HOW TO EASILY POLLINATE MARIJUANA
Scanning-electron-microscope images of pollen from a variety of common plants
When a male cannabis plant matures, it releases pollen from its sacs. From there, airflow, an animal, insect or human transports pollen - the male genetic material - to flower of the female. The pollen germinates when sticks to the pistil and is carried through a tube and ultimately arrives at the flower ovule, which contains the female gametophyte. This is the orgasm and offspring production (seed) commences.
The fine hairs of the cannabis flower (above) are the pistils. Simply put some pollen onto the pistils and the pollination process begins. Several weeks after pollination, the plant will produce mature seeds.
Pollen can be produced by a she-male, a hermaphrodite plant that produces both pollen sacs and flowers. These plant types can self pollinate or pollinate others. Female plants can turn into hermaphrodite if they are placed under stress, bad lighting, poor nutrition, so they may more easily self propagate. Males, however, cannot turn into a hermi.
We want to harvest big cannabinoid - terpene rich buds. When selecting a male you generally (not always) want a plant with big male pod-flower clusters. Small clusters often means small yields. Plants with smaller clusters might do better in the wild, so down the line, selecting for large clusters only could weaken the species overall. With that said, the small grower, for all intents and purposes will just pick male plants with abundant plump and juicy clusters.
In practice, the various male plants have their own character. Some pollen is released quickly in one go, while other plants release over a longer period. Ideally, we want the Slam-Bam- Thankyou-Mam male, where all the pollen is released in one big shot.. You can mate your cannabis plants by simply by placing a fan in front of the male, and blow the pollen onto the female.
Old School Tip: Veterans develop a good eye for a male is about to open. You learn by paying attention to the pollen sacs on every plant your grow. You'll get to tell more or less when they're ready to pop.
In exchange for transporting pollen, a Worker Bee is paid in nectar. A 360 win. Can mankind ever learn the art of the 360 win?
Routes of pollination include, wind, fan, insect, animal, or a human equipped a fine brush.
After pollen hits the flower's pistil, it takes only 10 or 20 minutes for the germination process to begin. Actual fertilization happens a day or two later, when the pollen male genetic material makes it down the pollen tube to the ovule.
In the process of pollination, most growers will want to control the outcome as much as possible. That means the pollen needs to come from a plant with known and desirable characteristics, i.e. the cannabinoid terpene profiles produce a superior recreational or medical result. Seed farmers on the other hand can experiment with all kinds of random pollination events and then select plants for further breeding based on the traits expressed, like high CBD or THC.
Let's say we want to pollinate a Durban Poison female. After three weeks of growth - plus or minus a week - the tiny "banana" flower opens and starts to spill out. Females can't be pollinated as yet because they mature two weeks later than males on average.
At this point, to avoid pollination of all your females, move the plant away into a male only section / room (with a vapor barrier).
Pollen is protected by a tough shell, that deteriorates only when a chemical in the female flower pistil reacts with it. Here is an old school, relatively effective, way to collect pollen.
- first isolate plants from one another
- Clean tools, collection bottle (airtight) used to collect pollen
- Place tinfoil or a glass plate under the plant
- Gently tap the stalk and the anthers (pollen sacs - see above image)
- Pods can be rolled gently with fingertips
- Collect pollen dust in a glass vial and store at 4 deg C.
- Some people place pollen in the freezer till use as well.
- Make sure pollen remains dry
Old School Tip: Place a chunk of dry rice cracker in your air tight container. Moisture will be absorbed by the cracker.
The pistil of a cannabis flower under a magnifying glass.
Once dried, the pollen grains will fall off the anthers. If there are still some pollen grains left on the anther, the grower can just scrape them off with a blade. Since pollination can’t happen until the female flowers are ripe, the collected pollen can be kept in a freezer. Store the pollen with dry rice or soda crackers in an airtight container. The rice or cracker will serve as a desiccant (absorbent of moisture).
"When pollinating a mother plant for seed I will start her into 12/12 a full 7 days before I move the male into budding room. Keeping in mind that each strain is going to be a bit different on its time frame, this 7 day rule has worked very well for us." - tgagenetics.com
If planted at the same time, once the male is flowering well, the females enter a window around day 21-28. Many hybrids are ready to harvest at 9 weeks and with these varieties, 3 weeks in is, good place to look at pollinating. You can push pollinate up to day 30 but there is a chance that seeds won't mature. So, do your research about the type of strain you have, comply with nutritional and lighting protocols, and fine tune so that you know when the optimal window is. Some varieties like Apollo-13 is around day 21 ish while Jacks Cleaner is better a week later around day 27 ish.
If you are not into sophisticated growing techniques, you can simply plant your herb in decent soil, buy a timer and at least control the light and give the plants just a bit of nutrition. Then take a peek at the plants around week two onward and judge by eye when the pollen looks good. Then one week later do a round of pollination. At this point, Bob could be your Uncle, right there.
With that said, we recommend Good Pot Procedure and pay attention to details, if you want to optimize on yields and quality. On average, we'd guess that your yields will double and probably more, if you get each component of your growth cycle correct.
Oldschool Tip: Don't get pollen on your clothes, use a separate room for collecting pollen, don't blow pollen into your female only bud room with a half ass HVAC system (poor porous filters that don't spop pollen). A Darwin Award goes to pet owners who run about uncontrolled through out the grow groom.
"Place the tops to hang over the wax paper and tape the entire box shut this allows you to have it in a non secure place like a vegetative room. Warning: don’t spill the water as it ruins the pollen and don’t put more into the glass than you need to. I used a heavy bar glass that wouldn’t tip over." - tgagenetics.com
Once the plants are pollinated, wash females off with a spray bottle of water - simulating rain and then in a ventilated air (get rid of moisture), alternately place outdoors for one night out of reach of slugs and such.. Once pollinated plants should not be placed in the direct flow of fan air, indirect air flow is fine.
"Watch out for is the male flowers they contain water and must be removed from pollen. I find the hanging traps I make can be shaken and the flowers being heavy fall to the corners and can be removed from the pile." - tgagenetics.com
A problem with collecting pollen is that it's a time consuming, maticulous process, if you manually roll a pollen pod on the plant and it falls, a million barley visible grains are released and then we have to mop them up for use. They can stick on your collector, like wax paper. A solution is to mix in some dry flour (you can microwave first - but not the pollen.) to the eye, it also tends to stick to the wax paper but the solution is to mix in some dry flour. I used a ratio of about 5 to 1 and ended up with a yellow looking mix that resembled cake batter. I allowed the flour to dry well and microwaving wouldn’t be bad idea to remove any moisture that might remain in the flour.
OPTIONAL - POLLENATION BAGS
Pollination begins at the peak flower stage.
Another way of collecting and pollinating - is to first choose the studs, the males that show the best characteristics and then destroy the rest. Chooses the limbs with the most healthy-looking and ripe flowers the selected pollen males. Use 2 limbs (male) to 1 prospective seed parent (female). Place / enclose limbs in paper bag and seal with an elastic band. Use thin paper bags to allow air circulation.. Labeling is made easy with paper, just write on info like; date of enclosure, pollen parent, etc..
Upon enclosure, wait for the pollen plants to reach their flowering peaks. Cut the limbs with the paper bag from the pollen plants. Cutting off the limbs too early, the pollen will not detach from the anthers. However, if they stay on too long you’ll end up destroying the pollen.
The limbs are then stored in a dry area to prevent spoilage. When the limbs are dried and all the pollen has fallen off, shakes the bag vigorously. Before opening, let the pollen settle. The flowers and the branches are removed and the bag is sealed again. The collected pollen is stored away while waiting for the seed parents to be pollination ready. You can trim off excess shading leaves from the tips of the limbs.
Pollen bags are slipped on over the two limbs and sealed with elastic bands. Then shake, shake shake, then wait, allowing the pollen to settle.. You can leave the bag in place for a few days., then you will observe some signs of seed production in ten days or so, the calyxes will split and bear seeds.
Sibling crosses draw genetic traits from both the mother and father plant, the male plays just as important a role as the female does, but its rare to see male cannabis plants in full bloom and pollen collection and use is almost a mythical craft. I will do my best in this article to shed some light on the ways pollen is collected and dispersed.
Before we talk about collecting pollen let’s talk about staggering. This is a trick I learned by trial and error that allows us to get the maximum number of seeds per plant.
Before the cannabis plant reaches maturity its cola is composed by subunits that are preparing to be filled out. In this period of the plant’s growth it is done stretching and the bud sites are starting to develop. It depends on the strain, when the development will start. It may begin in the middle of the period of flowering. Each and every sub-unit is composed of a bud or in other words of the cluster of female cannabis flowers that are single. The flowering period is the time when new flowers are forming on the top side of the subunits. This period is recognized by the small stigmas which are formed on the new forming pistils or single flowers which are thin and have white hairs. The stigmas are two hairs....
Pokesmot 247 and Cannachick Pollinate a Pineapple Chunk Female from Barneys Farm with a Sleestack Skunk Male from Seedsman.
VID on the art and science of mating marijuana.
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