Optimal pollination thresholds to maximize blueberry production

Ramírez-Mejía, Andrés F.; Chacoff, Natacha P.; Lomáscolo, Silvia B.; Woodcock, Ben A. ORCID:; Schmucki, Reto ORCID:; Blendinger, Pedro G.. 2024 Optimal pollination thresholds to maximize blueberry production. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 365, 108903. 9, pp.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
N536872JA.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Pollination management for highbush blueberry crops (Vaccinium spp.) generally depends on beehives stocked at variable densities, with little consideration given to optimal pollination levels dictated by the mating system of the crop. This approach limits our capability to accurately forecast the consequences of animal pollination on crop productivity and can result in pollination shortfalls. Using experimental and observational data, we estimated optimal pollination thresholds for blueberry crops that maximize fruit diameter. We manipulated stigmatic pollen loads and used Bayesian models to evaluate the effects on fruit diameter. In this way, we were able to define thresholds for deficient, optimal and supraoptimal pollen deposition in blueberries. These thresholds were then evaluated under field conditions in blueberry farms, and used simulations to estimate the minimum number of honeybee visits required for optimal blueberry pollen deposition. A quadratic relationship described fruit diameter in response to stigmatic pollen load, with optimal pollen deposition peaking at 192 pollen tetrads and ranging between 112 and 274. Our simulations showed that a flower visitation rate guaranteeing, on average, six to seven honeybee visits per flower (i.e. flower visitation rate of 0.6 visits per 100 flowers h−1) would result in 60% of the plant flowers receiving optimum stigmatic pollen deposition. Higher numbers of honeybee visits increased the probability that blueberry stigmatic pollen loads were below the optimum and the probability that smaller berries were produced. We show that adverse pollination scenarios in blueberries can occur through different pathways, either because of a deficit or an excess of pollination that directly impacts the quality of the fruits produced. By identifying thresholds, we provide a pragmatic basis for adaptive management of honeybees based on average visitation rates that are most suitable for growers to manipulate. Our study provides new insights into the mechanisms behind pollination, fruit production, and the contribution of honeybee to blueberry crops. We highlight that systematic pollination management through flower visitation monitoring and clear optimal pollination targets can help prevent detrimental pollination scenarios.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0167-8809
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: Apis, crop pollination, over pollination, pollination deficit, pollen deposition, pollinator effectiveness
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Feb 2024 12:04 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...