Did you know that a cultivated kiwifruit vine in Korea is reputed to be 600 years old? A single 30 year old vine can smother 1000 square metres of native bush. Imagine what it could do after 600 years.
This is the darker side of this extremely valuable plant and a battle with it is underway throughout the Bay of Plenty.
Kiwifruit has become a serious invasive weed in many parts of the Bay of Plenty and wild vines have been found from Torere to Traffords Hill to Woodlands.
Many birds, particularly waxeyes, find the fruit an easy food source. The seeds are spread far and wide in their droppings. As each fruit can contain 1,100 seeds, the potential for its spread is substantial.
The biggest source of these bird-spread seeds is the large quantity of reject fruit that are fed out to stock. Cattle and deer like the fruit as much as we do and reject fruit have become a popular source of supplementary feed during the winter.
Wild kiwifruit is considered to be such a serious environmental threat that, in Environment Bay of Plenty’s Regional Pest Management Strategy, it is classified as a Total Control Pest Plant. As such, landowners are required to control any plants found on their property. However assistance with this control is currently available. The kiwifruit industry, through New Zealand Kiwifruit Grower’s Incorporated have assisted with funding for a team of contractors who carry out control work.
But prevention is better than cure and could save the region a lot of unnecessary expense. Farmers can help minimise the spread by covering stockpiles of fruit with windbreak netting and only feeding out to stock in quantities that can be consumed quickly.
If wild vines are found please let me know. They are easily dealt with by overall spraying with Grazon or by cutting the trunk close to the ground and treating it with Vigilant gel.