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My first time hand pollinating peas  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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I hand pollinated my first pea flowers yesterday - or at least that's what I hope I did. It was really exciting and a little bit sordid. Here I am, stripping away the protective layers of flower petals, one layer at a time, until I've denuded the male and female parts, extracted the potent pollen, and deposited it onto the female receptacle. If we weren't talking about plants here, I would probably be in trouble for saying something like that.



I grew Tom Thumb Peas for the first time this year. They grow great in containers. The ones I got grow 10 to 12 inches tall. A nice, early pea, ready about two weeks sooner than my regular ones. They look adorable and everyone who sees them seems to fall in love.

The problem is, these tiny peas taste terrible. Every stage of the pea's development is starchy, even the young pods. The leaves and stems are tough and taste like something scraped off the pavement.

This year, I'm also trying Japanese climbing snow peas for the first time. These are bug resistant, but the bees love them. They have beautiful purple and pink flowers. I'm not a huge fan of snow peas, except for the occasional stir fry, but these peas make me love them. So far the plant has climbed about 5 and a half feet high, but seems willing to grow twice that if I had the support for it.

The most amazing thing about these snow peas is that every part of the plant I've tried is tender and delicious. I started by nibbling on tendrils, they were tender and sweet. Then I started picking leaves for salad; even the oldest leaves were tender. The only part I haven't tried is the roots - and I don't really plan on tasting that. But every other part is incredible.


The plan: I want a pea plant that grow well in containers, is about a foot tall, and tastes yummy. Snow, snap, or snacking pea, I don't mind which. It just has to be yummy and tender.

The action: make a cross between these two pea varieties and see what happens.

They are both Heirloom and OP varieties, so I'm feeling pretty good that simply crossing them together will make something interesting. I put some Japanese Snow pollen on the Tom Thumb, and some the other way around. I've only managed three flowers so far, as Tom Thumb is tiny and doesn't have many flowers at the right stage. It seems to just rocket through the pollination stage and it's hard finding flowers that haven't already self fertilized. I did manage to hand fertilize two Tom Thumb flowers, and that might be enough. But I think I'll have a go trying to do some more Japanese Snow flowers later.

This seems to be the method, and please correct me if I've got something wrong. It is my first time denuding flowers and depositing pollen.

1. find a flower, not too old. Carefully take it apart, but find that it's already released it's pollen on the girl part.
2. find a flower, younger than the first, Carefully take it apart, but find that it's already released it's pollen on the girl part.
3. repeat stage 2 several more times.
4. finally I find one that is young enough, and remove the pollen producing thingies (it's pre-coffee, I haven't the words)
5. then I have to figure out where I left the male flower I had brought from the other pea patch, discover it is just where I left it but not where I thought it was. Of course, the one I stripped of petals to use as a paint brush now has bees on it, so if I use it, it risks cross contamination. I run back to the patch of peas who I have selected to donate their pollen, grab a handful of flowers, run back, find the flower that I had recently castrated, pray that the bee hadn't got in there and made his own contribution, then go to dust some pollen.
6. carefully tape the petals closed again to keep the flower from drying out. Mark the flower in some way so that I don't accidentally eat the pod.
7. repeat stages 2 through 6 until my hands cramp.

So what do you think? Does this sound right? I know there is at least one person kicking about this forum who has done it before. Would love your thoughts.



I have no idea what to expect. Probably none of these will take as the weather is a bit hot for it, then again, the peas are still setting on their own.

If by some miracle these pollination experiments do take, and I get seed, I wonder what I'll get. The first year they grow will be F1 hybrid, which is suppose to be pretty uniform. I wonder if all the plants will be the same, or if the ones with Japanese Snow mums will be different than the seeds grown from Tom Thumb mums, as I remember something something about matrilineal dna has an effect on all sorts of traits. It won't be until the next (F2) year when things get really interesting and I can start selecting for different traits.

I'm also wondering about backcrossing. This is where I take my new creation and hand pollinate it with one of the parent varieties. But which one? The delicious one that is too tall? Or the short one that is inedible? Thankfully I don't have to decide yet. And yet... I find it absolutely awesome (as in it inspires divine sense of awe) to imagine the possibilities.


So, anyone else want to talk about pea pollinating?


 
Joseph Lofthouse
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R Ranson: Woo Hoo! Sounds like you are on the right track.

I have been hand pollinating peas this week.

Those first few steps are critical.... Keep opening younger and younger flowers until you find one that isn't already shedding pollen. Even though I know intellectually how tiny they have to be, it surprises me every year that pollen is released so danged early.

I don't worry about protecting the flower from pollinators, or from drying out... Pea flowers are not the most attractive things to pollinators, and especially not flowers that are as incredibly immature as is required to get them before they have self pollinated.

If one of the parents has white flowers, and the other has colored flowers, I use the white-flowered plant as the mother. That way when the F1 plant blooms, if it has a colored flower then I know that the cross was successful.

 
r ranson
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All three flowers are making pea pods. I am almost beginning to hope that it worked.
IMG_0246.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0246.JPG]
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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R Ranson: Looking good!

At my place, I have to pick the peas promptly, and dry them quickly, and get them into the freezer for a few days. Because we-evils lay their eggs in the pea seeds, and they hatch, and eat out the center of the pea which prevents them from germinating well. Freezing the seeds kills the eggs/larva. The seeds need to be dry before freezing so they don't get damaged by the cold.
 
r ranson
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UG! My 6 inch tall tomatoes (really 10 inch tall), andrina also taste terrible. Like rotten green tomato!

Why can't mini veggies that do well in pots taste good!!!?!?!?! Maybe it's just my bad luck, but so far, every mini veg is a failure. Except the beans, the geese ate those before they got very far, so they must be yummy.

I'm away from the internet for the next couple of weeks, but when I get back, it's time to discover how to hand pollinate tomatoes. I guess I'll have to start a new thread about tomato breeding, but in the mean time, I get to mull over if I want to cross it with 42 day I got from the Seeds of Diversity seed exchange, or the Wild Cherry I got from the seed library. So hard to decide as I have no idea what traits will come from the crosses.

Getting back on topic, the peas that are growing from my hand pollinating ventures are growing like stink. Too hot now for any more pea flowers to set, so it looks like I got it just in time. Fingers crossed we don't have any of those pea-munching-bugs here. I haven't seen any in my soup peas, but then again, I think we had some in Green Arrow in years past. But the source of the seed was a bit suspect.
 
Andrew Barney
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Location: Northern Colorado
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Having just planted all my breeding peas the other day i'm in a pea breeding mood and will resurrect this thread. By-the-way how did your Tom Thumb to Snow Pea cross do? Were you able to get F1 seed and viable plants? Any F2 seed or plants growing this year?

For those interested here are the peas i planted. 17+ varieties i think.

Purple Pod Parsley & Calvin Lamborn's "Snap Greens"
Virescens Mutante
Sugaree & Sugar Lace II
Orc gene peas
Sugar Magnolia [2015]
Opal Creek [2015]
Mummy's (Mummy-Pea, Salmon-flowered, Mummy White, and segregating F2 crosses)
F1 Cross between Purple Passion and Mighty Midget
Orange-Pod
Mighty Midget
Purple Passion
Biskopens (aka Sweedish Red)
Joseph's Red Podded & Joseph's Yellow Podded
Purples
Dwarf Gray Sugar
Large Podded (Bijou, Green Beauty, Carouby de Maussane)
Dwarfs (Dwarf Champion, Tom Thumb, etc.)

I will copy the info i posted over in the Mendel's Peas, which varieties work thread just in case you haven't seen it. There are also a few photos of the red-podded peas from last year in the Unique Varieties / Breeding thread if you haven't seen that lately either.

Andrew Barney wrote:I'll look into posting more info about how to actually make the crosses and a photo about when the right stage of flower for demasculation needs to occur. The female parent flowers need to be caught very early.


Most of the information below has been shared in the original thread on the Alan Bishop Homegrown Goodness Plant breeding forum. The original thread has some interesting stuff you may want to read if you have time.
(alanbishop.proboards.com/thread/1804/tutorial-cross-peas)

But anyway, here is some useful info:


(obtained from here http://faculty.agron.iastate.edu/fehr/BVC/08BVC.PDF)

http://wps.pearsoncustom.com/wps/media/objects/3014/3087289/Figures/Figure_11_03.pdfhttp://wps.pearsoncustom.com/wps/media/objects/3014/3087289/Figures/Figure_11_03.pdf

and here is a pollen crossing technique that i invented. It seems to work better for me and i get a higher rate of seeds per pod when doing crosses. Normally you only get about 2 seeds when hand crossing. With my method i think i can consistently get at least 4. I think this method works better for me for two reasons, one the flower itself acts as a hood and mimics the flower hood i tore apart on the female parent. This hood helps keep in moisture and pollen viability until the receptors mature. I don't think they all mature at the same time, so the longer you can keep the pollen there and in good condition the more seeds you will get. in theory anyway. The second is because i have pretty dry air and especially when it's getting close to summer and at noon day it is pretty dry and hot most days. Maybe that was really only one reason haha. well whatever. enjoy!



https://keen101.wordpress.com/category/peas/
 
Andrew Barney
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Location: Northern Colorado
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In addition i will add that i skip the "paintbrush method" completely. Waste of time in my opinion. But whatever works for you. To each his own.

Instead i like to use a small pair of tweezers and an occasional small threading scissors that you can find in a women's sewing kit or at Wallmart or whatever "big-box-store" you have in your neck of the woods.

Based on your description above, you are currently using the "paintbrush method" like in this diagram:

 
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