Kiwifruit is a new emerging crop for the southeastern United States that requires cross-pollination to set fruit. However, the pollination requirements for varieties grown in the southeastern United States are unknown. Through insect surveys and a bagging experiment, we assessed the pollination requirements of two female kiwifruit cultivars (Actinidia chinensis var. chinensis ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ and A. chinensis var. chinensis ‘AU Gulf Coast Gold'). For each, fruit quantity (fruit set) and fruit quality (weight, size, seed count, firmness, soluble solid content, and dry matter) were compared among three pollination treatments (wind, insect, and artificial pollination). Low abundances of insects were observed visiting female flowers of both kiwifruit cultivars, and therefore likely minimally influenced kiwifruit pollination. Artificial pollination resulted in the greatest percentages of fruit set and marketable fruits, followed by insect and wind pollination. Artificial pollination resulted in fruits that were greater in weight, size, and contained more seeds, than insect- and wind-pollinated fruits. Firmness and soluble solid content did not vary greatly between pollination treatments, yet were greater in ‘AU Golden Sunshine'. Dry matter content did not vary greatly between pollination treatments or between each cultivar. To maximize yields and optimize fruit quality, these results suggest that kiwifruit producers should place more effort into artificial pollination compared to wind and insect pollination. Future research should explore the use of managed bees (e.g., honey bees and bumble bees) within kiwifruit orchards to determine ways to utilize them as a secondary source for pollination needs.
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Vol. 114 • No. 3