Database Research Summaries
2018 ND Investigating the Feasibility of Artificial Pollination as a Herbicide-Resistant Weed Management Tool

calendar_today Year of Research: 2018
update Posted On: 12/04/2019
group Michael Christoffers (Principal Investigator, North Dakota State University)
bookmark North Dakota Soybean Council

Research Focus

The focus of this project is to advance and evaluate artificial pollination as and additional tool to help fight herbicide resistance.


  • Achieve fertilization and viable seed in rapid-cycling Brassica rapa from pollen applied artificially as a liquid spray. B. rapa is being used as a research model for herbicide-resistant weeds.
  • Assess the germinability of waterhemp pollen after dehydration and frozen storage.


  1. We performed artificial pollination experiments using a small birdsrape mustard plant that is often used for laboratory experiments in the plant sciences. Pollen from birdsrape mustard with purple stems was suspended in a solution that is known to keep pollen alive, and then the solution was sprayed onto the flowers of birdsrape mustard with green stems.
  2. We did not observe any purple-stemmed plants when pollen was sprayed, and only observed successful but inconsistent artificial pollination when flowers were dipped into the pollen-containing solution or dusted with dry pollen. This indicates that achieving artificial pollination using a pollen spray is difficult, and that dry pollen applications might have more potential.
  3. We studied the ability of waterhemp pollen to be kept alive during storage at room temperature, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer. We found that waterhemp pollen remained alive for up to 2 weeks in all conditions, but died when stored at room temperature for at least 4 weeks. Pollen kept in the refrigerator or freezer for 4 weeks remained alive. These results suggest that waterhemp pollen to be used for artificial pollination could be stored for at least a month in a refrigerator or freezer prior to use.
  4. Results show both the difficulty and potential of artificial pollination. Further development of this potential tool for herbicide-resistant weed management is needed before this and other new technologies are useful in the field, and currently recommended herbicide-resistant weed management practices remain the most important strategies for soybean producers.



It is important that North Dakota soybean growers have diverse tools to fight herbicide resistance in the long term and multiple options to tailor resistance management to specific situations.

For more information about this research project, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.

Funded in part by the soybean checkoff.