11 runners-up to Leafly Strain of the Year 2022
Only one strain can reign supreme as Leafly Strain of the Year 2022, and we gave that crown to the Gelato child, Jealousy, from Seed Junky Genetics.
No one can make that call like Leafly, either. We have 6,000 strains in the database, more than 3,000 store menus live, and millions of readers per month. We also have a proper Voltron of a Leafly newsroom—full of weed experts from across the country doing the shopping, smoking, growing, and going to contests and expos. Don’t even come at us, bro.
Of course, no one can tell you who to love—weed’s so personal. These 2022 faves ended up on our shortlist. We’re sure you’ll recognize and like a few, and we’d be happy to smoke a bag of any of them with you. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
Big shoutout to Animal Face for winning The Emerald Cup 2022, grown by Fig Farms, and bred by Seed Junky Genetics. We remain huge fans of anything coming out of Face-Off OG, popularized by Archive Seed Bank. Animal Face is biting and intense, and captures the hearts of connoisseurs, for sure. It’s a top 500 most-searched strain and is almost a top 200 strain in stores. Leafly Strain of the Year just hews toward something more approachable for anybody, not just heads looking to get their face torn off.
Apple Tartz is Apple Fritter x Runtz, so we wanted to celebrate both in this runner-up. Lumpy’s Apple Fritter came out a lifetime ago, but it’s still climbing in national interest. Runtz took Leafly Strain of the Year 2020 and has stayed a top 10 ever since. Apple Tartz became a top 30 strain on our internal hype list this year, which tracks year-over-year changes in traffic, menu availability, and orders. But the cross only penetrated a fifth of the number of stores as Jealousy, and thus, the gold went elsewhere.
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First Class Funk
First Class Funk’s an established hit from Compound Genetics that sits at the top of Leafly’s internal ‘hot list’ that tracks strains on the move. Award-winning gardeners grew it and it’s taking hold in dispensaries nationwide. It’s in almost as many stores as Jealousy, and search interest remains high. Just like Jokerz, it could have easily made Leafly Strain of the Year, but while its flavor and effects are a hit, the center of the bell curve of consumer tastes sits over Jealousy’s creamy candy gas flavor profile, not garlicky, savory weirdness. We always want to have a hot GMO around, and we’ll never turn our nose up at this funk.
Cookies go-to strain Gary Payton went full-court press on the US in 2022. The Cookies brand started growing Gary in state after state, and it grows well and people love it. Gary Payton has become a top 20 strain in the US in terms of page views, and a top 200 strain on menus. But G.P.’s also been out for a hot minute, and we’re moving beyond G.P. into its crosses like The Glove (Gary Payton x Jealousy), and Blackberry Gary (G.P. x Sunset Sherbert x Zkittlez bx2) from Serge Cannabis. It ain’t 2022’s Leafly Strain of the Year, but G.P. is a certified banger; and Hall of Famer, no doubt.
GMO Rootbeer really bubbled up this year to become a dark horse for Leafly Strain of the Year 2022. Breeders Skunk Tech and Mean Gene from Mendocino seed company Freeborn Selections did something really rare, and put a new terp flavor on the map—rootbeer. We added GMO Rootbeer to the Leafly strain database this fall and it’s gone on a tear. It’s in as many dispensaries as Jealousy now. The issue? It hasn’t penetrated the zeitgeist like Jealousy has. It has just three reviews on Leafly and is ranked in the 3,000s in traffic. (Jealousy is a top 100-searched strain.) We gotta pump those numbers up! Maybe 2023 will be the year of GMO Rootbeer nationwide—we’ll see.
Compound Genetics’ Jokerz had an awesome year and could have easily become Leafly Strain of the Year. It had the color, flavor, and effect that’s super in-demand right now. But we held off on giving it the gold as it builds up more momentum into 2023. Expect to see more from Jokerz and Compound next year. It’s a top 500 strain in traffic, but it’s in less than half the stores as Jealousy. It took a runner-up for best indoor dessert and purps strain in the 2022 Oregon Leaf Bowl. Leafly named it a Buzz strain of 2022. Top-tier growers like Fig Farms run it. And it was way better than Lemon Cherry Gelato.
Oreoz had one heck of a year—it’s a top 350 strain on store menus, and it’s a top 15 strain in traffic. But let’s face it, weed culture is growing up and the name just isn’t worth the hassle. Just ask the companies behind both Zkittlez and Gorilla Glue. Oreoz might look amazing, but the terps were hit and miss. Leafly’s a publicly traded company now. Weed’s mainstream. You can only climb so high with someone else’s 110-year-old intellectual property. Let’s get more creative, stoners. We’re excited to see what’s next from breeder 3rd Coast Genetics of Michigan.
Compound Genetics crossed The Menthol x Grape Gas to make Pink Certz and we became fans from the first puff. We made it a 2021 strain to grow, a 2022 Leafly Buzz strain, and boom! It won the Transbay Challenge III, as well as the High Times SoCal Cannabis Cup People’s Choice this July. It’s got everything both cannerati and basic smokers love—that minty candy gas flavor and strong hybrid effects. But the Pink Certz hype train is still leaving the station, it’s got just nine reviews as we only see it in about 300 store menus on Leafly, out of more than 3,000. Also, we’re wary about a potentially infringing mark—especially now that mainstream cannabis must stay clear of anything deemed appealing to children, like candy names. We want an ounce of Pink Certz at all times—it’s one of our desert island strains of 2022. But a Leafly Strain of the Year has to check more boxes than just being perfect pot. It’s got to survive legal and cultural mainstreaming, too. Compound Genetics’ breeder Chris has plenty of trophies so far, and we expect to see him take several Leafly Strain of the Year awards in his career.
RS-11, or Rainbow Sherbert 11, had the makings of a Leafly Strain of the Year 2022. The look, flavor, and effect helped to define exotic in 2022. It’s a top 200 strain in search interest, but the hype far outweighs the access. Deo Farms and Seed Junky released commercial clones of RS-11 to the masses this year, which is just now starting to boost supply. A bunch of RS-11 outdoor is coming in, further cementing this strain’s place in the market. Growers THC Design and Lolo are helping bring RS-11 to the masses in time for Christmas. We think the RS-11 wave is still building. Maybe it’ll find the pot of gold next year.
We think Super Boof will become the standard bearer for orangey-tangie terps into 2023 and beyond, and we love that about it. The problem is, Tangie, as well as Mtn. Trop, already had their moments in the sun, and the core smokers claim to be over it. We’re not. We just fell in love with something similar, Trop Cherry, this year, and we grew Squirt for the third year in a row. The name’s playful, and the breeder, Mobile Jay, isn’t one of the usual suspects. Super Boof became a top 25 on our internal ‘hot list’ and a top 400 most-searched strain on Leafly in 2022. We’re rooting for more wins for Super Boof next year.
Oakland, CA’s Deo Farms keeps converting people to its OZ Kush project called Zoap and we’re massive fans. The only reason we can’t give Zoap strain of the year is that it’s so closely held and cultivated—literally, 96% of smokers cannot experience the hype. If a great tree burns alone in the forest, does it get us high? No. Zoap is a top 250 strain in terms of search traffic, but it’s on less than 150 store menus out of 3,000-plus listed on Leafly. That’s the trade-off for Deo Farms’ ‘invite-only’ approach to growing and selling their masterpiece. Each batch’s quality has stayed high, but the most winning pot does not stay locked away—it’s set free to pollinate the world. Free the Zoap in 2023! (See also: Blue Zushi, Unicorn Poop)
Now do you see? The Leafly Strain of the Year has to not only check all the boxes as good bud, but it’s got to be fresh, as well as capture growers, stores, and the zeitgeist. There can be only one. For more Leafly Strain of the Year 2022 goodness, read our feature on Jealousy, as well as Strains similar to Jealousy, and the top-sellers of 2022.
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