Contextualising pollination benefits: Effect of insecticide and fungicide use on fruit set and weight from bee pollination in lowbush blueberry

  • Melathopoulos A
  • Tyedmers P
  • Cutler G
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Abstract

Current approaches to determining the value of insect pollinators to crop yield assume that plants are primarily pollen limited. This is particularly relevant in a crop such as lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, where no fruit will set without insect-mediated cross-pollination. However, such valuations usually ignore other factors that are necessary to maximise crop yields. We conducted an experiment to test whether yields of lowbush blueberry attributed to pollinator activity increased independently of pest management. The experiment was a 2×2 factorial design, incorporating two intensities of pollination (25% or 100% of flowers), and two levels of insect and disease management with recommended fungicide and insecticide sprays ('full inputs' or 'no inputs'). We demonstrated an interaction between these two factors, such that increased fruit set at harvest was only possible if 100% pollination was combined with the 'full input' treatment. Furthermore, increases in fruit weight among the remaining treatments were only realised in the 'full input' plots. These results suggest that the value accorded to pollinator activity in blueberries is strongly dependent upon pest and disease management of the crop. © 2014 Association of Applied Biologists.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Berry yield
  • Bombus impatiens
  • Vaccinium angustifolium
  • fruit set
  • plant limits

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Authors

  • A. P. Melathopoulos

  • P. Tyedmers

  • G. C. Cutler

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