A cannabis researcher tests out Serious Seeds’ flagship strain by growing out regular and feminized AK-47 seeds side by side.

The Strain

There’s a handful of classic, extra-potent marijuana strains that have been around for a very long time, permanently fascinating both growers and smokers with their superb qualities and eventually attaining the status of legends. Serious Seeds’ AK-47 is one of these outstanding evergreens. For Simon, the owner and breeder of Serious Seeds, finding that unique AK-47 genetic profile was the rare case of the “lucky punch” that every cannabis seed breeder dreams of. Back in 1992, after having already tested thousands of plants from different experimental breeding lines, he finally achieved his goal of creating a high-quality sativa/indica hybrid with excellent overall properties and its own unique stamp. Thus the legendary AK-47 was born.

Although Simon keeps the exact pedigree of AK-47 a secret (much like the formula for Coca-Cola), he reveals that it was bred from Colombian, Mexican, Thai, and Afghan seed stock, resulting in a 65:35 sativa/indica hybrid with predominantly sativa traits.

Over the years, AK-47 has racked up an impressive number of prizes – 16! – at harvest competitions worldwide, including in the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup’s hybrid category in 2011. It was also chosen as Strain of the Year in 2003 (HT Dec. ’03). In the form of hashish, AK has yielded major success for Serious Seeds as well – for example, when it took first prize at the 2005 High Life Cup in Barcelona in the hash category.

Simon describes AK-47 as follows: “This easy-to-grow plant is a living legend and our most popular strain. Medium height and produces good yields quite quickly. It has an extremely strong odor (growers, take extra care!) and a long-lasting high. AK-47 plants have a short flowering period for a sativa, producing compact, not-too-leafy buds gleaming with a coat of resin crystals. The name was given not out of any idea of violence, but more in association with its ‘one-hit wonder’ effect. An independent lab test showed 21.5% THC in the samples at the Cannabis Cup in 1999, the highest of all entries that year.”

Simon recommends a five- to 10-day vegetative clone-growth period. AK-47 delivers yields of 350 to 500 g/m2, has a flowering time of 56 to 63 days, and reaches maturity around October 15 under natural light. It has the high calyx-to-leaf ratio typical of sativas, which means lots of flowers and only a few leaves. The single calyx size tends to be unusually large, resulting in fat clusters grouped together very decoratively and densely, contributing to its trademark appearance. These compact nugs ooze copious amounts of glistening trichomes and break up nicely, leaving plenty of resinous crystals on your fingers and unleashing a strong, sweet, and fruity aroma. AK-47 is also famous for its outstanding results in hydroponic mediums, as reported by many international growers, and has been very successfully grown outdoors in Spain.

The Challenge

Since last year, AK-47 has been available in the form of feminized seeds. That made the grower known as Mr. Power Planter curious, so he decided to run a test: a head-to-head comparison of both regular and feminized AK-47 seeds. Never before has such a comparison been reported in any magazine, so here it is. Would the feminized AK-47 seeds prove to be as much a contender as their long-established traditional counterparts?

Mr. Power Planter sowed a full package of 11 regular AK-47 seeds and five feminized ones. Germination proceeded very well, and after four days, all of the seeds had sprouted and reached the soil’s surface. From the start, they were grown under three 600-watt Green Bud metal halide (MH) lamps equipped with adjust-a-wing reflectors (without spreaders), so the plants had abundant light to thrive and prosper. One week after germination, they were transplanted into 11-liter containers filled with Plagron Standard soil mix. All 16 plants did well, growing very compactly and with a quick onset of side-branch development and dark green leaves. They were also very homogeneous, both within their group and when the feminized and regular plants were compared to one another.

Three and a half weeks after germination, Mr. Power Planter induced flowering by reducing the light cycle from 18/6 to 12/12, at the same time replacing the MH lights with three 600-watt Osram high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. Within 10 days, all of the plants had revealed their sex, with five of the 11 regular AK-47 plants turning out to be males that were then removed. As expected, the five feminized plants presented only female pre-flowers. In the first weeks of flowering, though, it was observed that the feminized plants reacted a bit more slowly to the onset of the flowering period, with the regular plants progressing more quickly into flower production. Other than that, in terms of the overall growth pattern, both the regular and feminized plants still had the same appearance.

Soon, all 11 plants were building very fat main colas and many impressive side tops in addition. The feminized plants were about one week behind in their bud development, but still flowering in a most promising way. A very strong, sweet odor took possession of the growroom, arising from the richness of the massive resin layers on both the feminized and regular plants. All 11 plants were literally oozing with resin as they approached maturity, appearing whiter and whiter with each subsequent week of flowering. The buds consisted of many thick, dense, round flower clusters, rock-hard and chubby – in short, the trademark AK-47 look.

The Results

The six regular AK plants were harvested on day 63, just within the 56-to-63-day window promised by Serious Seeds. They produced tremendously fat main and side colas from the bottom to the top, with some of the huge main colas measuring more than 30 cm in length – really big, impressive chunks! The flower structure of these six plants was almost identical, and the same was true for their rich resin amounts.

As for the five feminized AK plants, they did require about one extra flowering week and were harvested after 69 days. They had grown lower than their regular counterparts, measuring from 65 to 85 cm in height only (with three plants about 75 cm), apart from one plant that was subject to a much stronger sativa influence and grew accordingly taller. But the feminized plants’ side branches were longer, for the most part, than those of the regular plants, while their fabulous, fat flower structure and copious resin amounts were equal to them, though with one difference: The side buds – including the lowest ones – were even bigger! Both the regular and feminized plants had the same powerful aroma, sweet but quite mild.

The delicious-smelling, very silver dried buds were of the highest order, a sheer pleasure to look at and smoke. No difference was found between the regular and feminized buds by Mr. Power Planter in terms of odor, aroma and high. While AK is a strain that doesn’t have the most intense taste – it’s a bit mild and slightly sweet, with a hint of a sandalwood undertone, but not especially charismatic – its high proved to be quite a sensation. It was very complex and extremely strong, with clearly pronounced elements from both ends of the cannabis spectrum asserting themselves ... at the same time! Under the influence of the AK’s potent indica side, Mr. Power Planter felt like taking a seat, but he simultaneously felt clear and euphoric in the head and didn’t get “hypnotized” or totally blasted away by the indica stone.

Altogether, Mr. Power Planter was stunned by the superb outcome of both the regular and feminized plants. Like many tried and true strains, AK-47 has been often adopted by other seed banks and either used as a component in creating a “new” strain or just flat-out copied. But one thing’s for sure about Serious Seeds’ AK-47: You can’t beat the real thing!

Listen to Simon of Serious Seeds discuss grow tips and tricks for all of his legendary strains, including AK-47, on episode 33 of Free Weed – recorded live in Amsterdam at the 25th HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup.