Coniferous pollen is a readily mobile gamete making it a powerful tool for manipulating seed production in tree breeding and seed orchard programs. To successfully meet specific objectives, however, pollen must be carefully managed. This will involve the processes of collection, extraction, storage and reapplication. The extent to which controlled crossing or supplementally applied pollen results in seed yields of known paternal parentage will depend to a large degree on our ability to maintain pollen viability and vigour over its handling period. Of equal importance in optimizing seed yields and maximizing genetic quality is synchronizing pollination with optimal seed cone receptivity.
This manual is directed primarily towards managers of interior spruce soil-based seed orchards within British Columbia. It also contains information that may be useful for managing pollen within the breeding and container seed orchard programs as well. The container seed orchard program has a separate pollen manual for its specific needs. This manual could also be used for other developing tree improvement programs since the techniques described are not necessarily species specific.
Most of the recommendations for implementing pollen management procedures in interior spruce seed orchard operations are based on data collected from field experiments. There are also several other published sources of useful information, the most pertinent of which are listed in Section 5, ''Relevant References''.
Since the interior spruce seed orchard program does not distinguish between white, Engelmann or their hybrids, there has been no attempt to isolate species for either field or laboratory testing. For the present, specific data and procedures discussed should be equally valid for either species or their hybrids.
Where possible, specific recommendations for handling pollen will be given. However, certain procedures remain untested, or are still being evaluated. In these cases ''best-guess'' procedures will be offered and the user is encouraged to monitor the response of their treatments in order to better appreciate the extent of variability and the limits of confidence. This is particularly true for extrapolating the results of in vitro viability assays into fertility potential or assuming supplementally applied pollen will always compete successfully.
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Updated November 27, 2008