By Tiffany Pattillo
Alabama recently became home to a new variety of yellow flesh kiwi fruit known as golden sunshine kiwi.
A plant variety right is designated to the golden sunshine cultivar kiwi fruit developed by researchers at Auburn University, said Clint Wall, Vice President of Southeast Kiwi Farming Cooperative. An exclusive sale of that right to Gold Kiwi Group, LLC., makes the Tuskegee nursery the sole propagator of that licensed cultivar plant material, Wall said. Auburn will receive small royalty payments for the sale of the fruit because of the investment of their time, and could potentially generate a profit.
“The first gold kiwi I had, as soon as I tasted it, I knew it was something that would be a hit,” Wayne Bassett, owner of Beck’s Turf and The Wildlife Group in Macon County, said in a news release.
The plants will begin to produce the kiwi fruit within three years; whereupon, the fruit will be harvested and moved into established markets in some parts of Europe and Asia, including Japan, China, Korea and Italy, Wall said. Wall also said that developing a domestic interest in the product was desired, but moving the kiwi into established markets where consumers are familiar with it is easier.
The Gold Kiwi nursery functions solely to raise plants to 18 months old, when they are transferred to the orchard environment, Wall said. Orchard site preparations include the installation of irrigation systems used for watering and frost protection and the construction of the pergola structure that supports the vines.
The daily operations at the orchard include planting new vines, replanting sick or dying vines, applying both granular and liquid fertilizers, pruning plants to the desired shape and training vines, Wall said. “These vines kind of have a mind of their own, so we use lots of hands-on labor […] to manipulate these plants to grow in the direction we want; otherwise, it would just become a tangled mess,” Wall said.