TABLE 4-1 Value of Common Crops That Require or Benefit from Insect Pollination

Commodity

Bearing Acres

Production Unit

Utilized Production (thousand units)

Value of Utilized Production ($ thousand U.S.)

Apple

395,000

Ton

4,261.6

1,783,952

Blueberry, cultivated

41,720

Ton

94.4

221,610

Blueberry, wild

NA

Ton

40.2

28,540

Cranberry

39,600

Ton

309.2

208,025

Cherry, sweet

73,940

Ton

246.8

344,471

Cucumber, fresh

58,600

Hundredweight

55,000.0

187,391

Melon, cantaloupe

86,000

Hundredweight

22,107.0

371,721

Melon, watermelon

149,600

Hundredweight

38,208.0

342,918

Nut, almond

550,000

Ton

833.3

1,600,144

Peach

145,530

Ton

1,205.1

454,532

Pear

64,150

Ton

922.5

270,385

Squash, all

50,700

Hundredweight

7,685.0

197,020

SOURCE: Data from NASS Non-citrus Fruits and Nuts 2003 Summary.

proved quality (Klein et al., 2007). Coffee self-pollinates, but yields increase as a result of pollinator visits (Klein et al., 2003a,b,c; Ricketts et al., 2004; Roubik, 2002). A few U.S. crops—melons, cucurbit squashes, almond, and most pome fruits—are completely dependent on animal pollination to set fruit. Crops with many-seeded fruits, such as watermelon, pumpkin, and kiwi, have hundreds of ovules so they require many pollen grains per stigma. Thus, they are more susceptible to pollinator shortages than are those with few seeds per fruit (Free, 1993; Stanghellini et al., 1997).

In a detailed 1976 report, Insect Pollination of Cultivated Crop Plants, published by the U.S. Departmnent of Agriculture, McGregor (p. iv) noted that “the pollination of plants, essential in the perpetuation of most species, is so unobtrusively accomplished that it is often overlooked.” Although pollinators are critical to many agroecosystems, their importance varies not only among crop species but even among varieties of the same crop. In addition, wild-pollinator abundances can fluctuate dramatically among locations and over time (Kremen et al., 2002b; Price et al., 2005). Reliable data on the specific contributions of pollinators to crop yields are often lacking, and obtaining this information requires large-scale, long-term studies. Listed in Table 4-1 are the relative area and value of several major crops known to benefit from pollinators. Because managed honey bees are often used to pollinate them, the extent to which managed and unmanaged pollinators provide adequate pollination service for optimal yields remains for the most part undetermined.



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