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pollination services

    Cotton

Below is an extract from a pollination research paper prepared by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).  To download the document, simply click on the image on the left of this screen.

Cotton is commonly regarded as being a partially cross-pollinated crop, and largely self-fertile and self-pollinating (McGregor 1976), although introducing insect pollinators into the crop during flowering has resulted in increased quantity and quality of cotton lint and seed (McGregor 1976; Rhodes 2002; Moffett et al. 1975).  Each cotton flower is only available for pollination on the one day the flower opens, with the corolla and stiminal column falling off on the second day (Rhodes 2002).  Nectar is secreted by floral nectaries inside the flower and by extra floral nectaries on the outer or sub-bracteal, foliar, and  unipapillate (microscopic) areas on the flower peduncles and young leaf petioles (McGregor 1976), with all nectar secreting sites shown to be attractive to foraging honey bees (Rhodes 2002).

About 50 ovules must be fertilised if a full complement of seeds is to be produced; therefore, at least 50 viable pollen grains must contact the stigma (McGregor 1976).  Insect pollination, in particular honey bee pollination, can aid in this process and result in higher yields and better quality lint (Rhodes 2002; Kaziev 1960).  Several authors have shown that honey bees are effective pollinators of cotton (Rhodes 2002; Moffett et al. 1975; Kaziev 1960).  Benefits of honey bee pollination include increases in the percentage of bolls per 100 flowers, more seeds per boll, more seed cotton per boll and more seed cotton per flower (Rhodes 2002).  Improvements in lint quality characteristics such as fibre strength and length have also been demonstrated (McGregor 1976).

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