We discussed selecting and preparing the maternal host blossom, leaving off at the actual pollination timing. Today, let’s look into paternal selection and preparations, and then bring the process up to pace with the mother host.
A blossom used as a male parent in breeding needs to be further along in the maturity process than the female blossom was at the selection stage. For a male, we need a blossom that’s fully open and bright yellow for the pollen to be mature and viable. Anything past this point—where the blossom may be turning brown or drying—means the pollen will have aged and may not be viable anymore.
Now that we’ve selected a male blossom, we can begin extracting the pollen. Remember that the pollen is formed up inside the anther cone and normally makes its way to the stigma with gentle vibration of the blossom. There are many different ways to collect pollen, but I’ll discuss the most widely used method. You’ll need a pollinating wand or an electric toothbrush and a dark, flat surface or container (for example, a black spoon, an old sunglasses lens, a black condiment container, or anything that’s dark so you can see the pollen you’re collecting). While holding the black receptacle under the stigma tip of the blossom, gently touch the wand or toothbrush to the back side of the blossom pedicel and hold it there until the pollen is vibrated onto the black surface. You can keep pollen refrigerated for up to 12 hours, but it’s best to use it as soon it’s collected. I have collected pollen early and used refrigeration typically only in the instance of predicted weather-related issues, like rainfall or extreme heat.
Please check back soon for the next article in this series!