Maximise your crop with better pollination

The latest guidelines in a series on how to improve pollination are now available for lychees and papayas, joining the earlier brochures for macadamias, avocados, blueberries and melons.

Lychee pollination brochure

Papaya pollination brochure

Brian Cutting, Research Associate at Plant & Food Research Australia, said that pollination is a critical step to maximise the yield of many crops, but it sometimes gets less attention than other aspects of growing.

“If a grower has a pest issue or a plant nutrition problem, it’s usually quickly apparent and they can take action. But pollination problems may not be realised until long after flowering is finished.”

These brochures bring together the science on best-practice for pollination in one place and provide clear steps for growers to assess their pollination during flowering to reduce the risk of pollination failure.

Many growers in Australia rely heavily on the free pollination services offered by wild or unmanaged European honey bees. But honey bees are not always the best pollinator for a crop.

Green blow fly pollinating an avocado flower. Image: Brian Cutting, Plant & Food Research Australia

“In many cases there’s a variety of local insects like native bees, flies and moths that can pollinate the crops and increase yield. With a bit of planning, a grower can get the best mix of pollinators working in their crops to maximise yield.”

The reliance on European honey bees also means that growers could suffer big losses if pests like Varroa destructor make their way to Australia.

“The varroa mite is devastating to honey bees. So far vigilant beekeepers and biosecurity authorities have managed to keep it out of Australia, but the risk of it establishing here will always be high.”

“Our new research will help growers find out which pollinators are the most important for their crop. That way they’ll be getting the best yields from their crops now, and they are well placed to respond if there’s a sudden change to the local population of honey bees.”

Download the brochures:

Acknowledgement: The project Strengthening and Enabling Effective Pollination for Australia is funded by the Hort Frontiers Pollination Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited and contributions from the Australian Government.