New kiwifruit variety grows well in Oregon

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new breed of hardy kiwifruit is becoming popular in Oregon as it becomes a commodity for commercial growers and delight for home gardeners.

The relatively new kiwifruit has a smooth skin and is about one inch long, according to Oregon State University Extension berry crops professor Bernadine Strik.

"It's smaller and rather different looking than the traditional 'fuzzy' kiwifruit, but it looks the same on the inside, has a nice tropical flavor and is high in vitamin C,” Strik said. "More important for the Oregon growing season is that the new variety produces fruit in mid- to late-September, whereas fuzzy kiwifruit will not ripen on the vine in Oregon."

Drawbacks exist, however, and Strik recommends that growers and home gardeners protect newly emerging shoots from frost in late winter. "Growers need to use overheard irrigation to protect plants after buds appear, perhaps as soon as early March," she said.

Hardy kiwifruit is well-suited to the home garden, Strik said, adding that Oregonians may want to download more information from the OSU Extension publication, "Growing Kiwifruit," which is available online.

The publication is based on hardy kiwifruit field trials conducted at OSU's North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora. It provides descriptions of kiwifruit varieties, their performance and characteristics such as ripening date, fruit weight and how well they grew in Oregon. The 26-page publication was written for both commercial growers and home gardeners.

Commercial growers will be interested in chapters on establishing and maintaining a kiwifruit orchard. They include sections on site selection and preparation, vineyard planning, irrigation, fertilization and trellising, as well harvest, handling and storage.

"New acres of hardy kiwifruit are growing commercially in Oregon," Strik said. "We have between 80 and 100 acres of this crop, most of which is marketed fresh." She notes that hardy kiwifruit requires male plant(s) as well as fruit-producing female plant(s). Check out the publication for more information.

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Bernadine Strik
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