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Specialty Crop Farmers Can Increase Yields Through Improved Pollination

Specialty Crop Farmers Can Increase Yields Through Improved Pollination. NIFA Impacts. A honeybee visits a blueberry blossom, photo courtesy of Michigan State University.

Most of the world’s crops depend on bees and other insects for pollination, so the decline in honey bees and wild bee populations raises concerns about food security. Crop yields for apples, cherries, and blueberries across the United States are being reduced, according to a new research study from the Integrated Crop Pollination Project coordinated by Michigan State University and led by Rutgers University researchers.

“We found that many crops are pollination-limited, meaning crop production would be higher if crop flowers received more pollination. We also found that honey bees and wild bees provided similar amounts of pollination overall,” said senior author Rachael Winfree, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Through the multi-state Integrated Crop Pollination Project, scientists collected data at 131 farms across the U.S. and in British Columbia, Canada, on insect pollination of crop flowers and yield for apples, highbush blueberries, sweet cherries, tart cherries, almond, watermelon, and pumpkin. The Integrated Crop Pollination Project was funded by NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative program. For more information, read the Michigan State University article.

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