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Pollinator Week

Pollinator Week

It’s officially National Pollinator’s Week and we are ecstatic! Plant Sentry™ prides itself on helping make the Earth a better place for growing and sharing plants, so naturally, Pollinator’s Week is right up our alley. 


While underestimated in their value and importance, the list of pollinators includes around 200,000 species. Besides insects like bees, butterflies and beetles; there are 1,000 vertebrates on the list such as birds, bats, and other small mammals. Because of their impact, pollinators are some of the most important species on the planet.

The Key to Pollinating

A large portion of the pollinator population is made up of what are known as keystone species. Keystone species are essential to the environmental survival of their habitats. Many times keystone species become compromised when hunting, habitat degradation, and agricultural pursuits alter their ecosystems in a way that the species can not keep up with.

If the keystone species can no longer survive its habitat, then the ecosystem it supports can no longer survive.

This is seen in the case of the world’s largest pollinator, the white ruffed lemurs. While they may be the largest pollinator, their home of Madagascar has undergone extreme environmental renovations over the past several years.[1] Why are white and black ruffed lemurs endangered? Forest fragmentation and habitat loss have resulted in these pollinators being listed as critically endangered.

Pollination Can Get Batty

Lemurs aren’t the only pollinators at risk in our modern world. Due to recent innovations in wind energy bat pollination is also at risk. Wind farms are responsible for killing somewhere between 650,000 to 1.3 million bats between 2000 and 2011.

The bat species that are seen most at risk are the two federally endangered species of the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) and the Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis). [2] It is uncertain as to what exactly attracts the bats to the wind turbines, but scientists are working diligently to figure it out. 

Over 500 different plant species rely on pollination by bats. Fruits such as bananas, guava, and mangoes wouldn’t flower without a bat and their love for nectar. Other important agricultural plants that bats pollinate are the agave plant, used for tequila and balsa trees, used for lightweight timber. [3]

The Buzzzziest Pollinator

In recent years, bees have finally been recognized for all of their hard work! The efforts of bee pollination add up to approximately $235-$577 billion USD in global food production, annually. [4] Bees are responsible for the pollination of goods such as apples, broccoli, cranberries, melons, and sometimes cherries and blueberries

A combination of habitat loss, pollutants, climate change, the Varroa mite, bacterial diseases, travel, and irresponsible chemical usage all add up to be contributing factors that make it difficult for bee populations to survive in high numbers. The common solution that many humans turn to is becoming a honey beekeeper in hopes to boost the population. But, the honey bee isn’t the only bee. [6]

There are roughly 25,000 other bee populations on our planet.

Depending upon the food source and the environment of the wild bees, the honey bee could be invasive. While many of these species look similar to the honey bee, the ecosystems they sustain are often drastically different. [5]

Your Impact & Responsibility

As the human population continues to grow there is an ever-increasing need for more food. 

Part of the critical role that pollinators have is pollinating a number of crops for humans. Due to the decline of pollinators worldwide, in 2016 it was reported that farmers in China had turned to pollination by hand. 

To achieve the same pollination of their pear trees that had once been received by bees and other insects, people were paid to use a brush to exchange pollen from male to female trees. It’s estimated that a human can pollinate only 5-10 trees a day, merely a fraction of the amount bees can cover. [4]

This research led to the question of “What if this is our future normal?” 

The idea that someday swarms of insects will no longer exist to fulfill the task of pollination raises many red flags. Beyond the scope of agricultural needs is the concept of ecosystem structure. As mentioned earlier, entire environments depend on the role of keystone species, and the species they affect in order for ecosystems to thrive and survive. 

The policies and procedures that we as humans have used for centuries may have been enough in the past. But, looking forward to how humans interact with our planet and our environments, will depend on the change we implement and care we take to preserve and restore the damages we cause.

Helping Pollinators

As attention has continued to be paid towards the decline of the pollinator population, humans are more eager than ever to lend a helping hand in rehabilitating these species. 

Where to start in helping the pollinator population can seem challenging at first, but organizations such as the Pollinator Partnership and National Wildlife Federation have developed programs that can locate pollinator plants good for your area. 

Growing landscapes for bees and other pollinators is a great way to help recover the loss of pollinators without taking on too much work. Pollinator plants attract pollinators and give them the sustenance they need to keep moving.

While science is continually growing, it will be the responsibility of communities to implement the checks and balances necessary to keep our pollinators alive.

Plant Sentry™ practices this belief in the services we offer our clients in helping mitigate pests and protect against disease. It’s not always easy to decide what the right move is, but with our help, the load feels a lot lighter.

For more information on how you can help protect pollinators and your plants, be sure to visit our Our Services page to learn more about our practices. If you have questions or interest about our services, Contact Us for more information.



Citations:

[1] Black and White Ruffed Lemur. 17 Feb. 2020, lemur.duke.edu/discover/meet-the-lemurs/black-white-ruffed-lemur/.

[2] Bats & Wind Energy. www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/wind-power.

[3] “U.S. Forest Service.” Forest Service Shield, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/bats.shtml.

[4] “Shrinking Bee Populations Are Being Replaced by Human Pollinators.” Global Citizen, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/life-without-bees-hand-human-pollination-rural-chi/.

[5] Victoria A Wojcik, Lora A Morandin, Laurie Davies Adams, Kelly E Rourke, Floral Resource Competition Between Honey Bees and Wild Bees: Is There Clear Evidence and Can We Guide Management and Conservation?, Environmental Entomology, Volume 47, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 822–833, https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy077

[6] Farah, Troy. “While We Worry About Honeybees, Other Pollinators Are Disappearing.” Discover Magazine, 3 Aug. 2018.

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Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

As the weather continues to warm and the sun stays out longer, fruits and vegetables are growing bigger every day. Which is perfect, because June is National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month

While the basis of this month is to focus on the health aspects that fruits and vegetables provide to the human diet. We can’t help but stop to wonder, what determines the health of our fruits and vegetables? And who’s checking up on this?

Piqued Your Curiosity?

Where our produce comes from is commonly related to what store we bought it at and where that store is located. Until the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the concept of how that produce got to the store, was lost on many of the people who ate it. And sure, we know it comes from a farm, and that farmers have to grow it, but where are these farms located? And what are their growing practices? How do I know that the health of their plants is going to mean health for my body?

Finding the Answers

Unless you belong to the farming and gardening industry the idea of plant sourcing may be outside your realm, simply because you don’t see it. But, that’s part of the reason why Plant Sentry™ is here. We exist to safeguard the shipment of plants, and well, fruits and vegetables are plants too. 

So this month, we’d like to help answer some of these questions for you and give you some tools you need to answer these questions for yourself.

Where Do They Come From?

While California leads the U.S. states in domestic agriculture, the other 48 states make sure to do their part when it comes to farming too. 2 million other farms to be exact. While this seems like a lot, and perhaps that it should be enough, what may be surprising about this is that only about 8% of farms market their foods locally [2]. 

Many fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. are only in season for a few weeks out of a calendar year.

The Fruits of Labor After the Seasons Over

Once the U.S. growers finish out their seasons for fruits and vegetables the American consumer doesn’t end their want/need for the produce. Instead, the U.S. market imports fresh fruits and vegetables from all around the world to meet American consumers’ demand.In 2012 it was calculated that roughly 6.9 million metric tons of fruits and vegetables were shipped to U.S. Distribution Centers nationwide. [2]  

So Are They Healthy?

The U.S. market for fruits and vegetables can be divided into 2 categories, fresh and processed. Deciding which market the farmer grows for determines how the produce is grown. If it is grown for the processed market, then the goods will meet the standards of that market. If the produce is grown for the fresh market, then they will adhere to the standards of the fresh market. The USDA monitors both of these markets and lists their standards for both categories here. [4]

When it comes to the health of fruits and vegetables determining their values can be a little bit more challenging, because it requires a closer look. Fruits and vegetable benefits are evaluated by the nutrient density of the good and can vary slightly based on growth conditions. 

The way the food is prepared and handled will also determine the overall nutrient density of the fruits and vegetables. But generally speaking, it is safe to follow the nutritional evaluations of raw fruits and vegetables from the FDA. [1]

Beyond the Label

Unless you’re purchasing goods from a local grower, knowing more finite information about the produce your consuming can be challenging. While the FDA requires the listing of the country on the stickers for fruits and vegetables, beyond that is considered proprietary business information.[5]

The Green Industry Role

In the Green Industry, it can be challenging to find out information if you aren’t on the inside of the situation. When there are disease and pest outbreaks, our government officials often settle for only listing the affected state and not the company name. This is no different when it comes to the agricultural side of things and handling the safety of food.

In order to protect international business relationships, the same standard of discretion is applied to the produce industry. As Americans continue to populate and rely on these resources, it is the utmost responsibility of the government officials regulating these goods to protect not only those eating them but also those who grow them.

The Plant Sentry™ Role

Being a member of the Green Industry can sometimes be challenging. While we at Plant Sentry™ primarily focus on the health of plants and their shipping and restrictions requirements, we know that every piece of the puzzle is important.

How consumers purchase and select their goods plays into the giant game of chess that impacts the availability consumers have. 

This is why we do and encourage everything we can in shipping and compliance of regulations to help growers be successful so that consumers can keep their variety.



  • Citations
    1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Nutrition Information for Raw Fruits, Vegetables, and Fish. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/nutrition-information-raw-fruits-vegetables-and-fish
    2. Fast Facts About Agriculture & Food. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts
    3. Fischetti, M. (2013, September 1). U.S. Demand for Fruits and Vegetables Drives Up Imports. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/us-demand-for-fruits-and-vegetables-drives-up-imports
    4. Grades and Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards
    5. Grossman, E. (2014, September 24). Want to find out where your fruit was grown? Good luck. Retrieved from https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/fruit-veggies-produce-origins-trade-secret/