Need help with pruning kiwi

vjeko(Croatia, 9)February 19, 2013

For some reason I just can't understand how I'm supposed to prune my kiwis - I would appreciate a pointer (photos of 3 kiwi plants are attached - 2 wide kiwis are female and the smaller narrow kiwi is male).

I have a steel wire trellis - 5 rows of 2wires.

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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

female 1

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:10AM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

female 2

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Are those hardy (arguta) kiwi? Even if they are deliciosa (fuzzy kiwis), it's more regular to select a single trunk that heads straight up, then cut it off below the top wire and select two new horizontal shoots to train in opposite directions. You might be able to train a second tier, but kiwis are pretty vigorous and that lower wire looks kind of close to the upper one. The top tier would probably shade out the lower one, not to mention the potential tangle.

Think "T". That's what you want for the basic structure. Then you begin to get fruiting arms from the horizontal cordons.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Kiwi

This post was edited by steve_in_los_osos on Tue, Feb 19, 13 at 12:08

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:28AM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

Thanks for the info. I think that the females are of a Hayward variety but not sure of the male.

Maybe I took the picture a bit too close
(so that most of the vines can be seen), so the height of the
wires is not visible - there are 5 rows of 2 wires with some 30 cm spacing between them.

My problem is that I don't know how I should prune the existing growth to get the 5 levels of left/right shoots. Should I leave separate growth for each left/right shoot (I'm thinking this gives more chance of success) or should I aim at one shoot , cut it under first wire, select 3 new shoots (left/right and up) and do so at each wire ? There's new and old growth there also now and am unsure how to proceed.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 1:08PM
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my hardy kiwi is old enough that the main stem can stand up by itself. Probably 5" around. But until I understood that I needed to prune it to one main shoot and that only 1 year old branches that grew off of that main shoot would produce fruit I didn't really get much fruit. That link is really a good demo of how to prune. If you have 2 girls and a boy then you should have 3 plants that are each one main shoot that you cut off at the height of your highest support. That shoot will then quickly grow side branches which you will tie to the cross wires and it is those branches that will have fruit the following year. ONLY branches that are one year old will grow fruit. You will need to pick what length you want for those side arms and keep them pruned to that length. I don't really think this is critical for the boy, but you need to keep it trimmed enough to induce flowering for pollination purposes.

For next years growth you will need to choose a side shoot from the lower section of this years main stem and permit that to grow long enough to be used as the main stem, for the following year. It might be wise to keep a couple lower shoots not just one in case deer or something else nibbles one. My kiwi are very vigorous and when top pruned produce side shoots like crazy.

Honestly, keeping all those stems you currently have will just make any fruit you might get be small. For me it grew way out of reach as I had it growing up a tall Walnut tree. Even the black walnut didn't slow down the vigorous growth of the kiwi.

Pam in cinti

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Here's a pic of one of my girl kiwis. I have several main branches as they all grew before I understood that I needed to prune to length. I'm a bit lazy and choose a thick branch every year or so and cut it down to a few inches above ground. That starts the cycle of producing more shoots which permits me to prune properly for fruit production.

Based on how heavy the fruit gets I'm not sure your support system will hold up very well. But you'll figure that out as you go.

Pam in cinti

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 3:21PM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

Hi Pam,
I don't get it yet ;) Let's see if I have something right:
We start of with the main stem, following year we grow the side shoots and we allow new main shoot(s) to grow. The year after we have fruit on the side shoots. When do we allow new side shoots/ cut the old main shoot (don't know why this is so hard to understand ;) )

Also, for my case of the 5 levels of side shoots - do I grow all the side shoots from one main shoot ?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 3:50PM
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Your plant looks pretty well established, but like the link specifies you won't get fruit for at least 4 years while the vine settles in.

What you are missing is how fast this doggone things grows. From the moment you choose one stem to be the main stem, then cut it off at the correct height you have put into motion the plant growing side arms which will be full sized by the end of that year. During that first growing season you will leave a couple low growing side stems to grow free, but keep trimming those other upper arms to keep them a manageable length.

Honest, the growth speed is phenomenal. It is not a several year process to get them into shape. Provided you start early,meaning early April here, you will be in shape to have fruit the following year from sidebranches (or arms if you prefer) that have not even grown yet.

Mine flower in early to mid May. We occasionally get late freeze that kills that years crop, but otherwise these grow with little problem provided I keep them well mulched. Roots are shallow, so be careful about cultivating under them. I believe Issai hardy kiwi are a bit more manageable but my variety (Anna something mela something sorry don't remember name but leaf stems turn red while all leaves stay green). are quite vigorous. They had begun to strangle the walnut before I cut them back.

Pam in cinti

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 4:18PM
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Here's a pic of that same kiwi 4 years earlier. It had already grown a good 25 feet up the walnut, so any chance fruiting it did was waay up high and I didn't get any fruit. You wouldn't believe the amount of vine I cut out when I cut it down to the first pic I posted. Filled 3 compost bins and left a hugh pile for local bambi's to feast on. I've been using the leftover deerchow as fire starter material all year too.

These root very easily as long as you cut off a portion that is still green with no woodiness to it. Remove lower leaves and stick it in a pot of dirt that is mostly in shade. Keep in watered and it will usually grow. I've got a couple pots that grow so fast it's like they reach out to grab my leg everytime I walk by.

In most cases the more you cut the better off you'll be.

Pam in cinti

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 4:32PM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

Pam thanks for all the info. I will try something out (would be easier if someone knowledgeable was around doing the snipping to show how it's done;) ) The growth of your kiwi is really impressive - can you give a few pointers on what you feed them and when and how often you water as the growth of my kiwis is hopeless but I think I'm on the right track this year with worm compost and plans of brewing compost tea etc.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:15AM
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Sounds like you are set to do the best already. With shallow roots I try to do several light feeding instead of one or 2 big ones. Low nitrogen to cut out the extra vegetative growth I was having. So compost and mulch would fit the ticket well. As far as watering I watered once a week if no rain.

Pretty sure Hayward is a regular kiwi. Mine are hardy kiwi, so I don't know if yours will get as tall as mine did if you don't prune. You should verify with folks growing regular fuzzy kiwi to be safe.

Pam in cinti`

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:31PM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

Spring is here and after the "light pruning" ;) I did, I would appreciate some pointers - what should I remove, when and why (the two wide growing ones are females and the small one is male) ?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:38AM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

female 2

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:40AM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

male 1

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Hi vjeko

My kiwi are hardy, and I'm still learning too. But it looks to me like you did a fine job pruning those traditional non hardy kiwi already. Now it's time to sit back and let them grow. On mine fruit are produced only on branches that were new growth the prior year. If you prune more now you will mess with future crops. Once growth starts if any branch gets too long for your support setup that is when you should prune to shorten as needed. That will then make the plant start sending side branches from that shortened branch which will be the fruit bearers the following year. Mine are so old that I basically chop off 1 large trunk each spring at approx 2 ft height to promote new branching. Those new branches are what will fruit following year so to increase crop I remove what seems like any excessively close branches, plus I cut off end of those new branches to promote side branches whenever they seem long enuf. This gives the plant lots of other growth to feed it while using just one branch per year to produce fruit for me.

I know you want to do it right and you want fruit asap. Honestly, it will grow and you will learn year by year. Mine were planted before I knew much about internet so I had to figure it out by myself. I still struggle to pick at correct time as if you wait til they soften you've waited too long. Pick when look full size and let soften on the counter or the soft fruit will fall, bruise, and be less tasty.


Pam in cinti

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 12:35PM
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vjeko(Croatia, 9)

Thanks Pam ! - will do as you suggested.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:56AM
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