Any suggestions on storing pollen?

Michael Mace
Fri, 13 May 2016 09:33:43 PDT
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
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?



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