Katikati kiwifruit orchardist Alan Cook takes his purchase decisions seriously. He’s not interested in any flash-in-the-pan orchard equipment that may or may not be worth the investment.
So, when Cook saw the PollenSmart artificial pollinator advertised in early 2016, and purchased a unit from the first factory run in spring that year, he was hopeful the unit would allow him the flexibility required to reach perfect pollination.
“I was drawn to the ability to put pollen on when I wanted to, as opposed to waiting for someone to come along and do it – the flexibility was key,” he said.
Cook, who grows 6ha of Hayward kiwifruit and 1.3ha of gold kiwifruit, pollinated his green orchard, along with another orchard of 1.8ha of Hayward next door, with the PollenSmart.
“It was great to use for pollination, and easy to operate,” he said.
Traditionally, Cook had used 600g of pollen per hectare in two applications to supplement the bee pollination (10 hives per hectare). With the PollenSmart, he used 500g per hectare in five applications and waited in anticipation for harvest last month to see if his orchard would replicate the success of the trial results.
“For an orchard that has had issues with shape forever, this season we only gave the vines a quick thin out and the fruit has come up perfectly,” he said. “I’m convinced using the PollenSmart has made a difference in the shape of the fruit, and the size of the fruit, which we’ve also had issues with in the past.”
As the kiwifruit season had been so variable for orchardists this year, Cook was looking forward to pollinating again this spring to see a second year of positive results in 2018.
“I’m really happy with our results this year, and I’ll be thinking hard about using the PollenSmart on the gold orchard this spring,” he said. “I’d recommend orchardists give the PollenSmart a go; it worked well for me.”