look gorgeous, and it would always happen. It’s a plant that can take several years to perfectly grow; but when you do, it’s worth it. There are also strains like Purple Urkle and Soul Assassin #3 OG Kush that is very slow to grow in veg and produce very little bud, but the bud they produce is well worth it. They’re horrible for cash croppers, but magic for head stash and connoisseur smoke.
What strains are you currently working on?
Well, we are currently working to re-release Clockwork Orange in an S1 (Selfed, Feminized) form. We just finished up releasing Green Crack, the 2nd edition of our Pre-98 Bubba, as well as a few others. We are working on the next generation of our OG Kush (SAC #3 Cut). The SAC #3 OG has been receiving a lot of press because of its unyielding potency and its aesthetically pleasing buds. It’s a big purple monster with tons of frost. But just releasing seeds and new crosses isn’t enough anymore. We’re at that stage where we want to go back and make some of our strains better than they are. We want to keep challenging ourselves to keep pushing that envelope with what we’ve already made. We will always keep the newest and hippest medical strains in our library and make them available from time to time. But for a while we were on a surge to keep up with the requests from our friends and patients on different strains they wanted to see, so we had to pull in the reigns a bit!
What advice would you give to new breeders and growers?
Shit…New growers…Keep it simple. Always use the KISS Method. Don’t start mixing nutrients like a mad scientist. Just use your basics and don’t buy into the used car salesmen hype that the guys who work at your local hydro shop will give you. Nine times out of ten, they have no clue what nutrient does what and what you actually need for your environment or medium to pull off a successful grow. Advice for new breeders… just get ready because there are breeders out there who are hateful, and some will do anything to keep you from being successful. You need thick skin and a love for what you do to make it through that gauntlet.
How do you feel about others using your genetics to cross and make new strains?
I love it! Man when someone finds that special plant in a pack of our seeds, (which is ideally what we’re going for in every pack) and they think it’s so good that they want to use it and try to make it even better…That’s gold to me. It makes me feel like we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do. I see breeders getting mad about other people using their genetics, but aren’t we all here with the same goal…To make the best bud imaginable? There are certain cases when a person produces a direct copy of our work using our genetics and tries to offer it for less without giving us credit. That’s a bummer, but it’s that way in every business. There will always be people who do that, but when a customer of ours, or a breeder out there, gets a hold of our stuff and loves it so much they think it should carry on in future progeny, that’s what it’s all about.
Name something that you would like to see changed in the cannabis breeding industry?
I’d like to see more women involved in all aspects of cannabis, but especially in breeding. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, women grow the best pot. They have some sort of symbiotic relationship with plants and a mothering nature that really shows through in the end product. We need more women!
What is the biggest compliment you have ever received? What is the biggest insult?
the Biggest compliment would have to be when a terminally ill patient receiving our medicine let us know that our work helped them to be able to eat again and improve their quality of life. There’s nothing more important than that to me. The biggest insult God, there’s a lot to choose from. I’ve had people accuse me of being an informant, of being sexist, racist, and none of which are remotely true. Sometimes people forget that there’s a human behind the seed company, especially on the cannabis forums online. We only want to focus on the positive though, so we have to take that stuff with stride and realize it’s happening to all of us breeders.
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to still be doing what I love, growing this plant and doing what I can to make people’s lives better by breeding.
Who are some other breeders you respect and admire? Why?
I admire Bodhi from Bodhi Seeds. He’s a very calm natured individual who never had anything negative to say about anyone. He’s amazing at what he does, but also maintains a truly humble nature. He makes wonderful strains, very multicultural, and actually goes out there to collect the landrace genetics around the world. I mean, how many of us can say we’re actually doing something to preserve genetics like that? Also, Loompa from Loompa Farms Seeds. He is hands down the best grower in California. He’s got a big heart and everything he grows and breeds is done with precision. Those two guys definitely make this world a much better place.
Where do you see the future of cannabis seeds going?
Unfortunately, I think it has a very dim future with the current state of the political world and how big pharmacy tends to have such a large say in everything. We only have to look to Holland and how they have Bedrocan supplying their whole country’s medical marijuana for medical marijuana patients. I foresee the closing of collectives in order to pave the way for one company to come in and take over and monopolize and bastardize what marijuana activists have been trying to do for years. It may end up legal as long as you have a prescription from a doctor at a normal medical clinic, and you will have one place to go and get your meds from. One or two strains max to choose from, no more organic anything. I just hope I’m wrong.
— Learn more at www.Riotseeds.nl