by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, Californi
What happens as bee numbers decline and there aren't enough to pollinate all the crops grown in California? One solution is to make the plants self-pollinating. And that's just what scientists and farmers are testing out with almond orchards in California. Almonds are the top California food export and the nation's sixth largest export. Over 90 countries import almonds from California, and that means growers are increasingly concerned about how they're going to get their trees pollinated without bees. A new variety of self-pollinating trees has been created, and results of how its doing are just starting to trickle in.
According to Physorg, a self-pollinating tree variety has been in development for over a decade, and the new tree is going through a field trial by the Almond Board of California, the industry's marketing and research arm. Last year, however, Chowchilla farmer Jim Maxwell planted 40 acres of one new self-pollinating tree variety called Independence, and so far they've been fairing well. Still, it will take a few seasons before we'll know what kind of output they have, especially for a commercial orchard. Because it takes awhile for the trees to mature, it will be about eight years before farmers know if self-pollinating trees stand up in the commercial market compared to those pollinated by bees.... Read the full story on TreeHugger