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Hand pollinating techniques Empty Hand pollinating techniques

Post by 12acrehome on Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:34 pm

I'm going to start this by saying there are many different methods for hand pollinating the various plants we grow in our gardens. Each type of plant requires its own special handling and method. So this is going to be a long and multi-part or multi-post thread. Please be patient and understand that I only know a few techniques. I will post what I know, along with any links I can find.

To start off lets look at some basics. All of our garden plants have a flowering stage. The flowers have sex organs or structures. Some are male, some female, some flowers have both. The male portion of a flower is called the stamen. This is a thin hair-like growth that has a bulb or sac at the tip. This tip growth is called an anther. It is this anther that produces and releases pollen. The female part of the flower is called the pistil. The pistil has three parts, the stigma, which is the part that collects or is receptive to the pollen, the style, which is a passage to the ovary, where the seed is fertilized. (overly simplified, but you get the idea. If you want the full boat biology version, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower)

Some plants have perfect flowers, that is the flower has both male (stamen) and pistil (female) parts. These can be either self fertile, or self-incompatible. The self fertile types will usually self fertilize before the flower ever opens. These are the easiest things to gather seed from, and the most difficult to cross pollinate. Other perfect flowers are self incompatible. These must have pollen from a different plant (not just a different flower on the same plant) to fertilize the seed. (As I learn of the self fertile types, and those that are self incompatible I will post them, for now lets just keep in mind that there is a difference)

Some plants, and trees, have separate male and female flowers, on the same plant. These are considered insect pollinated, or wind pollinated. The other term often used is out-breeding types. These are also either self fertilized or self incompatible. Corn, squash and melons fit into this group. Corn has a tassel that produces pollen, that fertilizes the silks of the ears of corn to produce a kernel of corn. It is the out-breeding plants that can be hand pollinated. (at least that is what I have found at this point in my learning)

Inbreeding types are least susceptible to cross pollination or being contaminated by stray pollens from compatible plants. Your early or even first seed saving efforts should be focused here. These will let you learn how to recognize off type plants and fruits or seeds, and save only seed from those plants that have come true to type. Out-breeding types are where you will earn your stripes. The good news is; if you mess up, seeds are still available for purchase, and your mistake will only cost you a couple dollars per plant type to start over.

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Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

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Hand pollinating techniques Empty Re: Hand pollinating techniques

Post by 12acrehome on Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:52 pm

One more before I post about specific techniques. (I warned you that this was an advanced and in-depth discussion Wink ) What follows is partly learned, partly read about, and partly theory. You are welcome to offer input if you have anything to add.

Genetic diversity is as important within the plant kingdom as it is in the animal kingdom. It is this diversity that prevents deformity, and promotes healthy growth and resistance to disease. So how do you maintain genetic diversity when saving seeds from a small space, for a small space? Well, in all honesty you may not be able to. Experts recommend gathering seed samples from 200 plants of corn to maintain genetic diversity. This is a lot of work when hand pollinating for seed purity. If you are lucky enough to have your corn patch located 2 miles away from the next nearest patch or field of corn, then you have no worries about having to hand pollinate, and can simply grow 200 or more plants and save enough seed to plant that many for seed next year. Since most of us do not have that luxury due either to space, or proximity to other corn crops, I offer this theory:

Corn seed is viable for up to two years. Buy heirloom seed on year one. Plant half, select your seed plants, hand pollinate, and gather enough seed to plant your entire plot. Year two, plant the rest of the purchased seed and gather seeds as above. Now mix year one and year two seeds, divide in half. Plant half on year three, and half on year four. Each time gathering enough seed to plant the entire plot. Every two years mix the seed, and divide into plantings. If you have a bad year, and cannot gather seed for a single year, or if you see some unwanted trait developing in your corn, buy a packet of heirloom seed of the same type you are growing, and use them to improve the genetics in your seed by hand pollinating your seed with their pollen, and pollinate the seed from the purchased seed with pollen from your plants.

Squash-pumpkin, beet, cabbage family, turnip, radish, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, and watermelon (as well as others) seeds are viable for 4 to 5 years, and require a genetic diversity gathered from 24 (more is better, but 24 will work) plants. Sounds good until you realize that there are 24 plants taking up space that you cannot harvest food from, right? Well using a 4 year three plant rotation, similar to what was laid out for corn it might be doable. I would mix the seed every two years, instead of when I only had grown seed though. I would keep the seed purchased evenly divided into 4 groups. Year one plant group one. Year two plant seed saved from year one, AND group two. Year three plant group three only. Year four plant group four AND seed saved from year three. Year five half of the seeds saved from year two would be planted, year 6 half of the seeds from year four planted. Year 7 all old seeds planted (year two, and year 4) then either purchase some fresh seed if needed, or go into a four year blend rotation.

Ok one last concern...record keeping

If you are going to save seeds, you really should keep a garden journal, and keep seed records to be able to determine if your efforts to save seed are on track with what you intended. Genetic drift can occur within any isolated group of any life form. If your goal is to maintain a certain variety then you need to know what that started out like, and be able to compare what was with what you have growing now. If you want to develop your own strain of an improved variety or a hybrid of some type then you need the records of lineage to know how to re-create what you just grew.

PLEASE DO NOT USE RARE TYPES OF HEIRLOOM SEED TO BREED YOUR OWN HYBRID TYPES. This I ask as a personal favor. Improving a rare type I am OK with, as this is simply a process of selecting seed from the plants that are most appealing to you. If you must try to hybridize something consider the following;

Crossing two closely related plants to create a new variety can have unintended consequences. If you cross a dent corn with a popcorn in the hopes of creating a better yielding popcorn you should consider the possibility, or probability of ending up with with something that will not pop, but has so much starch that it tastes like glue when ground into corn meal.

How about crossing a paste tomato with a beefsteak tomato in hopes of growing larger paste tomatoes, what happens when you end up with a cherry tomato, that is so dry and pasty that even the birds avoid it.

Records of past efforts and a goal of creating a better fruit will help keep your efforts on track. Many hybrids that are available today were developed by crossing many (sometimes as many as 5 cross pollinations) varietiesover many generations.

I will attempt to do justice to hand pollinating corn in the next posting.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Hand pollinating techniques Empty Re: Hand pollinating techniques

Post by 12acrehome on Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:23 pm

Here is the best video explanation and demonstration of hand pollinating corn I have ever seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C8pR0GnKMg

I'll type more later, family duties call...

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Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Post by Sonshine on Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:15 am

Thanks for the info. I look forward to following these posts.

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Hand pollinating techniques Empty Re: Hand pollinating techniques

Post by 12acrehome on Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:50 pm

Smile

not much I can add to the information shown in the video. The corn silk is receptive to pollen along its entire length, and the end of the silk too. With that in mind a slightly altered method of applying pollen would be to cut the very tip of the husks and silk off flush then pour the pollen onto the flat surface instead of letting the silks grow a bit. This method uses less pollen per ear compared to the method shown in the video. Also, pollen from many plants can be blended together into a pollen batch and then smaller amounts of the batch of pollen per ear. This distributes the genetics of the corn more widely.

The company who makes the bags featured in the video is Lawson Bag company.
http://www.lawsonbags.com/ ; http://www.grainnet.com/companies/Lawson_Bag_Company__Inc_.html
http://www.seedburostore.com/productDetail-792.html

The last link is for a store that sells the products, the first two are for direct contact with Lawson Bag Company.

It'll be a couple days before I can continue. Again be patient, I shall continue.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Post by Sonshine on Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:12 am

I'm fairly patient. Smile Looking forward to your upcoming posts on the topic.

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He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
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Post by 12acrehome on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:05 pm

Ok this time lets look at squash. I could spend an hour or so listing the Genus and Species and common names of everything that is squash, but that would not do anyone any good. I have a feeling that the information will eventually need to be posted though. So hand pollinating techniques for squash... This includes gourds, melons, cucumbers, summer squash, and winter squash. All of these are out breeding, and rely on insects (bees) for pollination. For simplification just assume all of these will cross pollinate with all others (most will). We have to exclude bees from both the male flowers, as well as the female flowers, if we want to ensure genetic purity. Since these are insect pollinated a 1 mile isolation distance is recommended, if you choose not to hand pollinate. Since these cross so easily with so many other types I strongly recommend hand pollinating. Thankfully I was able to find another video that is of high enough quality, and seems accurate enough to be trust worthy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrZ-VCI4Edc

The only difference between the method shown in this video, and what I was taught, is they use clothes pins, we use masking tape to hold the flowers closed.


_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Post by 12acrehome on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:24 pm

Sonshine wrote:I'm fairly patient. Smile Looking forward to your upcoming posts on the topic.

I hope others are also interested, and patient Wink

Thanks for following along, I hope to cover all I have learned over my lifetime and have at least one person benefit from knowledge passed down from long before my parents or even grand parents knew how to do this.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Post by Sonshine on Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:47 pm

Is it possible to have each vegetable in it's own thread? Or maybe just the ones from the same family?

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Sonshine
He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
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Post by 12acrehome on Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:33 am

Oh wow,
Yes it is possible, given time, but that will be a major undertaking. I can start this list on each genus, and include the common names. The title of each would be have to be the Genus name...

I may be able to find links to the information though

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Post by Sonshine on Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:50 am

If it's going to be too much, I understand. I just figured it would be easier for people looking for certain vegetables. BTW, have I told you lately how much I appreciate all you do for the forum?

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Sonshine
He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]
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Post by 12acrehome on Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:07 am

Wink

well it might have come up once or twice. Just trying to do what I see is right.

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Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Post by 12acrehome on Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:09 am

It would be too much to type out by hand each vegetable common name as a title, and have everything it would cross with in the body... I feel certain that someone has this information already available on the internet, so why re-invent the wheel.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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