Yo, what up fellow growers? It’s ya boy Dan, here to talk about cannabis pollen. You may be wondering why anyone would want to mess with pollen, but trust me, it’s got its uses. For those of you looking to breed your own strains (and who doesn’t want to create their own epic strain?), pollen is essential. Plus, it’s a dope way to preserve genetics.
So first off, what even is pollen? You know that fine, yellow powder that plants release? That’s pollen. Its primary purpose is to fertilize other plants of the same species. When it comes to cannabis, male plants have these little sacs that contain the pollen. Once the plant reaches maturity during the flowering stage, the sacs open and release the pollen into the air. The wind carries it over to a female plant and fertilizes it. Pretty cool how nature works, right?
Now, you might be asking yourself, what does a male cannabis plant even look like? Well, cannabis plants are dioecious, meaning they produce either male or female reproductive organs. Male weed pollen sacs look like small bananas hanging from the nodes of the plant. This is in contrast to the wispy upward-facing hairs (stigmas) you’ll find on the female plant.
But wait, can’t hermaphrodite plants also produce pollen? Yes! When cannabis plants turn hermaphrodite, they do so to pollinate themselves. It’s a clever evolutionary technique employed by the cannabis plant to preserve the species in unfavorable conditions. The transformational process allows the plant to produce seeds by itself when no males are around because some environmental stress factor has wiped out all the males.
Now, let’s talk about why you might want to use cannabis pollen. The female cannabis plant is more popular among growers than the male because it produces resin-laden buds that we harvest to smoke, vape, or infuse. Female buds contain all of the active components we associate with cannabis such as cannabinoids (e.g., THC and CBD) and terpenes. However, if fertilized by male pollen, the female flower will start producing seeds which will add an undesirable taste to your end product. The production of seeds also takes a lot of energy away from developing cannabinoids and terpenes.
So why bother with pollen at all? Well, if you’re trying to breed specific strains using pollen or if you’re trying to hold onto some prized genetics without maintaining a mother plant, collecting and storing cannabis pollen is a great way to go. Plus, it’s relatively simple.
If you’re going down the breeding route, you first need to collect pollen from your male plant. Once your male plant has developed its pollen sacs (around 4-5 weeks into flowering), monitor them closely as cannabis pollen is generally viable for 2–3 days in natural conditions. When they look like they’re starting to open, collect and bag them. It’s best to take the whole male flower cluster and squeeze and shake it over a fine micro-mesh screen onto parchment paper to separate the pollen.
After filtration use a clean brush to spread the pollen out on the paper and place it in a shaded, dry, warm area for 48 hours before using or storing it in an airtight container in a cool dark place (you can keep it in the fridge or freezer for long-term storage). If you’re storing your weed pollen (which is advisable if you want to maintain genetics), allow flower clusters to dry out in an airtight storage container for around seven days before placing them over a very fine micron screen and agitating gently to remove as much pollen as possible.
There are many different ways you can administer your collected pollen when introducing it to your female cannabis plant such as dabbing, brushing or blowing it onto buds (it’s fine and light so this process should be done in a sealed room). However you choose to go about it though make sure you apply it between days 14 and 21 into her flowering stage on the stigmas located at the nodes.
So there you have it y’all! Collecting and preserving cannabis pollen might seem daunting at first but with some time and patience (and some simple equipment), you could be building up stores of your favorite cannabis genetics in no time!