HIGH TIMES brings you tales of hardship and victory from across the globe. Our roving reefer reporters give you the dope on what's being grown, picked and smoked this harvest season. Fire up a fatty and get in touch with your bud-blowing brethren across this pot planet of ours.

THE NETHERLANDS


The Netherlands escaped the flood-ridden weather that plagued much of Central Europe this summer. Even though most of the summer has been gray and cool, much of August was dry. For example, Mila, of the Hemp Hotel (Amsterdam) and Pollinator fame, visited the Master's garden just south of Amsterdam in August and reported, "His famous White Widow plants were 12' tall and growing." However, seed man Soma (somaseeds.com) cautions, "The weather can change at any minute in Holland."

At the 52nd parallel that bisects the Netherlands, most daylight-sensitive plants start blooming the first week in September, and are hanging to dry by the end of October. To give North Americans some perspective, the 52nd parallel passes through the northern tip of Vancouver Island and just south of Calgary, Canada. Cold, rainy arctic weather gusts in off the North Atlantic by mid-September, bringing conditions perfect for the infamous gray mold (botrytis cinera), referred to as "schimmel" by Dutch growers. This is the fatal mold that pulverizes buds before harvest. The days grow short fast, and coupled with the declining angle of the sun, little light is available to ripen buds. These conditions make harvesting top-quality outdoor Dutch buds a rarity.


The new right-wing government has further compounded outdoor-growing woes, but the area from Amsterdam south to Rotterdam is more liberal than the rest of the country. It's still legal to grow four plants. Nonetheless, this year you don't see as many flowering females on Dutch balconies and rooftops as in years past.
Greenhouses are one of the best ways to protect plants from the harsh northern climate in this flatlander country, where nearly one-third of the land is below sea level. The Dutch are also pioneers in high-pressure sodium greenhouse lighting, which augments natural sunlight and extend short northern days. Anybody who has flown into Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport at night has surely seen large rectangles of yellow-orange light beaming upward from the greenhouses.

Pressure from the United States has also helped diminish formerly blatant greenhouse crops. More and more growers are moving to southern provinces and some further south to Belgium, where the weather is a bit warmer and the heat less.

Indoor growers are more secretive, but very, very productive. They have taken up all the slack caused by the short-lived vacuum in the lucrative Dutch cannabis market caused by the police. These ingenious, hard-working growers form the backbone of domestic production. Their professional grow operations are invisible to neighbors and authorities. The cops only act against growers if there is a complaint or if the grow show is overtly obvious. This year, just like every year for more than three decades, you will find great pot in the Netherlands. You will never leave this marvelous bastion of freedom without getting your fill of some of the finest weed in the world! --Jorge Cervantes

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

SWITZERLAND


To understand growing in Switzerland, you must first understand its geography, which has isolated nationals for centuries. It's mainly mountainous, and the people reside in the valleys and pride themselves on being self-sufficient and politically autonomous. Laws and sentiments in the 25 cantons (equivalent to states or provinces) often differ substantially, including laws on growing and distributing cannabis.

Swiss autonomy began to slip away when they joined the United Nations in the spring of this year. Along with UN membership came signing on to the descendents of the 1961 Single Convention--the global pot-ban treaty that was the brainchild of US prohibition progenitor Harry Anslinger, and the reason countries can't fully legalize pot.

These laws are interpreted and applied differently by authorities in the cantons. However, one thing is for sure, varying degrees of reefer repression are apparent virtually everywhere in the country. At least six big clone producers have been shut down. Several big growers have had their business records, lights and plants, both indoor and outdoor, confiscated. To other established growers, it's business as usual. My personal theory is that this is the conservatives' last stand against the likelihood that cannabis laws will loosen up in the next year or two. These control freaks are using any means possible to impose their will upon honest citizens.


In general, the northern, German-speaking area is the coldest part of the country, and there was some flooding in the mountain regions near the Austrian border. The German-speaking cantons are where most of the repression is taking place. The weather this year has been very wet much of the summer and into the fall. Bud mold is the biggest obstacle to most. Temperatures here are cool, and outdoor harvests are slow to mature. Indoor growers, ever more underground, are taking up the slack to keep tokers well supplied. No shortage of killer cannabis and high-flying hash here!

The southwestern, French-speaking cantons are a little warmer, and the westernmost cantons are enjoying relatively consistent warm wind that originates in maritime Mediterranean France. The wind has been the best mold deterrent this year, saving many a crop from the fatal fungus.

The Italian-speaking region, the palm-growing banana belt, enjoys the warmest weather in the country. Although they have received their share of rain and humidity, savvy growers here, both indoors and out, are harvesting heavy this year.

Thieves have also taken their toll. Growers are planting crops further from main thoroughfares to deter cellphone-toting thieves.

Farming has always been a demanding business in Switzerland. Swiss growers have risen to the challenge once again this year, and continue to supply some of the finest smoke in the world. Even after all the obstacles--politics, laws, weather and bandits--there is no shortage of dynamite bud and mesmerizing hash in this country, one of the most defiantly free in the world. --Jorge Cervantes

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

SPAIN


All over the country, growers planted a lot more this year than last year. Marijuana is everywhere--balconies, closets, spare rooms, patios, fields and backyard gardens. Walk down any street in any city in the country, and keep an eye upward. Within a few blocks, you will see a lush weed-wielding balcony. Recently at a party on the top of a 10-story building in Barcelona, we counted no less than nine gardens cultivated by neighbors.

In the words of a good friend, Goyo, "We smoke so much here that we run out of the outdoor crop a few months after harvest every year." To remedy this problem, Spaniards are following the mandate set forth by antiprohibitionists: Contra la Prohibicion, me planto. "Against prohibition, I plant." Take it from me, you don't want to tell a Spaniard no!

Legal policies are sporadically enforced, as evidenced by a noted breeder in Andalusia when local authorities visited. After he gave them an hour-long tour of his garden and touted his love of the sacred medicinal herb, one of the friendly foes cautioned him, "Watch out for the Guardia Civil (National Police), they can be real jerks."

Today Spain is one of the biggest seed markets in the world. In fact, there are several new Spanish seed companies, including Cannabiogen, Seed Club and Good House, all of which are striving to produce seed for the Iberian peninsula and similar climates. Grow shops have reached a saturation point, with some 500 that sell seeds, smart drugs and grow equipment.


The North Coast above Portugal was wet this year--more rain than normal fell, and humidity was very high. Bud mold was rampant among outdoor crops. Indoor growing is just starting to catch on there.

Growing was rampant, especially indoors, in Basque country in 2002. Fearless outdoor growers are planting in the open. Their only concern is theft. This is the fifth year the legalization association planted and harvested their large jointly planted patch. Several commercial clone producers have appeared on the scene to supply quality genetics to indoor growers year-round.

Central Spain, which is normally arid, was also much wetter than normal. The thick-budded, predominately indica varieties that have become popular suffered much more loss from mold than ever before. The meteorologists blame the wet weather here and the rest of Europe on El Niño.

Cataluña and southward to Andalusia was also plagued by bud-obliterating "mojo" (mold) caused by unseasonably humid, rainy weather. This is the first time outdoor growers have had to deal with out-of-control botrytis in their buds. Growers here and the rest of the country are rethinking growing such thick-budding varieties.

Arid Andalusia was least affected by the wet weather, but nonetheless had its problems. Growers here are more prone to planting long-season open-budded sativa varieties that are naturally resistant to mold.

Even with all the bad weather, I think Alvaro summed it up best: "You don't have to smoke hash any more." --Jorge Cervantes

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

AUSTRALIA


Until the late '80s, the tokers of Australia had to rely on imported and outdoor herb. Imports came mainly from Southeast Asia, our immediate neighbors to the north. Outdoor weed in New South Wales came from the fertile rolling hills of Nimbin; elsewhere, from larger outdoor crops further afield.

Now, the annual report of the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence states: "Domestic production of hydroponically grown cannabis appears to have reduced the demand for imported herbal cannabis." It is estimated by those more in the know that indoor now has an 80% market share.

In the modern era, you'll need to peer down south to the Great Australian Bight, the major breeding ground of the Great White Shark, to discover the motherlode of our annual harvest. The state of South Australia (SA) once had the most cannabis-friendly laws in the nation, and is now affectionately known as the "Amsterdam of the South," a label much loathed by its politicians.

As Australia is "down under" in the Southern Hemisphere, ranging from a latitude of 10 degrees to 43 degrees South, the seasons are the complete opposite of North America. It's summer and hot in December, while in July and August it is the dead of winter. Most outdoor growers plant in the spring, September, and harvest in the autumn, around April. However, depending on the location, it is possible to successfully grow all year round.

SA growers have gone indoors with a vengeance and are producing plants that rival that puny Christmas tree erected in Times Square each year. In a direct response to the one-plant limit of state law, they are grown in one-plant growrooms, in pots of up to 250 liters, and blasted with up to 10,000 watts. Vegged for 12 weeks and then flowered for eight, a single plant has been known to yield 10 to 12 pounds of dried bud. They're usually grown in coco-fiber, drip-fed using "horseshoe" drippers that sit on top of the medium and may be operated either on a run-to-waste or recirculating basis.

Such is the regularity and sheer size of the yield that it has flooded NSW and Victoria, the two most populous states, and forced down wholesale pound prices. In Sydney, NSW, the most expensive market, A$15,000 (about $8,000 US) can get you almost five pounds of primo. In SA, it'd buy you nearly eight pounds--hence, the darn wagon trains of it that whiz up here via the highways and byways from down South.

This boom in local cultivation, particularly indoors, has been aided and abetted by online seed banks that are not as wary of shipping orders here as they are to the USA. The wares of those horticultural houses are being traded and swapped, inbred and crossbred, and prolifically grown all over the country.

Such is the health and vigor of the industry that the first local seed bank to go public, Australian Sativa Seeds (seedsdirect.to/breederlist.html) was recently launched in cyberspace. Their signature strain is the infamous Mullumbimby Madness, a complex conglomeration of Indo-Asian strains, mostly sativa. Unless you've got the strength of Goliath and the patience of Job, it's best grown in the great outdoors. Also in the Madman Genetics range are "Elephant Killer" and an "Outdoor Pack," while a compatriot who masquerades as the Penguin has "Aussie Bush," a classic sativa-dominant hybrid directly descended from the wild Hunter Valley strains first discovered in the mid-'60s along the Hunter River in and around Newcastle, NSW.

Who would have thought that a humble G-man would have gotten it so right in the 1930s when he warned: "Undoubtedly, if prompt action is not taken, marihuana will flood Australia and New Zealand." --Jay Walker

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

JAMAICA


Ganja grows in abundance in Jamaica, but like any plant, it grows in some places better than others. Westmoreland, where the tourist mecca Negril is situated, produces some of the best ganja to be found on the island. Gone are the days of the legendary lambsbread, but many tasty new varieties have since emerged.

Some growers still grow the old-fashioned way. "Just put it in the ground and let Jah do the rest," one told me not too long ago. But others have taken the "higher" road, getting seeds from Amsterdam or Canada. Over the last few years, strains such as Blueberry and Purple Skunk have been common. Some of the latest varieties being offered are Bubbleberry, Bat Girl and the Bush Sativa. Bubbleberry is top on my list; it gives you a nice heavy, long-lasting high, and is far better than any of the "tourist" stuff that's readily available.

Finding quality herb is hard but not impossible. Top-quality ganja can be pricey by Jamaican standards even outside of the tourist areas. Most of this herb costs J$1,000 (about $20) or more a bag, and usually goes to the most serious smokers or to reggae's ganja connoisseurs.

Jamaica has the perfect climate for growing ganja. With its average temperature of 85ºF, plants of all kinds love it. With the near-constant year-round temperature, growers have a wide range of planting options. Most get 2-3 crops in a year. The normal season is the spring planting season, harvesting in late September. The spring planting will usually give you the best and largest plants.

There has also been some question about the difference between the green and brown herb. This is mainly due to the method of curing. The green is dried indoors by hanging, and the brown is dried outdoors in the sun, which makes it dry faster and turns it brownish in color. You can have a brown and green variety of the same herb. The slow-cured ganja is always a better smoke, but many times it's too green and needs to sit out a bit before smoking. --Brian Jahn

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

SOUTH AFRICA

Southern Africa has four main ganja producing countries, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa. Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have also been known to produce some excellent weed, but not on the scale of the other four.

Malawian growers are renowned for producing Malawi Gold, some of the finest natural herb on the planet. They also have a unique way of packaging--the almost-dry herb is placed into the leaves of a cob of corn, which are rolled into a cigar shape and wrapped with twine. These "cobs" are then left to cure, sometimes even being buried in the mud of a riverbank. The result is a rich, dark weed with a great earthy taste. Due to a drought this year, availability of this delicacy is limited.

Swaziland weed is renowned for its big juicy heads, but unfortunately, most of the harvest is destined for export to Europe, at up to 20 tons at a time. Who can blame them, though--the money earned from this probably exceeds the gross domestic product of the entire country.

Lesotho, the Mountain Kingdom, and its neighboring province in South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal, are responsible for the tight lime-green heads that have received notoriety as the world-famous Durban Poison.

The largest growing area in South Africa is the Transkei, which was a black homeland under the apartheid government. It is still a rural, tribal area, and marijuana-growing is probably its largest single source of income by far. There are legends that say that a group of European travelers distributed high-quality seed in the area in the '80s. One of the best-known strains coming out of the Transkei is "Rooibaard" (Red Beard), a wonderfully uplifting weed with a generous covering of red hairs--hence the name. Unfortunately, due to cross-pollination and bad growing practices, this beautiful herb is becoming increasingly rare. If you visit the Transkei during harvest time, April/May, it will not be hard to pick up a 5-kilo bag of fresh heads for 1,000 rand (US$100). Have a good four-wheel-drive vehicle handy and be prepared to walk far, as many of the plantations are completely inaccessible by road.

Due to climate and rainfall, most of the growing in South Africa is done on the eastern half of the country, with the west coast being too dry. The Western Cape province is very fertile, but has a heavy winter rainfall and is dry in summer. From the Eastern Cape upwards, the summer rainfall makes it much easier to grow large crops, as they do not have to be manually watered. The winters are a bit drier, but it is possible to get a small winter crop.

The best time to plant is in October, just after the spring equinox. By the time the sunlight hours are peaking in December, the plants are already well into their growth cycle. They have three more months of solid growth left, which accounts for the massive plants we see, some towering above telephone poles if left unchecked.

The flowering cycle usually kicks in around March. After 8-10 weeks, the plants are ready for harvest in early May, and then this truly becomes the land of plenty. --sTony Bud

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

CALIFORNIA

Historically, "The Emerald Triangle," so named for the large amount of marijuana growers in the area, comprises California's Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties. One can draw a triangle from Upperlake north to Eureka, east to Redding, and then back to Upperlake that would encompass Northern Cali's "green belt."

There are basically two types of growers in here, medical and guerrilla. Most medical growers grow their marijuana either in or near their homes, whereas guerrilla growers generally have huge 500-12,500-plant gardens in a forested area on state land. Authorities claim that the giant gardens are grown by Mexican organized crime, and guarded by cartel members who have pre-ordained escape routes so they can split the scene when they hear helicopters coming--the Feds have very rarely caught anyone at these crops. The sad state of things is that when there's a medical bust, there's always somebody there to arrest, houses and possessions to take, etc.

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that possession and cultivation of medical marijuana "is no more criminal, so long as conditions are satisfied, [i.e., the laws are followed] than the possession and acquisition of any prescription drug with a physician's prescription." Unfortunately, it didn't make patients or caregivers completely immune from arrest, and the Feds still have not backed off and continue to bust medical gardens. Despite the no-bullshit language in the state law, people are still afraid to grow, gardens are being raided, children are being taken away from their parents and the marijuana movement has a lot of work to do before people can grow cannabis without paranoia.

This year, sadly, huge forest fires raged through Mendocino Forest Park and Oregon and tremendous volumes of outdoor marijuana were lost. Having talked with several growers, I have reason to believe that they alone have lost as many as 25,000 plants. Imagine the damage I don't know about. All this will translate to a scarcity of high-quality outdoor buds come October.


Most Northern California growers put their crops out in April or May, and they bud by mid-August. Many harvest from mid-September through late October, but some go into November. We at Eddy's Medicinal Gardens put ours out in cold houses in February (we must start early to use our revegetation method) and plant them in the ground by mid-March. We harvest from late October to early November. Where most Northern California growers have their plants in the ground for 6-7 months, our plants are in the ground 8-9 months.

Growing all our plants using a revegetation method means that our plants are producing yields about twice as much as non-revegged plants. This allows for fewer plants, and I believe it will become a popular method in the future. Revegetation involves putting plants out in March and allowing them to go into bud. At spring solstice, we whack them back to two branches, then cross our fingers! When they begin to pop, the growth is incredible. All are given mycorrhizal inoculants, which basically causes the roots to clone themselves. Couple that with a strict organic feeding program, full Northern California sun and all the love I, Clay, Norm and Shiloh are able to give them, and I believe we may reach up to 6-8 oz of high-grade medicinal marijuana per plant this year.

Much of this will be turned into cooked goods, tinctures, oils, etc., as many medical-marijuana users must eat or vaporize the herb. This year you might want to watch for our latest strains, like One-Eyed Trichome, Pony Boy, Soma's Salute, Star of Peter, Budzilla, Luc Skywalker, and Ali Baba. We are doing a lot of research on their effects on specific medical problems. The results are overwhelming; this stuff really does work on many major medical conditions.

In one week in August, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting eradicated 27,000 plants in the county next to ours. Why they spend millions trying to wipe out a plant when they should be protecting us, I'll never know. A personal note to US citizens: Please get involved, help us save lives. Form or join a group to pass medical-marijuana laws in your state. We can make a difference if we choose to care. Please vote. --Eddy's Medicinal Gardens

GLOBAL HARVEST REPORT

VANCOUVER


A perennial thorn in the side of US Drug War zealots, British Columbia developed a reputation as the supplier of the ubiquitous "B.C. Bud" to both the US and Canada. For years B.C. kind flowed across the world's longest unguarded border almost unchecked. When terrorists leveled both World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001, the world changed, and so did border security. US government prohibitionists have used the deaths of these innocent people to further their cause, calling anybody who fires up a joint a terrorist supporter! After 9/11 the border officially slammed shut. Now, few of the casual out-of-work loggers and fishermen who used to bring B.C. Bud south want to deal with these heavies, and organized crime has stepped into the void.

B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the area in and around Vancouver where most of the province's 3.5 million residents live, is still the capital of cannabis in Canada. It's packed with gardens, both indoors and out. The official Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimate is at least 20,000 grow operations in the Lower Mainland. That's one grow show for every 175 residents! Refunded with C$480,000 (US $310,000), the Grow Busters (a.k.a. the Green Team), have just enough money to pay for coffee, donuts and generic cigarettes.

The surrounding islands are also big producers in their own right, and some owe their economies to the noble weed. Islands like Galliano, Salt Spring, Gabriola, Bowen, and the big kahuna, Vancouver, produce as much or more outdoor bud today than in previous years. The Sunshine Coast, located on the mainland and accessible only by water, is in the same boat as the islands. Quasi-underground cannabis economies are still thriving. Repeated police raids aided by helicopters have done nothing to stem the tide.

Further east, in Nelson and the Kootenay Mountains, communities are packed with guerrilla growers who don't take kindly to outsiders. Chances of an outside undercover narc penetrating grow circles are slim to none. Dedicated growers here and north of the Lower Mainland harvest 2-3 crops a year. Ingenious growers cover hoop tunnels with "flips," black plastic that enables them to force flowering, allowing them to harvest their first crop in June, a second by the end of July, and a third by mid-September--all invisible to the "eyes in the sky!"

With their own pot-friendly police force, Indian reservations have a virtual carte blanche to grow. In fact, "true" American Native growers and other Canadians are collecting C$3200 a pound for "AAA" bud they affectionately call Bimbo Bud, popular among the Hollywood crowd.

One seed purveyor summed up this year's harvest, "We noticed a little blip for about a month after the horrid attack on September 11, but it's been business as usual ever since."--Jorge Cervantes