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How to link pollination with crop yield in blueberries

Researchers working on the Integrated
Crop Pollination Project are examining the effect of pollination
on the yield of specialty crops including blueberry, apple, cherry, almond, watermelon, and
pumpkin in this video, Rufus Isaacs, the director
of the Integrated Crop Pollination project and a professor in the Department
of Entomology at Michigan State University will explain exactly how they can
connect different levels of pollination with blueberry yield “So this is a blueberry bush at one of the farms where we’ve been doing the integrated crop pollination
work for a few years and we have three different shoots that are
marked on here you can see this one, this one, and then one over here
with the bag on it and this is the experimental setup that
we have for this project in blueberry where we’re trying to understand the
relative contribution of different pollinators and how they affect yield of blueberry. Okay, so we came out here before
blueberry bloom and we selected shoots with approximately the same number of flowers on them and we put this different – these
different – colored tags on here to provide us with the count. So this one
had 35 flowers. Just before it bloomed, we could count
those flowers and then that progressed through the bloom period
with the flowers opening, and bees visiting and then we can come back after
bloom to each of these treatments and count
how many of the flowers turned into fruit so that gives us fruit set, and then we can come
back at harvest time and at harvest time we can pick berries, weigh
them, and count the number of seeds, and look at how
those different treatments related to pollination and crop yield. So there’s three treatments. Let’s start with the bagged one. So in the bagged one, the flowers
are excluded from pollinators so this is what would happen if we had no
bees no insects visiting the flowers, sort of the
baseline level of yield And then we have this orange one so this orange one was open to bees
during bloom so this is what the grower’s
investment in pollinators in terms of honey bees at this site and
also the wild pollinators this is what they provided And then this
third one is our supplemental treatment. So this is
where we actually came out the students that work on this project
came out during bloom and they collected pollen from flowers – so they
actually use a toothbrush and hold it up to the flower, the pollen comes out, they put it on the stigma of these open
flowers and with this we get to see the maximum
level of pollination because we’re adding pollen even on top of whatever
the bees could provide so if we see a difference between this
one and this one we know that there’s more potential
pollination that could be provided and that’s a potential limitation in
pollination that maybe with some habitat management
for pollinators, or adding more other kinds of pollinators, or even
increasing the number of honey bees the grower could get more like this
situation than this situation. So, those are the three treatments, and by
comparing the three of them we can get some insights into how much
pollination is provided in this situation, and how much pollination
could be provided with the supplemental
treatment. Project ICP’s research into the
pollination and yield of blueberries and other specialty crops is ongoing. Follow us
on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay
up to date as we learn more about the best integrated crop pollination strategies
for different crops Happy Pollinator Week!

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