Kiwifruit on Trellis


I planted male and female kiwifruit plants along the fence in our backyard last spring. I like the taste of store bought kiwifruit, and I thought it would be fun to grow our own. I have also heard that home grown kiwifruit tastes better than the store bought ones.

I selected a female kiwifruit variety called Vincent, because that was the only variety being sold in our local nurseries, and a male variety selected to pollinate a Vincent female. You need to have a male plant to pollinate the female, or the female won’t set fruit.

I used to think that kiwifruit was a tropical plant that required a tropical climate to grow and produce fruit. I found out only last year that it is a temperate climate plant that requires at least a few hundred hours of chill (i.e., below 45 degrees F) each winter to stimulate fruit production.

After doing some research into kiwifruit, I have learned that it is a vigorous grower that requires a sturdy support system for its vines and fruits. Apparently, a mature female kiwifruit plant can produce hundreds of pounds of fruit each year. Most commercial growers use T-shaped trellises or pergolas to support kiwifruits. Many home growers train kiwifruits to grow up an arbor.

I decided instead to use a smaller support system that would take up less space than an arbor or T-trellis. Last weekend, I nailed one wooden grid-shaped trellis to our fence behind each kiwi plant, as shown in this picture. The male plant is on the left, and the female plant is on the right. My plan is to prune both plants severely a few times a year to keep them within the bounds of these support structures.

I don’t want to get hundreds of pounds of fruit each year. About 20-30 pounds would be enough. It seems that these trellises would be large enough to support about that much fruit. I am just hoping that it will be manageable to keep the vines confined within this area as they mature.

August 09 2009 11:30 pm | Kiwifruit