Frustrated with my Kiwi and considering drastic measures

hanburyhouseDecember 16, 2011

Is my experience typical with growing Vincent Kiwifruit? And if not, does anyone have experience or advice with getting better pollination from a male for Vincent?

Thank you in advance for the help!

I grow fuzzy kiwi, Actinidia deliciosa, along with a "male" that was sold with it. I choose Vincent as the female because we only get a limited amount of chilling; 200-400 on average.

Both vines were planted in winter 2004. We starting getting our first female flowers in early May 2008, and we thought it was due to the fact our dog root pruned it accidentally trying to dig a soft cool bed in the dirt under the canopy one Spring day. The male didn't flower until Late May 2010. I suspect the male is Tomuri since that is what is often sold with Vincent, that and the fact the male's flowers are very sparse; I have only found two or 3 male flowers on the plant each of the last two years, despite the fact the vine is huge and gets plenty of sun.

What is worse, the male blooms later than the majority of the Vincent flowers. The female had more than 400 flowers this year, but by the time the male flowered, most had faded and died. We only had about 50 flowers left by the time the male got around to doing its business. Although I picked a crop of about 4 dozen fruits this year, it is very frustrating after waiting so many years already that this is all we are getting from such a gigantic vine.

Now I am considering planting a second different male nearby to see if it is any earlier than Tomuri. If I can find a better one, I will eventually rip out the original male. I know it will take many years for a new male to mature, so I want to make a wise choice.

I have looked for a variety called Matua without success.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of my Vincent Kiwi can be found in this link

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axier - Z10, Basque Country (Spain)

Lianne, maybe the sparse flowering of the male is due to the low amount of chilling.

A. deliciosa (hayward, Tomuri, Matua,...) usually need a lot of chilling hours.

Maybe it is better for you an A. chinensis (yellow kiwis) kiwi. There are delicious and very productive chinensis varieties and they need less chilling hours.

You will need chinensis male too.
Do you know grafting? kiwi is very easy to graft. If you has adults kiwi plants and you graft them with other kiwi varieties, you will have a new complete canopy in two years, and in the case of chinensis, you will have flowers in two or three years. They will grow vigorously with the support of adult plant roots.

I have both, deliciosa and chinesis varieties. I live in the north coast of Spain, oceanic climate, zone 9 but with 800 chilling hours or more.

Chinensis flower earlier than deliciosa.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 2:48PM
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hanburyhouse

Thanks for the thoughts, Axier.
It didn't cross my mind it could be a chilling issue since the two plants were sold as a set. Last year we had about 283 chill hours and the year before, 323.

I really don't want to start all over if I don't have too. I think I will find out if it is a chilling issue next Spring. We are currently on track for the most accumulated chilling hours of any winter since I bought our house 15 years ago. We are already up to 176 hours, and for coastal Southern California, that's a lot by mid Dec. In some years, that is our seasonal total. If the male flowers better this Spring, I guess I will have the answer.

I have not seen any retail or online sources for plant material for yellow kiwi in the U.S. It appears to only be available to commercial and international growers. I can only find sources for the seeds.

Living on 1/12 of an acre (urban lot)the idea of devoting my limited space for a half dozen unknown gender seedlings, that will get as big as my current Kiwis, for 4 years+ to the point of flowering doesn't appeal to me. I hope find a better option.

Now if someone in SoCal has a cutting(s) I could trade for, I would love to try that! I have tried grafting on other plants, but with very limited success. I am better at other forms of propagation, but I keep trying on the grafting.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 3:30PM
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fruithack

I'm eight years in and haven't seen a flower yet. I don't care enough to even rip them out. Kiwis are grossly misrepresented by nurseries as being easy to succeed with.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 4:12PM
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steve_in_los_osos

You might want to contact your local CRFG chapter. You don't say where in So. Cal. you are, but there are quite a few chapters in the area. Scion exchanges are coming up in Jan. and Feb. Here on the Central Coast someone always brings dormant cuttings (female) of golden kiwi from Roger Meyer. The same may happen down south. There may also be other kiwi cuttings available.

That said, I have never had luck rooting a dormant cutting :-( I'm told it's "easy" to root green wood.

Anyway, someone at the CRFG could probably also connect you with someone who might help you with grafting if that's what you choose to do.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 5:49PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

I find that kiwis are hard to establish, but once established, they are among the most rewarding and easiest plants to grow. They are very sensitive to how deep or shallow the plants are in the ground. In addition, slugs love to eat baby plants or recently grafted or cuttings. I don't know about the chilling. We have no problems with that here.
Usually a male hardy can pollinate a female fuzzy or hardy. You can often get a hardy cutting from a friend and they will root by themselves if the slugs don't get them.
John S
PDX OR

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 1:08AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Roger sells dormant cuttings of yellow kiwis by mail-order, thats where I got mine from. I think he often has plants as well. It does sound like a chilling problem, fuzzy kiwis usually fruit pretty soon. Its the hardy ones that take forever.

Roger & Shirley Meyer
16531 Mt. Shelly Circle, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
VOICE: 714-839-0796
E-MAIL: xotcfruit@yahoo.com

Scott

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 9:26AM
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steve_in_los_osos

I did a little more research on this issue since I am hoping to start a "Vincent" myself in a year or two and this post has given me the heebie-jeebies a potentially fruitless (ha-ha) endeavor.

Several sources, including the San Diego chapter of CRFG note that Tomuri is a sparse flowering cultivar although it is often sold as a pollinator for "Vincent". The SD CRFG suggests Matua as a better all-around pollinator, flowering over a long period.

http://www.crfgsandiego.org/Documents/LOW%20CHILL%20KIWI%20FRUIT.pdf

(page 2).

Burnt Ridge Nursery sells the "Matua" male.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 6:49PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Do you know anyone with kiwis? Perhaps you could just cut a vase full of male flowers at the time you need them.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 10:29PM
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barberberryfarm(8A)

I'm located near Montgomery AL in zone 8a and don't grow any kiwi plants. However, our Alabama extension folks have a program which focuses on developing new kiwi cultivars and I have gone to a few of their meetings. The reason I'm bringing this up is because I had heard most of the cultivars available to the public require between 800-1000+ chill hours for fruiting to occur, depending on cultivar. If you haven't read it yet, you may want to check out their write-up at the link I attached. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: ACES Kiwi Production Guide

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 11:31AM
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SoCalDave

I have exactly the same problem with Vincent and Tomuri. Both are about 10 years in the ground. After waiting years, the Vincent (female) now flowers profusely. Tomuri (male) leafs out very late (it's just starting now, mid-May 2013) with no flowers to be seen. And when it does flower, it is very sparse. I have to beg for male flowers from local gardeners. I also freeze the few Tomuri flowers I get to use next year - the pollen must retain some viability, since this seems to work. Is there any known male vine that will flower more reliably and earlier? (I am in the San Gabriel Valley foothills of LA).Also, I do not want to wait another 10 years for it to flower.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 7:43PM
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hanburyhouse

Well, here is an update on my Vincent and tomuri kiwis after two more years...

Spring 2012 I spoke with Roger Meyer. He suggested I add a superphosphate and I did. I got about 12 flowers on my Tomuri in 2012, and it flowered a few weeks behind Vincent again, but enough to be able to hand pollinate the remaining Vincent blooms. I picked about 20 lbs of fruit from that crop.

2013 I added a bit more superphosphate in January. I got about 35 flowers on Tomuri, but about 6 flowers' bloom synced up with the profusion of Vincent flowers. We started picking ripe fruit in late November. Yesterday, I picked my remaining fruit and weighed it all, and it totaled 74 lbs. I still feel Tomuri is awful choice to pollinate with so few flowers, but it did suffice in 2013. Chilling wise, we had about 530 chilling hours that winter. This year Tomuri is already leafing out and we only have had about 330 chilling hours. I don't think Tomuri's issue is a lack of chill, I think it just does not make many flowers, like CRFG reports. So I am still looking for Matua.

Any one else get sparse flowers from the male kiwi sold with Vincent?

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of my kiwi can be seen here

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:56PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

lianne:

If you set more fruit than your picture the eating quality may suffer IMO.

My male fuzzy from Raintree bloomed profusely the first year. They don't give it a name. I'm hoping for flowers on Hayward and Saanichton females this year, their third leaf. So don't know yet if they will flower together.

I'll be disappointed if no females this year or if the blooms are not synchronized but will give them at least one more year. I've never harvested a kiwi that I grew myself.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:27PM
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