Growing Zespri Kiwifruit

New Zealand's global kiwifruit success has been built through marketing and innovation, but the story starts and ends with growing delicious, healthy and nutritious fruit.

Zespri harnesses a wealth of experience from our long standing New Zealand kiwifruit growers and shares this knowledge and expertise with the younger industry members. Together, are driven by a passion to innovate and deliver the best quality kiwifruit to the world.

As the most experienced and longest-serving kiwifruit industry, New Zealand growers will proudly affirm that producing high quality kiwifruit requires a number of key ingredients:


Over 100 years of growing kiwifruit in New Zealand has resulted in tested and proven Zespri orchard management practices that consistently deliver the best fruit possible. The Zespri System is based on key learnings from these years of experience. Our evaluation process demonstrates our commitment to continuous quality improvement.

Climate and Environment

Kiwifruit vines thrive in fertile, moist soils that are free draining and contain pH levels between 5.0 and 6.8. New Zealand's favourable temperate climate and volcanic soils produces ideal growing conditions, in an environment that growers respect and protect.


Behind every success story is a group of people who have a genuine belief, commitment and passion for what they do. Zespri growers are innovative, dedicated and relentless in their pursuit of quality, so that the world can enjoy the benefits of Zespri Kiwifruit.

Growing the Taste

Zespri Kiwifruit is the best tasting kiwifruit available and delivering the best tasting kiwifruit to the world begins with the best plants and growing conditions.


Our Zespri System, that begins with our growers, ensures that our top-tasting kiwifruit reach you in perfect condition. Our dedicated growers and innovative orchard practices mean that Zespri provides consumers with a superior eating experience, every time. Whether you prefer to ‘cut and scoop’ – leave the skin on, cut the fruit in half with a knife and scoop the flesh with a spoon - or peel and slice them, Zespri Kiwifruit are best eaten ripe and will be sweeter when softer.

For more on how to get your Zespri Kiwifruit to perfect eating condition, click here.

Zespri’s research and evaluation process tell us that consumers are driven more by taste than by fruit price or size. Our taste management programme, ‘Taste Zespri’, is committed to producing great tasting kiwifruit that has a minimum ‘dry matter’ content level (a measure used to calculate the ratio of dry to fresh weight – the higher the dry matter the better the taste).

Zespri growers test their kiwifruit throughout the growing season to monitor and track the dry matter content. By testing dry matter, this provides a good indication of what the brix levels will be once the fruit has ripened. The higher the brix levels the more desirable the fruit. Only when the ideal brix level is achieved does the grower have clearance to harvest their kiwifruit. This guarantees all Zespri Kiwifruit achieve a high taste standard.

Changes in orchard practices, soil fertility, rainfall levels and daily sunshine hours influence the taste of naturally-grown Zespri Kiwifruit.

As part of the Zespri System, Zespri collaborates with kiwifruit growers to research innovative orchard practices and provide orchard management protocols to create consistent, superior tasting Zespri Kiwifruit, with exceptional health-giving properties. Zespri works with kiwifruit growers to research innovative orchard practices and provide orchard management advice to create consistent, superior-tasting Zespri Kiwifruit, with exceptional health-giving properties.

Trunk and cane girdling is one orchard practice that is known to improve the taste of the kiwifruit. This helps to direct the essential plant sugars to the growing fruit rather than the roots, resulting in increased fruit size and enhanced taste. You can taste the great growing environment in Zespri Kiwifruit: soil fertility, rainfall levels, daily sunshine hours and orchard practices all influence the fantastic taste to our naturally-grown Zespri Kiwifruit.


Production Cycle

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 canes which form the foundations for new growth.

Springtime (September to November) sees the kiwifruit vines begin to grow again. New shoots appear on the canes along with the first flower buds. 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 crop 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.



Zespri Growers

Zespri wouldn't exist without New Zealand's dedicated and innovative kiwifruit growers. Zespri growers own the Zespri business, the Zespri brand and the orchard-to-retail Zespri System.

We place great emphasis on regular communication with all of our kiwifruit growers. Zespri aims to be the primary source of information for our growers, so we’ve created the Zespri Canopy website and launched a Grower Support Services team.  The Canopy website is a huge resource for our growers and offers them the latest information, research, tools and resources to support growing and delivering high-quality kiwifruit. Meanwhile, the Zespri Grower Support Services team can help growers or potential growers with any enquiries.

The Zespri Grower Support Services team operate from 8am - 5pm Monday to Friday; and, because we know sometimes issues arise outside business hours, calls can also be put through to Zespri Grower Liaison Managers during evenings and weekends.

To contact the Zespri Grower Support Services team:
Phone: 0800 155 355
Fax: +64 7 572 7646


Becoming a Grower

The strength of the kiwifruit industry is heavily reliant on our growers, which now number just over 2,500 in New Zealand, over 570 in Italy, 360 in Japan, 180 in Korea and around 80 in France.

If you're interested in becoming a New Zealand kiwifruit grower, we can provide you with Zespri’s New Grower Pack. This pack has a range of resources, including a Grower Payments Booklet, the latest publications and provides suggestions of some of the services and techniques used on an orchard. Please contact the Zespri Grower Support Services team if you’d like to receive the New Grower Pack.

If you need any other guidance along the way, our Grower Support Services team are happy to help. Zespri Grower Support Services operates from 8am - 5pm Monday to Friday though calls can be diverted to Zespri’s Grower Liaison Managers after hours and on weekends.

Grower Website

The Zespri Canopy website is a great resource for anyone in the industry. The website is for growers, suppliers, post-harvest operators and everyone who works in the Zespri community. You will find the latest information, research, tools and resources to support growing and delivering high-quality kiwifruit. The Canopy website has up to date information and news, plus a number of personalised services. Zespri is continually developing new online tools to help growers and the industry manage their businesses better. Zespri will keep you posted with the latest developments as details become available.

Registration is required to visit the Canopy website. Click here to request registration and start accessing the many resources on the website.