Planting design

Presently, the common training system used for kiwifruit vineyards in the Pacific Northwest is a pergola (solid overhead canopy). However, a T-bar system has yielded well at the NWREC, is easier to prune, and may be better suited for small-scale production.

For a T-bar trellis, vines commonly are planted 15 feet apart in rows 15 feet apart, resulting in 194 plants per acre. With a ratio of 1 male: 8 females, there are 174 female vines per acre. For the pergola, you may want to space rows 15 to 20 feet apart (see "Trellis").

Kiwifruit vines are extremely vigorous. Canes grow 6 to 12 feet per year, and occasionally 20 feet. Higher density plantings may increase production in the early years, but in later years, overgrowth and shading will require excessive summer pruning.

The kiwifruit is a dioecious plant—it has separate male and female plants (with the exception of a few self-fertile cultivars). Male vines are essential for pollination and crop production. In general, plant the same species of male as the female vines (see "Pollination") and about one male for every eight female plants. Male and female vines must be present in a block and must flower at the same time.

You can achieve a 1:8 malefemale ratio with the following design:

  • Plant only female plants in all outside rows.
  • Plant the following row with a male plant between every two female plants.
  • Plant the next two rows with all female plants.
  • Plant another row with a male plant between every two females.
  • Plant two more rows of all female plants.
  • Continue as above.

Male plants in these planting systems run at right angles to the rows. For T-bar systems, you may want to place males in every row, as there is some evidence that bees prefer to work down rows rather than across.

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