Pollinating Almond Trees
Most of popular almond varieties are not self-fertile; hence they need cross pollination in order to set fruits. In order to produce one almond, the almond tree needs theoretically just one granule of pollen of another compatible variety at the right time. Honeybee is the only insect that can facilitate the cross pollination of almond tree. All over the world, almond growers depend greatly on strong and healthy honeybee colonies, which ensure the best possible cross pollination. The almond grower must ensure that there is a big population of honeybees (2-3 strong colonies per acre) inside the almond orchard, so that a single bee will not only visit different flowers of the same tree, but will also transfer the pollen to other tree of different variety, which is normally located 20-30 feet away. Consequently, it is recommended to plant one row of trees of the pollinating variety for every three rows of the main variety. But when one pollinating variety cannot ensure satisfactory cross pollination, due to asynchronous flowering, it is recommended to use two pollinating varieties, an early flowering and a late flowering variety, so that the flowering of both will overlap with the flowering of the main variety.
The almond tree, depending on the variety, blooms from late winter to early spring (during February in US). The duration of flowering, depends greatly on the weather conditions and can range from 4 to 30 or more days (the average flowering period is 25 days). It is essential that the almond grower shall facilitate the cross pollination activity of bees by effectively eliminating all competing blooming weeds during the almond flowering period. Otherwise, bees will be distracted and the cross pollination of almond trees will be significantly reduced.
Frequent rainfalls and cold weather during the flowering generally deteriorate the cross pollination activity of bees, resulting in decreased fruit set and production. Thus, if the natural pollination of almond trees is inadequate, commercial almond growers often apply artificial pollination methods. However, artificial pollination methods have not been found to increase significantly the almond orchard yield.
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7. Almond Tree Pollination
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