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Rich pollination improves strawberry harvesting

Strawberries. Photo.
Well-pollinated strawberries grow faster and weigh more than less pollinated strawberries.

Pollination is more important for strawberry growth than previously thought. A rich pollination gives better strawberry harvesting with strawberries that grow faster and weigh more. This is shown in a recently published study from the Center for Environmental and Climate Research, CEC.

Three out of four cultivated crops we eat are pollinated by insects such as bees, butterflies or hoverflies. Modern agriculture's development threatens pollinating insects, both due to loss of food and loss of habitats. Large areas of pastures and meadows are overgrown or have been plowed up, flowering field borders have become fewer and herbicides have reduced the occurrence of flowering weeds. In addition, pollinators are harmed by pesticides and diseases.

Loss of pollinating insects can affect both the amount and the quality of cultivated crops. One crop that is dependent on pollinating insects is strawberries. A recently published study from the CEC at Lund University shows that pollination is more important for strawberry growth than previously thought. Well-pollinated strawberries grow faster and weigh more than less pollinated strawberries.

– Strawberry flowers that are visited by many and different types of pollinating insects, develop into strawberries that grow better than those visited by a few pollinating insects. A rich biodiversity, with many pollinating insects, can therefore benefit strawberry cultivation and the cultivation of other insect pollinated crops, says Lina Herbertsson, PhD student at the CEC, Lund University.

In the study, researchers also investigated the presence of rapeseed pollen amongst strawberry plants. Rapeseed flowers produce a lot of pollen. As rapeseed and strawberry plants are co-flowering and attract partly the same pollinators, rapeseed pollen can spread to nearby strawberry fields.

– We investigated whether the deposition of rapeseed pollen on strawberry flowers affected the size and the maturity of strawberries, but found no evidence for this, says Lina Herbertsson.

The study "Assessing the risk of stigma clogging in strawberry flowers due to pollinator sharing with oilseed rape" is written by Lina Herbertsson, Ida Gåvertsson, Björn Klatt and Henrik Smiht, researchers at the Center for Environmental and Climate Research, CEC, and the Biological Department at the Faculty of Science, Lund University. The study has recently been published in the Journal of Pollination Ecology.

Read the article on pollinationecology.org

Lina Herbertsson defends her thesis "Pollinators and Insect Pollination in Changing European Landscapes" on Friday November 17 at 10:00 in the Blue Hall in the Ecology building. A popular science lecture will be held at 09:00 am in the same premises.

The thesis on lunduniversity.lu.se

For more information contact:
Lina Herbertsson, PhD student
Center for Environment and Climate Research, CEC, Lund University
Phone: +46 70 29 64 255
E-mail: lina [dot] herbertsson [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se