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Potato Breeding

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  • Potato Breeding

    First select a suitable flower buds, I find it best to select ones that look like they will open the next day or so. If they are too young they are fiddly and more fragile to work with, if they are too advanced, pollen may have already been shed. But you can check to see if the holes in the anthers are open or if there are grains of pollen on the stigma which I find are usually visible with a magnifying glass.

    I'd emasculate the two biggest buds at the front of this bunch and possibly the one behind the largest bud, although I wouldn't pollinate until the following day.

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    A nice bunch of buds, the three in the front all look ok to me, though if left for several hours they might have started to open. I know some might say they are on too far, but I find here they work fine at this stage and pollen is unlikely to have been shed.

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    Once selected

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    it's time to start taking off some of the petals and anther cone. I don't bother removing the sepals on potato flowers, there doesn't usually seem to be a need to, unless they might be exceptionally long and get in the way when you pollinated the flower.

    Carefully with your fingers pinch off most of the flower petals. Leaving some petal gives you a good indicator of when the flowers would have been open to apply pollen.

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    If the stigma is exposed you will see it sticking out of the anther cone.

    Next start taking off the anther cone, I usually use my fingernail or a pair of tweezer, and sort of pluck or flick off the bits, this one is half completed. Be careful not to bend or knock the stigma off.

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    Two competed ones, if the flowers are advanced you can try them with a dab of pollen now and perhaps the following day. Easier still is to wait until the petals have opened before pollinating.

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    To be continued...
    Last edited by jayb; 28-06-2015, 11:24.

  • #2
    Thank you for this Jayb. Such clear instructions and wonderful pictures too.


    • #3
      Anther cone, nicely coloured but before shedding pollen.

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      A mature anther cone with pollen tubes visible and there looks to be some pollen.

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      • #4
        I use an electric toothbrush to harvest pollen, buzzing the flowers over a little dish or spoon to collect it. Conditions needs to be dry and the flowers open for pollen to flow. If you don't have an electric tooth brush you could try gently tapping the flower head with one hand while with the other holding underneath something to catch the pollen, a bit of a juggle sometimes. Also trying to collect and pollinate flowers in windy weather is a nightmare and best avoided, Even on a calm day a sudden breeze will come from nowhere and target your pollen gathering and pollinating efforts with surprising accuracy!

        Shallow dish with collected pollen.

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        The pollen grains are tiny in comparison to the stigma.
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        Stigma loaded up with pollen and hopefully soon to be a swelling tps pod!
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        I mark each cross pollinated flower usually with coloured silk and keep a written note of what's what.

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        Generally a minimum of 6 weeks is needed for seed to have matured enough for the pods to be picked, but leaving them on the plant longer would be better still.


        • #5
          Sorry I am being very dense today. Do you buzz them with the stem of the electric toothbrush or with the little brush on top of the stem?

          Thank you for this great info and photos again , Jayb


          • #6
            I hold it normally in my hand and use the top part where you would pop the brush on. It's nice and slim and gets into the flowers easily. I didn't manage an in-focus, picture too many things to hold!

            It's handy too if you just want to get some pollen to dab about to help with self pollination. I would think a soft fine paint brush would come in handy to apply.


            • #7
              Thank you Jayb - I have just found a 'how-to' youtube video.