Flower characters and self-fertilization capacity in relation to the bee pollination at sour cherry cultivars

Detailed studies and comparisons were carried out on those flower characters of sour cherry cultivars that may affect bee pollination of flowers. Flower characters of sour cherry are fairly similar to other temperate zone fruit tree species. Their relatively small flowers distinguish the Cigánymeggy-types of cultivars from the flowers of tart cherries cultivars that are conspicuously larger, almost as large as the sweet cherry flowers. The relative position of flower organs was much more variable according to the season than according to the cultivars. So the differences were rather the consequences of seasonal effects than of variety features of sour cherry cultivars. As far as individual cultivars are concerned differences in the nectar production and the sugar concentration are revealed rather between groups of cultivars than between individual cultivars. The pollen production of flowers was extremely changeable in consecutive years. Most honeybees collected nectar at sour cherry flowers; pure pollen gatherers and mixed behaviour bees were half as frequent but differences among the behaviour of honeybees according to cultivars cannot be stated. The fidelity of honeybees to sour cherry is less expressed than to some other fruit tree species. Accordingly, it is very strongly suggested to take the competitive effect other plant species (weeds) flowering in and around the orchard carefully into account when organizing additional bee pollination in sour cherry plantations. Several sour cherry cultivars possess more or less self-fertilization capacity but this is greatly changeable according to the season. It has been proved that self-sterile sour cherry cultivars are sensitive even on the partial restriction of the effective time of bee pollination and it is to be stressed too that even in the case of partly self-fruitful cultivars bee pollination is also vital in yield formation because medium or strong restriction of the effective bee pollination period is of a definite negative effect on their fruit set and yield. In years with unfavourable weather the yield can dramatically be reduced sometimes down to nil. However, very high fruit set is also unfavourable because a negative correlation was detected between the final set and the mean mass of fruits.

The effect of the limitation of insect pollination period on the fruit set and yield of quince cultivars (Cydonia oblonga Mill.)

The effect of the partial and/or complete limitation of the insect (bee) pollination period was studied in three consecutive years at 6 quince cultivars. Quince is greatly sensitive to the limitation. Complete limitation of insect pollination resulted in no yield and also a partial limitation of the insect pollination period (exclusion of the bees at the first or at the second half of the blooming) depressed the final set and the yield by 60-70% at least or more, sometimes down to no yield. No real correlation was found between the mean mass of fruits and the fruit set. The mass of fruit seems to be rather a character of the cultivars. A loose but significant correlation was established between the intensity of honeybee visitation and the consequent yield of quince. As much as some 4-5 and 8-10 honeybee visits are needed a day on one flower to achieve the required optimal fruit set that has been declared to be 20-25% for quince in the literature. These are extremely high bee visitation figures, accordingly, no doubt the commercial quince plantations require much higher number of honeybee colonies than other temperate zone fruit tree species to supplementary pollination


Nectar production of quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.) cultivars

Nectar production of six quince cultivars were measured during three consecutive years. The nectar production of quince can be regarded to be small compared to other temperate zone fruit tree species since quince flowers contained 1.07 ± 0.06 mg of nectar in average. The extreme values, however, ranged between 0.1 and 7.3 mg/flower and this indicated that the nectar production was highly variable. The distribution of the nectar production was definitely skew because low values were definitely much more frequent than the highest ones. Our findings do not corroborate the earlier statements on the high sugar concentration of quince nectar. We found some 21-27% sugar in average, only. The normal distribution of the sugar concentration also indicates that the typical sugar concentration may be between 20-30%. Accordingly, the sugar concentration of quince nectar is rather low compared to other temperate zone fruit tree species (except pear). There was a significant negative correlation between the amount of nectar and its sugar concentration in quince flowers in all of the three years of the study (r= -0.51, n=37, p<0.02 in 1996, r= -0.57, n=28, p<0.1 in 1997, r= -0.35, n=9 I, p<0.001 in 1998). No definite difference was established between the nectar production of quince cultivars. Nevertheless, one cultivar tended to produce less and two other ones produced somewhat more nectar in average than the rest of the 6 cvs investigated but the extreme values of nectar production of cultivars overlapped in most cages.


Floral biology, pollination and fertilisation of temperate zone fruit trees

The knowledge of blooming, pollination and fertilisation and its use are indispensable in maximizing of cropping potential of fruits in economical fruit production. In attaining maximum yield a greater attention has to be focused on choosing cultivar combinations, and results of experiments on blooming, pollination and fertilisation must be applied carefully.

To have efficient bee pollination requires attention at the time of designing an orchard. It requires further attention at the time of bloom of any of the fruit-hearing species. Markets demand new types of fruit which forces constant changes in the cultivar composition of orchard. The blooming, pollinating and fertilisation characteristics of cultivars chosen have to be known before an orchard is set up. Apart from the general knowledge of trees considered to be planted, there is a great need to know the flowering, pollinating and fertilization characteristics of each cultivar in detail.