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    Tomatoes

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.

In the past tomatoes have been shown to be non-self-pollinating, and although modern cultivars can be autogamous (self-pollinating), various tests have shown that insect-facilitated pollination results in higher fruit set and fruit size (Higo et al. 2004; Sabara et al. 2004).  In the field, wind movement is instrumental in bringing about self-pollination in tomato crops; however, in commercial greenhouses insufficient wind may result in diminished pollination and low fruit set. 

In Australia, most tomatoes are grown outdoors, but there is an increasing preference for the use of closed greenhouses, which results in improved quality while allowing large reductions in the use of water and pesticides.  Greenhouse tomatoes are currently hand-pollinated with industrial electric vibrating wands.  This incurs high labour costs (Hogendoorn et al. 2006).  Earlier research by Bailey and Lodeman (1895, as cited in McGregor 1976) concluded that bees in the greenhouse were of no value as pollinators of tomatoes; however, Neiswander (1966, as cited in McGregor 1976) found that visits from honey bees increased fruit production even though the flowers had also received shaking treatments. 

More recent research investigating the use of honey bees as pollinators of tomatoes has been done using small experimental greenhouses; however, results have been largely inconsistent.  Banda and Paxton (1991, as cited in Higo et al. 2004) tested honey bees in small experimental houses, but they found that honey bees were "erratic" and not effective; however Cribb et al. (1993, cited in Higo et al. 2004) concluded that tomato yield was improved with treatments that included the honey bee.

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