New Zealand horticultural icon T&G (originally Turners and Growers) has completed an on-orchard pollination trial using the PollenSmart artificial pollinator, with exciting results.
The PollenSmart, designed and engineered by Whakatane agricultural engineering firm The Wrangler, works by blowing pollen onto open kiwifruit flowers not once but four times, via a vacuum intake which recycles the fallen pollen.
T&G Kerikeri kiwifruit orchard manager Denis Barker said due to Psa-V, the orchard’s male kiwifruit vines were removed and replaced with new males, which have taken time to establish.
“Our males are now at 80% now but we will continue to use the PollenSmart every year,” Barker said.
“We’ve seen the best results to date using the PollenSmart; it has helped the orchard achieve optimal pollination.”
Methodology Trial 1 was conducted on T&G’s Kerikeri kiwifruit orchard, in a block with no male flowers.
During flowering, six flower buds of the same age (popcorn stage) on each of the 20 canes were identified and randomly allocated to one of six treatments using coloured wool. The treatments evaluated were hand pollination (optimal pollination), and 1,2,3,4 or 5 applications of pollen using the PollenSmart.
Pollen was applied daily at 400g/ha, and once the flowers had been exposed to their allocated number of pollen applications, the fruit was bagged so the flowers would not be exposed to any further pollen.
The bags were applied late in the day of the final pollen application to allow for a full day(s) of bee activity, and remained on the fruit until after fruit set, when they were removed.
At harvest, each of the canes were harvested separately and weighed with average weight determined for each of the treatments.
The results showed five applications of pollen using the PollenSmart was equivalent to hand pollination, or optimal pollination.
Additionally, two applications of pollen with the PollenSmart increased the fresh weight of the fruit by 33 percent, compared with one application; and three applications increased the fresh weight of fruit by an additional five percent.
There was no difference recorded in weight between three and four applications.
Barker said Methodology Trial 1 used 400g/ha of pollen to ensure it worked, but future trials would use 150-200g of pollen.
“The PollenSmart is an insurance policy for us,” he said.
“I’m happy to say the PollenSmart is user-friendly, and has an efficient application method.”
Read more about T&G's first trial at https://www.pollensmart.co.nz/tandg.