California organic kiwifruit production has kicked off and is anticipated to go until Thanksgiving next month.
Travis Noland of Wild River Fruit Inc. in Marysville, CA says Wild River began harvest two weeks ago on time, unlike other recent commodities in the state. “Kiwifruit is much different than stone fruit for example. Those were all probably a week early at least throughout the summer because of the heat. But kiwi is a fall harvest crop and the heat doesn’t necessarily bring on maturity in the same way,” says Noland.
Noland says the organic kiwi crop looks clean with cosmetically attractive fruit.
Though it’s still early into harvest, Noland says the crop looks clean with cosmetically attractive fruit. “Our initial samples are also showing very high dry matter which is encouraging. It should make for excellent eating quality,” he says.
Early harvested blocks though have skewed towards a smaller size distribution. “But as we get into later blocks, we anticipate sizing will increase and then the overall volume will also increase,” says Noland.
Central Valley production
The majority of California’s kiwifruit production sits in the Central Valley. “We’re located north in the Sacramento Valley and in the region where kiwifruit was first grown in the 1970s,” says Noland. “My grandfather and father were part of that early contingent of growers, growing the fruit in California between Marysville and Gridley.”
Wild River Fruit is a third-generation, family owned and operated grower, packer, shipper and marketer of organic fruits including kiwifruit.
Progress in cultivar development continues to pave the way for the future of the category. “We’re very excited about our chinensis varieties. On our initial gold and red kiwi trials, we’re seeing size and fruit quality continue to improve as our vineyards mature. Our volume of certified organic gold kiwi will take a giant leap forward next year as we continue to transition several young blocks,” says Noland.
As demand for kiwifruit continues to grow, Wild River is focused on introducing greater diversity for the category.
Earlier this week, WildRiver's first gold kiwi of the season traveled out of the vineyard and into the world.
Meanwhile on pricing, the industry overall anticipates a slight increase in pricing due to the rising costs of inputs into production. “From labor to materials, essentially every cost has increased for Californian growers and hopefully prices will account for those increased costs in production,” says Noland.