Any suggestions on storing pollen?

Fri, 13 May 2016 09:44:41 PDT
I put this page together years back on storing pollen:

--  Jim

On Fri, May 13, 2016 at 12:33 PM, Michael Mace <>

> I could use some advice on storing pollen.
> The bulbs that I hybridize bloom over a period of several months, most of
> them from February to early May. If I want to make the widest range of
> crosses, I need to store pollen from the early ones to use on the later
> ones. The way I've been doing that is to put the anthers in plastic film
> canisters (the kind that photographic film used to come in). The canisters
> go in a soft-sided food cooler, which is stored in a deep freeze in the
> garage.
> During bloom season I take that cooler out of the freezer for an hour or
> more every time I pollinate. That system worked well for me in the past,
> but
> the more plants I get, the more often I take the cooler out of the freezer.
> This year it was probably out at least five times a week, and I noticed
> that
> the stored pollen started to look bad. It was clumpy instead of powdery,
> and
> flowers pollinated with it often didn't set seeds. My rate of success on
> crosses dropped by about 50% this year.
> I think what's happening is that the anthers are thawing and then
> refreezing
> over and over, and that's doing something to the pollen. Do you think
> that's
> likely, and if so, what can I do about it? I can think of a few options:
> --Don't freeze the anthers during the growing season. Store the film
> canisters open in a cool day spot and hope the pollen remains viable. How
> long is it likely to last when stored this way?
> --Remove the pollen from the anthers and freeze only the pollen. Will the
> pollen alone tolerate thawing and freezing better than pollen on anthers?
> --Store the anthers in a refrigerator instead of a freezer. Maybe if they
> don't actually freeze they won't deteriorate so quickly.
> Any suggestions?
> Thanks,
> Mike
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James Shields   
P.O. Box 92
Westfield, IN 46074

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