Autoflowering & Feminized Marijuana Pioneer: Exclusive Cannabis Guru Interview

I love the fact that there are  hundreds of different strains of marijuana, each with its own look, taste, smell, growing characteristics, and high.

But how did we get all these strains?

And how did we get feminized seeds that only grow out to be phat marijuana females?

We owe a lot to early Dutch cannabis pioneers.

Until marijuana was legalized in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and other states a few years ago, Holland was pretty much the only place a cannabis connoisseur could work openly and professionally to breed and create new marijuana genetics.

Thus arose the legendary Dutch seed banks, starting with Neville (who was attacked by international police and taken out of the game).

Then Ben Dronkers of Sensi Seeds, Wernard from Positronics, Tony from Sagarmatha, Henk Van Dalen from Dutch Passion, Barney from Barney’s Farm, Luc from Paradise Seeds, Arjan Roskam from Green House Seed Company, and the Cannaabis Cup-winning Americans who founded DNA Seeds in Amsterdam, to name a few.

What’s interesting is that beginning with the importation of South American, Central American, Afghani, Southeast Asian and Jamaican marijuana into the United States during the 1960’s and ‘70’s, North American marijuana breeders have been also responsible for many heritage marijuana varieties.

In fact, some Dutch cannabis seed pioneers got their heritage genetics from North America.

In this article, we have the pleasure of an exclusive interview with the only Dutch marijuana seed pioneer to ever win the High Times Cannabis Cup “Dutch Masters” Award.

Henk Van Dalen, founder of Dutch Passion seed company, is the first-ever recipient of the award… by the time you’ve finished this interview, you’ll see why.

First, a little background…

Collecting and Breeding Marijuana From Around the World

Henk Van Dalen travelled the world for many years gathering the most potent and special cannabis genetics before he created Dutch Passion in 1987.

He’s been involved with cannabis for more than 40 years!

Now celebrating nearly three decades in the marijuana seed industry, Dutch Passion is legendary for its wide menu of reliable, true-growing, mind-shaking regular, autoflowering & feminized marijuana strains.

It would take you at least a couple of stoned-out weeks to sample the traditional Dutch Passion menu: Blueberry, Durban Poison, Skunk #1, Power Plant, Orange Bud, MasterKush, White Widow, Blue Moonshine, and Flo…the Dutch Passion marijuana menu is kind and tasty.

Dutch Passion seeds are popular because they’re lower priced than many other marijuana seeds, they’re ultra-reliable, and they grow out to be exactly what you expect them to be.

But that’s not the only reason Dutch Passion and Henk are award-winners. It’s also because Henk was instrumental in bringing autoflowering & feminized marijuana seeds into the marketplace.

Henk has professional training in biology, and decades ago he started talking to Dutch colleagues about research into creating marijuana seeds guaranteed to grow out as females.

Growers were tired of planting seeds and worrying that half of them would be males, he recalls.

At first, nobody believed Henk when he told them he was working on feminized marijuana seeds.

Or they thought feminized seeds would grow into garbage plants, or were a plot to deprive home growers of the ability to grow their own males and thus breed their own marijuana.

Well here we are years later and feminized seeds are a standard, much desired part of the marijuana seed marketplace.

Growers who want to breed their own cannabis seeds can still get non-feminized seeds and grow males and females, but growers who want to plant marijuana seeds and know that they won’t have to be watching out for males are glad to have feminized technology.

You can thank Henk Van Dalen for that.

Autoflowering Marijuana: Potent Buds from Seed to Harvest in 70 Days or Less

In just the past few years, Henk has again revolutionized the world of cannabis genetics, this time as a pioneer of autoflowering marijuana.

Big Buds has given you articles about autoflowering marijuana before, and my grower network has run test gardens with Dutch Passion autoflowering seeds with good results that you’ll read about in future articles.

What’s funny is that when I first heard about autoflowering several years ago, I dismissed it, because autoflowering marijuana brings in hempy Ruderalis genetics that I always associated with “ditchweed.”

Breeders use Ruderalis genetics to create marijuana plants that grow fast from start to finish fast without you having to change daylength.

But Ruderalis is hempy, and I assumed that any marijuana with enough Ruderalis in it to get rid of the need for 18 hours of veg phase light and then switching to 12 hours of bloom phase light would be headachey ditchweed.

In the early days of autoflowering, it was headachey ditchweed, with the notable exception of the Joint Doctor, a legit, early autoflowering pioneer whose Lowryder autoflowering marijuana is premium cannabis that Henk Van Dalen praises.

I still didn’t pay any attention to autoflowering until I heard from Henk that Dutch Passion had successfully completed a lengthy breeding program that finally brought autoflowering marijuana into the 21st century.

Then I smoked some Dutch Passion autoflowering autofem strains.

The taste, aroma and high were in some ways superior​ to even the best traditional marijuana!

The way I see it, autoflowering marijuana is as big a step forward as hydroponics nutrients that auto-balance pH.

It’s a quantum leap in cannabis genetics that almost certainly would never have happened in Nature, or via regular marijuana seed breeding.

Why? Because Henk had to carefully extract only the favourable short season, automatic light cycle genetic features of Ruderalis, and skillfully blend them in with Indica, Afghanica and Sativa genetics to create non-photoperiod, fast-maturing marijuana that’s every bit as potent and high-yielding as “regular” marijuana.

Not an easy task. And some people are still skeptical…

After growing or smoking most of Henk’s autoflowering varieties, I assure you Dutch Passion has revolutionized the cannabis world with autoflowering marijuana that goes from seed to harvest long before regular marijuana is even midway through bloom phase.

Talking to the Winner of the High Times Cannabis Cup Dutch Masters Award

STEVE DAVIS (SD): Thank you for taking time to talk to Big Buds readers, Henk. Let’s start by you telling us why you into marijuana genetics as a career.

HENK VAN DALEN (HVD):My love of cannabis has been a lifelong affair.  I started growing my first plants as a young adult. Although Dutch Passion was officially started in 1987, I had been growing and breeding plants since the early 1970’s.  This had given me the chance to collect some very special genetics and establish a network of useful contacts. 

I studied Biology at University in Amsterdam and was able to combine my passion for cannabis with a solid scientific background. 

At the time there weren’t the large numbers of seedbanks that we have today, so to me it seemed like a gap in the market.  Many people were recreational and medical users of marijuana but hardly anyone knew about the growing and breeding processes involved.

With each year that passed I was able to learn more of the ‘secrets’ of cannabis: how to get the very best from the genetics, how to get the genetics stabilized, how to breed top quality strains. 

It boils down to having a lifetime of cannabis genetics learning and experience.  There are no shortcuts to becoming a ‘Master At Work’ with cannabis. The truth is less glamorous, because it’s really all about doing extremely hard work over several decades. 

Creating iconic cannabis strains over the years is not easy, Dutch Passion celebrates 25 years in business in 2012 and most of those years have been spent by me and my team putting forth sheer unrelenting effort to get where we are today. 

But we have done this with smiles on our faces and a strong ethical approach to everyone we meet and everything we do. 

I like to think this is also one of the reasons we are still here, and stronger than ever, after 25 years.

SD: Henk, I hear bitter complaints from growers about defective cannabis genetics. They’re not talking about Dutch Passion, but they’re upset with many other seed banks and cannabis seed sellers.

I hear about seeds that don’t sprout properly, don’t grow out to be what they were advertised to be.

I hear about breeders or seed companies taking your genetics and then pirating them to create so-called “new” strains.

Further, I hear about seed re-sellers who do not treat customers well and who may be misrepresenting the seeds they are selling.

What advice do you have for seed buyers?

HVD: The cannabis business, like any other, has its share of substandard companies that come and go. 

The best advice I give growers is find a company that has stood the test of time and try a range of seeds to identify the genetics that give you the most personal satisfaction. 

Every year sees more seedbanks set up; many of them stay small or disappear.

Dutch Passion’s collection of strains has been a lifetime of effort from us, so it is natural that others will take our seeds and breed with them. 

Actually we don’t mind that so much, but it becomes a problem when they steal our copyrighted variety names…varieties that we developed and promoted with a lot of effort. 

So for that reason we have had to register our strains names with trademarks that others should not violate.

Seed reselling has become a big business, but not all of these will offer high levels of customer service. 

With many of them there is no after sales support at all.  For that reason we do encourage our customers to buy safely online from the Dutch Passion website.

And if anything ever did go wrong with our seeds you can talk to us and we will do our best to make matters right.  You can mail us, call us, visit us or contact us via one of the forums where we have a presence such as UK420 or Autoflower network.

Dutch Passion only send seeds within Europe, we always get requests to send seeds to the USA, but U.S. federal law does not allow import of cannabis seeds into the USA, although the medical marijuana laws of many states make it hopeful that things may change.

On our website is a list of approved seed distributors, many of whom will ship seeds to any destination.  Some of these seed resellers are even based outside of Europe.

SD: That’s great advice. I echo some of that in my “how to buy cannabis seeds article.

Are you willing to talk about the harshness the Dutch government has shown towards cannabis in the last ten years?

HVD: The ‘war’ on Dutch coffeeshops has been more of a recent issue. Back in the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s the coffeeshops were praised for cleaning up the streets, for taking drug sales out of the streets and separating hard drugs from cannabis.

But right wing political parties and other opponents started making life difficult for coffeeshops by the late 90’s.  Further, coffeeshops are allowed to sell weed, but the government didn’t legalize production of cannabis.

It is tolerated to grow up to 5 plants outdoors for yourself but it isn’t actually legal to do so; if the police get a complaint they can take the plants. Indoor growing is really against the rules and can get you a big fine or even lose your house if you have rented it to a cannabis grower.

A cannabis coffeeshop license belongs to the owner rather than the coffeeshop property, so when the owner closes the shop the license is often not renewed in many cities, and trying to open a new coffeeshop is very difficult.

Because sentences have become harsher in recent years and there is no legal way to grow weed for coffeeshops, the old-school growers are often too nervous to supply them. 

Coffeeshop owners may prefer to buy from a traditional grower but instead they’re forced to deal with dodgy growers. 

This way the cannabis scene gets more and more criminalised, by the higher sentences that drive out the home growers. 

One model Dutch stoners are looking at is the ‘Cannabis collectives’ which have become popular in Spain. 

These clubs have a solution for production and distribution and in the long term may be a better model for marijuana supply.

In the meantime of course, more and more people are realising it is easier, even in Holland, to grow your own cannabis.

Countries like Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland and even Russia have decriminalised weed and more countries need the political courage to do the same.

Even official medical marijuana users in Holland find growing their own is cheaper than relying on a single state-approved weed grower who supplies only one Indica and one Sativa variety at expensive prices.

Finally I would add that everyone who starts growing their own weed for recreational or medical purposes finds it quickly becomes a hobby they love. 

For many people it is a therapeutic pastime and a lifetime passion. 

That’s where Dutch Passion makes a big difference, in helping everyone grow their own cannabis, whether they grow our top performing traditional varieties or they want the speed and convenience of the massively-improved modern Autofem varieties we’ve created. 

We believe that by offering the public a quality cannabis seed supply we’re having a very positive influence on how people get the marijuana they need, because now it’s so easy for you to grow your own marijuana.

In the past to grow your own crop you need many months, a lot bigger room, and you had to have a lot of expertise.

Now with Dutch Passion autofems, you can plant, grow and harvest within 70 days or sometimes less, and these buds are as potent as traditional weed, yet they are so easy to grow that can even be cultivated in small pots on your window sill.

With Dutch Passion feminised autoflowering cannabis, anyone can grow their own weed, quickly, and with no special skills or knowledge.  This is how we as cannabis seed suppliers meet the changing needs of society.

SD: When I first grew out and smoked your autofems, frankly I was expecting not much of a high, or much weight. But when I tested the buds, I was surprised not just at how potent the buds were, but how different the high was compared to regular marijuana.

Please discuss how the Ruderalis genetics influence the autoflowering high…
HVD: A few years ago autoflowering marijuana was medium potency at best.  Nowadays autoflowering buds are as strong as the best traditional varieties, and are increasingly popular with medical and recreational users. 

It is interesting that you describe the high as different from what you are used to.  At the moment we are trying to get some advanced scientific analysis done on autoflowering cannabinoid profiles, and we will keep you posted on that.

Of course you know different people have a different response to the same marijuana.  Even within the Dutch Passion team you find differences of opinion on the effects of a specific strain.

It seems that each person has a slightly different ‘sweet spot’ for certain cannabinoid profiles.  No single strain can ever be everyone’s favourite. 

That’s why Dutch Passion works hard to identify new and special genetics and to maintain a high quality assortment of marijuana varieties in our collection. 

On top of our public collection we have a massive cannabis genetics bank of varieties and special genetics that we are always investigating and transforming; it’s a non-stop process at Dutch Passion.

SD: Your use of Ruderalis genetics is fascinating to me. I used to think of Ruderalis as just industrial hemp and you could smoke tons of it and never get high, you’d only get a headache.
HVD:  Ruderalis is not a good source of THC, but it has other less-psychoactive compounds in there, and is high in cannabidiol (CBD), which has medicinal uses. 

We have been involved with Autofem varieties for five years and we are leading this particular field right now – you can see that with some of the Internet reports and grow diaries. 

We’re very happy with the unique ways we have learned to blend Ruderalis genetics with Indica and Sativa. 

People were surprised that we had the confidence to allow LED pioneer Seymour Buds to do a test grow of our Think Different marijuana live on the Internet before the ‘official’ launch of that strain. 

In fact we were not nervous at all, and we had every confidence that the genetics and the skills of the grower would yield a 200+ grams result– from a single plant.

Seymour delivered 356 grams from the first plant publically grown! That shows you why we have such confidence in autoflowering marijuana and it also shows how far the technology has come from the first generations of autoflowering cannabis plants.

The main messages to your readers are that AutoFems have delivered incredible performance results, and they have not yet reached their fullest potential.

They’re already faster and easier to grow than regular marijuana, but just as potent, and it’s going to get even better!

People ask how can autoflowering achieve such results in a short time.

One thing to remember is that flowering autoflowering marijuana can fully photosynthesise 20 hours of daily light, in contrast to the 12 hours of light that traditional strains use during bloom cycle. 

That gives autofems an inherent advantage in the amount of bud and resin they can make in a given time period. 

Keep a close eye on the Autofem varieties in the coming years.  They are every bit as revolutionary for the cannabis grower as feminized seed was when we invented that back in the 1990’s.

Our three best selling Autofem strains are: AutoMazar which delivers stunning yields and a super strong Indica high; Think Different is possibly more potent that even AutoMazar and is more of a Sativa strain; AutoBlueberry is something of a connoisseur favourite, perhaps not quite the crazy yields that the other two have, but AutoBlueberry has all the original Blueberry flavours, taste and aromas. 

All our Autos have now been constantly reworked to the same high standards as the three best sellers. SnowStorm #2, Taiga, Tundra, and PolarLight#2 all deliver great yields and highs. 

We recognize that marijuana growers like a wide variety of choices. So even though non-feminized seed represents only 3% of our sales we continue to also supply regular non-feminized seed in 14 different strains!

And we are introducing a fantastic new strain this year that we will offer in regular non-feminized seeds.  Dutch Passion does this as a service for people who like to make their own seeds.

SD: You’ve given us so much great information, Henk, and I know the cannabis genetics are calling to you to get back to breeding cannabis.

If there’s anything else you want to say to Big Buds readers, please share it with us…
HVD: What I’m most happy about is that more and more people are growing cannabis; marijuana is more widespread than ever before.

Cannabis is being dispensed as a medicine in several European countries and in a growing number of states in the US, and it’s becoming widely accepted by the mainstream medical community.

Many doctors in Europe, North America and elsewhere agree that marijuana genuinely helps their patients cope with pain and illness.

Legal marijuana-based medicines from pharmaceutical companies are being sold. The amount of research into marijuana as a medicine is at an all-time high. It vindicates everything we have done and said over the years.

Cannabis is a gift to mankind that never killed anyone. It heals us. Today you can grow the strongest, tastiest and safest marijuana in 70 days or less using Autofem seeds, so there’s every reason for everyone to become a grower.

We will continue to develop the great new strains that our customers love. We have pioneered feminized seeds and become leaders in AutoFems.

We’re working harder than ever to keep innovating and improving. It’s what growers want us to do.

Dutch Passion guarantees fresh seeds of the best quality strains so you can grow championship quality marijuana easily.

That’s what Dutch Passion has always been about, and always will be.

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