Going for gold with kiwi fruit

A six-week gap in the European and UK markets for kiwi fruit presents a window of opportunity for South African growers.

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Yields are in excess of 30t/ha and with the current farm-gate price of roughly R20/kg, it gives farmers the ability to earn foreign exchange. One group of kiwi fruit that is well-suited for this window is the yellow-flesh kiwi fruit – a series of seven varieties for which Australian company Global Plant IP has the global commercialisation rights.

Peter Nicholson, who farms 7ha kiwi fruit in Hella Hella near Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal, said that the six-week gap from March to April would suit SA farmers nicely. “Unlike the green kiwi fruit that is more commonly grown in SA, the yellow-flesh kiwi fruit requires far less chilling units. The varieties would be ideally suited for early low chill zones in the Midlands – such as Eston, Richmond and Mid Illovo.

It is very tolerant to frost and can handle temperatures of up to -10ºC which makes it ideal for cane farmers to grow in their valleys,” said Nicholson. Other suitable zones include Nelspruit, White River, Ohrigstad, Tzaneen and Marble Hall and a trial with the variety is running in the Sunday’s River Valley. The Cape is too windy and the fruit would clash with that from New Zealand and Chile.

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