Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saving Pollen For The Future

Since it is about that time of year when the excitement starts to build with anticipation of the comming bloom season. Those of us that hybridize really are looking forward to the new seedling bloom so that we can start using pollen from seedlings that have a color break or eye pattern that may take us to another level in our breeding program. In my garden i will follow the seedlings and let them lead me down a path of colors not yet seen before. Look at the Kalidescope eye patterns Jack Carpenter has developed by using the pollen off his Texas Kalidescope. This eye pattern was not seen before and Jack applied Tx Kal. pollen to all his pod parents and now after several years of using these patterned eyes in his breeding program it has really set the Lily Farm apart from all others.

So here comes the bloom season and you have this beautiful seedling with 2 blooms open that first day but nothing else is blooming, you have lost those 2 seed pods because you werent prepared. What if it comes an early morning rain shower just at daylight and the blooms have started to open and guess what, now your fresh pollen is wet from the rain. Believe me if you have pollen on a rainey cloudy day you will set lots of seed from the cooler temps that day, but sorry you dont have any pollen in the frig. I am going to save your britches on saving pollen so look and learn, if you get confused you can email me.

Pollen must always be DRY and kept Dry for it to do you any good. Moisture will kill pollen!! I dont save the anthers, that is those thingies that the pollen is on, at the end of those long thingies called stamens.. You will need tweezers, cotton balls cut in half and some kind of closable tube to keep the pollen in. I used to use Blood Vials from a doctors office, he would give them to me when they went out of date. Check with your pharmacy about these. I use the plastic kind of vial they use in biology class and have a snap on lid.

When pollen is fluffy or when anthers are open, you may use the tweezers and break off a pollen anther and rub the pollen onto your cotton in your tube. If pollen is good and fluffy that day i will put 2 anthers of pollen onto the cotton in the vial, close the lid and label the vial with the name of plant i took the pollen from. In the picture here i was using Super Fancy Face as an example. Put the vial in your pocket or somewhere in the shade. If you allow it to sit in direct sunlight the heat inside the vial will kill your pollen also. Like being in a car with the windows rolled up, get the picture. When i finish collecting pollen for the day i put all vials into a ziploc freezer bag, close bag and leave in freezer till i am ready to use.

When taking pollen from freezer allow it to warmup at least 10 minutes before opening vial of frozen pollen. If you open before pollen is thawed it will draw in moisture or condensation. Have you ever took a cold can of soda outside on a hot day, it sweats dont it. Remember Moisture Kills Pollen. if you never open the vial that morning then it can go back into the freezer. If you use the pollen even just once, never put back into freezer, it is contaminated. Put it in the frig and use again till you use it up or 5 days have passed. After being in the frig for 5 days i will discard the vial and start again the next day with another vial. I have used pollen that was several years old out of the freezer and had good results. With one of these small plastic vials i use i can pollenate about 40 flowers before pollen is used up. When you touch the tip of the Pistil to the cotton in your vial that flower is pollenated if you can see pollen on the cotton. You dont have to see pollen on the pistil to pollenate that flower.

Pollen is microscopic and when you use fresh pollen and hit that pistil you have wasted pollen. It only takes one grain of pollen to make one seed and if you have used 2000 grains of pollen to get 10 seeds did you waste your pollen?Yes you did!!! Also throw away the pollen anther after you have captured your pollen on the cotton, anthers have moisture so dont keep it in your vial. Rebloom is an excellent time to collect your pollen for the next years hybridizing. One more reason to freeze pollen is you can start hybridizing as soon as the flower starts to open at daylight, 3 hours before the fresh pollen is ready to use. Its cooler on you at that time of morning also. Good luck with your seedlings. Jim Elliott

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