Hardy Kiwi Harvest 2018

I finished up picking the Hardy Kiwi this past weekend, though I may find a few stragglers.

After almost a complete zero last year (maybe 1/10th of a pint of Issai), 2018 was a record year, with 28.5 quarts picked. At 22 oz per quart (I measured them from 21-24 oz), that’s just under 40 pounds. And it only includes those I brought in, not the ones I ate while picking (any which were already soft).

Here’s one of 4 main pickings, from 10/14 (others were 10/7, 10/9, and 10/11). Mostly Issai (maybe a few Fortyniners).

But, with the up-tick in production, I wasn’t as happy with the quality. The first year I got a reasonable harvest was 2014. I went back and checked out my post to compare, and the brix levels this year are significantly lower. I had a lot of Issai in the 21-23 range then, while it was 16-18 this year. And given that they have a fairly strong taste, they really need that extra sugar to take them from “not bad” to “give me more”. I’ll try making jam out of these, as I can see it working well.

Jumbo was worse, with a brix in the 13-16 range. And while on the large side, it isn’t that big. It also gets something that looks like Sooty Blotch and Flyspec. The skins don’t taste bad, so I suspect that it is similar to apples- just cosmetic.


I can’t distinguish Chico from Jumbo- both have large, so-so fruit. The only difference is that Chico had a smaller crop. It’s possible that I have a mis-label and they are both Jumbo. Anyone out there have Chico and can comment of how it should look?

The best flavored ones were Rossana and Cordifolia. Both are distinctive looking as well. Rossana has a dark redish/brown blush on the sun exposed part of the fruit and Cordifolia looks like little pumpkins (though the color is wrong…). Their brix was still only in the high teens, but I liked eating them quite a bit.


Cordifolia is the short squat one at the top:

Fortyniner was a strong second tier. Interestingly, only one small part of the vine fruited. I have two explanations-
1.) Maybe it was a bit more sun-exposed, as my pruning efforts this spring ran out of time when I arrived at this vine. So it didn’t get much pruning at all.
2.) The part which had the fruit was close to and in some cases was growing up the pine tree that has a male vine, so it could have gotten better pollination.

Two of the 3 vines that I hacked back hard this past winter (Ken’s Red and Geneva) had almost no fruit. It could be that I cut away almost all of the wood which had been sun exposed the previous year. The Issai was cut back hard as well, but since it isn’t quite as strong a grower, and because it doesn’t need pollination, it still set a record crop. I did try to stay on pruning it, to keep the fruit from being completely shaded.


It is definitely easier to keep them pruned when they are given enough space. The last 3 I added (Jumbo, Chico, and Rossana in 2013) are on a large trellis (just over 20’x10’). This was the first year they produced and I think a lot of it was that I kept the new growth from going crazy. It’s much harder to do with my earlier plantings where I can only get at the vines from 1 direction (if that…), without climbing a rock wall.

You can see a few vines which are growing out of bounds, but this is actually well behaved/pruned compared to my other kiwi jungle. Also note the trees in the background on the left of the pic (South East). Hardy Kiwi seem fine with 2/3 of a day’s sun.

While the trellis has stood up OK, it has started to come loose a bit. It was held together by tension and a couple of the joints have slipped apart. It hasn’t hurt anything so far, as the vines have held up the trellis. :slight_smile:

I’m planning on putting a screw through this, to hold it in place…

edit: fixed spelling of Cordifolia


Nice report Bob! And a good haul,too… You may know this, but they can ripen inside at room temp, and holding in refrigeration beforehand might boost brix a bit when they ripen up
Chico, Jumbo, AND Michigan State are the same. Do you have Anna? Sun exposure could help boost fruit qualify, summer pruning and shoot positioning could help.


Those sure do look nice!

Does anyone know if more thinning increases brix? I assume it would.



You guys got hammered up there in rain too didn’t you? I’m still on brix.

Was 2014 a less rainy season?


Its interesting you got sooty blotch and flyspeck on them, I don’t usually get that on kiwis. Maybe all the rain this year did it. It could have also hammered the brix.

This year all I have is fuzzies, the harvest is in a month or so from now on them assuming the deer don’t clean me out.

What happened to your hardy kiwis, Scott? Late freeze this spring?

I prefer the fuzzies so I removed all the hardy ones. I changed my mind about Annasnaya and let it grow back again but its not fruiting much yet.

My fuzzies didn’t produce a lot this year, not sure what happened. I don’t think it froze and there were lots of flowers; I may have had poor timing with the males vs females.

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I’ve re-purposed the scion fridge as the kiwi fridge at the moment. I didn’t know that refrigeration would increase the brix, but will keep an eye on it.

Per EdibleLandscaping, Jumbo, Michigan, and MSU are the same. I’ve never seen anything about Chico and Jumbo being the same. In fact, I wasn’t even sure that Jumbo and Michigan were, as Rolling River (who I got Jumbo from) says the following.

Jumbo:"A new Italian variety that has super large, sweet and flavorable greenish yellow fruit that can weight 1 ounce each. "

The biggest one I got was about half an ounce and most were far smaller. As Dax said- would thinning help? I’ve never heard of anyone thinning Hardy Kiwi…

Maybe I’ll try to graft some Ken’s Red onto the Chico vine next year. I’m not thrilled with Jumbo/Chico and definitely don’t need two of them. And it would be nice to get the Ken’s Red right next to a male that I know is blooming. But, given how much kiwi bleed in the spring, when would be the best time to graft them? Late spring, after they are leafed out, or during the middle of winter?

It wouldn’t surprise me if all the rain and cloudy days was responsible.

Thanks- it’s been a long time in coming. But, they don’t really look that pretty. By the time they are ready to eat, they are a bit shriveled. Combine that with the blotch/flyspec and they are better suited for the mouth than the eyes :slight_smile:

I don’t have Ana. I think the summer pruning is why I got a crop. Last year there were quite a few that set on some of the vines, but by the end of the year they had dropped off. In fact, a lot of the vines that had fruit had even dropped their leaves, since they were so heavily shaded. I think that may be why I didn’t get any Geneva (and maybe Ken’s Red). I’ve gotten Geneva before, but this winter/spring I cut off most of the growth which was active at the end of the previous year, leaving it to leaf out from the old shaded wood, which may not have flower blossoms (I know apples make the flowers buds the previous year- maybe kiwi do as well).

Here was my entire 2017 harvest (Issai in the top and Geneva in the bottom).


I grafted some kiwi two years back and had 75% take. I waited until just after bud break and used dormant scionwood. Whip and tongue. I also made a couple ‘bleed-off’ cuts below the graft, these were an incision around 3/4s of the circumference of the stem. Standard aftercare; rubbing off any growth below the union.


For whatever it’s worth, Lee Reich in his book Uncommon Fruits says, “The time for grafting is either in midwinter, indoors, with a dormant rootstock and scion, or outdoors, with a dormant scion just after the rootstock has begun to send out shoots in spring. Use either a cleft or whip-and-tongue graft. Grafts made while buds are just swelling in the spring are not as successful because the cut scions bleed.” (That second to last word is “scions” but I wonder if he didn’t mean “rootstock”.)

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I do all my kiwi grafts at bud swell in the spring. I just put some cuts all around the stock to let it bleed, and I get about 95% takes. Its one of the easiest fruits to graft as far as I am concerned.


I have some “Russian Hardy” kiwis, Andrey, Natasha, and Tatyana, which are in locations in danger of herbicide drift, so had thought about grafting them to my home kolomiktas. Do you know if they are graft compatible? Can one graft them to a male vine or only to females? Thanks.

That’s good to hear- do you use thick older wood or thinner young wood? Cleft graft?

I grafted Kolomiktas (female onto male Kolomiktas) once a year ago and while 3 or 4 of 7 grafts worked, they didn’t grow much and the rest of the plant overgrew them. I should try again, as it isn’t very useful to just have 2 male Kolomiktas (Henry fields sent them to me when I ordered extra male arguntas).

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I’ve followed this discussion and have benefited, now ready to start with my own. Does anyone grow “Prolific” Hardy Kiwi? It’s claimed to be a self-fertile female, though doubled crop with a male nearby. I got a small spindly one as a gift in late Spring that I potted since it needed TLC. One Green World claims it hardy down to -25F, that’s well below my Winter lows. I’m Z6B with a bit of a micro-climate boost and this will go in a foundation bed that faces East and gets more than 1/2 day direct sun. Would you experienced growers advise me to put it in ground after it goes dormant this Fall, or overwinter in an unheated garage and plant next Spring. How tender is a 1 year plant? The plant has grown vigorously, now 3 ft tall with a woody base and throwing out vines. It will likely need pruned to fit the area, but a 6 X 10 bed should get me a few years if it lives thru the Winter. What’s your advice, in ground now or garage til Spring? Thanks!

I would like to know this as well! I’m sure you can graft female onto male, but not sure about differing species…

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I think it should be fine either way, just don’t let the potting mix dry out overmwinter.

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I’ve never heard of any plant having male-female/female-male graft incompatibility.

I have grafted thick pencil wood mostly, but it should not matter much. I’ve done all kinds of grafts, if its a big trunk I do a cleft or bark graft and if its similar size I just use a wedge. You need to leave the top of the scion open as it may bleed out the end as well. On some fruits the bleeding is a major cause of graft failure but not on kiwis from my experience.

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The under stock likely starved out the scion you grafted, I had to rub out growth under my grafts well into the summer as they kept pushing new growth below the grafted portion.