The most common cultivar group of kiwifruit ('Hayward') is oval, about the size of a large hen's egg (5–8 centimetres (2.0–3.1 in) in length and 4.5–5.5 centimetres (1.77–2.17 in) in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull greenish-brown skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a sweet but unique flavor, and today is a commercial crop in several countries, such as Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece and France.
Kiwifruit is native to Northern China where it has been declared a National Fruit of China. Other species of Actinidia are native to India, Japan, and southeastern Siberia. Cultivation of the fuzzy kiwifruit spread from China in the early 20th century, when seeds were introduced to New Zealand by Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of Wanganui Girls' College, who had been visiting mission schools in Yichang, China. The seeds were planted in 1906 by a Wanganui nurseryman, Alexander Allison, with the vines first fruiting in 1910.
The first commercial planting of Chinese gooseberries occurred in 1937 in New Zealand by the orchardist Jim MacLoughlin. The fruit proved popular with American servicemen in New Zealand during World War II. In 1952 MacLoughlin partnered with the New Zealand Fruit Federation to market and export the fruit in the United States market. Thanks to pioneering research into the transportability of the fruit by John Pilkington Hudson and others at the agriculture department in Wellington this was the first international export of the Kiwifruit.
As the local popularity of this fruit increased, New Zealanders discarded the local Chinese name for the fruit (yáng táo[a]) in favor of the name Chinese Gooseberry. After World War II it was marketed under the name "Melonette". The importer, Ziel & Co, rejected this name because melons and berries attracted high duties. Jack Turner of produce exporters Turners and Growers suggested the name "kiwifruit" in 1959 after the kiwi, New Zealand’s national symbol, as the bird and the fruit share a similar appearance (small, brown and furry). Kiwifruit has since become a common name for all commercially grown fruit from the family Actinidia.
In Chinese, the current word for most wild or local varieties of the kiwifruit is the Macaque peach. The imported varieties are often referred to as wonder fruit (qí yì guǒ) as qí yì (wonder) sounds similar to kiwi. See the table below for other Chinese words for kiwifruit.
|Sunny peach||陽桃||yáng táo|
|Macaque peach||獼猴桃||mí hóu táo|
|Wonder Fruit||奇異果||qí yì guǒ|
|Macaque pear||獼猴梨||mí hóu lí|
|Vine pear||藤梨||téng lí|
|Wood berry||木子||mù zi|
|Hairy bush fruit||毛木果||máo mù guǒ|
The genus Actinidia contains around 60 species. Though most kiwifruit are easily recognized as kiwifruit (due to basic shape) their fruit is quite variable. The skin of the fruit can vary in size, shape, hairiness, and color. The flesh can also vary in color, juiciness, texture, and taste. Some fruits are unpalatable while others taste considerably better than the majority of the commercial varieties.
The most common kiwifruit is the Fuzzy Kiwifruit and comes from the species A. deliciosa. Other species have fruits that are commonly eaten; some examples are: Golden Kiwifruit (A. chinensis), Chinese Egg Gooseberry (A. coriacea), Baby Kiwifruit (A. arguta), Arctic Kiwifruit (A. kolomikta), Red Kiwifruit (A. melanandra), Silver Vine (A. polygama), Purple Kiwifruit (A. purpurea).
Almost all kiwifruit in commerce belong to a few cultivars of Fuzzy Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa): 'Hayward', 'Blake', and 'Saanichton 12'. They have a fuzzy, dull brown skin, and bright green flesh. The familiar cultivar 'Hayward' was developed by Hayward Wright in Avondale, New Zealand around 1924. It was initially grown in domestic gardens, but commercial planting began in the 1940s.
Hayward is the most commonly available cultivar in stores. It is a large-egg shaped fruit with a sweet flavor. Saanichton 12, from British Columbia, is somewhat more rectangular than Hayward and comparably sweet, but the inner core of the fruit can be tough. Blake can self-pollinate, has a smaller more oval fruit, and the flavor is considered inferior. The most common male pollenizer for these varietals is the Chico.
The golden kiwi (Actinidia chinensis) has a smooth bronze skin, with a beak shape at the stem attachment. Flesh color varies from bright green to a clear, intense yellow. This species is sweeter and more aromatic in flavor, the flavor reminiscent of some subtropical fruit. Its short storage life currently limits its commercial potential. One of the most attractive varieties has a red 'iris' around the center of the fruit and yellow flesh outside. The yellow fruit fetches a higher market price and, being less hairy than the fuzzy kiwi, is more palatable for fresh consumption.
Hort16A, marketed as Zespri® Gold, is a golden kiwifruit now marketed worldwide in increasing volumes.
Kiwi Berries are composed of three species of Kiwifruit, Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta), Arctic Beauty (Actinidia kolomikta), and Silver Vine (Actinidia polygama) they are a fast-growing, climbing vine, durable over its growing season. The fruits are edible berry or grape-sized fruits similar to the fuzzy kiwi in taste and appearance, with thin smooth skin. They are referred to as kiwi berry, baby kiwi, dessert kiwi, grape kiwi, or cocktail kiwi.
The cultivar 'Issai', a hybrid of Hardy Kiwi and Silver Vine can self-pollinate, and is grown commercially because of its relatively large fruit. Unfortunately it is less hardy than most Hardy Kiwi.
Kiwifruit can be grown in most temperate climates with adequate summer heat. Where fuzzy kiwi (A. deliciosa) are not hardy, other species can be grown as substitutes.
Kiwifruit is commercially grown on sturdy support structures, as it can produce several tonnes per hectare, more than the rather weak vines can support. These are generally equipped with a watering system for irrigation and frost protection in the spring.
Kiwifruit vines require vigorous pruning, similar to that of grapevines. Fruit is borne on one-year-old and older canes, but production declines as each cane ages. Canes should be pruned off and replaced after their third year.
Most of the plants require a male plant to pollinate a female plant for the female plant to produce fruit (dioecious). For a good yield of fruit one male vine for every three to eight female vines is required. Other varieties can self pollinate, but they produce a greater and more reliable yield when pollinated by male kiwifruit vines.
Kiwifruit is notoriously difficult to pollinate, because the flowers are not very attractive to bees. Some producers blow collected pollen over the female flowers. Generally, the most successful approach, though, is saturation pollination, where the bee populations are made so large (by placing hives in the orchards) that bees are forced to use this flower because of intense competition for all flowers within flight distance.
Firm kiwifruit ripen after a few days to a week when stored at room temperature, but should not be kept in direct sunlight. Faster ripening occurs when placed in a paper bag with an apple, pear, or banana. Once a kiwifruit is ripe, however, it is preserved optimally when stored far from other fruits, as it is very sensitive to the ethylene gas they may emit, thereby tending to over-ripen even in the refrigerator. If stored appropriately, ripe kiwifruit normally keep for about one to two weeks.
Pests and diseases
Psa or "Pseudomonas syringae actinidiae" was first identified in Japan in the 1980s. This strain has been controlled and managed successfully in orchards in Asia. In 1992 it was found in Northern Italy. In 2007/2008 economic losses started to be observed as a more virulent strain became more dominant (Psa V). In 2010 it was found in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchards in the North Island.
|Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization|
Kiwifruit exports rapidly increased from the late 1960s to early 1970s in New Zealand. By 1976, the amount of Kiwifruit exports exceeded the amount consumed domestically. Outside of Australasia, all New Zealand kiwifruits are now marketed under the brand-name label Zespri.
Over 70% of kiwi production is in Italy, New Zealand, and Chile. Italy produces roughly 10% more kiwifruit than New Zealand, and Chile produces 40% less. With these three main production centers kiwifruit is produced for worldwide consumption roughly all year long.
In the 1980s countries outside New Zealand began to export kiwifruit. In Italy the infrastructure and techniques required to support grape production have been adapted to the kiwifruit. This coupled with being very close to the European kiwifruit market led to Italians becoming the leading producer of kiwifruit. The growing season of Italian kiwifruit does not overlap much with the New Zealand or the Chilean growing seasons, therefore direct competition between New Zealand or Chile was not much of a factor.
Until recently China was not a major producing country of kiwifruit, as kiwifruit was traditionally collected from the wild. In China, it is grown mainly in the mountainous area upstream of the Yangtze River as well as Sichuan.
Raw kiwifruit is rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidain (in the same family of thiol proteases as papain), which is commercially useful as a meat tenderizer. Actinidain also makes raw kiwifruit unsuitable for use in desserts containing milk or any other dairy products which are not going to be served within hours, because the enzyme soon begins to digest milk proteins. This applies to gelatin-based desserts as well, as the actinidain will dissolve the collagen proteins in gelatin very quickly, either liquifying the dessert, or preventing it from solidifying.
To overcome this effect, the United States Department of Agriculture suggests cooking the fruit for a few minutes before adding it to gelatin. Sliced kiwifruit has long been regularly used as a garnish atop whipped cream on the common New Zealand and Australian dessert, the pavlova. It can also be used in a variety of other savoury and sweet dishes.
The actinidain found in kiwifruit can be an allergen for some individuals. Specifically, people allergic to latex, bananas, papayas, or pineapples are likely to also be allergic to kiwifruit. The fruit also contains calcium oxalate crystals in the form of raphides. Reactions to these chemicals include sweating, tingling and sore mouth or throat; swelling of the lips, tongue and face; rash; vomiting and abdominal pain, heartburn; and, in the most severe cases, breathing difficulties, wheezing and collapse. The most common symptoms are unpleasant itching and soreness of the mouth, with the most common severe symptom being wheezing. Severe symptoms are most likely to occur in young children.
Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C (1.5 times the United States DRI per 100 grams) and vitamin K, and a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin E. The fruit and skin contain flavonoids, actinidain, and adhered pollen, which may produce irritation in the mouth and throat of some allergic individuals.
Kiwifruit seed oil contains on average 62% alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Usually a medium size kiwifruit provides about 46 calories, 0.3 g fat, 1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, and 2.6 g dietary fiber found partly in the edible skin. Kiwifruit is often reported to have mild laxative effects, due to its significant levels of dietary fiber.
Kiwifruit components, possibly involving vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids from its numerous edible seeds, have potential properties of a natural blood thinner. A study performed at the University of Oslo in Norway reported that consuming two to three kiwifruit daily for 28 days significantly reduced platelet aggregation and blood triglyceride levels (similar to popular mainstream aspirin therapy), potentially reducing the risk of blood clots.
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