Pollination Best Practices in Southern Highbush Blueberry in Florida
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Rachel E. Mallinger and Douglas A. Phillips.
Southern highbush blueberry (SHB) is the primary blueberry species grown in Florida. It is dependent upon pollinating insects for adequate pollination and fruit set (Benjamin and Winfree 2014). Some Florida growers have reported cases of low fruit set in recent years, in particular on the cultivars ‘Meadowlark’ and ‘Emerald’, which may have been due in part to poor pollination. In most of these cases, growers observed a heavy bloom followed by poor fruit set, with undeveloped fruit dropping from the plants. Although there may be other causes for this scenario, including heavy flower thrips damage to blossoms, this description is generally indicative of poor pollination. Other symptoms of inadequate pollination include an extended period after flower opening before petal fall, petals turning brown while still on the bush, and a low number of seeds in fruit that does develop. This publication will discuss blueberry pollinators, some causes of poor pollination, and current best practices to reduce the possibility of poor pollination of SHB.