Venture aims to alleviate pollen problem

By Tom Scott

The damage being done by Psa to male kiwifruit vines has increased the need for artificial pollination to maintain fruit production.

The spread of Psa has greatly reduced the natural availability of pollen in kiwifruit orchards.

Because large numbers of male kiwifruit plants have been infected, many orchards now lack sufficient male flowers to ensure pollination by bees alone.

Some orchards will have to rely completely on artificial pollination, rather than using it to supplement pollination as in the past. As a result, the demand for pollen will rise.

Trevelyan's has responded by establishing a joint venture with contractors Mat and Kris Johnston, of Te Puke, to help meet the demand.

"We have partnered with Mat and Kris because they have over 20 years experience in harvesting kiwifruit pollen," says James Trevelyan.

"The purpose of the joint venture is to help growers access the pollen they need.

"This is for any grower in the industry."

The venture, called No1 Pollen, plans to produce 200kg this year with a new pollen cyclone developed by Fraser Gear of Te Puke. It separates pollen from the flowers with a more efficient process than traditional pollen cyclones.

Mat says the machine, designed by Graham Fraser, has lifted yield by up to 15 per cent and has about 10 times the capacity of the previous model.

Before Psa hit, he says, orchardists might have used about 500g of pollen a hectare to supplement pollination. In the absence of enough male flowers, total artificial pollination needs more than twice that amount.

No1 Pollen is batching its pollen by Kpin, which means growers can use only that pollen collected from their orchards.APN News & Media

- Hamilton News

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