Transforming green kiwifruit orchards into gold

At Tirofruit, our primary aim is to cultivate the finest quality crops. Key to this endeavour is ensuring we have access to the best possible plant materials, from rootstocks and female fruiting canes to male pollinating canes.

Zespri, a global leader in the kiwifruit industry, has been at the forefront of this horticultural innovation with programmes spanning decades. Their collaboration with renowned research institutes has resulted in kiwifruit varieties that exhibit exceptional flavour and boast outstanding appearance, extended shelf life, improved fruit quantity and enhanced resistance to pests and diseases.

The gold kiwifruit

A shining example of this collaboration is the gold kiwifruit variety. Loved for its luscious taste and vibrant golden flesh, the gold kiwifruit has become a household favourite worldwide. In addition to gold, the orchards are trialling the red kiwifruit variety.

In our kiwifruit orchards, it’s not only the fruiting female kiwifruit that takes centre stage! A critical decision when establishing, maintaining or converting orchards revolves around the layout, numbers and types of female fruiting vines and the male-pollinating plants. These seemingly modest components are pivotal in establishing and maintaining a high-quality canopy of plant canes and pollination, directly affecting fruit development and crop quality.

A spoonful of green kiwifruit

A thousand-year-old technique

One of the techniques instrumental in this transformation is grafting, a horticultural practice that has stood the test of time. You can find ample examples of grafting in plant nurseries, especially for roses, apples and other fruiting plants.

The basic concept involves using a robust rootstock with strong growing and resilience qualities but perhaps not the best for producing preferred blooms, shapes, stems or fruits. Onto this rootstock, a different plant variety is grafted, effectively merging the strengths of the rootstock with the desired traits of the grafted type.

When grafting is executed precisely, it results in the growth of a fully mature plant, vine or tree that maintains all the desirable traits and characteristics of the graft. This technique is nothing short of an art form and a science, requiring a deep understanding of plant structures and a skilled hand to ensure successful grafting, or what is often referred to as “takes” of the newly grafted bud wood.

Tirofruit’s grafting journey

Currently, across the Tirofruit orchards, we are undergoing a significant transformation. We’re grafting six hectares of orchards from green to gold kiwifruit varieties across the group.

The decision to embark on this transformation is based on carefully assessing yields and returns over the medium to longer term. With its unique characteristics and exceptional taste, Gold kiwifruit promises to deliver superior results.

The journey begins with acquiring a gold license from Zespri, this year facilitated through an open auction system. Once secured, the process involves cutting the old plants around head height and removing all the old canes and leaders. The grafting team then carefully selects the spots for the new grafts, re-cutting the rootstock stems at the chosen points, usually about a meter above the ground.

This intricate operation demands a profound understanding of plant biology and structure, ensuring the successful “takes” of the newly grafted bud wood. Grafting occurs when the plants are dormant, typically during mid to late winter when sap flow is minimal to non-existent.

hand holding gold kiwifruit

Looking to the future

Waiting for the grafts to reveal their results is filled with anticipation and excitement. We will know if the grafts have “taken in early October.” This signifies the commencement of our journey to build up the fruiting and pollinating canopy, heralding a new chapter in our orchards.

At Tirofruit, our commitment to excellence extends to every facet of our operations, including the meticulous art of grafting.

Join us on the journey towards excellence.

As we grow and develop our orchards into a new (literally) golden era, we invite you to actively participate in this exciting transformation. Stay engaged with us to witness the progress, share in the successes and learn about the intricacies of our trade.

By joining us, you’ll gain a deeper insight into the intricacies of kiwifruit cultivation and become a part of the larger Tirofruit community dedicated to producing the world’s best kiwifruit.

Stay connected through our website and social media platforms, where we share our experiences, insights and knowledge about growing kiwifruit. Be the first to know about the latest developments, innovations and delicious kiwifruit varieties soon to grace your table!

Your engagement and support are invaluable to us. Together, we can continue to raise the bar for kiwifruit quality and uphold our commitment to excellence.

Thank you for being a part of our journey. Your involvement makes all the difference.