The Ultimate Guide To Cannabis Pollen
Pollinating your own cannabis plants allows you to create your own new strains or develop feminized lines of your favourites. You might create the next big thing! Here’s what pollen is all about.
Sources Of Pollen
Cannabis is dioecious, which simply means it produces both male and female plants. The male plants produce a pale yellow pollen, which fertilises female plants to create seeds for a new generation. Pollen production is essential for breeding, whether it be to continue a strain’s lineage or to create novel hybrids. Pollen can be obtained in two different ways; either from genetic males, which have XY chromosomes and produce regular seeds, or from females with XX chromosomes that have been manipulated to produce pollen, which is where feminized seeds come from.
In the wild, cannabis is wind-pollinated, which is why the pollen is extremely fine—enough to be carried by the air. In a controlled environment like a grow room, pollen for breeding is carefully collected from male plants, and females are hand-pollinated. Letting a male have its way with a whole crop of females will produce a lot of seeds, but buds will have no recreational or medicinal value. This is desirable in commercial hemp industry as hemp seed is an invaluable product, but it’s anathema to the marijuana producer.
Males Need Their Own Space
When breeding cannabis, males need to be kept separate from females at all times. This will at very least involve a separate grow space indoors, although keeping males in a greenhouse outdoors is highly recommended. Once true males are identified, or created as with feminization, they need to be cared for just as much as females to ensure production of healthy plants. Male flowers develop in loose clusters and begin as pods that mature and swell over time. When they are ready, they literally burst open to release the pollen from internal structures called anthers.
Big Things From Small Plants
Depending on how much pollen is needed, male plants really only need to be kept small. Each single male flower produces copious amounts of pollen, with only a few flowers providing enough pollen for any domestic breeding operation. To save space, once a breeding male is identified in the grow room, clone it; once the clone is well rooted, set it straight to a 12-12 light cycle. The same rule applies to cloned females for feminization. These small plants will produce more than enough pollen for any domestic use.
Watch plants closely as the male flowers develop. When pods have swollen fit to burst, turn the air circulating fans off. Pollen will easily be blown around the grow environment and lost, or desired genetics might get mixed up when making a number of strains for breeding. In a still environment, pollen will simply drop away from the opened flower onto the leaves where it can be dusted off and collected. Even after the pod has opened, enough useful pollen will still be attached to the anthers. Gently remove the pod and tap onto a piece of clean paper—you will see a little pile of pollen.
Upon gaining a bit of experience making males, it is possible to squeeze the unopened flower just before it’s ready to open itself and extract all the pollen. This requires experienced timing as pollen needs to mature properly to be viable. Forcefully opening a flower too early will only lead to frustration as the pollen will not be potent enough to fertilise a female.
If possible, use pollen the moment it is collected. It will be at its most potent and fertilisation is guaranteed.
How To Use Your Pollen
Using pollen is easy. Simply use a soft brush, Q-tip, or the tip of a clean, dry finger to dab onto female pistils. Females that are at least 21 days into flowering are ripe for fertilisation; pistils are long and still white, and the calyx has developed properly. If fertilised too early when the calyx is not properly formed, seeds will not develop fully and will be small, white, and non-viable.
It is only necessary to fertilise a single bud on a female plant. However, it is also quite possible to fertilise several buds on the same plant with different strains of pollen, or to use a single breed of pollen on several different strains of females. Keep obsessive track of who’s who in your cannabis zoo.
After a minimum of 45 days, a fully formed seed will be seen splitting the calyx seam, and is thus ready for harvesting. Dry plants as normal, and after 7 days, put seeds in a dry, cool place to dry properly for 4–5 weeks, then plant as desired.
The Importance Of Storing Cannabis Pollen Correctly
Pollen is needed to fertilise female cannabis plants and produce offspring. Breeding cannabis, and creating a stable strain, is no easy task, but it is highly rewarding. If you have found the perfect male candidate but are still searching for a female counterpart, it is vital that, in the meantime, you store your pollen correctly. Doing so will ensure that when you do find a female cannabis plant with the right flavour, aroma, and bud density, you can begin crafting your masterpiece on the right foot.
Storing pollen is relatively straightforward as it can remain stable for several months (even years)—provided the right steps are taken. Before we cover off some ideal containers for storing pollen, it is essential to understand the impact of moisture. Allow moisture to take hold of your prized pollen, and you can kiss goodbye to the next cannabis cup winner (it doesn’t hurt to dream big).
Moisture Is Your Biggest Enemy
To guarantee moisture doesn’t wreck your pollen stash, the first step is to ensure it’s completely dry before transferring it to your chosen container. Place your pollen in a cool, dry area with low humidity and spread thinly on the surface of a table or worktop. Ideally, you want temperatures to remain between 20–22°C (68–72°F) during the drying process. If humidity creeps up while your pollen is drying (around 40–50% RH), put a desiccant or silica gel pouch in with your pollen to soak up any moisture from the air.
Once pollen has been prepared and placed inside a container, move it to the fridge. Keep your pollen in the refrigerator for 2–3 days (with a silica pouch) before storing in the freezer. This is to ensure that temperatures lower gradually and the drop doesn’t cause a buildup of moisture. As long as there isn’t any moisture lurking inside your container, some growers claim pollen can be stored, without damaging its integrity, for up to 6 years!
When you finally need your prized pollen, follow the same procedure as above, but in reverse. Again, this is to make sure that temperatures rise slowly. As a budget option, if you cannot get hold of silica gel packs, rice is a simple alternative. Before transferring the pollen to a container, fill said container with a small layer of rice. The rice grains will work in a similar way to silica, pulling moisture from the surrounding air.
Choosing The Right Container
With the proper techniques outlined, all we need to do now is pick a suitable container. Thankfully, Zamensia has you covered with options to suit every budget.
• Holy Seeds Bank Pollen
Holy Seeds Bank offers an exclusive range of expertly harvested pollen. Not only do you have the advantage of stable genetics, but the entire Holy Seeds range ships in special protective packaging. The pollen can be stored using the steps listed above, without needing to transfer it to another suitable container. The packaging supplied by Holy Seeds Bank is also reusable, should you decide to try crossing several different mother plants—just make sure everything is labelled so there is no cross-contamination.
• Stashbox Tightvac Mini
Small, discreet, and airtight, the Stastbox Tightvac Mini set is another perfect choice for storing pollen. Easily affix labels to the outside so you can keep track of your breeding exploits, or use the coloured lids as a means of identification. Either way, these containers are large enough to accommodate pollen, but small enough that they won’t take up valuable space in your freezer.
• Weed Curing Jar
Available in a range of sizes, the glass mason jars available from Zamnesia are the cost-effective choice for storing pollen. For only a few euros, you get extra-thick glass construction and a rubber seal with a galvanised bracket to keep things 100% airtight. Not only are our Weed Curing Jars perfect for storing pollen, but once you’ve harvested your chosen mother, you can use the jars for curing your newly created super buds!
Pollen For Your Pleasure
Pollen is the ideal way to produce your own seeds at home. Whether you are feminizing a favourite strain to ensure female plants every grow, or creating entirely new hybrids, by combining the characteristics of your favourite plants, it is quite possible to create the next big thing in cannabis breeding. Just look at strains like Gorilla Glue, Cheese, GSC, and Critical, each of which changed the course of cannabis history forever with their groundbreaking genetics.
Creating and using your own cannabis pollen allows home-growers to become home-breeders! Find out more with our informative guide.
Collecting, Storing, and Using Cannabis Pollen
I’m The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for…
Greensand and Langbeinite
Howdy all you sexy breeding mofos—LoL—as some of you already know, pollinating your cannabis garden is easy; way too easy sometimes, heh heh. Basically, you just put males and females together, get some air movement going indoors, and boom! Sex happens. But, when you have found a beautiful male that is flowering and you want to save some of that pollen for down the road… No need to fear, Rev is here to show you how.
In this article you will learn easy collection, storage rules, and styles of usage. You can use this stored pollen for at least a year after you store it; I have done this, many times. You CAN use a brush to pollinate female plants with, however, this is a highly inefficient way to use a small amount of pollen. I prefer using the “pollinating bladder” approach, and I’ll show ya all about that. Pollination indoors or outdoors is really easy and you can make a lot of seeds from just a little pollen.
ROAD RULES FOR POLLEN WORK
- Turn off all fans, no air movement or wind.
- Wear latex gloves always when dealing with pollen.
- Don’t do this while baked out of your gourd—LoL.
- You may want to use a mask (respirator) since you will breathe a lot of pollen.
- Use goggles and a mask if you are particularly sensitive to pollen.
- After collecting pollen don’t visit any friend’s cannabis gardens, unless you have showered and changed.
- Know and prepare all your working spaces ahead of time, it can cost you big trying to wing-it along the way while doing it.
- Have a suitable—and clean—air tight (I like glass here) container(s) to store your pollen in.
- Learn how to target many specific buds with tiny amounts of pollen using a pollen bladder and flour to practice with.
Collecting Cannabis Pollen
This is super simple and straight forward: simply bend the male flower over and give it a shake while holding it above a sheet of wax, or parchment paper. Put on your latex gloves before you ever touch your parchment/wax paper, otherwise pollen will stick to your fingerprints like a CSI thing. You can collect indoors or outdoors. I recommend early morning collection in either case. You will get a ton of the flowers mixed with the pollen, like in the photo above—don’t sweat it.
Just Use a Clean Strainer to Remove Most of the Flowers
Run all these flowers mixed with pollen through a regular (clean) kitchen type strainer to remove almost all of the flower matter from the pollen. You want to remove every single bit of flower matter from the pollen, and I use tweezers to accomplish this to get the last few specs. Use a clean brush to pile all the pollen up into a central location on the parchment paper once all the flower matter has been removed, then spread it out a little bit.
Place the paper with the pollen on it in a dim location that is warm and dry for 48 hours. Temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees with humidity around 30% to 60% is absolutely primo. Make sure the pollen is out of any direct intense light; or sunlight. Make sure there is no real air movement from any fans. After 48 hours your pollen will have dried enough to store it without it decomposing, and it will still be completely viable.
Storing Your Pollen
You can find these tiny funnels at craft stores or in the craft departments of larger stores. You don’t need to use a funnel, but it makes life a lot easier getting all the pollen into a small container. But first things first… Use your brush to move all the pollen into a main pile on your parchment paper, and then break out some scissors.
Cut Off Excess Paper Before Pouring Pollen into Container Place Sealed Airtight Container with Pollen into Refrigerator
I like to cut the piece of parchment paper at this point into a smaller piece that is easier to work with. Then I carefully fold it so I can easily pour the pollen into the funnel, and you can use your brush here as well to make sure you get all the pollen off the parchment paper and into the container. The rules are as follows…
- Your container needs to be light and air tight. I store my glass containers inside of small light/air tight coffee cans to add another layer of air tight protection and make them light tight as well.
- The refrigerator is the best place to store your pollen; don’t freeze it or you will likely kill it.
- Make sure to label your pollen and date it, always do this.
Using Stored Cannabis Pollen
Always take your pollen out of the refrigerator about 12 to 24 hours before you will want to use it. You can use it multiple times, reopening the container, getting some pollen out, and sealing it back up and putting it back into the fridge. But you will NEED to leave it out in room temps for at least 12 hours before you open it to use it, every time you use it; otherwise, your pollen will absorb moisture from the air rapidly while cold, and too much moisture will kill your pollen.
I love using a true pollen bladder here for dispersing pollen, no matter if I want to hit a whole room, or tent, or even outdoors. Early morning outdoors is the best time to pollinate, and you have to get a little skilled with using a bladder. You can get very accurate, and use very small amounts of pollen to dust a lot of buds. In a room or tent simply have killer air movement going on with fans and blow pollen into fans.
Cannabis Grow Lights: Flowering with Blues
Fans on the floor aimed upwards vertically work awesome for this. Bladder spray your pollen into the fans and leave the fans on for about 15 minutes—boom—pollinated! Tents are really awesome for pollinations. You can practice using a pollen bladder by putting flour into it, squeezing rhythm and power are what it’s all about. Takes about 20 minutes of practicing; you’ll see.
Afterword with Rev
A pollen bladder really atomizes the pollen and gives you seriously upgraded bang for your buck when it comes to seed numbers made from small amounts of pollen. This is for sure the one tool you should absolutely get. In a pinch, DIY-style, you could use a “sawed-off” turkey baster, as long as it had a super thin and extremely flexible bulb; the bulb couldn’t be stiff at all. If doing this indoors with fans you could also just blow doses of pollen off of some parchment paper into fans. But seriously, the bladder rules.
Finally, keep well in mind that pollen can travel a long-long way with very little air current. Sativa and sativa dominant pollen flies the best. The Kush and Hashplant type indica pollen, being much better at falling than at flying. Sativa pollen particles are more like hang-gliders, while indica pollen particles are more like cardboard boxes, heh heh. Cheers and happy trails everyone.
In this article you will learn easy collection, storage rules, and styles of usage. You can use this stored pollen for at least a year after you store it.