Kiwifruit can grow wherever citrus, peaches, and almonds are plentiful, but its leaves are more sensitive to cold than orange or peach trees. Young kiwifruit vines are killed by drops in temperature below 29°F, while mature vines can withstand temperatures below 10°F.
For healthy growth, plants need deep, fertile, moist, and well-drained soil. Flowers of the plant are almost exclusively pollinated by insects. Kiwifruit is harvested by hand in a single pick once fruit has reached maturity.
Pests & Diseases
Rootknot nematodes are parasitic worms that attack the roots of plants, causing “knots” to form. The leafroller caterpillar (the most common and damaging pest) will eat holes in the fruit causing scarring, especially where two or three fruits are touching each other.
In summer or early fall, thrips can cause browning of the leaves. Greedy scale insects infest the leaves, bark, and fruit, killing the growth tips. The boxelder bug tends to feed on the buds and fruit, causing deformities and fruit drop.
Crown gall affects vines and can be avoided by leaving the upper roots exposed. Roots can also be attacked by phytophthora cactorum and P. cinnamomi, along with oak root fungus, which cause root rot, killing the entire plant.
Botrytis cinerea affects both the flowers and the fruit and has been found in most growing areas. The biggest threat to kiwis is postharvest grey mold rot, which enters the skin through small cracks when stored at high humidity.
Kiwifruit vine disease (more common in Europe) is a bacterial cancer that causes halo-shaped spots on leaves, brown discoloration of buds, and release of a red-colored gum on the plant. The disease is spread through windborne pollen, heavy rainfalls, humans, and animals, and is most apparent during cooler temperatures and high humidity.
Storage & Packaging
They are packed in single-layer flats, with some fruit being placed in small consumer bags. Kiwifruit should be stored at 32°F with 90 to 95% relative humidity. Freezing injury can occur in colder temperatures.
Fruit is extremely susceptible to the effects of ethylene; use of controlled-atmosphere storage facilities is helpful for long-term storage to avoid its own production of the gas.
References: California Kiwifruit Commission, California Rare Fruit Growers, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, Oregon State University, Purdue University, UC Davis Integrated Pest Management, UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center, University of Arkansas, USDA.