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Tracy

Plants and AI

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Tracy

Not AI as in Artificial Intelligence, but Artificial Insemination.  Daddy is about 15 miles away as the crow flies as this occurs, so it would never happen even if we did have the pollinators here in Southern California.  Encephalartos horridus x woodii receiving pollen from a E horridus x woodii.  Wet or dry?  What do you do?

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Darold Petty

I hope you are practising 'safe sex'.   Are these consenting adults ?  :winkie:

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Tracy

Timing on the second cone was a bit delayed.  While it opened last weekend, the rainy weather didn't really provide an opportunity to practice my "safe sex" as you say Darold.  So abstention was the best answer until the weather cleared and I could get her consent.  Now the big waiting game.:rolleyes:

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Jerry@TreeZoo

Tracy,

 

That is interesting.  Could you do a photo tutorial of the collection, timing and AI procedures?  Where are ya puttin that thing?

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Palmarum

Very interesting seeing this done on a large scale to an Encephalartos cone. I have done it to an itty bitty Zamia cone that was quite obvious when it was receptive, but nothing like this. I can barely see the separation in the photo.

Ryan

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Tracy
23 hours ago, Jerry@TreeZoo said:

Could you do a photo tutorial of the collection, timing and AI procedures?  Where are ya puttin that thing?

Step one is to collect pollen from your male plant.  Here are a couple of male cones at the pollen drop stage.  I was taught to handle cycad pollen with care since it may have some toxic effects on humans and animals.  Some mask and wear gloves when collecting from the intact cone or when working with a cone that has been removed, and at a minimum use techniques to avoid breathing the fine pollen.  I have used rigid paper (mailed glossy advertisements and political ads work great) under the cone and just tapped on the cone to get it to drop and collect on my paper.  Put the collected pollen into a container and preferably use fresh on your female cone.  I wanted to use the same hybrid pollen (E horridus x woodii) as the mother cones in this so having a friend with the right species helps if you don't have it.  Timing of pollen shed and receptivity within a species is usually pretty close, but not guaranteed, so having more male cones increases the likelihood of fresh pollen availability.  Most species tend to cone the same time and are receptive close to the same time in my experience, but there is some variability.  If you are want to do a particular hybrid that is out of sync with the female cones, you might have to use frozen pollen.  Encephalartos longifolius and an Encephalartos arenarius hybrid male cones shedding pollen below.

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Tracy

The fresh pollen should be kept in a cool dark and dry place between use.  I use the wet method to get the pollen inside the cone, but some use a dry method.  I use Reverse Osmosis water, some use DI water that you purchase at the store.  I was advised one of the biggest problems with tap water is the chlorine.  Some also use a little bit of dish soap as an emulsifier to try to get the wet pollen to adhere to ovules inside the cone.  I have had success without using any sort of soap, and I don't recall what types are preferred or to be avoided, perhaps someone else that does use it can chime in what they prefer and avoid, and why they are using it.  You can see I use a meat injector with a wide diameter needle to apply the pollen solution.

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Tracy

Timing when the cone is receptive is the trick.  With Encephalartos, the top of the cones becomes loose when you wiggle the scales and you begin to see subtle cracks, some species perhaps larger cracks than others.  When the cone is full size and getting close, it becomes a daily ritual to feel the top of the cones.  For this particular Encephalartos horridus x woodii cone, this is about as much of a crack as one will see, but you can feel the top is loose.  Cones can also give off a scent but with the female Encephalartos cones I have its pretty subtle.  It took a few cones to learn what an open cone feels like at the top, but once you get that feel, its pretty straightforward.  Hopefully you have pollen at this point, as the cone may be receptive for a few days to a couple of weeks, or at least remain loose and appear to be receptive that long.  Most people try to pollinate a couple of times and if they have plenty of pollen, perhaps several times while the cone is receptive.  I don't know if there is any other way to time the pollination, so the multiple application technique increases the probability of getting some pollen into the ovules.  Some prefer pollinating in the morning, while others have advised to wait until the day warms up.  Since we can't see inside the cone, it seems to be more guess work and personal practice to me.  Again, if someone has more accurate information on time of day for pollinating which is best feel free to "inject" a comment.

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Tracy

Assuming the cone is open, you can insert the injector between the scales and begin slowly depressing and feeding the solution into the cone.  If you are getting inside the cone, it won't just run off the top, but actually run through the inside of the cone, where the ovules are located.  You know you are getting the solution into the cone if it drips out the bottom after running all the way through the cone.  Sometimes with a more upright cone, I will try to inject into points on either side of the cone, but with a prone one like this I usually do it near the top on the portion facing up, as gravity will get it into the lower portion.

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Tracy

You can see where the pollen solution has dripped out of the bottom of the cone onto the caudex.  This is a good sign, as opposed to the solution brimming over the top at the point of injection.   After doing a few injections over the period of days to a week or two, then you wait.  My E horridus and this hybrid are about 6-9 months before the cones begin to fall apart and you move into the next phase of evaluating the seeds (sinkers versus floaters), cleaning the seeds and begin prep for germination.  I don't have a green house for overwintering starts so don't germinate my own seeds.

It is important to clean the tools after each use so you don't accidentally introduce anything you don't want inside the cone and don't reuse the injector in the kitchen.  I hope that helps a little Jerry & Ryan!

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Tracy

We are still waiting for the cones to mature and start to fall apart on the main caudex, but in the interim, I get to enjoy a flush.  The largest pup is beginning a flush that looks to be pretty big  in terms of new leaves.

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