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Old July 21, 2015   #1
crmauch
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Default My Pollination Method

Not claiming this is superior to anyone else's methods (particularly given my recent whine about my success this year), but I tried to take a series of photos (some did not come out as well as I would have liked), to show how I go about it. If someone wants to say how they do it differently that would be welcome. I thought it also might help those new to the process.

Well it starts with the flower I'm going to use as a male (you can simply try to vibrate a flower over a lens, but I usually harvest at least one flower for 'processing'

Mature flower collected:
FlowerForCollectingPollen.jpg

I take this flower inside and strip it to its anther cone:
PollenDonorAnther.jpg

The anther is removed and placed in a dish to dry over night (helps release the pollen). The anther usually breaks apart, but that's ok -- I make sure the variety is labeled on the dish:
AntherDryingoverNight.jpg

The next day, I use tweezers to pick up the anther/anther pieces. I take a toothpick [not shown] and try to tap the anther piece to release pollen onto a sunglasses lens, If tapping doesn't work, I scrap the toothpick over the inside of the anther to try to extract pollen:
TransferPollentoLens.jpg

I then store the pollen on the lens in a container with a drying agent in the container. Transfer the label to the container. I place a lid on the container and place it in the refrigerator:
PolleninStorage.jpg

When you're ready to pollinate, take the container out and let it warm up gradually. If you remove the lens immediately, you will get condensation on the lens and damage the pollen.

Choose your flower to pollinate. Opalka and Shannon (both wispy/droopy folliage types have very long sepals, which makes judging the readiness of the flower a little more difficult). In retrospect this blossom is a little young:
BlossomChosen.jpg

Cut/strip the sepals and petals off the blossom. You now are down to the anther cone. Usually at this point I remove one section of the anther cone (shown) by slipping my knife under it to take it off -- it makes it much easier to remove the rest of anther:
FlowerStrippedtoAnther.jpg

Finish removing the anther cone:
AntherConeRemoved.jpg

Apply pollen from the lens to the pistil:
ApplyingPollen.jpg

Put a label on the blossom:
FlowerLabeled.jpg

Record the cross on paper:
RecordedCrosses.jpg
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Old July 21, 2015   #2
PhilaGardener
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Nice images! Took me a minute to realize those are sunglass lenses you use to collect and handle the pollen!
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Old September 2, 2015   #3
gsnader
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These images are helpful. I'm a fellow gardener from Lancaster county and am just starting into the world of tomato crosses. At what point in the summer do you stop making crosses? I'm assuming there is point at which it's not worth it to make a cross because the tomato won't set fruit in time, am I right in that assumption?
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Old September 2, 2015   #4
Starlight
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Just seeing this thread. Great pics. Very helpful indeed. Thanks for sharing your method and taking time to post pics. Using a sunglass lens is a great idea. Sure would make it easier to see pollen. What type of drying agent do you use? You don't just let your pollen dry normally?
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Old September 9, 2015   #5
crmauch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsnader View Post
These images are helpful. I'm a fellow gardener from Lancaster county and am just starting into the world of tomato crosses. At what point in the summer do you stop making crosses? I'm assuming there is point at which it's not worth it to make a cross because the tomato won't set fruit in time, am I right in that assumption?
There is a point at which you may successfully polinate, but the fruit won't ripen. I think the year before I pollinated to the end of June, but then lost tomatoes due to late blight. Generally this year I stopped mid/late June.

Last edited by crmauch; September 9, 2015 at 02:25 PM. Reason: correcting text
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Old September 9, 2015   #6
crmauch
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Duplicate message. Deleted Text.

Last edited by crmauch; September 10, 2015 at 04:39 PM.
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Old September 9, 2015   #7
crmauch
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
Just seeing this thread. Great pics. Very helpful indeed. Thanks for sharing your method and taking time to post pics. Using a sunglass lens is a great idea. Sure would make it easier to see pollen. What type of drying agent do you use? You don't just let your pollen dry normally?


I do dry them normally overnight/24 hours. But to extend the pollen's viability, I try to keep it in the refrigerator. To prevent moisture build up in there, I use the drying capsules from pill bottles. Be sure when you take them out, let the container warm up a bit before opening it (otherwise you'll get condensation.)

Last edited by crmauch; September 10, 2015 at 04:37 PM.
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Old January 11, 2016   #8
gssgarden
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Nice thread. Will try this season.

Greg
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Old January 11, 2016   #9
jmsieglaff
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Just saw this now, thank you for posting! I found the pictures to be very helpful--nice and big!
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Old January 12, 2016   #10
FredB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsnader View Post
These images are helpful. I'm a fellow gardener from Lancaster county and am just starting into the world of tomato crosses. At what point in the summer do you stop making crosses? I'm assuming there is point at which it's not worth it to make a cross because the tomato won't set fruit in time, am I right in that assumption?
Here in central Indiana (used to be zone 5b, maybe 6a now) I find that August 15th is the cutoff date for hand-pollination. Tomatoes take about 6 weeks from pollination to ripening, longer if the weather gets cold. Cherry tomatoes ripen a bit faster.
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Old January 13, 2016   #11
bower
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It makes sense to do your crosses early if you can, but I can't seem to live with a cut off date. At the end of season, I find myself admiring the plants that are still standing - whether by my choice or by being most resistant to the various tomato plagues. So even though my season is functionally over by October 10 - not enough hours of sun in my greenhouse by then - it's becoming a habit to do last minute crosses as late as mid september. Agonize over the slow progress or revel in every sign of growth until finally either the branch or the fruit has to be brought indoors, and slowly finish ripening usually ending in a paper bag.
Some of the late crosses I've only gotten a few seeds, but what the hey, you only need one F1 plant to get lots of F2 seeds. I was saving seeds from late crosses this year, in November.
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