Kiwifruit species experimentation is always underway, but there is now a fairly vast amount of information about the different hardy kiwi varieties that we can read about:
Arctic Beauty: This is not really a variety, but the common nake for Actinidia kolomikta, which is known to be quite difficult to establish
Ananasnaya: the word comes from Russian “like a pineapple”, and is commonly referred to as “Anna”. This variety produces a good-smelling, sweet-tasting fruit, with a green skin that turns purplish in the sun. This is pretty much the gold standard in fruit-bearing kiwis
Dumbarton Oaks: A good-tasting kiwifruit species named after a public garden where it was growing as an old vine and where the first plants were propagated from
Geneva: This variety also has a good taste, but ripens quite earlier relatively to the Issai or Anna varieties
Issai: This is a non-pollinating, self-fertile variety from Japan. It is not very vigorous and tends to produce small fruit (but with a good flavor). The fruit ripens is an unpredictable and uneven fashion. The yield can also be enhanced by pollinating it with a male plant’s pollen. It has been shown to not produce well in Pennsylvania
Meader: Conventional pollinating species, of which only the female bears fruit.
Chinese Kiwifruit Varieties
As far as we know, there are four main chinese kiwi classes, and several sub-species:
- Zhong Hua: whose name means “Chinese Gooseberry”, is the most common species – round to oval, or oblate; weight varies from 6.5 to 80 g, averaging 30 to 40 g. Sugar content is 4.6 to 13.1%; ascorbic acid, 25.5 to 139.7 mg per 100 g
The Zhong-Hua has three subvarieties: the “Yellow flesh”–average weight, 30.2 g; sugar content, 9.0%; ascorbic acid 101.9 mg per 100 g.
Second subvariety is the “Green flesh”–average weight 18.4 g; sugar content, 5.4 %; ascorbic acid, 55.7 mg per 100 g.
Third subvariety is the “Yellow-green” and “Green-yellow”–average weight 31 to 48 g; sugar content 5.4%; ascorbic acid 85.5 mg per 100 g. It is not suitable for making jam or for canning purposes.
- Jing Li: which means “Northern Pear Gooseberry” has an oval form with green flesh and hairless leaves
- Ruan Zao which means “Soft date gooseberry” is small with green, sweet flesh. This variety is good for jams and grows in the hills
- Mao Hua can be found with tight or loose hairs, and also has green, sweet flesh. It has broad and strong leaves with an ellipsoid shape
Selections made by growers for fresh fruit market:
1) Qing Yuan #17–fruit weighs a maximum of 70.3 g; skin is yellow-brown, smooth, thin; flesh is juicy and of excellent flavor; sugar content 8.2%; ascorbic acid, 169.7 mg per 100 g. Rated as a kiwifruit species of superior quality.
2) Qing Yuan #22–fruit has maximum weight of 67 g, average is 47.3 g; skin is yellow-brown, smooth, thin; sugar content 7.9%; ascorbic acid, 11.42 mg per 100 g. Of high quality.
3) Qing Yuan #28–fruit cylindrical; weighs a maximum of 46 g; averages 40.6 g. Skin is smooth; flesh fine-textured and juicy. Sugar content 9.1%; ascorbic acid 103.2 mg per 100 g. Of medium quality.
4) Qing Yuan #18–fruit cylindrical; maximum weight 56 g, average 36 g; flesh very tender, medium juicy, of good flavor. Ascorbic acid content 178.9 mg per 100 g. Good fresh and for processing.
5) Qing Yuan #20–small, elongated cylindrical; maximum weight 26 g; average 21.5 g. Sugar content 12.4%; ascorbic acid, 189.2 mg per 100 g. Excellent quality.
6) ‘Long Quan #3‘–oblate; average weight 31 g. Flesh yellow, fine-textured, juicy, and of good flavor. Sugar content, 9.5%; ascorbic acid, 99.7 mg per 100 g. Above average quality.
Selections made by growers for processing:
The following selections are made by growers for processing purposes due to easy handling (they have a very homogeneous shape and size, yellow or reddish flesh, high Vitamin C content and minimum woodiness):
1) Qing Yuan #27–cylindrical; average weight, 27.9 g; flesh yellow, fine-textured; seeds few; core small. Good for processing.
2) Qing Yuan #29–average weight, 27 g; flesh yellow, fine-textured, with small core.
3) Qing Yuan #6–average weight 27.3 g. Flesh pale-yellow and fine-textured. Sugar content 7.6%; ascorbic acid 140 mg per 100 g. Of superior quality for processing.
4) Huang Yan–yellow-skinned, cylindrical; average weight 21.9 g; flesh yellow-white, fine-textured, and of good flavor, with medium-large core. Sugar content 7.4%; ascorbic acid 170.8 mg per 100 g. Above average quality for processing.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Species
- Abbott: this species was discovered in the ’20s and was first cultivated in the 1930s. The fruit has a medium size with long, soft, numerous hairs and an elongated shape. It has a light-green flesh with good flavor, and lasts for quite a few days when picked. It ripens in early May, and has horizontal styles. The vine is very productive and hardy, the petals do not overlap. It resembles the Allison variety and represents most UK kiwi exports.
- Allison (‘Large-fruited’) – this was also discovered in the ’20s and was first cultivated in the 1930s. The fruit is a little broader than the Abbott variety, with an elongated shape, of medium size, with a very hairy, brown skin; flesh is light-green, of good flavor. Fruit keeps for a long time and ripens in early May (it blooms later than Abbott). The vine is very vigorous and hardy. Flowers have broader, more overlapping petals than ‘Abbott’ and have crinkled margins. Styles elevate to 30 or 60º angle as flower ages. It was very popular years ago but has since been surpassed by the Hayward
- Bruno (‘McLoughlin’; Longs’; ‘Long-fruited’; ‘Te puke’)– also discovered in the ’20s and was first cultivated in the 1930s. It bears a large, cylindrical fruit with a broader apex, dark brown skin with short dense hairs. It also ripens in early May like Allison and has the same light-green and good-flavoured flesh. Flowers are usually in pairs or single. Petals are narrower and overlap less; styles are generally longer than Abbott’s, and follow a more homogeneous pattern than Allison’s
- Hayward (‘Giant’; ‘Hooper’s Giant’; ‘McWhannel’s’)–also discovered in the ’20s and was first cultivated in the 1930s. Also called “Chico” in California, it was introduced in the US as P.I. 112053 before being named in New Zealand. It is by far the most popular cultivar, and is indeed the only commercial one in California, and the leading kiwifruit species in both Italy and New Zealand (72% of Italy’s crop!). The flesh is light green and very flavorful, its fruit keeps very well and ripens in early May, with dense silky hairs and a brownish skin (or green if it’s not completely ripe). Its vine blooms quite late because it needs pollination from late-blooming males. It has broad and overlapping petals, with erect styles
- Monty (‘Montgomery’) – a chance seedling in New Zealand, discovered in the ’50s and was first cultivated in 1957. Petals overlap a little bit at the base, its flesh is light-green, also ripens in early May like Allison. The vine is very productive and vigorous, and the fruit is oblong and “squared” with a wider apex.
- Greensill– it’s a fairly recent variety with a very regular cylindrical shape and flat ends, with a thick, short shape in comparison to Allison. The petals do not overlap at the base and are narrow, with erect styles
- Matua: this variety flowers in groups of 3 (1 to 5), and has short hairs on peduncles
- Tomuri: this variety produces more flowers (groups of 1 to 7, most often 5) and has long hairs on peduncles
There are also varieties being developed to be specifically hairless: an experimental plot with thousands of seedlings was set up in 1980 in Pukekohe, New Zealand.