Soft fruit toolbox - Pollinators
Although many soft fruit species are capable of self-pollination, insect pollination produces higher yields and more aesthetically attractive fruit. Commercially supplied pollinators and naturally occurring pollinators both contribute to pollination. Pollinators are adapted to pollinate flowers of a specific shape. Bumble bees and solitary bees are better adapted to pollinate soft fruit flowers than honeybees. For example, the long tongue of bumble bees means that they are very effective pollinators of blueberry flowers because the narrow flower openings at the top requires a long tongue to dislodge the pollen. It is also thought that flies, especially hoverflies, and moths and butterflies all contribute to the pollination of soft fruit but there has been little research to confirm this.
- Yield instability is a problem faced by cherry growers caused by a phenomenon called ‘June drop’ where green fruits that have gone through the initial phase of fruit swelling are abscised from the plant before ripening. Using mesh bags to control insect pollination along with timelapse cameras to detect bee pollination activity, Williams et al 2021 showed that variety choice and increased flower pollination, by hand or insects, partly reduced June drop losses.
Click here to read about 'June drop - the pollination story'