Getting ready to start placing orders for spring delivery. Can anyone give me suggestions based on experience for the most cold hardy fuzzy kiwi varieties? Or the ones to for sure stay away from? Thanks++++
Have you grown fuzzy kiwi before? Do you have late spring frosts and lots of warm spells during winter?
I’m in a zone 6b/7a climate in middle TN. My experience with fuzzy kiwi is that they do not tolerate fluctuating winter temps well at all, at least for the first 2-3 years. Mine (seedlings from Qinmei) would die back after every winter until they got older. The fruits also never get ripe here, so if you don’t have a really long growing season, then you may consider earlier ripening varieties over any claims of hardiness.
I would really recommend you look into the Auburn yellow kiwis. The yellow kiwis are much more tolerant of fluctuating temps. Their ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ has a later budbreak and relatively late bloom period, so avoids spring frosts better. They also ripen much earlier and should easily ripen for you. In my opinion they also taste WAY better than fuzzy kiwi. You can find the ordering information here:
@kiwinut - I am in 6b/7a myself. Scott is a little north of me and he is growing them so I know it is possible. Your right though I am searching for the earlier varieties based on what I have read from Scott. Since you have seedlings I would have thought they would do better. All they have known is your environment. I have about 30 hardy kiwi, but I am tired of waiting on them to fruit and they really do not replace a fuzzy kiwi. If you could go back in time, would you plant them again or something else? Also, thanks for the suggestion(AU).
Kiwinut, do you have any suggestions for some sort of Kiwi for SE AZ high desert-8A?
I’m actually eliminating some hardy kiwi and grafting over others (don’t want to waste the roots of one which is on the good trellis). If I had it to do over, I would have Rossana (productive and very good taste), Issai (massively productive and decent taste), and Cordofolia (spotty production and very good taste). The vines are very productive, once they get started, so you don’t need that many of them. You will need a commercial operation if you have 30 vines spread out on trellis and all productive. Just picking them would be a full time job. And earlier in the year it will take a lot of pruning to keep them in check.
How much chill do you get? Chill hours are often the limiting factor for fuzzy and yellow kiwi in warmer climates. Hardy kiwi typically have lower chill requirements, but don’t really like it hot.
Yes, I would plant the yellow kiwis again, but I would avoid the fuzzies. I also would only grow the most precocious and more compact hardy kiwi, like Issai. I’m more interested now in growing seedlings using Issai (and it’s male offspring, Flowercloud) and hybrids from crossing yellow and hardy kiwis.
I don’t know the number, but we get a lot here @ 4,600’.
@BobVance- Glad to hear you say issai was a good one. I picked up about 15 of them in gallon pots for $3 a piece. The rest are anna and males. Little worried about pruning. I have them pretty tight on a 10 foot wide x 40 foot overhead trellis. Designed to walk under and pick, but we will see if it works or not. Put that many in to sell. Hardy kiwi are just now making a public appearance and I want to catch the early stages. Have you grown any fuzzy kiwi at your location?
Ok, chill won’t be an issue. What about late frost issues? I know that some areas in west Texas and New Mexico at that elevation can have serious issues with late freezes.
@kiwinut — I’m confused. Aren’t the yellows the same as fuzzy just yellow? I am for sure leaning towards them because they are whats popular now. Just didn’t know anything about them.
If your looking to cross hardy kiwis let me give you a suggestion that will make you rich. Find a cross that produces fruit in half the time. That’s the main downfall to hardy kiwi. I’d bet the farm that would be the hottest hardy kiwi on the market. They can take up to 10 years. I have a few on 5 now with not even a flower.
The yellow kiwis, Actinidia chinensis, used to be considered a separate, but closely related species to the fuzzy kiwi, A. deliciosa. They are presently considered sub-species of A. chinensis. They have different chromosome numbers, yellows can be diploid or tetraploid, and fuzzies are hexaploid. The diploids usually bloom a couple of weeks earlier than the tets, which are a little earlier than the fuzzies.
The yellow kiwi are found in warmer areas than the fuzzies in China, or at lower elevations. Ironically, this is probably why the yellows are hardier for me, as they handle warm spells much better.
Both are much more precocious than hardy kiwi. Males can bloom in as little as 1.5 years from seed under optimal conditions, females typically a year longer. Some hardy kiwi like Issai can produce seedlings that precocious, but most take much longer, often 5 to 10 years. I avoid those. As far creating an improved hardy kiwi that fruits quickly, I’m working on it.
That’s a great price, though I don’t know what you’ll do with that many. My one Issai vine produced over 12 quarts of fruit last year and at least as much (I stopped counting…) this year. At 22 oz per quart, that’s 16 pounds per vine. 15 vines would be ~250 pounds of fruit. And my production is on a vine that isn’t properly trellised or supported. Even so, Issai is by far the most precocious and productive of the hardy kiwi. It is also the best behaved from a growth standpoint, though it is still quite vigorous (only crazy growth, instead of out of this world crazy grown…).
I hope it isn’t Issai which is taking 5 years without even a flower. I got a few fruit on mine in year #1 (I planted a potted vine from Rolling River in 2011) and #2. Then half a pint in year #3 and 3 quarts in year #4. I planted Ken’s Red at the same time (2011) and still have very few flower and possibly a single fruit this year. I’m giving it one last year…
@BobVance The 15 issai just went in this year. I have 2 of the other issai (smaller round ones) that flowered second year and 3 fruit in the third. Not sure why there is two different issai. The small round ones taste and feel like gritty sugar candy. Almost a fake candy kiwi taste. Also, they are really small vines. They could fit anywhere. Most of the kiwi will be sold so I hope to need a crew to harvest.
@kiwinut From what I have read on the forum here it looks like most all will survive our zone 6/7, but it is the ripening in time that is the problem. Sounding more and more like you are right on with the yellow. The main problem I see with the yellow is no one sells them other than the link you gave me. Have you gotten a crop every year without much die back? I was originally staying away from them because I had heard they were less hardy. But, seems like I read Scott was growing them and he is north of me. Probably just a fight the first couple years.
Yes, late frosts are not uncommon.
Robert, the problem with yellow kiwis is you have to graft them, there is no source of plants (except for the new Auburn ones). Once you learn how to graft I have a bunch of different yellow ones I can give you.
I find all the yellows do OK, some better than others. I need to pick them about now (I picked them a few days ago before the big freeze) and then I sort by ripeness level. The ones with a big of give I will eat in Dec and the ones still hard will be good in Feb. All of them taste very good but the ones that ripened more on the vine will be a little sweeter.
PS this thread reminded me to order the AU varieties… I just called it in. I am skipping on the males as I have plenty and $50 a pop ain’t cheap (they charge $25 per plant for shipping).
Robert, that is one of the major problems with the yellow kiwi. No nurseries offer them. I started out by growing seedlings from store bought fruit many years ago, and then later grafted named varieties. Cuttings came from other growers, and some were from the USDA repository at Davis. Few, if any new cultivars are being imported into the US now due to a 2010 USDA Actinidia ban because of PSA. PSA is a bacterial disease that causes cankers and death, but so far is not present in the US. Many yellow kiwi are highly susceptible, including Hort16A which was sold as ZespriGold a few years ago. It has now been replaced by SunGold, which is a tetraploid with good resistance to PSA, and which also has really good flavor. I would suggest you look for them and start some seeds. I find them at Wal-Mart, and recently Publix started selling them here. Oddly, I never see them at the gourmet markets like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, but that may change soon, as they are gaining popularity.
My old vines are on property I no longer own, but I have limited access to them and keep track of things. They often don’t crop due to late spring frosts, maybe once every 3-4 years is a failure, but most never have any die back, even with temps down to -5 F. A sloped site with better air drainage would mostly eliminate the frost problem. In 2018 there were no fruits at all on anything. This year, there were no frost issues, but the diploids did not fruit, except Hongyang. I think this is because the male was heavily pruned and had sparse blooms. Kens Red set some fruit, but most dropped. I found out that the A. chinensis pollinizer I was using for the hardy kiwi, a seedling from the tet cultivar ‘Kuimi’, is actually triploid, so the pollen viability is low and this is why the fruit set was so erratic.
Since you are discussing seed a bit, please describe how you have been growing seed from commercial fruit?
Seeds need to be cold stratified. If fruit has been in cold storage for awhile, then you may get by without the cold treatment. I tried some SunGold seeds a few months ago, and got no germination without treatment. I stuck them in the refrigerator for a month, and I then got a few seeds to sprout.
I would suggest soaking the seeds in water overnight to see which ones are really “sinkers”, then sow them on the surface of some damp potting soil. Sprinkle a little more soil or fine sand over them, but do not cover more than about 1/8" (they need light to germinate). Cover the container with plastic and stick in a refrigerator for a couple of months (3 for hardy kiwi). Move the container to a warm, well lit area, but not direct sun, and wait. Gradually remove the plastic cover to harden off seedlings and transplant to individual pots. Transplanted seedlings should be kept in high humidity (covered) until hardened off again, or may die from transplant shock.
You could also just put the pot outside in the shade all winter, as long as it does not get too cold (not sure how cold is too cold), and stratify naturally. I prefer the indoor method, since you get a head start, but you have to have an indoor growing space.