Optimising pollination of Spanish kiwi crops

16/04/2020 - Kiwi has become an important crop in the Valencian community and Galicia region of Spain. A crop with a short pollination window, it is important to maximise pollination rates at the crucial time to optimise yield.

A dioecious species, kiwi produce trees with masculine flowers and separate trees with feminine flowers - only the female kiwi trees bear fruit. Although the female flowers have anthers the pollen is not viable. In order to cross-pollinate it is vital insects bring the pollen from the male to the female flowers.

As neither flower-type produces nectar, honeybees are not attracted to kiwi preferring to head off in search of nectar producing flowers nearby.

Kiwi growers in Spain are therefore heavily reliant on Biobest bumblebees, deployed in hives complete with sugar solution (Biogluc®), to pollinate their crops. Due to the lack of nectar, the Biogluc® bottles remain open at all times.

Pollination timing in kiwis is very limited. While kiwi flowers - both male and female - generally open at the same time, this tends to be for a limited period of just three to four weeks. Depending on the geographical location, or kiwi variety, this period can be even shorter.

“As kiwi is an outdoor, field-grown crop, it is important to protect hives from the elements,” explains Biobest’s David Abeijon. “Biobest is unique in this respect offering the only fully waterproof hives. These Multi-Hives containing three individual hives, fully protected from the elements to optimise performance of these all-important bumblebee pollinators.

“To maximise pollination rates, we recommend growers deploy 3-4 Biobest Multi-Hives/ha. While introducing a large population of bumblebees, our Multi-Hives arrive at full peak performance optimising pollination rates during the relatively short pollination period.

“With Biobest Multi-Hives, Spanish kiwi growers are assured the quantity and quality of the bees will meet the specific requirements of their valuable crops.”

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