Alberto Di Meo happy with Flying Doctors® for kiwi fertility boost

Alberto Di Meo is one of a few Italian kiwi growers who pioneered commercial use of Biobest’s Flying Doctors® technology for kiwi pollination in 2014. Following the collapse of the male kiwi trees in his orchard due to a PSA attack, he was more than worried about achieving good pollination and fruit set. That’s why he did not hesitate to call on Biobest to order Flying Doctors® hives after hearing about promising initial trial results obtained at the Zespri research station.

Julien Mourrut-Sallesse, Coordinator of Biobest’s Sustainable Crop Mgt Team explains: “With our patented Flying Doctor® hives equipped with a dispenser, the dispenser is loaded with pre-collected kiwi pollen. The bumblebees then  ensure precision delivery of the pollen to the flowers. We started doing trials in collaboration with Zespri in 2014 and demonstrated the potential of the technology. Many kiwi growers are already familiar with the use of pre-collected pollen with dry or wet pollen spraying. With the Flying Doctors®, an equivalent or superior pollination result is obtained with a lot less pollen and less labor. We were pleased to see some leading growers apply the Flying Doctors® technology in their fields in 2014”.  

Alberto di Meo “I’ve been growing kiwi in the Lazio Region for more than 20 years. I have 10 hectares of orchard, divided between Gold G3 and Hayward. I was faced with a really challenging situation, when PSA wiped out my male plants of the variety Hayward two years ago. In 2013, I used dry pollen dusting like in previous years and I was quite disappointed with the results: the quantity and quality produced were below standard production. When I first heard about the Flying Doctors® solution, I was immediately eager to try this technology. In kiwi production, successful pollination is absolutely essential. In 2014 I continued dry pollen dusting but did so in combination with 9  Flying Doctors® hives/ha. During the entire period of bloom, I filled each hive with 5 g fresh pollen every day. I was really happy to see my yield and quality getting back to normal. I harvested about 400 quintals/ha and could move the hives from Gold G3 to Hayward. This year, the Flying Doctors® will again be working in my orchard.”

Julien Mourrut: ”Alberto was able to create success in a situation that is very challenging for a kiwi grower: no male trees. Pollination success was absolutely crucial and he replaced the pollen even more frequently than we recommend. A success story like Alberto’s is very motivating for me. I now sense a lot of interest amongst kiwi growers to work with bumblebee pollination. Depending on the situation, we will recommend the use of our Flying Doctors® or deployment of normal bumblebee hives.”

For more information, please contact Julien Mourrut (julien.mourrut@biobest.be).

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