How to deal with overgrown kiwi

I wasn’t able to finish pruning my my hardy kiwis this spring. It warmed up enough to get their sap moving and they leak like a river if you prune them at that point. So, now I’m dealing with very overgrown vines.

I was able to go into a kiwi cave:

One of them is so large that it is bending the support poles (pic is after I cut it back from strangling my Court Pendu Plat apple):

I’m not sure if it is the lack of dormant pruning, or the spring frosts (though long before the kiwi’s flower), but even the vine which had a lot of fruit last year (Geneva), isn’t carrying any now. I did get some dormant pruning in on Issai, Cordofolia, and Fortyniner, but only Issai has any fruit. That isn’t too surprising, as 49er has only had a bit in the past and Cordofolia has flowered, but not fruited before. Issai has fruited since year #2, so it sets fruit no matter what…

So, now the question- do I go in there hacking now, or in the late winter? Either way, there is a massive amount to remove.

I hacked my jungle of kiwi about 2 weeks ago…they were everywhere. I just cut them back to a single vine each… i might rip them out completely.

Hedge trimmer.

I have some electric hedge trimmers. I buzz them back to no more than 3-4 feet from the main corridor, and it only takes 5 minutes with the hedge trimmers. On the thicker shoots I need to throw the trimmers at the shoot with some force but it always manages to cut it (and it has been working for 8+ years now, I have yet to damage the trimmers). This is on this-years shoots only, it won’t cut hardened wood.

This year I am letting them expand on to a neighboring row that was blackberries but not enough light for them. One thing nice about kiwis is they will take over whatever territory you want them to :grin:

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5 minutes? :slight_smile: I spent about an hour around the edges (including freeing apple and peaches), without getting close to the main problem areas.

I don’t think I have hedge trimmers strong enough. The electric ones I’ve bought are pretty wimpy for anything but thin hedges. My Felco’s can probably get through most of it, though I think it will be a bit tricky. I’m not sure that cutting it to 3-4’ is enough- don’t I need to thin out that area near the wire as well? it is a mass of vines.

So, the consensus is “do it now”, rather than when dormant?

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The main time I cut is in later June, the shoots are smaller and more easy to cut. Also if you cut hard early they will not grow back as vigorously. I often do two buzz-cuts per year.

The thinning I do in winter, in summer I just buzz them quickly to keep them from taking over.

My hedge trimmers may be less wimpy than yours, or maybe I abuse mine more… I throw them at the big vines. It cuts up to 1/2" thick this-years shoots. Bigger ones I use trimmers on.

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It must be an annual thing- I get done with enough other stuff to take a look at the kiwi and say “my god- they are trying to take over the world and I better do something.”

I was thinking about posting, but searched first and found my post from last July. Things are the same now but worse. I spent over an hour of cutting to just free a peach tree. I’m actually surprised that it looks as good as it does after being entombed in kiwi for months. No peaches left on it…In fact, I think that’s what triggered me to cut the kiwi back- wondering if there were any Gold Dust peaches ready.


After (from the same angle and position):

I feel like I need to cut about 95% of the kiwi vine off, to get them back to a manageable size. I was planning to do it in late winter, but I missed the window again and they were “bleeding” badly as soon as I cut them, so I stopped. Maybe I should do it in January instead, just to make sure I actually get done.

One of the problems is knowing what to cut back to. Only the outer layer is actually alive and growing, with a large dead area in the middle of the vine. Maybe I should prune in the fall, after harvest, but when I can still tell what is alive.

One good thing is I found some buried treasure- a white current (Primus) bush which was hidden from both me and the birds. It seems that growing in almost total shade didn’t make them any worse than normal. Though “treasure” may be going a bit far- as they are somewhere between bland and sour. The best use I’ve found for them is adding pectin when mixed with other fruit for jam/jelly.

Note the kiwi above the Issai kiwi above the currant.