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.
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. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1990/v1-407.html#Production
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