A long term Dutch Passion enthusiast recommend Freddy’s Best to me, he told me it was Dutch Passion's most interesting and strongest variety, so I had high hopes for this one. I had already started germination and the pre-growth phase when I was contacted by Dutch Passion if I wanted to test one of 'Crazy-LED's ' latest LED grow light, the SolarSystem 550. This was an offer I just couldn't refuse, I started with growing with LED a few years ago, until now I've grown with a UFO LED, the MS006 (from Crazy LEDs), the Holographic Series 1, KIND LED and I must say I have always been convinced about growing with LED. Plants seem to actually love the LED light, it is fairly easy to maintain very healthy plants when growing with LED, THC production always seems better under LED and the terpenes seem to have a stronger presence as well. This blog is about my journey with a Dutch Passion classic; Freddy's Best and the first glimpse of working with the newest LED innovation of today's market : the SolarSystem 550.
The SolarSystem 550 :
The SolarSystem 550 video, features Craig and George from California Lightworks and explains what their new light is capable of. It has a 400W power draw and should be able to beat a 600W HPS, which sounds interesting to start with! I have heard such promises before so I must admit I questioned if this was really possible. For me personally, the possibilities with the controller was the most interesting part. It has both a manual and program mode, you can play with the spectrum for both growth and bloom, there is also a sunrise and sunset option and last but not least the ‘natural light plant viewing mode’… all this together in one LED module is absolutely unique and something I was hoping to see for a long time.
Setting up the SolarSystem 550:
•Which spectrum settings do I need to use? Because I got the light at the end of the growth phase I only used growth settings for a few days. I put the light at 50%/50%/0% (%Blue/%White/%Red) for the first day, to see how they were reacting to the light module, that seemed fine so I put it on 100/100/0 the next day, I put the light at 30-35cm, this seemed to be a good distance at this stage.
•Hanging the lights at the right distance to avoid light burn and stress? It is all about identifying the ‘sweet spot’. Unfortunately I didn’t succeed - (during the 3rd week in the flowering phase I was not home and the plants grew too close to the light. I had light burn (some call it light bleaching) on some buds. I expected to use a distance of around 35 - 40 cm but this was not enough distance. If you have the SolarSystem 550 on full power it should be at least 45-50cm from the top of the canopy.
But please keep in mind that each strain can react differently to high light levels.
Main differences between LED and HPS :
LED produced more compact plants, less stretching than HPS - no elongated stems.
LED produced vigorous, healthy plants with beautiful dark green leaves - like most good LED’s.
Growing with LED produced much less heat than HPS. Its enough to keep the grow room warm without making it too hot. LED is therefore easier to work with in summer months, hot countries and smaller indoor grow tents, less air extraction is needed.
Cannabis grown with LED need less water per day due to cooler grow temperatures and reduced transpiration. Plants are easier to look after, and its better for the environment
My LED grow room used much less power than the 600W HPS room, its got to be better for the environment. On full power the SolarSystem 550 has a maximum power draw of 400w. Full power was only really needed from week 3-4 of bloom, so you are saving energy during veg growth too. You can start at 10-15% power with seedlings (using just Blue and White).
Natural white light plant viewing mode :
This plant viewing mode is simply amazing. It switches off the blue and red LEDs leaving the plants in a natural white light. It becomes a lot easier to identify possible nutrients issues, pests and diseases etc. Its also nice to show my friends my plants under natural white light conditions - a big improvement over yellow HPS light or the typical pink glow of most LEDs. The ‘plant viewing mode’ is easy to switch use; Using the hand held controller, simply select ‘Manual’ and then click on ‘View’ and there it is - normal daylight spectrum which is a lot less strain on your eyes
What would I do different next time I use the SolarSystem 550
I would like to try out and test different spectrum settings for seedlings and young plants during the growth phase and different settings during flowering. Maybe different varieties will have their own preferred settings? Also, is there a way to increase THC production during the last week by just playing with the spectrum? I would love to find out. California Lightworks are releasing their most powerful UV-B fluorescent light in 2017, I hear this will increase THC levels by around 20% in any variety, I will definitely get one.
The most important thing I learned during this grow is the issue with the light burn/light bleaching. I will prevent that during the next grow by keeping the light around 50cm or more from the canopy
Freddy’s Best grow info.
I had 5 plants in total, 4x 30L Airpots – 1x 22,5L Airpot, Plagron Lightmix:Coco, 4:1 ratio. Nutrients were: BioTabs (Mycotrex – Startrex – Bactrex – Biotabs) and B.A.C (Bio grow, Bio bloom and Bio Pk booster)
One grow room was equipped with the SolarSystem SS550, the other (same size, 0.9m2) had my 600w HPS. My fifth plant was being grown under 2 Holographic Series 1 (‘HS1’) LED’s in the smallest pot.
Pre-growth and growth period :
Freddy's Best had a 100% germination rate (10 plants from 10 seeds) like all strains I've grown from Dutch Passion and other well respected seedbanks. I grew 5 of them and my brother also grew 5 of them under a KIND LED L300 with 2 HS1's on the sides. All 10 plants were very healthy and we did not see any irregularities in their early stages. After transplanting them from their 0.25l pre-growth pot to their 3.8 litre Rootpouch the plants really took off. We let the plants grow up in their natural pattern before putting them under our SCROG nets. My brother was just in time, but unfortunately I waited too long. My grow took a bit longer than expected, which resulted in plants of 60-80cm that I struggled to fit under my SCROG net, what a time-consuming and stressful job. I lost a few branches but luckily nothing the plants could not handle.
Freddy's Best had quite big fan leaves during growth, it looked like a big Sativa leaf but just a little wider, initially the leaves were not ultra-slim like I expected. All the Freddy's were fimmed (growing tip cut off) and lollypopped (lower leaves, branches removed).
As soon as the lights turned to 12/12 the Freddy's Best seemed to show it's true colours. The leaves became quite thin and finally it's Sativa heritage became evident. I really adore Sativa's so you can imagine I had a big smile on my face when I saw this happening. Freddy's Best has quite some stretch once you flip the clock but it is not as much as Outlaw or Desfran. I think it can be compared to the stretch of Power Plant and Euforia. During the first 3-3.5 weeks this variety seems to grow quite strong but at the middle of week 4 most of the plants came to a standstill. There were 2 plants though, that kept on growing until week 5. These 2 became really big ladies...
After a few weeks of flowering it became clear to me that almost all of our Freddy's Best plants had a different bud structure, which indicated a lot of different phenotypes. I think in the end we could identify 6-7 different phenotypes within these 10 plants. For a commercial grower maybe less interesting, but for hobby growers like us, a real adventure! Almost all phenotypes were absolutely stunning, there were only 2 phenotypes that we did not completely love, one seemed a bit dull (flavor wise) and the other seem to lack a massive amount of THC crystals. Both these grows were being done at the same time during the hottest summer months, so whatever we did, we sometimes could not keep the heat outside of our grow rooms. Freddy's Best had to endure temperatures above 35°C during some of these weeks, especially under the 600W HPS. However, they did not really seem to care about such high temperatures, which makes it a great sativa variety for summer grows. What I did notice was that Freddy’s Best did not like a high dosage of nutrients during bloom, so I had to adjust my nutrient schedule a little bit along the way. All of our Freddy’s Best took between 10-12 weeks of flowering before they were ready to harvest.
Freddy’s Best phenotype description
I will describe a few of the phenotypes in more detail, Phenotype 1 and 2 were under the SolarSystem 550 and the larger Phenotype 3 and 4 under the 600w HPS. Phenotype 5 was under the HS1/Kind LED.
The Chocolate hash phenotype. Compact bud structure, short internodal spacing, orange pistils, the fastest flowering phenotype of Freddy’s Best . It had an almost narcotic head high - a very mild body effect, very strong and long-lasting with a yellowish look on the dried buds.
The hazy phenotype, real Sativa, stretchy big plant - with a lot of foxtails. Larger internal spacing, orange-brown pistils with a Hazy/sharp aroma and taste . Great powerful high, energetic but less clear than other phenotypes - good punch
Hairy Phenotype, the most pistils I have ever seen on a bud, hence the name ‘hairy phenotype’. Many foxtails - a big plant with very big buds - good calyx to leaf ratio. This aroma is more earthy/chocolate like with plenty of crystals and a taste a bit like chocolate coffee. An amazing phenotype and the biggest yielder: 286.10 grams
Compact phenotype with nice foxtails - very woody - pine aroma. A bit less potent than the others, this phenotype had a lot of leaves and was not so easy to trim - a very smooth high - energizing - calming - cerebral.
Fruity phenotype, very fruity aroma, good crystal production, nice foxtails, dark brown pistils - an ideal SCROG phenotype and my favorite, she reacted very well to cropping. Fruity, hazy taste, very relaxing high - one of the best I had in a long time. Music and gaming enhancing.
The other phenotypes were also fruity/hazy ones with bright orange pistils, quite similar to phenotype 5. Phenotype 3 and 5 were most common in this pack of 10 seeds.
Freddy’s Best aroma during flowering:
The smell was very complex and we enjoyed fruity, chocolate, woody, earthy, coffee, sharp.
Most of them were easy to trim with a good calyx:leaf ratio. The biggest bud in the SCROG was above 25 grams dry.
2 Plants SS550 400w, 0.9m2 : 384,73 grams
2 Plants HPS 600w, 0.9m2 : 485,43 grams
1 Plant 2xHS1 150w - 0.6m2 : 129.59 grams
5 Plants 1xKIND LED 2xHS1 370w - 0.72m2 : 240 grams
Although the 600W HPS had a larger yield than the SolarSystem 550 it also had the heavier yielding phenotypes. My next grow will be with identical clones from an Orange Bud mother under the SolarSystem 550 and the 600W HPS, this will be a true comparison of the two lights.
Bag appeal: 4 stars out of 5.
Overall: 4 stars out of 5. A very potent variety!
Aroma: Chocolate - Woody - Piny - Hazy - Fruity and Earth
Taste: Too many different flavors to mention - overall the most dominant ones are the Fruity - Chocolate and Piney phenotypes. Very smooth smoke.
Effects: Strong head high that can be long lasting. Almost non-existing body stone - a very unique Sativa smoke. The effect is predominantly clear- energetic and calming. A nice variety for smoking during the day and night, it could be interesting for people that enjoy music, gaming or people that are doing artistic work. Be prepared to get good vibes from Freddy’s Best.
Freddy’s Best is a very special, long flowering, sativa. Maybe the most diverse Sativa dominant strain out of the Dutch Passion seed collection. Not a weird thing considering this strain was being bred by the legendary ‘Freddy‘ from his 3 favourite Sativa dominant varieties.
I would definitely rate it as a connoisseur’s variety, it can be somewhat challenging to grow and there are several phenotypes to discover so I think every grower will have to chance to find a phenotype that he or she will really love.
Being one of the first Europeans to grow with the SolarSystem 550 has been a very interesting experience, this light seems to be ahead of the competition and has most of the bases covered. It has the latest high efficiency ultra-bright 5w Osram LED’s and is built in the USA, a pleasant change from all the Chinese manufactured products. The hand controller is what really makes the SolarSystem 550 so versatile, with the adjustable spectrum, programmable mode, manual mode, adjustable power and ‘white light’ plant view mode. The SolarSystem 550 also has IPX65 water spray resistance, and several units can daisy chained together and all controlled from a single controller. The price of €849 is good for a 400W power draw, its the best priced of the premium-quality LED grow lights
I will do my next grow with clones, growing from seed doesn’t allow a fair comparison between the LED and HPS due to phenotype variations. I have already selected an Orange Bud mother and I’m looking forward to start the second test with the SolarSystem 550 v 600w HPS, with clones coming from the same mother.
Can the SolarSystem SS550 really beat a 600W HPS? I have a feeling it will, we will see on the next grow report!
December 9th 2016