Learn more about your favourite cannabis flower or dive into something new as we explore the history, growing methods and unique properties of our most popular strains. In this feature, we’re spotlighting Cold Creek Kush, a woodsy, pungent, tall-growing plant.
Aroma and Taste: Woodsy, earthy, herbal, piney, sour
Common Dominant Terpenes: Caryophyllene, Limonene, Myrcene, Pinene
Average THC: Strong to very strong Average CBD: Minimal
Cold Creek Kush was developed by T.H. Seeds, one of the oldest cannabis seed companies in the world. It has two well-known parent strains — Chemdog 91, a hybrid, and MK Ultra, an indica — both known for their THC potency and pungent, sharp aromas.
Chemdog 91 (the number in the name is said to refer to 1991, the year of its creation) is descended from the legendary Chemdog (or Chemdawg) strain, which is thought to be a cross between Thai and Nepalese landraces. MK Ultra is known for its potency, strong aroma and citrusy taste.
What makes Cold Creek Kush stand out is its unmistakable strong earthy, herbal aromas and woody, sour pine flavours. “We’re not sure if this is unique to our Cold Creek, but there’s a noticeable and distinct dank smell that comes from this cultivar in the growing room. It has a very strong, kushy aroma that is easily distinguishable,” says Hua Zhang, head of cultivation at HEXO.
Depending on the growing conditions, the colas (the clusters of buds on female plants) can be long and compact, with bright amber pistils and covered in frosty white trichomes. Redecan’s buds are well-spaced on the plant, with a distinctive “foxtail” look, says Brad Carter, master grower. While UP’s Cold Creek Kush is light green, other phenotypes can have dark, foresty tones, depending to the resin content, and the size may vary. “Our Cold Creek Kush flower finishes into nice, compact, tight buds with light and dark shades of green that are covered in trichomes,” says Chad Brian, vice-president of cultivation at AgMedica. “The visual aesthetics can be attributed to both our phenotype selection and our vertical cultivation strategy, which uses LED lighting.”
But what Cold Creek Kush is really known for is its potency — its THC content is typically at least 20%, with very little to near-zero CBD. “Our UP20 cultivars are always 20% THC or higher, so in order to hit that threshold, we must be methodical and attentive to each plant’s needs to ensure consistency,” says Zhang.
This broad-leaf plant prefers to grow up and out like a large shrub, typically standing at 6.5 feet tall by five feet wide. From start to finish, Cold Creek Kush takes eight to 11 weeks to flower, and it flourishes with a lot of natural sunlight.
Producers seem to have success in growing this plant to a consistent size from harvest to harvest. UP has found it performs better in the summer months and a warmer climate, though the company has been able to adapt its hybrid greenhouse in the winter to produce the same results. “We’re able to adjust lighting daily depending on the sun’s cooperation and supplement with artificial light when needed,” says Zhang. At Redecan, the team strives for an ideal environment of 20 to 25ºC in a greenhouse to optimize the amount of natural sunlight.
As any Producer will tell you, each strain has its own challenges. While Cold Creek Kush gets plenty of air flow through its tall, leggy structure, its skinny branches require a lot of support when the heavy buds start developing, says Carter. “Also, because of the sativa plant structure, when pruning the plant, you must be cautious to not remove too many branches, or yield will be affected,” he says.
AgMedica worked hard to mold Cold Creek Kush to thrive within its multi-tier growing operation, which allows just three feet of height for each plant. The cannabis is grown under LED lighting in rockwool, with nutrient-rich irrigation, and finely balanced temperature, CO2 and humidity levels.
AgMedica’s “vertical” growing process was adapted from the one sometimes used in the mushroom farming industry.
Ever developing new ways to improve their crops, many Producers — including HEXO and AGMedica —have been working on cutting-edge phenotyping and experimentation with cannabis tissues, which replace traditional cloning methods. Zhang says the process has shown improvements in cannabinoid and terpene concentrations in its Cold Creek Kush.
To understand what a cannabis strain is, think of it like a breed of dog. While all dogs share similar traits, there are distinct differences among breeds (you wouldn’t confuse a Great Dane with a dachshund, for example). When it comes to different cannabis strains, this means one may have a sweet, lemony aroma, while another may boast a pungent, sour, diesel-like scent.
These differences have been fine-tuned by cannabis growers over many generations. Growers will choose two plants with desirable traits and then cross (or breed) those plants together, creating an offspring with a stronger expression of those desirable characteristics. When breeding cannabis plants, growers are often focused on the unique aroma and taste, and the potential THC and CBD content. Just like no two Great Danes are identical, strains can vary from lot to lot and grower to grower.