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Irrigation of Established Kiwifruit Vines

Most of the research and experience on kiwifruit production is with Actinidia deliciosa, particularly Hayward. Unfortunately, there is relatively little direct experience with hardy kiwifruit production. The following information should, however, provide a good starting point for production of hardy kiwifruit as well as the fuzzy types.

The water a vine loses through transpiration must be replaced by irrigation or rainfall. On a warm summer day in California, mature, full-canopy kiwifruit vines can transpire 7,000 to 8,000 gallons of water per acre per day. Transpiration occurs when leaves use carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates through photosynthesis.

Irrigation is necessary to keep vines growing and productive and to maximize fruit size. Water stress can reduce fruit size, limit flower numbers (through reducing flower bud initiation), and cause premature fruit drop. Summer drought can cause leaf drop and premature fruit ripening in arguta; however, fruit ripens more unevenly and are of poorer flavor. Severe drought also may cause fall flowering, which reduces the following year’s production. Maturity of wood also seems to be delayed by drought, thus increasing risk of cold injury. However, too much water also may cause production problems.

Judging vine water needs is difficult. At this point, it’s not known whether irrigation requirements in Oregon differ from those in other regions. Based on information from British Columbia, Canada, vine water use ranges from 25 to 35 gallons/vine/day (at 70 to 80oF).

Irrigation for frost protection also is necessary to protect young shoots in spring and potentially fruit in fall. See Kiwifruit Site Selection for more information.

Bernadine C. Strik, Extension Berry Crops Specialist, Oregon State University.

This fact sheet is adapted from Oregon State University Extension Publication EC1464, Growing KiwifruitGet Adobe Acrobat Reader.