Will cross pollination increase blueberry yields?

Asked January 13, 2014, 5:01 PM EST

Hello, my name is Laurence Tree. I am in the UK-Cornwall; I manage a small blue berry farm, which is one part of the farms production program. I am not new to Horticulture, but I am relatively new to Blueberry fruit production. I am hoping someone can answer a question for me, which is, to increase yield where the main and in this case only plant is Dukes, our fields, which are under poly covers, number 16500 in one, 6500 in another, these are 6 yr+ plants, and a third field, which for a couple of years holds 65000 1 to 3 yr old plants (this one at present I am not concerned about, but the other two, which we place bees in each year to help in pollination. To help yield even more, if I introduced two other varieties, as seems to be the required plan, how many would I need to put in, would we be talking equal quantities or just a small percentage. Thanking you for any help you might be able to give.

Outside United States

1 Response

Cross pollination increases seed number, fruit size and fruit set in blueberries. The amount of increase depends a lot on the type and variety of blueberry. The studies that include Duke indicate that cross pollination will increase fruit set by 10 to 20% and fruit size by 5 to 10%. I would think this would be inversely related i.e. if you got a 10% increase yield increase you would get 10% large fruit, 20% more fruit and the fruit would be 5% larger. If you are machine harvesting these plants you would want to replace entire rows which would make harvesting easier. 4 rows of Duke to one row of another variety. Alternate rows would provide maximum cross pollination but in tree fruit we find that the bees can penetrate 2 rows into a planting before you see a drop off in fruit set.I often recommend inserting a different plant for every 12th plant in a row and staggering these in each row for U-pick farms where the public does not know about blueberry varieties, This scheme would not work in a field harvested for the wholesale market.