Males and Pollen
Most growers never have the opportunity to learn the male of the species in detail and I thought it would be fun to discuss what I look for when choosing a male, how we go about collecting pollen and how we breed a full sized plant.
Before we talk about collecting pollen lets talk about staggering. This is a trick I learned by trial and error that allows us to get the maximum number of seeds per plant. This doesn’t apply to those just working with a branch or two we will discuss this also.
When pollinating a mother plant for seed I will start her into 12/12 a full 7 days before I move the male into budding room. Keeping in mind that each strain is going to be a bit different on time frame but this seven day rule has worked very well for us. This allows the female plant to develop enough pistils to produce a high volume of seeds. Once the male is flowering well the females will be entering a window around day 21-24. Most Hybrids I work with are done in less than 9 weeks so pollinating the females at 3 weeks in is good place to start. You can pollinate up to day 30 of budding but you stand a good chance of the seeds never getting mature so I find each strains perfect window. Ealier maturing strains should be pollinated closer to day 21 and longer maturing varieties closer to 30 days.
One thing I must insert and I am not trying to be rude for your younger inspiring breeders out there concentrate on producing the best herb you can and mastering the craft of room set up. Again no offence but you can’t breed properly in a cab I do it in a limited space granted but I have been growing successfully some 32 years and didn’t start breeding till I had around 20 years under my belt. It doesn’t hurt to experiment that is how we learn but I think at least a few years as a grower are in order before anyone attempts breeding even though I lay out every single step. If you think its easy ask any grower how many complete clusterfucks he’s grown out from so called “Established Breeders” It takes an eye and that is gained from experience.
Here are some things we look for when selecting a new male. The earliest plants to indicate sex are always tossed out. In nature Cannabis is a hemp dominant species and the drug traits we seek for medication have been bred into the plant over thousands of years my mans intervention. In the wild these hemp dominant males acclimate the variety and the drug traits are dominated by other traits like fiber production and vigor.
Smell plays a huge roll in my selection process and once a male plant is sexually mature at about day 45 I analyze each plant by rubbing each stem and making notes on the ones I like best. This may seem very basic but its been my experience that a skunky sour male will lend this smell trait to a new hybrid. Conversely if the male doesn’t smell incredibly dank the results are less than satisfactory. The final attribute I look for is a new male is resin. The number and frequency of non-glandular trichomes on a young male plant can be a huge indicator as to the quality of the plant. If a plant smells great and is covered in resin at day 45 I will absolutely give him a try with one of our best females. By comparing the sibling crosses to the original P1 female we can determine what characteristics are passed on. There is certainly much more to it but this is a basic guide line of the external characteristics we look for in a male plant.
Ok so now we have our male in full bloom and we have our females in the breeding room. This area should be completely separated from main bud area preferably in another building completely. If the two rooms share a common HVAC duct system you will get pollution into your main area. Pollen is serious stuff and flies everywhere and you cannot see it. It will stick to your clothes, pets, etc. You must change cloths and bath after entering your breeding area.
I prefer to simply allow my males to hang out with my mothers for a few days with a small fan positioned on the male with females in the air stream. As the stamen open the pollen naturally flies into the air providing max coverage. We also like to pluck off ripe pods and gently roll them between our fingers over each cola head. This is how we capture the amazing suspended pollen shots I set as a standard and later Jill perfected.
One trick that can be used if you don’t want to pollinate an entire room is the pollen trap. This trick takes a good eye for when the male stamens are about to open. If you can figure that out simple take two large Tupperware containers and form a box that will hold a cup with water. Wax paper in bottom and along sides and tops you have cut off the mature male. Place the tops to hang over the wax paper and tape the entire box shut this allows you to have it in a non secure place like a veg room. Warning don’t spill the water it ruins the pollen don’t put more into the glass that you need to I used a heavy bar glass that wouldn’t tip over.
One thing we should cover is male cluster formation. When selecting a male for breeding we run him as a mature full size plant and we want to see even if he has met all our other breeding criteria that he makes big gnarly male clusters this indicates the bud formation he might pass on.
Once the plants are fully pollinated I wash the females off with a spray bottle of water and if its raining I place out doors for a night up high on a barrel where no bugs could possibly get to her. I prefer a gentle long rain to a spray bottle as it removed any access pollen. Once I have redundantly rinsed I place the mothers back into my main bud not in the main air stream of my blowers.
The male Cannabis plant is equally as beautiful to me as a huge cola. He carries half of the genetic code that is responsible for creating the Dank and without him we could not create flavor combinations like Lemon- Berry or Mango Orange. So remember the next time you kill a group of male plants they have there place in the world and are beautiful in the own way!
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