During a panel devoted to terpenes at the 2015 Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa a fact emerged that was news to me: the old landrace strains are very low in terpene content compared to the modern polyhybrids. This means that over time, people have been selecting for smell —which is obvious as soon as you think about it. The cliche  that cultivators for generations have been selecting for psychoactivity —and therefore THC content— is only part of the truth. People choose plants to propagate based on fragrance! Other factors, such as looks, shape, size and speed of maturity may be taken into consideration, but smell is of great importance.  And of course the terpenes produced by a plant contribute to its effects on the mind and body when ingested, so in selecting for smell, breeders have also been selecting for psychoactivity. 

My approach to moderating a panel of experts is to shut up and listen. This Emerald Cup event was held at 7 p.m., after a long day of sampling produce (out of politeness), but the hall was full of people paying careful attention, and the questions at the end reflected the seriousness of interest. —Fred Gardner

Emerald Cup terpenes panel

Emerald Cup terpenes panel (from left): Fred Gardner, Jeremy Plumb, Josh Wurzer, Michael Backes, and Mark Lewis.

Terpenes audience