A Tauranga kiwifruit orchardist has one less challenge on his plate this spring by using the PollenSmart artificial pollination machine for the second consecutive season.
Derek Griffin grows 2ha of gold and 2ha of green kiwifruit at Tauriko, near Tauranga, and like most orchardists has challenges with pollination and low bee activity. “The bees just haven’t been doing their job,” he says. “The gold has been okay, but we’ve seen pollination challenges particularly with the green – the problem has been getting bees in there.”
Derek and his father, also a kiwifruit grower, tried one other pollination machine with little success but liked what they saw when they visited the PollenSmart team at Fieldays in 2015. Derek put in an order and in 2016, the machine was used on his orchard for the first time. “I used it mainly on the green,” he says. “I only went once through the gold orchard, but I did three applications on the green kiwifruit, using 200g pollen per hectare.”
While Derek was happy with the way the PollenSmart applied the pollen, he experienced some of the challenges the kiwifruit industry saw last season. “There wasn’t a big crop this year, but I put that down to a challenging bud burst period,” he says. “I also used a bad batch of Ambitious, which I think caused a shape problem in the fruit.”
Despite the challenges, Derek will continue to use the PollenSmart and is looking forward to an improved season and more clear-cut results from better pollination. “The PollenSmart did the job – it was quick, easy and efficient,” he said. “The results have been good.”