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Kiwifruit Cultivars

Kiwifruit are native to southeast Asia. There are more than 50 species in the genus Actinidia, and many have commercial potential.

The most common kiwifruit species grown commercially is Actinidia deliciosa cultivar Hayward. Consumers are very familiar with this brown, fuzzy fruit.

Fuzzy kiwi are grown commercially in New Zealand, Italy, Japan, France, Australia, Greece, Chile, and California. There is some commercial production in Oregon; however, this species is not extremely hardy and may suffer cold injury in some years in the Pacific Northwest.

More hardy kiwifruit species also are available.They include the following:

  • A. arguta, known as the hardy kiwi or arguta (marketed as baby kiwi in Oregon and grape kiwi in British Columbia). This species shows promise for commercial production in the United States.
  • A. kolomikta, also known as kolomikta or Arctic Beauty
  • A. polygama, or silver vine

Although some people claim they eat the skin of fuzzy kiwi, most peel these fruit. However, the hardy, kolomikta, and silver vine kiwifruit have very edible skin. You can pop these delicious, small fruit right into your mouth.

Kiwifruit are relatively high in acid, reaching nearly 2 percent of fresh weight at maturity and declining after harverst. Kiwifruit are one of the best natural sources of vitamin C, with a level of at least twice that of the orange.

The fruit of most common kiwifruit species and cultivars have green flesh that does not brown when cut.

Fuzzy kiwifruit can be stored for months after harvest. However, the hardy and kolomikta kiwis can be stored for only two months at most at 32-35.5o F (0-2oC) (see Storage of Kiwifruit).

The kiwifruit is a dioecious plant — it has separate male and female plants (with the exception of a few self-fertile cultivars). It is essential to plant male vines for pollination and crop production.

Plant male and female vines of the same species. In general, 1 male is required for every 6 to 10 females. Self-fertile cultivars require no male pollinator, although fruit size may be larger with cross-pollination.

Yield per plant varies with species and cultivar. Hayward ( A. deliciosa ) yields from 25 to 200 pounds per plant, whereas A. arguta yields from 50 to 100 pounds per plant..

A. kolomikta and A. polygama leaves contain a substance that has an effect similar to catnip. In China, kiwivine leaves reportedly are fed to large cats as a sedative. You may find that cats become a pest of your new kiwifruit planting!

The information below on ripening dates, fruit weights, and plant performance is approximate. It is based on limited test results from a cultivar planting at North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC), Aurora, Oregon. Performance may vary with location.

“Fuzzy” Kiwifruit

Actinidia deliciosa, fuzzy kiwifruit, is the most widely available species. Generally, fruit are large, with a green skin covered with brown fuzz. Vitamin C content ranges from 100 to 200 mg per 100 grams fruit. The most common commercial cultivar is Hayward, which is found in supermarkets throughout the world. However, other varieties also are available.

Fuzzy kiwifruit can be grown in Oregon. Hayward needs a growing season of about 225 to 240 frost-free days. However, although this species should tolerate temperatures down to 10oF (-12oC), plants may be damaged at slightly higher temperatures.

Cold damage usually occurs when temperatures drop during the night after a warm spell. The trunk usually is damaged, which weakens older plants and sometimes kills young vines. Although methods such as wraps and plastic sleeves may help to protect the trunk against freeze injury, they are not always effective. The trunk’s sensitivity to cold decreases with age.

Young kiwifruit shoots and fruit are very sensitive to frost injury. Temperatures of 30oF or less (-1oC) for only 30 minutes can severely damage shoots in the spring and fruit in the fall. Still, these kiwifruit can be grown successfully with overhead irrigation for frost protection.

Although many other fuzzy kiwifruit cultivars are available in other production regions, the following cultivars are available and have been tested in the Pacific Northwest. All produce bright, green-fleshed fruit.

Ripening dates given below are based on when fruit reached 6.5o Brix (% sugar) at NWREC, a harvest date criterion for long-term storage (see Kiwifruit Maturation).

Hayward

Hayward is the cultivar usually found in stores. Its large, fuzzy, brown fruit with good, sweet flavor has made it popular. Shoots are sensitive to frost injury in spring. This cultivar is recommended only for areas of Oregon with mild winters.

Ripening date: October 7-12
Fruit weight: 80-90 grams
Vine growth: vigorous

Bruno

Bruno produces a large cylindrical fruit that is darker brown than Hayward. It has a lower winter chilling requirement (50-250 hours at 32 to 45oF), and therefore may be more sensitive to late winter cold spells, particularly after a warm period.

Saanichton 12

This cultivar comes from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where it has been grown for more than 30 years. Fruit are large, somewhat more rectangular than Hayward, sweet, and of good flavor. It seems more hardy than Hayward.

Ripening date: October 1
Fruit weight: 70-80 grams
Vine growth: vigorous

Blake

This is a relatively new cultivar. It is claimed to be “self-fertile,” but it does benefit from cross pollination. Fruit are smaller than Hayward or Saanichton 12 and are more oval in shape. Flavor is inferior to Hayward and Saanichton 12.

Ripening date: October 1
Fruit weight: 60-70 grams
Vine growth: vigorous

Male ( A. deliciosa )

A pollinator is required for all fuzzy kiwi. There are many cultivars/selections of males available. Examples include Matua, Tomuri, Cal Chico No. 3, Chico Early, and Chico Extra Early.

Hardy Kiwi

This kiwifruit species, A. arguta, is hardy to -10 to -25oF (-23 to -32 oC) under most conditions. Damage to the trunk from cold temperatures rarely occurs in Oregon; however, frost damage to young shoots is more common.

Maximum hardiness levels given for this species reflect only midwinter hardiness. This species has a low chilling requirement (winter rest period satisfied by temperatures at 32-45oF) and may be sensitive to cold injury at higher temperatures when warm weather precedes a cold spell, particularly in late winter.

Unfortunately, warm temperatures in February or March in Oregon may promote early bud break, making this species very susceptible to frost damage of the young shoots. Only additional testing will show how much of a problem this may be for our region.

Keep in mind that young vines may be more cold sensitive. Protect them with trunk wraps (see Kiwifruit Vineyard Planning, Planting, and Spacing).

Hardy kiwi plants are very vigorous and produce a good quality, highly aromatic fruit that is quite different from the fruit of A. deliciosa . Fruit are smooth skinned (skin can be eaten), generally green in color, and much smaller than the fuzzy types. The flavor is excellent, but varies by cultivar. Vitamin C content is very good at 10 to 70 mg per 100 grams fresh fruit.

In France, hardy kiwi are cultivated commercially, but acreage has been limited due to marketing limitations–small fruit size, short shelf life, and a limited ripening period. Also, the fruit on a given plant ripen unevenly, which makes harvest difficult unless fruit are picked under-ripe and forced to ripen. Vines are very vigorous, and considerable pruning is required to keep growth under control.

In general, hardy kiwifruit do not store as well as the fuzzy types. Therefore, you likely will see these kiwifruit in stores up to only a couple of months after fall harvest.

Currently, relatively little hardy kiwifruit is grown commercially. However, you no doubt will hear and see more about these types, as they do have good quality, attractive fruit.

Certainly, the hardy kiwifruit are well suited to the home garden and, with an appropriate market, to commercial production as well.

Fruit of these hardy kiwi are best when ripened on the vine to maximize development of aroma and flavor; however, shelf-life then is shortened. The following harvest dates are based on sugar levels of 8 to 9oBrix . (If left on the vine the fruit will reach 18 to 25oBrix.)

Ananasnaya

This is the most popular hardy kiwifruit cultivar currently available. Its Russian name means “pineapple-like”. You also may hear this cultivar referred to as “Anna”.

Fruit are of very good quality, with a good aroma and sweet, intense flavor. They have a green skin that develops a purple-red blush in full sun. Skin may be slightly tough.

The cultivar Ananasnaya brought to Oregon is A. arguta . However, the Russian cultivar Ananasnaya is A. kolomikta; more than one cultivar with the same name may be available in nurseries.

Harvest date: September 14-30
Fruit weight: 9-14 grams
Vine growth: very vigorous

74-49

This numbered selection/cultivar came from a USDA program in Chico, California. This cultivar produces very good quality fruit of similar size and quality to Ananasnaya.

Ripening date: September 7-14
Fruit weight: 7-12 grams
Vine growth: very vigorous

Meader

We presently are not testing this cultivar at NWREC. However, it is reported to produce good quality, medium-sized fruit. Note that there is a male “Meader” also is available; do not be confused.

A. arguta var. cordifolia

Not yet widely tested in the Pacific Northwest. Fruit are reputed to be of good flavor and very sweet. Plants are very vigorous and produce high yields. Flowers may be wind pollinated.

Ken’s Red

Not widely tested in the Pacific Northwest, this kiwifruit from New Zealand is a cross of A. arguta var. cordifolia and A. melanandra. Fruit are nearly square to cylindrical with a “nib” at the tip. They are bright green in summer and turn red-skinned late in the season. Vines are very vigorous.

Geneva

This cultivar has not been widely tested in the Pacific Northwest, although there are preliminary results from British Columbia. Plants ripen earlier than Issai and Ananasnaya and are about the same size. Fruit have a good flavor.

Issai (self-fertile)

This cultivar from Japan is less vigorous than the other hardy kiwifruit cultivars listed above. Fruit are smaller in size, somewhat cylindrical, come to a point, and are fully green. Flavor and aroma are very good. Harvesting is somewhat more difficult than the other hardy kiwi, because fruit are smaller and ripen rather unevenly within a cluster. This cultivar, although self-fertile, produces larger fruit with seeds when cross pollinated. Vines are slightly less hardy than other A. arguta at 0 to -10oF (-18 to -23oC).

Harvest date: September 1-4
Fruit weight: 4-9 grams
Vine growth: moderate vigor with lower yield per vine than the other hardy kiwi.

Male

Pollinator for above A. arguta species. About 1 male is needed for every 8 females. There is evidence that A. arguta cultivars can be pollinated by A. deliciosa males, which produce more pollen than the arguta males. However, A. deliciosa males are much less hardy than A. arguta males, thus you risk crop loss to cold injury when using the fuzzy males.Other cultivars/selections that may be available include Dumbarton Oaks, 74-45, 74-8, and Michigan (reported to have almost twice the fruit size of Ananasnaya). However, these have not been tested in Oregon.

Kolomikta Kiwi

These kiwi types, A. kolomikta, are hardy to -40oF(-40oC), but shoots are sensitive to frost damage. In the Willamette Valley, Oregon, A. kolomikta cultivars break bud earlier than arguta types in late winter. For example, all shoots were killed by cold in February 1995. Available cultivars differ greatly in fruit shape, size, color, and flavor. Fruit of kolomikta are smaller than those of arguta kiwivines. Plants are considered good ornamentals, because of their variegated pink leaves, particularly in the male.

The fruit are small to medium sized, but are very sweet with good aroma and flavor. Fruit are valued for their exceptionally high vitamin C content — 700 to 1,000mg/100 grams fruit (10 times higher than Hayward and 20 higher than citrus).

Fruit are best when ripened on the vine to maximize aroma and flavor development; however, shelf-life then is shortened.

It has been difficult to establish A. kolomikta at NWREC. Vines planted in 1990, even after 4 years, grew little and produced almost no yield. Thus, it is hard to evaluate their performance relative to the hardy kiwi.

Perhaps this species is more sensitive to wet soil or phytophthora root rot — a possible reason for its poor growth at NWREC. There also are reports that A. kolomikta requires some shade for optimal growth. This species also has not performed well in trials in British Columbia.

Nevertheless, the following cultivars may perform well at other sites and certainly would make good ornamental fruit plants in the home garden. This species does not have the commercial potential of A. arguta .

Krupnopladnaya

This cultivar, “large fruit” in Russian, is the largest of the arctic beauties tested in Oregon. Flavor is good and sweet. Plants have low to moderate vigor compared to A. deliciosa .

Pautske

This is the most vigorous of the arctic beauties tested in Oregon. Fruit are large and of good quality. Plants are more vigorous than those of Krupnopladnaya, but still have lower vigor than A. deliciosa .

Male

A. kolomikta male needed to pollenize the above cultivars.

Silver Vine Kiwi

This species of kiwifruit, A. polygama , is called silver vine for the silvery-white color of the young leaves. Fruit have orange skin and flesh, and are cylindrical with a point at the base. Although several sources say fruit are edible with a sweet, peppery taste when ripe, we have not had good success with this species at NWREC. Our fruit goes from green and unripe to orange and soft with an astringent peppery flavor. Plants are moderately vigorous, but more susceptible to cold injury than arguta or kolomikta. Some clones are self-fertile.

This species does not have much commercial potential for Oregon. However, it does make a nice ornamental.

Harvest date: September 1-4
Fruit weight: 6-9 grams
Vine growth: moderate to low vigor at NWREC

Bernadine Strik and Helen Cahn, Extension Berry Crops Specialist and Research Assistant, Oregon State University.


This fact sheet is adapted from Oregon State University Extension Publication EC1464, Growing KiwifruitGet Adobe Acrobat Reader.