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pollination services

    Plums  and  prunes

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.

Plums and prunes, like other stone fruits, require that only one viable pollen tube reach the ovary to produce a fruit, but this pollen tube must, in most cases, arrive from another compatible blossom and at the right time (McGregor 1976).  The most appreciated and highly demanded fruit from consumers are those from self-incompatible varieties that need cross-pollination, and this is usually achieved by employing honey bees to transfer pollen from one variety to another (DAF 2005).  Bumble bees and other insects have been given some credit in the pollination of plums and prunes but the honey bee has been recognised as the primary pollinating agent since the early 1900s.

A review on the pollination benefits that honey bees provide to prune and plum orchards was conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (DAF 2005).  References to studies showed differences in yield of 150% in Japanese plums between open and bee-excluded plots and with French prunes, trees that were caged to exclude bees only set 1.3% fruit compared with a 3.6-21.8% fruit set with open pollination and 15-19% when trees were caged with honey bees (DAF 2005). 

Langridge and Goodman (1985) also looked at the pollination benefits of Japanese plums in the Goulburn Valley area of Victoria.  Trees that were accessible to honey bees had a higher percentage pollination rate, greater fruit weight and more fruit than did trees that were enclosed to exclude bees and other large insects.

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