Isolation Pollination: A Guide To Keep Your Favorite Strains
From the years that I have been growing, there is one thing that I read a lot about and that is the need or want to keep something that one has grown and keep it around for years to come. However, most people want to make sure that they still have a decent crop and not lose the whole room to an open pollination. Don't get me wrong pot that has been pollinated can still be smoked but the seed production is where the plant focuses the energy at that point and the flowers are not as potent as they could have potentially been. This will teach you the best way to keep something you want and not have to have two or three rooms to isolate everything from each other. So let’s just dive right into this and see where we get.
I have taken both approaches to this because of space and needs. Open pollination is a great way to really break out the gene pool and raise your chances of getting a male and female that are close in traits. It gives you a high number of seeds and it also keeps the stock around for the ability to back cross for a trait that you want. You have to have room to do this, a place where you can crack 25-30 seeds and see what you have. This is also where yield has to go out the window so to speak. Most breeders have the ability to do both but if you are, for lack of a better term, underground or doing this without a commercial place to do so you'll have to keep your plants small to fit the needs of your space. However, it will allow you to see what you have.
I typically get 4 or 6 inch square pots, germ to them and let them ride in there. This will do two things for you, it makes the plants fast as they don't have the true root room that they need for larger growth, and lets you select what you want to keep around. I have done this and found 4 or 5 females that are either identical to the males I select or have close to the same traits that I am looking for. The other plants especially the males get culled and the few females that I do keep around that don't get pollinated get moved to another area for a few days and then back together once the pollen has had time to naturally cross to the females. Another note is to keep some of the pollen that you used from the selected male so you can use it again down the road to bring those traits in stronger, this is key to stabilize a bloodline.
Now that I have seed from my star girls I will take some from each lot of seed that was produced and germ enough to get 3 females to actually grow out in a regular size container. This still takes a lot of room but it can be done. Just remember you have to adjust to the space that you have. So if I want three females from each previous mom I will germ 5 or 6 from each said lot of seed. I usually can get 3 gals this way from each but will take 2 if I get that bad of a ratio. if I only get one, I will pass on that side of the line till next go around. If my previous male was enough for me to like what he showed I will use his pollen again on the new lot that I saved from the previous grow. this will start to lock in his traits more and give the new generation another step towards a stable cross.
I could go deeper down this rabbit hole and all my theories on open pollination but we are here for the simple side of things. Below are the steps to isolation.
Here is where the fun begins, now that I am letting the 9 or so females get to their size I don’t want to pass and miss out on something that would be exactly what I want for the line. The whole reason that they are in the larger pots is to see what they can do and to bring that into the mix. This is where I will isolate select on them that way I can get the seed I want and take them to the next step in the process.
isolation pollination....kind of catchy eh??
So this is the easiest way that I have been able to do this, others may have a better take but for me this works 99.9 % of the time.
What you will need,
Black garbage bag
q-tip or small paint brush
Ziploc sandwich bag
Here is what to do with all of that.
Locate the branch that you want to add pollen to, I usually take a lower branch as they are the easiest to isolate and you can let them ride on the plant root stock and harvest the rest of the plant at the end. Get your Ziploc and cut a V in the center of the bag. Feed the branch through that v, remove the larger fans around this branch as its going to be the seed bearing bud any way. Once you get the bud in the bag wrap the bread tie around the stem and right above the v cut so you seal it off. Then seal the Ziploc.
Fill your spray bottle with water, tap water is fine and I have never had any issues with using tap water to do this. Make sure that your Ziploc is sealed and spray your entire plant down. Top to bottom making sure that you get a good amount of coverage to protect the rest of the plant from pollen. then take the black garbage bag and cover the entire plant except the branch that has the baggie on it. I usually spray the garbage bag as well just to make sure any stray pollen gets zapped.
This is what it looks like prepped
Once you have done that it’s time to get on to the fun part, take the pollen that you have harvested and bring it close to where you are going to work. Open the Ziploc, then take your q-tip and dip and swirl it in the pollen that you collected and slide it in the Ziploc and touch the white hairs on the bud. the reason that I use q tips is because the pollen sticks well to the cotton and the hairs grab a hold of the cotton really well. Makes a nice bond between the two for a successful pollination. Once you have done this step close the Ziploc back up and spray everything down again and wait about 10 -15 min. then I remove the black garbage bag and stick that bitch back in the room. To this day I rarely if at all find a stray seed in the rest of my bud.
after 24 hours it’s time to remove the Ziploc, so I spray down everything and then bag the plant. Open the Ziploc and spray inside the Ziploc to make sure that I kill any leftover pollen. remove the bread tie and then the bag spray again and then remove the garbage bag. This has given me 100% success rate on crossing in isolation form to bring out the next generation.
These are just the steps that I use and like I said there may be another way to do this but with a small scale and wanting to create your own crosses or just making seed stock for the future this will work for you. Take your time and be patient as you can also pollinate a whole plant this way too..
Once this has been done you will see the hairs die if it was successful, and one thing to keep in mind they will need at least 3 solid weeks to ripen. I let mine go 4.5 to 5 weeks to make sure that they are healthy good seed stock. They are on a lower bud and can be left behind while harvesting the rest of the plant. The seed pods will start to split when they are ready most of the time if they go 4 weeks it’s not hard to get the seed out as they will begin to open on their own. be patient as the reward is worth the wait.