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Harvesting pollinia

This is a discussion on Harvesting pollinia within the Breeding & Hybridization forums, part of the Orchid Propagation category; Realizing that it's best to pollinate within a few days of a flower's opening, does ...

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    Default Harvesting pollinia

    Realizing that it's best to pollinate within a few days of a flower's opening, does that also apply to harvesting its pollen? Or does pollen mature to full potency a little later?

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    I've heard that maximum maturity is reached some days after opening. It probably wouldn't hurt to give a flower a couple days before harvesting...unless it's one of those things that doesn't last a couple of days!

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    unless it's one of those things that doesn't last a couple of days!
    Yeah! I never have tried removing pollen from a wilted Stanhopea on the greenhouse floor.

    Oooh. Maybe we could photoshop a cattlipaphihopea: a pouch with fangs and big ears...

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    It is not always good to give a flower a few days before harvesting or pollinating. In fact it is better to do it before the flower even opens up on most Phrag and paph species. In my experience working with an old breeder of paphs and Phrags, (baker & Chantry orchids. Now out of business) the best chance of pollination of Phrags happens when pollen is collected and transferred on unopened flowers. Even then the success rate is pretty low and the chance for viable seed even lower. Phrags can be very difficult to pollinate.

    I know I'm new here but Sue told me to dive right in.

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    That's very interesting. I don't have any experience with breeding paphs (yet), but I'd imagine that B&C has plenty of experience with the complex hybrids (which are plagued by poor viability, especially the white ones). I always thought that phrag incompatibility had more to do with the widely disparate chromosome numbers, however. Hence the success with the EYOF's chromosomal work.

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    If I remember correctly. I think one in 4 pollinating attempts took and 1 in 4 of those was viable seed. Not to mention that some crosses seem to make "mules" but occasionally you can get a cross that should not pollinate to pollinate and have viable seed. Gary Baker was a genius at remembering what crossed well to what in many many species of orchid.

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    Default pollen collecting

    I have been studying pollen lately for several types of plants including orchids, and have a question that i need a serious answer to. If in theory, pollen is one of the most enduring substances on the planet....can I collect pollen from aged blooms and have it still viable? Since it IS protected, I would assume it hasnt gone anywhere....and how about a nearly mature bud that drops off? half open say....(I am a clutz, have been known to knock off buds) Just that some of my orchids that I WANT to pollinate....are way behind the ones I want to cross them with, and likely wont be ready at the same time....

    soapmaster


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    Soap, that's going to depend quite a bit on the type of orchid. Several Phrag hybridizers, for instance, swear they get the best germination rates when they harvest pollinia and pollinate flowers before they've ever opened, cutting away petals and pouch to access the staminode. At the other end of the spectrum, I just crossed a couple of Catts 10 days ago using pollen from a flower that was almost gone--the pollinia had already begun to brown. But the pollination was successful: the ovary on the mother plant has already started to swell.

    In general however, you should harvest pollinia within a few days of the flower's opening to get it at its freshest and most potent. Rule of thumb is, you can store it in the fridge as long as it's kept dry for up to a year. Sue uses sleeves made from glossy magazine paper; if I have any around, I like to use medicine capsules--the kind you can pull apart--then seal them in a ziploc. It's a rare event when two flowers I want to cross just happen to be open and at their peak at the same time.

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    Default Harvesting

    Ah. So I heard correctly. I heard from somewhere else that it is advisable to harvest pollinia as soon as possible, though it would also make sense that it shouldn't matter since, as someone pointed out, pollen lasts for thousands of years in the most inhospitable of conditions.

    I noticed that when you remove the anther cap from a Phal, the flower wilts, regardless of whether you actually remove the pollinia or even pollinate it with anything. It seems that the removal of the anther cap is a death sentence for the blossom. If this is the case, how is pollination supposed to occur if the flower wilts and falls off? If the seed pod takes 10 months to grow, it seems the flower will have fallen off long before the pod could have developed in the first place.

    What's more, do you need to remove the anther cap of the flower that you pollinate? In other words, suppose you have orchid A and orchid B. If you take pollinia from A and cross it with B, need you remove the anther cap from B. After all, you are only putting A's pollinia into B, keeping B's pollinia intact. This seems like the most likely scenario in nature anyway. I would imagine that an insect is more likely to cross pollinate than pollinate the same plant, much less the exact same bloom.

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    You're absolutely right: you should not remove the anther cap or pollinia from the flower that's going to be the pod parent. Doing so will cause the flower to die sooner than the pollen tube can develop and grow into the ovary.

    While pollen may last for years and years under dry, almost dessicated conditions, the moist and humid environments most commonly grown orchids thrive in cause it to go downhill pretty quickly and finally just rot. So in an orchid's case, fresher is definitely going to be better.

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