Honey on Stigmas in summer

The thought occured to me that after pollinating, applying a drop of honey over the Stigmas in summer may prevent the Stigmas from drying out before the pollen can finish it’s business. Honey has a lot of sugars as well, so it may help energize the pollen. Has anyone tried this?

My Florida summer is very long, soon pollinations likely won’t work. I don’t like the idea of doing no hybridizing until September-October, so does anyone have any other ideas that might work in summer.

My guess is that honey might foul up the pollen so that it doesn’t make good contact with the stigmas. But, anything is worth a try!

Jim Sproul

I read an interesting link from Henry about the role polyamines play in plant fertility. Applying molecules exogenously might actually work.

I like my honey idea, since it contains pollen it should possess any of the molecules that may be needed. A concern I have is honey has very low water content, so it might dry out the pistils. I’m going to try adding different small amounts of water to it before applying it.

A different idea is to have a bowl of water on a pole placed next to the target hip. Water moderates temperature, that’s why Florida tops out at 95 degrees while Arizona, which is farther north, rises to 195 degrees or thereabouts.

That’s a good point about getting good contact. Perhaps waiting 12 hours to let the pollen tubes begin would help. Lots of little variations to tinker with, it’ll give me something to do at least.

In the lab I have very fast pollen germination using sugar water with a little bit of boric acid. It is 40ppm boric acid and I think I used 7.5% sucrose. In two hours the pollen tubes can be 30x long as the pollen was wide. I wonder if after pollination one tries to gently mist some of this solution (without disrupting the pollen too much on the sigmas) on the sigmas if it can help promote better germination. In the lab boric acid is needed for rose pollen to germinate (for a long time I thought I was doing something wrong because in Krussmans Complete book of roses that detail was left out!). Maybe a little sugar water will do by itself outside and boron can be supplied by the stigma.



It is my understanding that bees add something to the honey that prevents the pollen from germinating.

“Bee pollen is the male reproductive part of a flower that the worker bees collect. They pack the microscopically fine powder into granules by adding nectar or honey from their honey sacs, then they take it back to the hive, where they add an enzyme to prevent germination and metabolize it for food.”

Link: www.mothernature.com/Library/bookshelf/Books/23/9.cfm

Too bad about that enzyme. Perhaps it won’t effect pollen if applied after the pollen has already germinated…, but I suspect that a man-made honey substitute may be needed, say miscellaneous flower pollen mixed with frutose and glucose sugar water.

I use 1 1/2 X 2 inch baggies which fit good over the just polinated hips and it creates like a hot house and keeps the stigmas damp. I usually take them off after about 1 week. I especially use them if it looks like rain. If you want to you could probably put little holes toward the top of the baggie to let some air through but the bottom is open anyway. Good Luck.

My comments on covering the hips with baggies are found at:


Link: home.neo.rr.com/kuska/hipsleftandright.htm

Here is an interesting article on the effects of temperature on bell pepper fertilization. It is a bit technical, but readable.

"Only post-pollination

temperatures significantly affected fruit set."

"Field and controlled environment observations of pepper production indicate substantial abortion of floral buds

occurs when day temperatures are >34C and/or night temperatures are >21C for extended periods of time." That’s 93f and 70f respectively, for us Americans.

“Cochran observed that the time from pollination to fertilization in pepper required a minimum of 42 h, and after fertilization, the zygote required 24-36 h before division could begin.”

I was likely off-base with the sugar/honey idea. If the problem is strictly one of temperature, I will look further into water cooling and shading.

Link: www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.0016-8025.2001.00807.x?cookieSet=1

In an ARS National lecture that I attended, John Sheldon described a shading “umbrella” method that he used. Here in zone 5, I have not normally needed such a set up.