The South isn’t the first region people think of when talking about strains, yet many of the legendary varieties of the 1970s and ‘80s hailed from places like Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Virginia. To this day, tales of the Roadkill Skunk, Afghan, G-13 and Hash Plant strains light up the eyes of older tokers who swear it was the strongest they’ve ever smoked. A combination of proper climate, good genetics and outlaw gumption contributed to literally tons of marijuana growing in the hills each year.
Duke Diamond’s Cannabis career started early when at around the age of 12 he decided to grow his own after the first time he blazed on a joint. Even in the dark days of prohibition in Virginia, he felt safer growing it than buying it. He tells me, “I thought my chances of getting popped would be lower from laying low and not associating with a bunch of people. I planted some seeds and, luckily, my older cousins caught me, took me under their wings and pointed me in the right direction.”
“I ordered a bunch of seeds from Amsterdam, specifically Afghani, Skunk and Northern Lights x Skunk, and they performed so well. Real ass-stomping stuff! The Hash Plants were big, heavy yielders that finished up before the fall rains came in. It was all received very well and we felt we could compete with California or anywhere else. We started making hybrids, doing our farmer shit to speed up flowering time, boost yields and make the best selections. Potency was always most important.”
Duke was active on the online Cannabis growing forums, sharing valuable information and helping many people learn to grow and breed their own. Eventually, in 2007, he was ratted on by an associate and busted by the DEA for growing, ultimately serving time in the Federal penitentiary.
He ended up having to return to prison in 2019 over an unfortunate bust for possession of a firearm as a felon and was released in 2022 – now placing his focus on reviving Dominion Seed Company and releasing new genetics to the public. Varieties such as Figure Four, Screaming Eagle, Dominion Skunk, Skunkband, Burnout Chem, Sangria Punch, Polecat BX, Stashplant and more are now available for purchase.
Duke’s advice to new growers is to first dial in your environment. Also, go low and slow with the nutrients. “When it comes to weed, everybody overdoes shit,” he says. “Don’t overwater. Even with organics – think of the microbes in your soil as your workers – they break the nutrients down into usable form, eating them and pooping them out. Focus on keeping them happy with proper moisture and temperature levels. Avoid using alfalfa and kelp after day 21 of flowering to keep your plants from tasting like grass clippings and burning improperly.”
In addition to growing and breeding new strains, Duke has a few other projects in the works, including starting a podcast, putting out some YouTube videos to help growers learn organic cultivation and finishing writing his book – so you can look forward to consuming Duke’s work in more than just smokeable form.