Wildflower Strips Attract Pollinators to Watermelon Fields

Growing strips of wildflowers near watermelon fields can help attract pollinators, according to the dissertation of a Clemson University graduate student. Mimi Jenkins published Enhancing Native Pollinators of Watermelon Agroecosystems in South Carolina as an Extension publication. Her research showed that most watermelon pollinators were native bees, and that these tiny sweat bees most often visited fields that included wildflower strips or hedgerows of wild shrubs and trees. Improved pollination led to improved watermelon yield. Jenkins advises growers to increase floral resources by planting wildflower strips of native flower species in or along the edges of fields, increase nesting sites by maintaining semi-natural areas on farms and reducing soil-level disturbances, and minimize pesticide use.