Hand pollinating melons

novagrdnr7June 29, 2011

Last year I lost a number of melons to not being pollinated so I decided to hand pollinate them this year. I understand how to do it as I have pollinated my squash plants previous years. But the melons have me puzzled. Whenever I open a male flower I never find any pollen so it seems that I'm just brushing nothing onto the female flower. I tried to cut into the flower but just never see any yellow powder (pollen) the way I always do when pollinating squash. So if anyone could tell me if and what I'm missing I'd sure appreciate it. The melons are Hearts of Gold cantaloupe. Thank you.

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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I too would like some graphic pictures of cantaloupe and watermelon pollen placement.

It looks to me like cantaloupe pollen is situated in a ring of vertical stalks around the outside of the center post. All this is rather tiny and you need to peel the green layer off of the outside to fully expose the pollen. It also helps to break off one petal of the female blossom to get the pollen down there.

Squash male blooms clearly have the pollen dust on the outside of the spike so the other two [cantaloupe and watermelon] are not so obvious.

This morning I noticed a larger army of honey bees working the blossoms. Blessings.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 2:32PM
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I don't know if this is true in melons or not, but in some male flowers, the anthers take a little extra time to mature, open, and shed pollen after the petals have opened. Lilies are one good example of this, as are tulips. Perhaps this is what is happening in melons? Or, some flowers only shed pollen at certain times of day, maybe that is happening?

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 3:48PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

The melon blossoms are viable only for one day and that is questionable after 2:00 PM on a hot day.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Been there, discovered that. This year I tried to grow Minnesota Midget in my greenhouse just for fun, thinking that I would at least get something in case our summer was once again one long foggy day like last year.

I tried using a small paint brush to pollinate but as described, it didn't seem like there was anything to transfer. Finally, I removed a male flower and carefully peeled off the petals and the green (sepals?) around the yellow center. Holding this by the short stem I pushed it into a female flower and moved it around a little (the things gardeners will do....).

Voila! I got many "takes" and when my outdoor cantaloupes under row cover began to set blossoms but it was still cool I decided to do some hand pollinating there also. It worked!

So, I don't know how the bees do it, but that's how I do it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 6:39PM
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Holding this by the short stem I pushed it into a female flower and moved it around a little (the things gardeners will do....).


You DIDN'T!! O.O

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 1:57AM
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If you can dry out your collected pollen in some kind of dryer/dehydrator or use a desiccation agent/chamber you can store the dried pollen in the freezer in air-tight containers or sealed petri dishes for use whenever it's convenient.

It's best used within the season, but good takes using year old pollen isn't unrealistic.

It's a bit of overkill, but handy if you're capable of doing it without it becoming cost prohibitive.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 12:50AM
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Thanks to everyone for their replies/help !

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 1:05PM
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