Tomatillos? [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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01-02-2015, 01:45 PM
I am looking for information on tomatillo pollination? Like hives per acre ratio? Does pollination produce large amount of honey? This is a first time test for the crop and I want slightly over cover the field if it is worth the time/effort.

Dave Burrup
01-02-2015, 02:25 PM
We grow a few for our own use and I have never seen any kind of a pollinator on them.

01-02-2015, 05:28 PM
I believe that they are self pollinating like tomatoes.
Just.gently flicknthr blossoms.with your finger to knock pollen loose so it can get where it needs to.

But you really don't even ne d to do.that, probably.

Rader Sidetrack
01-02-2015, 05:35 PM
Note that regular tomatoes are not normally pollinated by honeybees. Tomatoes are pollinated by native bees via "buzz pollination" / "sonication (", and honeybees don't know how to do that.

References for tomatillo pollination are few, but these two suggest that pollination is done by native bees via sonication: (2nd photo caption)

01-03-2015, 07:42 PM
Bees work tomatillos enthusiastically in California. Tomatoes are unusual in that the self-pollinating flower is a derived character, tomatillo (being closer to wild plants) have an open breeding, easily cross -pollinated flower. The cone of anthers is not closed like that in tomatoes. All commercial Tomatillo are self-incompatible natural hybrids.

In past years been contracted to provide bees for Tomatillo seed production trials. In my home garden, I make sure I leave sport seedling plants and cull to selected plants and add new selected seed. The seedlings provide essential cross pollination, and the severe culling reselects for wanted traits -- left to their own devices tomatillo reverts to wild type -- small fruits and weak, sprawling plants. Landraces (such as in self-pollinating tomato) don't persist in Tomatillo.

Tomatillo are largely a pollen crop for my bees. The flower season (July-August) is a natural dearth period, and bees on tomatillos don't reverse the dearth. The pollination contracts have been for seed production on very small (one to 4 acre plots) consisting of alternating rows of parent plants. I cannot speak to 'production' needs of a fruit crop, but I used 8-16 hives in the seed intercrop plots.

Tomatillo seed production is highly "amateur", and the hybrids are just open-pollinated crosses in most cases. The situation is improving, and the "purple" strains have better disease resistance and more reliable growth -- as the purple trait requires closer attention to crossing genetics.

Once one grows tomatillo's one will always have wild sports -- they reseed enthusiatically, and plowing only encourages them.

Purdue's fact sheet on Tomatillo production says:
Tomatillo is self-incompatible, so all plants are hybrids. Pollination is by insects. Cross-pollination with other cultivars or other Physalis spp. would be possible if the plants are closer than 500 m. All seed production must be carried out in isolation. Saray-Meza et al. (1978) reported that 10 kg of fruit yields 100 to 200 g of seeds. Plant viruses can reduce tomatillo yields by 30 to 40%. Delgado-Sanchez (1986) described a complex of at least three different viruses affecting tomatillo.

04-22-2016, 08:13 PM
Yes, they really liked my Tomatillo's last year.

08-18-2016, 06:44 PM
I just saw a couple honeybees working tomatillo buds today. They probably weren't there for no reason!