Prior to talking about the collection of pollen, let’s look at the method of staggering and what it does to cannabis pollination. Staggering is a tactic that allows the cannabis grower to acquire a maximum amount of seeds in each marijuana plant. When the grower wants to pollinate a mother plant to secure seeds, it is best to begin with 12 hours of light and 12 hours without light for a complete seven days, after which the male plant should be moved into the budding room.
You should bear in mind, though, that every strain will be different during this time frame. If you want to breed your cannabis strain or make your cannabis seeds, you may not be sure of how you will collect the pollen and pollinate the plant effectively. It's not that difficult with these easy instructions.
How to Choose Male Cannabis Plants
As a dioecious plant, cannabis produces female and male plants unlike monecious plants, which produces plants that can have male and female flowers. Breeders can easily examine the bud size, yield, aroma, and color of a potential female parent. When selecting males, however. breeders factor in the male plant’s only visible traits: pollen sac size and density. Since most of the male’s bud traits are hidden in the genes, choose to collect pollen from a male plant that has parents that express strong vegetative growth.
What You Need to Collect Cannabis Pollen
If possible, use latex gloves when you’re working with cannabis pollen to prevent the pollen from sticking to your fingers. Latex gloves can be thrown away afterward to avoid cross-pollination. For extra protection, a face mask or respirator can prevent you from breathing in the cannabis pollen you’re collecting and storing for later use. Finally, use goggles and mask if you have allergies or don’t want any pollen on you. Don’t forget to store your tools in a separate and sealed compartment when you’re done to prevent cross-pollination. Wearing loose clothing can accidentally come in contact with pollen. Wear tight-fitting clothing to avoid this problem.
Open Pollen Sacs
Once the male cannabis plants begin to flower, you can collect pollen. If the female plant is feminizing its seeds, you can do the same. As soon as you see the pollen sacs cracking on the marijuana plant as if they are going to open, you are ready to harvest the pollen. One way that you can tell if your pollen is ready to be harvest is to carefully and gently remove the pollen sacs and allow a week for them to dry. After they are dried, you would then place them all in a re-sealable bag. To know for sure that they are ready, just shake up the re-sealable bag with the pollen and it should spill out easily. It is possible that you might have to cut some of the pollen open.
Collecting pollen is a crucial element of the breeding process. It’s important to eliminate any distractions and set up an environment where you can focus. If you have pets, keep them in another room and close the door so they don’t accidentally run in while you’re trying to tap the pollen into your container. You must also eliminate all wind movement. Turn off all of your nearby fans and close all the windows to avoid blowing cannabis pollen away.
Pollen collecting should be performed in a separate room from any of your female marijuana plants to avoid producing hermaphroditic plants. Hermaphroditic plants limit bud production and produce cannabis seeds. Keep a garbage bag nearby or in one of your grow tent pockets to store your cannabis pollen-collecting tools after. When you’re done collecting the pollen, make sure you’ve changed your clothes to avoid cross-pollination when you visit your grow room with your female plants.
When is Pollen Ready
Cannabis pollen is ready to be extracted when a mature anther (on the stamen) opens up and releases cannabis pollen grains into the air. Check your plants for powder-like and yellow pollen grain on leaves below the male marijuana flowers. You can collect pollen by using a small container such as a cup, parchment or wax paper, or foil to catch the falling pollen as you gently shake the male flowers. Some flower parts may fall into your container. Carefully remove them with some tweezers before storing your pollen.
Storing Your Pollen
Now that you have harvested your pollen, it is now time to store them. The enemy to storing your pollen is moisture. It can greatly damage your cannabis seeds. It helps to add cooking flour to coat the collected pollen, keeping the moisture away. The flour will absorb any moisture as the pollen is being stored. It will also make it easier for you to pollinate your marijuana plant later. If you add more flour mixture and put it in the freezer, you can actually store your pollen for one year or even longer. Use freezer bags instead of plastic bags and make sure to label the freezer bags.
Some growers choose to let their pollen dry for up to 48 hours before storing it for long-term use. If you’re planning on drying your pollen, spread out the pollen with a brush across your parchment paper and place it in a dimly-lit room with no air movement, temperatures between 65º and 75º F and humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent. When it’s dry enough, you can funnel your pollen into an airtight storage container.
A recent study funded by the Canadian government found a new way to store cannabis pollen for an indefinite amount of time through desiccation and combining the pollen with baked whole wheat flour, preserving agents, and then freezing it in liquid nitrogen.
Researchers removed the cannabis pollen from the liquid nitrogen and added it to flowering female marijuana plants. All female plants produced a high-quality bud formation and yield.
The study found that pollination is possible throughout the flowering period, but the ideal time to remove pollen during the middle of the flowering period. According to researchers, the pollen retained “viability the longest with 22 percent of pollen grains successfully germinating after 21 days” of storage in a cool environment.
“By using our [pollen germination assay], we have demonstrated the loss of pollen viability over time when stored at 4 degrees Celsius, and suggested an optimal time during flower development for pollen collection to maximize longevity during storage,” the study says.
Female Plant Pollination
Wait until your female plants are up to three weeks into their flowering phase before you consider pollination. Now that your mother plant is in its third week of flowering, use a paintbrush and apply the feminized pollen where the buds are developing. Where the leaves of the plant meet the stem is where the bud sites can be found. By the third week, the bud sites should show lots of thin white hairs. You will put the pollen on these thin white hairs. Then you will notice that the buds that touch the pollen are the only ones that will grow marijuana seeds. You can decide to pollinate a few of the buds or all of them. Be sure that all female hairs are being touched with pollen.
You can apply cannabis pollen from multiple male strains on the same plant at individual flower sites. Make sure to label each branch with the cannabis pollen type you applied to document its unique traits and keep a comprehensive record of the parents. That way, you will know the exact parents to the seeds produced. Throughout the entire process, your pollinated female cannabis plant should be isolated from the rest of the non-pollinated plants while the seeds are growing to avoid accidental cross-pollination.
Mother plants require an optimal supply of nutrients, especially nitrogen. Your mother plant may need more nitrogen than the concentration in your bloom nutrient solution. If needed, include more nitrogen in your nutrient solution to stimulate seed production. Some growers choose to adopt a vegetative nutrient schedule to help produce seeds. Seeds will develop in a few weeks after you have pollinated your mother plant. A fews after that, the seeds will be breaking open from their calyxes.
Harvesting the Seeds
You should wait about six weeks before harvesting the seeds because that is how long it will take to see a well developed cannabis seed. Be sure to keep the cannabis plant alive before the seeds drop. You can use your seeds immediately or store them in a dry place until you need them. However, always label the seeds, putting the storage date on the label so you know which ones to use first and which might be past their prime.
To learn more about pollinating and harvesting cannabis seeds, enroll in Cannabis Training University today.