Effects of Increased Pollinator Levels on Production of the Highbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum1

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The major factors contributing to the decline of blueberry yields in the Michigan-Indiana region seem to be low pollinator populations and strong discrimination by pollinators among blubbery varieties. Honey bees, Apis mellifera L., showed a strong preference for the 'Rubel' variety over 'Jersey: the major commercial variety. Under experimental conditions, honey bees used as pollinators increased production nearly 5-fold. Berry size and maturation rate were also increased. Two strong colonies of honey bees per acre of blueberries under good weather conditions appeared to be adequate for pollination purposes. At this concentration honey bees did not appear to exhibit varietals preferences. Two-year observations indicate that fertilization recommendations may need to be altered to permit the heavy yearly production made possible by high honey bee populations. Seed counts of fruit from the experimental plots indicate that the changes observed in fruit characteristics resulted from increased pollination.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1969

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