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California kiwi fruit season turns from harvesting to packing
Kiwi fruit growers in California are finishing up the harvesting phase of their season as the focus now turns to packing and shipping. Although much of the region has experienced cold temperatures recently, growers say these did not affect the crop and they are happy with yields, which are close to average.
"Harvesting started in mid-November through the end of December," said David Edwards, of Smit Farms. "They should all be picked by now and into cold storage. A number of suppliers place them in a controlled atmosphere environment. Yields were good, similar to last year and growers are overall happy with the volume that's been coming through."
"Smit Farms is located in the Central Valley of California, so we do see some extreme weather on occasions," Edwards continued. "But as long as the kiwi fruit get sufficient water, they grow pretty well from late summer all the way through Fall. If it ever gets too hot, we protect the crop with shade cloths which is enough to protect them from any damage."
While kiwi fruit might not be the fruit with the biggest sales, customers do appreciate the flavor. At this time of year, you can still find California stock in stores as well as local markets. "They're not a staple like apples or bananas," Edwards said. "But when people see them, they're eager to buy them. They're still available in stores and they're a popular item in farmer's markets.
One of the varieties of kiwi fruit that is gaining more of a presence in recent years is the yellow kiwi fruit. Similar in texture and flavor to the green variety, this yellow flesh kiwi fruit is a steadily growing category, according to growers. Organic is another category that has a market, but Edwards said they don't see a need for that at present. "We never spray our conventional kiwi crop with any pesticides or herbicides. This season, there was a presence of fruit fly in the region which we were concerned about. However, we covered the fruit to protect it and therefore they were not affected."
Edwards added that their fruit is easy to sell and they always find a willing market for their kiwi fruit. "We are happy with the way we take care of our kiwi fruit," he said. "It's working for us and we keep selling them right until they become soft. After that, there is a market for them in processing, such as for juices."
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