Baseline study into the physiology and phenology of kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta Planch.) in order to improve production methods

The main goal of this research is to select a few kiwiberry cultivars that are the most suitable for open air and greenhouse cultivation in Flanders. Because the cultivation of the kiwiberry mainly takes place in open air, the relationship between temperature and the phenological stages of the plant is of great importance. One of the most important aspects of kiwiberry cultivation is the risk for spring frost. Kiwiberry plants can tolerate temperatures to -30°C in a fully dormant stage. However, when growth of the plants has resumed in spring, even moderate frost temperatures can result in injured young shoots and consequently serious harvest loss. So, selection of cultivars with delayed budbreak or improved spring frost tolerance would be of interest. In this research cold acclimation patterns are studied during a whole winter season by identifying bud dormancy depth, bud carbohydrate content and bud cold tolerance.
Because good pollen quality is essential for good fruiting, pollen vitality (by means of FDA-staining and fluorescence microscopy) and pollen tube growth are also investigated.
In a last experiment, the effect of cane girdling on mean fruit weight and fruit carbohydrate content are observed.

Contact: Jelle Soleme

Funding: Ghent University

Supervisors: Filip Debersaques, Prof. dr. ir. Marie-Christine Van Labeke

Services: Because the cultivation of kiwiberries is not comparable about growth and cultivation techniques with any other fruit cultivation in Flanders, a good education of the participating growers is necessary. Nowadays about 32 fruit growers joined our ‘kiwiberry group’. Together we organise meetings, demonstrations and we exchange the results of the scientific research done at the Department Applied Bio Sciences, practical experience, contact with the auction, information about pruning, fertilizing, irrigation,... Furthermore, all the growers received the growers manual: ‘Van Kiwi tot Kiwibes’.