Little red gem sizing up on New Zealand orchards

Richard and Robyn Glenn were some of the first growers to trial Zespri RubyRed Kiwifruit – or Zespri Red as it was known initially – having trialled the first red kiwifruit more than a decade ago. PSA wiped that first trial out so they started again from scratch.

Today, they have four hectares of greenfield Zespri RubyRed Kiwifruit under canopy that is slowly but surely maturing to full production.

Sixty percent of the orchard is made up of Zespri SunGold, with Zespri Hayward adding a further 25 percent and now Zespri RubyRed covering 15 percent. An extended kiwifruit harvest now begins in early March on the red fruit, moving on to gold and then green which together increase diversity for the business.

The Glenns began growing kiwifruit on their rolling block of land near Ohaupo 43 years ago. Richard says it was a toss-up between dairy and kiwifruit and the latter won. For years they grew apples for a time as well, but Richard says their apple crop never matched other regions such as Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, whereas they were achieving good kiwifruit results. Zespri’s Plant Variety Rights (PVRs) were also a reason to gradually quit the apples and plant more kiwifruit.

Over the years they have trialled a number of kiwifruit possibilities for Zespri, which gave the kiwifruit marketer a geographical spread in its trials and a variety of growers. It also gave the Glenns an early insight into the new red kiwifruit.

Richard describes it as an orchardist’s fruit. It takes work to grow the size of the fruit and all orchard practices have to be carried out on time. That is the job of their son, Matthew, who is in charge of the day-to-day management of the orchard.

“It’s just making sure you do jobs on time,” Richard says. “Once you have a mature canopy, you need to make sure the thinning is nailed early. This variety will also need more pruning at certain times of the year.”

Zespri had about 105,000 trays of Zespri RubyRed Kiwifruit for its first commercial volumes this year, up from the 70,000 trays produced last year. The variety has a shorter shelf life compared with Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and Zespri Green which has prompted Zespri to concentrate on Asian markets because of the shorter shipping times.

This year’s crop was distributed to New Zealand, Japan, China, Singapore, and Taiwan while Zespri continues to explore growing trials in the Northern Hemisphere.

For more information:
Tel.: +64 04 472 3795

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