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Bluecrop pollination

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 29, 2009

The Bluecrop variety of blueberry presents unique challenges in setting fruit. In a year when there are few bees it is not uncommon to see bees drawing nectar for the base of a flower that has become separated from the base. This, of course, subverts the whole process of pollination. In a year like this year, when there are lots of bees, foraging without pollinating is never seen. A plausible explanation is the following:

Dr. Gary C. Pavlis

County Agricultural Agent

Pollination: Unfortunately not all of the visitations to blueberry flowers by bees result in pollination. Pollen must be transferred from some parts of the bee’s body, usually the head to the tip of the pistil (stigma) in order to achieve pollination. There are three ways in which honeybees “cheat” the grower by not earning their rental fee. 1) Acquire nectar by feeding through hole in blossom made by a carpenter bee. 2) The distance from the edge of a flower petal to pistil is very wide, as in Earliblue. The bee can stick its tongue down and get the nectar without touching the pistil. 3)The bee does not thrust through the open end but gets nectar through the bottom – very important in Bluecrop and Jersey. In some years such a high percentage of the bees may work through the bottom of the corolla that the crop can be significantly reduced. Bees develop this bad habit mostly on Jerseys and Bluecrop. The probable reason is that both of these varieties can produce small seedless berries without pollination (parthenocarpy). These parthenocarpy berries begin to develop shortly after the flowers open and once it starts the corolla becomes loose at the base after a few days, enabling the bee to secure its nectar through the loose juncture of the corolla and ovary. Since the honeybees usually select older flowers which have more nectar it enables the younger ones to start the parthenocarpic process which does not occur once the flower is pollinated. The solution may be to use higher concentrations of bee hives.

The higher numbers of bees per bush forces them to accept younger flowers with the result that more berries are developed from bee pollination than by parthenocarpy.



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Worker Bumblebees

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 27, 2009

The population of worker bumblebees seems to peak at about the time of the full bloom in the Elliott blueberry. These small bumblebees seem to rival the number of honeybees as you walk through the field. In a few days the honeybees will be distracted by the thornless blackberries so the bumblebees play an important role in pollination.

worker bumblebee

worker bumblebee

Posted in blueberry, Bumblebees | 2 Comments »

Durable Draper blueberry

Posted by blueberrytalk on August 30, 2008

This is the first year to experience the Draper variety of blueberry since it is a new variety. We left some bushes unpicked to see how the berries would survive. In spite of several rainy days the tough Draper skin shows amazing resistance to splitting. After a rain a week ago many ripe Bluecrop berries split making them unsuitable for fresh market. Continuous rain for the last two days has left the Draper in the condition shown in the pictures below.

Draper blueberry

Draper blueberry


To see how late these Drapers are see a picture below of some Elliots which have already had a light picking and from the picture you can see they will be picked again soon. (Elliots are a very late berry.) Drapers seem very forgiving as to when they are harvested which is a huge plus for a grower. The thick skin of the Draper should carry lots of antioxidants for such a large berry.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Elliot blueberry

Elliot blueberry

Posted in blueberry, Draper | 2 Comments »