Plentiful sunshine, rain and just the right amount of chill in the winter create an ideal climate for growing kiwifruit. Free draining, fertile soils with pH levels between 5 and 6.8 also help.
The growing season for kiwifruit is long: up to 240 days a year. The New Zealand season begins with vine pruning in winter (June), which immediately follows the previous year’s harvest.
During the winter months (June to August) the vines lay dormant, allowing growers the opportunity to remove last season’s fruiting canes and to select and tie down new leaders which form the foundations for new growth.
Springtime (September to November) sees the kiwifruit vines begin to grow again. New shoots appear on the leaders and develop into canes. The first flower buds appear on the canes. With the help of bees, kiwifruit flowers are pollinated between mid-September to mid-November. The vines then begin to fruit with the pollinated flowers transforming themselves into small berries.
In summer (December to February), kiwifruit vines undergo tremendous growth and growers frequently prune the vines to direct growth and manage the canopy (the canes can sometimes reach up to 5 - 6 metres in length during the growing process). The fruit grow quickly during the summer months. Kiwifruit volume can be estimated at this time and the kiwifruit selectively thinned to optimise fruit size.
As the weather cools in the New Zealand Autumn (March to May) harvest time approaches. The kiwifruit are tested for ripeness and when they pass a certain criteria for quality and grade, the kiwifruit are carefully picked by a huge team of workers (many who come from overseas to assist).
Once the kiwifruit have been picked, they are transported to the packhouse to be packed and stored ready for shipping and export.
As the winter approaches, the leaves drop from the vines, signalling the end of another growing year. The vines move towards a dormant state and await the coming of spring.