In 2009, we began a multi year project to assess pollinator diversity and efficiency in southeastern blueberries. Although excellent work has been done Georgia, Mississippi, and Michigan blueberry production systems, the mid southeast (NC, SC, and VA) differ both in climate and production system. The vast majority of blueberries grown commercially in NC are southern highbush, while in GA, mostly rabbiteye varieties are grown. Bloom phenology and flower morphology differ between these species, and its reasonable to assume that pollinator interactions may differ as well.
Observations in 2009 highlighted the differences between southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberries. In 2010 and 2011, we will be conducting detailed, on farm observations of pollinator diversity and abundance, primarily in NC. We are currently seeking grower cooperators who are interested in participating in this project. Grower participation will entail allowing us to sample and observe pollinators, allowing caging of ~50 branches prebloom, and allowing sampling of ~1000 fruit. Interested growers can contact Hannah Burrack with questions or to get involved.
This project will also include video capture of pollinators in action, which will be shared online (including here), starting Fall 2010.