Breeding Equipment

Equipment used in plant breeding is relatively inexpensive. See if you can find some of the items listed in the picture… Leave a comment if you have any other equipment that you find useful!

Magnifying glass (10 or 15 power) use to identify flower parts as early as possible. I use this all the time when determining sex of flowers, identifying pests, looking at flower parts in detail, just being curious etc. Every plant grower should have a magnifying lens. I have a 16 X magnifying lens. If you do not have a magnifying lens you are missing out! There is a whole new world to growing plants if you have a magnifying lens. If there is one thing I would recommend to any and all plant growers, it is to get a magnifying lens. It opens the door to a new phase of observation.
Tweezers use to manipulate small flower parts, or use to pollinate if you pluck the whole stamen.*
Small sharp-pointed scissors use to manipulate small flower parts, such as to clip immature anthers on the seed parent.
Small paint brush use to apply pollen grains to the stigma.
Small containers or vials use to collect pollen. I use Petri dishes, they are large so pollen is easy to collect and shallow so that pollen is easy to get at when you are pollinating. They are also easy to label and store in the refrigerator to use over several days. You can get them at many stores (a simple search on Google for “petri dish buy” and you can buy 20 for a few dollars). If you sterilize the dishes after use, 20 may be enough for a lifetime.
Alcohol to sterilize equipment and remove pollen before doing another cross. The type I have pictured is inexpensive and at any pharmacy. It is not for drinking the isopropanol in the picture will kill you.
Rubber bands or soft wire to tie shut flowers or tie paper bags onto branches and anything else you can think of...
Paper bags use for pollination and/or to prevent flowers from being pollinated before you choose to pollinate. You can see an example on my “Pollination and Fertilization” 3/16/09 post.
Tags use to label the plants by type or trait. You can buy tags or use tape or write right on the pots like I do with a permanent marker (Scratch out last times information if you reuse your pots). Please, make sure you keep track of pollination information, you won’t remember what you did in a week or a month, trust me. In the end, if you are not 100% sure the seeds have the parents you chose, you must start over.
Notebook – You need to keep track of the parents and their traits so you should take notes, even if it is just a few symbols to help you remember things like DATE PLANTED or POTTED UP DATE or FIRST FLOWER DATE or size (height), branching pattern, time until maturity, or any traits you are trying to breed for . The minimum you should record if you are serious about breeding is the DATE of POLLINATION and the number of seeds harvested and most important thing is DATE of HARVESTING SEEDS.

Good Growing!

Dr. E. R. Myers

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