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Factors reducing yield of organic white clover seed production in Denmark

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Factors reducing yield of organic white clover seed production were investigated in Denmark. In thirty-six fields from different regions, density of flower heads, and weevils of the genera Apion and Hypera, hatching from flower heads, were assessed. In fifteen of these fields, additional measurements were made in order to calculate potential yield and yield-reducing factors. Flower heads had a mean of ninety-two florets per head, of which proportionately 0·59 were intact, 0·08 were not pollinated and 0·34 damaged by weevils; 0·16 of the florets contained larvae of Apion species. In intact florets the mean number of seeds was 3·6. Density and size of flower heads were correlated with low density of flower heads leading to significantly more florets per head. The number of seeds per intact floret was correlated with the proportion of unpollinated florets. The number of insect-damaged florets was influenced by both larvae of Apion in and the numbers of Hypera nigrirostris (Fabr.) hatched from flower heads. One larva of H. nigrirostris caused approximately ten times the damage of a larva of Apion. Densities of Apion and Hypera were influenced by location, with fields with adjacent weevil sources being most at risk. An estimate of potential seed yield showed that, even under good harvest conditions, only a small part of potential seed yield is realized and that under suboptimal harvest conditions seed loss is high. The main factors responsible for low yields in Danish organic white clover seed production were identified as unfavourable harvest conditions and weevil damage.
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Keywords: flower heads; organic farming; seed production; weevil damage; white clover

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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