Yellow Tree

Kiwifruit varieties - which kiwifruit plants and vines to buy

June 20, 2020

There are three main kiwifruit varieties currently grown commercially in New Zealand. Green (Hayward) and Gold (Gold3) form the large majority of producing hectares. More recently, a new Red coloured kiwifruit variety has also become commercially available but only a small amount of license is currently available. The variety you grow will depend on several factors including license availability, your orchard site, overall budget and desired returns.

When choosing a variety, there are several key questions you will need to answer. These are:

  • What budget are you working to and what are your expectations around returns? Gold3 has higher returns, but also costs significantly more to grow compared to Hayward due to the cost of license
  • What are your desired time frames from planting to full production? Gold3 and Red varieties generally reach full production in a shorter timeframe than Hayward
  • Site factors: Some varieties are better suited in some regions and/or sites

This article is designed to help growers and investors understand the different kiwifruit varieties in New Zealand and which are available to buy from Southern Cross Horticulture.

Gold Kiwifruit Cultivars

Gold kiwifruit are smooth, oval fruit with a vibrant yellow colour and tropical taste: something like a cross between a mango and a strawberry. Compared to their Green counterpart they have a smaller core, fewer seeds and less fuzz.

Since their development in the 1990s, Gold kiwifruit have steadily increased in popularity with Zespri producing more than 75 million trays of the highly nutritious fruit in 2019. Gold kiwifruit grows well in most of the main growing regions and is generally better suited compared to Hayward to areas that have warmer winters like Northland and Auckland.

G3 - Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit

Zespri SunGold kiwifruit are juicy, refreshing and sweet with just a hint of sour flavour. The female cultivar for Zespri SunGold is referred to as ‘Gold3’ and all orchards that grow Gold3 plants require a license from Zespri Group Limited.

Gold3 was developed between 2010 and 2012 to be more resistant to Psa-V bacteria than the previous Gold cultivar, Hort16A. It is essential to buy disease-free plants from a certified KVH nursery like Southern Cross Horticulture.

Male Cultivars for Zespri SunGold kiwifruit

New Zealand growers should look to pair their Gold3 female plants primarily with the M33 male cultivar to maximise their yield.

More recently, a small selection of new male cultivars became commercially available to growers which offer a different flowering window to M33.  While the industry is still learning the exact fit of these new cultivars, the addition of a small number to an orchard could offer benefits to pollination in some settings where male and female synchronicity is challenging.

Our horticultural staff can help advise growers and investors on finding the right ratio of male and female plants and how these should be positioned in your orchard.

Green Kiwifruit Cultivars

Traditional Green Kiwifruit are an iconic image of New Zealand identity. In 1927, a Kiwi grower by the name of Hayward Wright bred a new cultivar, now known as ‘Hayward’, which became the standard cultivar of exported Green Kiwifruit.

Green Kiwifruit has a vibrant, fresh taste with a more tangy flavour than their Golden counterparts. They are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients and are still grown abundantly in both organic and conventional orchards.

Buy your green Kiwifruit plants here from Southern Cross Horticulture.

Hayward - Zespri Green Kiwifruit

Zespri’s Green Kiwifruit are a vibrant, emerald green colour with a white core and black seeds. They are full of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants making them a naturally juicy and refreshing fruit that both supports and enhances digestive health.  

Growers do not need a license to grow Zespri Green kiwifruit. The convenience of this must, however, be balanced against current consumer demand and higher returns for Gold fruit.

Buy your plants here from Southern Cross Horticulture.

Male cultivars for Zespri Green Kiwifruit

The female ‘Hayward’ kiwifruit plant is best matched with a male cultivar called Chieftain. The number of male vines required will depend on how the orchard is setup – Southern Cross Horticulture can advise as required.

Zespri Red Kiwifruit

2020 saw the release of 150 hectares of licensing from Zespri for their new Red kiwifruit variety known as Red19. The red-centred kiwifruit brings a sweet, juicy, berry-twist to the SunGold flavour.

Growers interested in obtaining licenses for Red19 will need to enter the annual tender process through Zespri Limited. At Southern Cross Horticulture we can support growers to understand the license application process.

Red19 - Red Kiwifruit Cultivars

The most recent innovation in Kiwifruit growing has been the introduction of Red kiwifruit varieties. The refreshing, raspberry taste of the fruit has been well-received in market trials and the first fruit will begin commercial growing in New Zealand in 2020.

Because Red kiwifruit is relatively new, the industry is still learning the best methods and the best locations/sites to optimise productivity and returns.  

Buy your plants here from Southern Cross Horticulture.

Red19 - Graft options to grow Zespri Red Kiwifruit

Like SunGold, Red19 can be paired with M33 male plants for pollination along with MC79 and Russell male plants.

Growing Organic Kiwifruit

For growers and consumers who are looking for sustainable production practices that protect the environment, deciding to grow organic kiwifruit allows growers and consumers to retain the great taste of Zespri kiwifruit alongside 100% organic inputs.

Choosing a region and site for an Organic kiwifruit requires careful consideration. Winter chilling, soil type and pest and disease prevalence all contribute to the management of an Organic kiwifruit orchard.

All Zespri Organic kiwifruit are grown to leading international standards and certified through a rigorous process that is overseen by BioGro, New Zealand. In order to meet the requirements for certification, organic kiwifruit need to adhere to stringent international standards.

Zespri take great pride in reducing their environmental impact and even the label on Zespri organic is biodegradable and can be thrown on the compost heap.

Before growing organic fruit, growers should work closely with horticultural specialists like our Southern Cross staff, to assess the growing conditions present in their orchard. This will give you the best chance for high, successful kiwifruit yield.

Zespri Organic Kiwifruit

Organic kiwifruit are not a different variety, but a different method of growing. For this reason, organic fruit do not have a different cultivar name.

To grow Zespri Organic SunGold [G3] or Zespri Organic Red [Red19], growers will need to bid in the annual tender for a specific organic license from Zespri.

You do not require a Zespri license to grow any male cultivars or Organic Green fruit, however, these plants would still be required to meet the BioGro certification standards for organic kiwifruit.

Choosing a rootstock for your kiwifruit cultivars

Choosing a rootstock for your kiwifruit cultivars is often based on the soil type and condition within your orchard but it is also worth understanding how it will influence the management and productivity of the fruiting kiwifruit scion. The right choice of rootstock for your orchard will create the best platform for productivity in future years.

The two primary rootstocks used by New Zealand growers are Bruno and Bounty71. Bruno has been commonly used as a reliable and productive rootstock by growers since the late 1970’s and is found on the majority of NZ’s Green, Gold and Red kiwifruit orchards. Bounty is a relatively new option (released to the industry in 2012), but it is generally considered to have better tolerance to heavy, poorly drained soil conditions and may in some settings offer additional benefits to yield and fruit quality.

Partnering with Southern Cross Horticulture gives you the opportunity to work closely with our horticultural staff who can visit your orchard, test soil quality and offer advice on which rootstock would be best for your kiwifruit vines.

The grafting process combines your fruiting varieties of choice with the rootstock best suited to your land. You can read more about the grafting process in 016 – Buy kiwifruit vines to find out about our exacting standards and the premium quality kiwifruit plants available from our KVH certified Nurseries.

Order your plants from an authorised Kiwifruit Nursery

The best way to ensure you grow strong, healthy kiwifruit vines that produce a high yield of fruit is to purchase them from an authorised Kiwifruit Nursery.

KVH Certified Nurseries provide growers and investors with the peace of mind that they are purchasing disease-free, certified plants of the highest possible standard.

Ready to get started?

To find out more about our plants and plant availability please use the following nursery enquiry form, and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you’d like to know more about establishing your own kiwifruit orchard, the first step is for us to meet. We’d welcome the opportunity to visit your land, to listen to your vision, and discuss the potential to create a world-class orchard with you.

*Southern Cross Horticulture makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information, photographs or other published material in this publication. Southern Cross Horticulture shall not be liable to any person for loss, injury or damages arising from a person’s reliance on the published material.