Harvesting Kiwi Fruit: How And When To Harvest Kiwis

Kiwi fruit (Actinidia deliciosa), otherwise known as Chinese gooseberry, is a large–up to 30 feet (9 m.)–woody, deciduous vine native to China. There are primarily two types of kiwi fruit grown for production: Hardy and Golden. The fruit itself is a lovely green with tiny uniform and edible black seeds inside the fuzzy brown skin, which is removed before eating. This subtropical fruit adapts well in USDA zones 8 through 10. One mature kiwi plants may yield up to 50 pounds or more of fruit after an eight to twelve year period.

Knowing when to harvest kiwis can be a bit tricky. Commercial kiwi growers use a tool called a refractometer, which measures the amount of sugar in the fruit to determine the time of a kiwi fruit harvest. The refractometer is a bit pricey (about $150) for most casual kiwi home growers, so another method to determine when to harvest kiwis is in order.

When and How to Pick a Kiwi

So what, as the home gardener, do we need to know in how to pick a kiwi when it is ready? Since we do not have a refractometer to determine when sugar content is optimal (about 6.5 percent or greater), we may rely on the knowledge of when the kiwi fruit is generally mature enough for kiwi fruit harvest.

Kiwi fruit has attained full size in August, however, it is not mature enough for kiwi harvesting until late October to early November when the seeds have turned black and the sugar content has risen. Although fruit will soften off the vine after the sugar content is four percent, the sweet flavor has not developed until the content increases to six to eight percent. After kiwi harvesting, the starch is converted to sugar and will then be ready to eat once the fruit contains an astonishing 12 to 15 percent sugar.

Vine ripened kiwi has the best flavor but does not store well when ripe. Commercial kiwi harvesting occurs all at once, but the home gardener may very well be harvesting kiwi sporadically beginning in late September. Softness of the kiwi fruit is not always the best indicator of readiness. Unlike some other fruits, kiwi ripens after it has been removed from the vine.

When harvesting kiwi handle with care, as they bruise easily and damaged fruit has a limited storage life. To harvest kiwi, snap the stem at the base of the fruit. Again, softness is not a great determiner for readiness. Size, date, and when in doubt, cut open a fruit to access the seeds inside– when seeds are black, it is time for kiwi fruit harvest. Remove the larger fruit when harvesting kiwi and allow the smaller to remain on the vine and attain some size.

Information on Kiwi Storage

Kiwi storage can last some time– up to four to six months at 31 to 32 degrees F. (-5-0 C.), provided the fruit is kept chilled and away from other ripe fruit, which gives off ethylene gas and may hasten the demise of the ripening kiwis. To store kiwi, chill the fruit as soon as possible after picking and store at a high humidity. The colder the temperature for kiwi storage, the longer the kiwis keep.

For kiwi storage lasting up to two months, pick the fruit while they are still hard and store immediately in the refrigerator in a vented plastic bag. To ripen the kiwi fruit, remove them from the fridge and place them in a vented plastic bag with an apple or banana at room temperature to hasten ripening. They will also ripen on their own at room temp, it will just take a little longer.

The kiwi will be ripe and ready to eat once it is soft to the touch. Eat immediately, as soft kiwi does not last very long.

Gardens: grow your own mini kiwis

Easy to grow, easy to harvest and easy to peel… the super-sweet mini kiwi is a grape-sized delight

Horticultural haribo: a bunch of mini kiwi fruits. Photograph: Alamy

Horticultural haribo: a bunch of mini kiwi fruits. Photograph: Alamy

Last modified on Tue 19 Jun 2018 12.48 BST

Imagine if a food-industry marketing board sat down to redesign the kiwi fruit: “First, let’s get rid of that nasty fuzz. Consumers want easy-peel.”

“Yeah, and can we up their sugar content? Maybe give them added Vitamin C?”

“How about making them fun size?”

Ladies and gentleman, introducing the cocktail kiwi: the easy-to-grow exotic fruit that is ready to plant (and harvest) right now.

Far from a marketeer’s concoction, the catchily named cocktail kiwi (Actinidia arguta) is a wild relative of the familiar furry kiwi fruit (Actinidia deliciosa). But it hails from much further north, stretching up to the forests of Siberia, making it hardy down to a positively Arctic -35C.

The autumnal, grape-sized fruit hangs in small clusters. Not only are they significantly sweeter, but they have edible, grape-like skins and tender flesh. They only betray their close relation with regular kiwis when sliced open, with a quick flick of the knife revealing an identical “starburst” interior of tiny black seeds. From a grower’s point of view they are also far more reliable fruiters in soggier climes, kicking out up to 300 fruit on mature vines each autumn.

So why do supermarkets stock only the rock-hard, furry type? It’s all down to shelf life. Picked immature, regular kiwis last in cold storage for weeks in order to be shipped across the planet. But their smaller, sugary cousins’ delicate flesh means they last just days on the shelf.

In their native East Asia, cocktail kiwis have been a revered autumnal treat for centuries. Their larger cousin is called “Macaque Peach” in Chinese, alluding to the belief that they are only fit for consumption by monkeys. Trust me when I say that when Chinese people don’t eat something, there has to be a pretty good reason why. Make the swap and I promise you, you will thank me for it.

Kiwifruit 101 | From Planting to Harvesting Kiwi Plant

It's been long time since the Kiwi established itself in the gardens in this country too. Here we give detailed tips from planting to care and harvesting.

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Where did kiwifruit originate from?

The Kiwifruit (Actinidia) belongs to the family of the ray pimples (Actinidiaceae). Although the fruits are mostly imported from New Zealand, they formerly come from China. This is also where its actual name comes from “Chinese gooseberry.”

The name “Kiwi,” which is reminiscent of the heraldic animal of New Zealand, the small bird, was created for marketing purposes. Thus the Kiwi has been known in our country for 30 years, and since then, Kiwifruit is one of the most known exotic fruits.

The genus Kiwi includes various species, but most of them are simply called Kiwi. The most widespread are the large hairy kiwis (Actinidia deliciosa), the somewhat lower-acid, smooth-skinned Actinidia chinensis with yellow flesh, and the kiwi berries, which are also known as mini-kiwis (Actinidia arguta).

For over 1,000 years in Asia, all those types of Kiwis have been cultivated – can not be less than that – because of their long shoots, which were used for paper production. The fruit, which requires warmth and is sensitive to frost, can also be cultivated here. Still, the cultivation of the large-fruited kiwis is only recommended in wine-growing regions for kiwi wine and locations with mild winters and rainy summers.

Appearance and growth

Kiwis are perennial, liana-like growing, deciduous creeping plants. The flowers of the Kiwi plant, with its large and wheel shape, appear from June to July. Its flowers hold snow-white and later yellowish petals with many golden-yellow stamens.

Except for those a few new varieties, the plants are dioecious through this, they bear either purely male or purely female flowers. By the shape of the flowers, you can distinguish male from female flowers: Male flowers are characterized by numerous stamens and small pistils. In contrast, female flowers appear in small numbers per inflorescence and have radiating white pistils surrounded by a ring of stamens.

The Kiwifruits develop only from female flowers. Depending on the variety, they are large and cylindrical berries, which is covered by a densely hairy brown skin. There are many intergrown seed containers inside the fruit. They are formed with black seeds along the central axis.

The flesh of the kiwi fruit is green and pretty soft. Especially when the fruit is fully ripe, it tastes sourish and aromatic. Kiwis have a high vitamin C content. Since the plant’s twine is like lianas in height and width, they need a climbing aid along which they can grow.

Location and soil

Kiwis have a low frost resistance, and the sprouting is very sensitive to a late frost. Even in warm regions or wine-growing areas, kiwis, therefore, thrive best in a place with wind protection. The environment must be warm and bright, but not full of direct sun.

In locations outside fruit and wine-growing areas, place the kiwi plants against a south-west wall or on the west side of the house. In this way, you can delay budding in spring until the danger of late frost has passed. A loose, nutrient- and humus-rich soil with a pH value in the slightly acidic range is best suited.

The Kiwifruit does not tolerate chalky soils very well. If necessary, some rhododendron earth can be added to the soil. Soil should be improved with proper compost in advance if it’s too weak. Kiwi plants can also be grown for large plant pots on the terrace.

Here you can see a Golden Kiwifruit Farm located in New Zealand. One of the many kiwi farms in that country

Planting Kiwi

Since kiwi plants grown from seeds do not flower until six to ten years after planting, it might also be a better idea to buy young plants from specialist shops. These were usually propagated by cuttings and thus flower after only two to four years.

The Kiwifruit tree is susceptible to late frost – the ideal planting period is, therefore, from mid-May to August. As kiwis are dioecious, they should always plant male and female plants to ensure fertilization. The most appropriate planting distance is three to four meters.

It is advisable to work as much leaf or bark compost as possible into the soil as preparation and to water the young plants well afterward. It is also advisable to apply a layer of mulch to the soil immediately after planting. This ensures that the soil does not dry out as quickly and does not heat up quickly in dry periods. For the tendrils of the kiwifruit plants, which can grow up to ten meters long, a stable climbing frame, like a pergola or trellis (see “Upbringing and pruning”), is necessary.

Care tips for Kiwi plant

For the fruits to ripen and develop their aromatic and sour sweetness, kiwis must be watered regularly, especially in hot summers. You do not need to fertilize young plants. Older plants can be provided with horn meal or mineral fertilizer in August and spring.

During the first few years of planting Kiwi trees, you should also cover the stems and root area of the plants with brushwood in winter. If you keep kiwis in a pot, a sufficient supply of water and nutrients is essential. You should also regularly trim shoots that are too long.

Raising and pruning

Since the Kiwi tree develops long shoots, the plant needs a stable climbing frame. A trellis framework with two to three horizontally tensioned wires is recommended. If the plants are pulled against the house wall, you can erect this simple scaffold directly in front of it and tie the shoots to it. The lowest wire should be about 80 centimeters high the next ones should be stretched at 50-centimeter intervals.

Also suitable as scaffolding are arbors or pergolas to which the side shoots of the kiwi plants are attached. In the first few years, you should pull one main shoot vertically from the trunk to the top wire. From this main shoot, two strong sidearms might then be pulled horizontally to the left and right, and the fruit-bearing branches are placed over the wires.

The liana-like growing plants thus become wider in years over the trellis or the pergola, and they offer a pleasant sight. Another advantage of that large-fruited kiwis is that they can hang there for a long time in autumn. Pruning the Kiwifruit is necessary from around the third year of growth. You can shorten the annual shoots about a third with leaving about 7-8 leaves in August. You can also shorten the ends of the leading shoots once a year. Cut back more in late summer, as the plants bleed heavily in spring.

Fertilization of Kiwi

Most kiwi varieties are dioecious. This means that each plant bears either only female or only male flowers. Therefore, at least one male and one female kiwi plant are required for fertilization. One male plant can fertilize up to seven female plants if the planting distance is not too far apart (preferably not more than four meters).

There are now also a few other monoecious kiwi varieties that bear male and female flowers on one plant. Theoretically, they can do without a pollinator variety. However, practice shows that even with these varieties, the fruit set is much higher if two plants are placed next to each other. If bees, bumblebees and other insects are absent at the flowering time, pollination should be done by the plant itself. You should carefully stroke the stamens of a male flower over the ray-shaped white pen in the middle of the female flowers to do this.

Harvesting and utilization

Kiwifruits contain a lot of vitamin C and are rich in calcium, iron, potassium, other minerals, as well as vitamin B1 and E. The fruits are also rich in fiber and low in calories. The kiwi harvest takes place from the end of September until October. Since they often do not ripen completely in cooler locations on the plant, the fruits can be left to ripen on the windowsill in the house.

Unfortunately, kiwis that are ripe for harvesting do not keep for too long. However, you can store them quite well in a humid room at a temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit. You can eat them fresh with full vitamins, Squize, and drink kiwi juice, but you can also make jams or jellies. Besides, you can boil and fill them into bowls or use them for cakes, such as green tea cakes with Kiwifruit.


Most kiwi varieties are hardy, but for young, freshly planted seedlings, winter protection is always advisable in the first winter. A warming ground cover of bark mulch and fir brushwood as wind and sun protection for the shoots are ideal.

If kiwifruit plants are cultivated in a tub, they should be placed in a cool, bright location in the house during the winter because of their frost-sensitive roots. The plant is brought outdoors again when the shoots start to sprout in March. It can tolerate brief sub-zero temperatures there, even without frost protection.

Tips on varieties

Hayward is a proven variety with large, hairy fruits. Its kiwis can grow up to seven centimeters long and weigh around 100 grams. You should harvest them after the first light frosts at the latest. The plants bear fruit from around the fourth year and need a pollinator because they are dioecious. The male variety ‘Atlas’ is suitable for this.

Equally popular ones are ‘Bruno’ with narrow and cylindrical fruits and ‘Monty.’ Abbott grows strongly, flowers early and is an all-female variety. From the end of October, its cylindrical, medium-sized fruits are ripe and have only a very sweet taste. Matua and Nostino are male pollinators.

The kiwi variety ‘Jenny’ is a very high-yielding and self-pollinating variety. Its fruits are up to four centimeters in length and are smaller than those of ‘Hayward,’ weighing about 20 grams. The delightful, juicy fruits are ready for harvest from mid-October.

They usually ripen on the bush in the viticultural climate. In climatically less favorable locations, they are left to ripen indoors. Tip: ‘Jenny’ is also suitable as a fertilizer for large-fruited dioecious kiwifruit types such as ‘Hayward.’ But, even if she is a self-pollinating variety, she will bear more fruit if you place a male plant partner at her side.

Mini kiwis are descended from the wild species Actinidia arguta. They are frost harder and require less heat than large-fruited varieties. The high-yielding plants form smooth-skinned fruits that can be eaten unpeeled directly from the bush.

A proven variety is, for example, ‘Weiki,’ which was bred at the Weihenstephan Research Institute and is therefore also called “Bayern-Kiwi.” Similar to the popular male variety ‘Kiwai,’ it is the result of selections from Actinidia arguta and Actinidia melanandra. Weiki’ produces walnut-sized, sweet, and very vitamin C-rich fruits, which ripen from the end of September.

It is resistant to pests and plant diseases and yields up to 30 kg. A male variety is required to fertilize the flowers. The ‘Issai’ variety is a self-pollinating mini-kiwi. The fast-growing climbing shrub can grow up to 18 meters high and is extremely frost hardy. The yield starts after only two to three years. Its smooth-skinned, green fruits grow up to four centimeters long, taste very sweet and develop a pleasant aroma.


Kiwi plants are propagated by cuttings. To do this, cut in early summer about 15 centimeters long, at least pencil-thick shoots with already lignified bark and three to four clearly visible eyes. Trim all except a few leaves at the tip of the shoot and place the cuttings in pots filled with lean growing soil. Lower the containers into the soil in a shady, wind-protected place and cover the surface with a thick layer of straw mulch. Once the cuttings have rooted through the pot, plant them in the designated location.

Diseases and pests

Kiwi plants are generally very robust. Occasionally aphids or scale insects occur, more rarely fungal diseases.

Frequently asked questions

Where do kiwis grow?

Originally, kiwis come from China, but nowadays, the fruits are mainly imported from New Zealand. In warm and winter mild regions, the plants can also be cultivated here. Kiwis grow best in front of a south-western or western wall of a house. The soil should be loose, rich in humus and nutrients. Alternatively, kiwis can also be grown in tubs on the terrace or balcony.

When can you plant kiwis?

Young plants from specialist shops can be planted between May and August.

When can you harvest kiwis?

Kiwis are harvested between the end of September and October. By the way: for the climbers to produce fruit, you need both a male and a female plant, because Kiwis are dioecious.

When can you prune kiwis?

Kiwis can only be cut from the third year onwards—the optimum time for pruning in August. The annual fruit shoots are shortened by about a third. The ends of the leading shoots can also be shortened a little once a year. More robust pruning measures are generally postponed until late summer.

From Seed to Harvest: A guide to growing kiwi.

Kiwi is a sweet fruit that many may believe is too tropical to grow in their garden. however, hardy kiwi plants are quite common and can grow in zines 3-8. Kiwi plants typically need milder winters or a frost-free season to grow to their best potential. Some kiwi plant varieties have adapted to cooler climates and can grow there, as well. Kiwi fruit are also known as the Chinese gooseberry.

To plant:

When planting kiwi, be sure to either plant a self-pollinator or both male and female plants so the plants will produce fruit. Plant the vines atop a raised mound of dirt, and space kiwi plants 10 to 18 feet apart since they require a lot of room. Sometimes, gardeners will begin their kiwi plants in containers so they can better care for them and easily move the plant to protect it from harsher weather.

To grow:

Kiwi prefers full sun and well-draining soil. Kiwi plants are vining, and they require a decent amount of space to spread out and grow, sometimes up to 20 feet per plant. Be sure to train the vines along a fence or a trellis to keep them contained. Annual pruning will enhance fruit production because the kiwi fruit grows on new growth that is only one year old. Also, be sure to mulch around the plants to retain moisture and deter weeds. Once the plants are established, water them daily.

To harvest:

The kiwi reaches its full size in August, but it is not ready to pick until its seeds turn black, which is usually in October or November. Kiwi are ready to harvest when they are firm, but starting to give a little when gently squeezed. Kiwi continues to ripen once it has been removed from the vine. When picking, remove the larger fruits first and let the smaller kinds remain on the vine to ripen a little further. Snap the stem at the base of the fruit to harvest the kiwi, but handle the fruit gently because it will bruise easily.

What kiwis crave:

Kiwi plants do best in soil that is slightly acidic, and if planted there, be sure to fertilize the kiwi plants in March and also just before the fruit is about to set, which is usually in June. If kiwi has been planted in basic soil, fertilize them in March. Along with a fertilizer, side dress the plant with straw or manure. Young kiwi plants can grow well with 2 ounces of nitrogen fertilizer applied per year, but plants 6 years and older require up to 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per year. Use a 10-10-10 all-purpose fertilizer, but you can supplement your plants with ammonium nitrate and urea as well.

Kiwi Fruit Harvest - When And How To Pick A Kiwi - garden

Kiwifruit grow on vigorous large leaved vines that, if grown in the right conditions, can be highly productive. Kiwifruit are a warm weather plant, they can withstand some frost in winter when they are dormant but late frosts in spring can damage tender new shoots. Kiwifruit can be grown countrywide in areas that get winter frosts if they are given the protection of a greenhouse or conservatory – it will have to be a big one though. On the other hand dwarf Cocktail kiwi can be grown in containers and is a good option for colder areas where it can easily be protected in particularly cold spells. Kiwifruit are best eaten raw with their sweet tangy pulp scooped out by a spoon. They are also good for making into juices, sauces, ice creams, jams, preserves and puddings. Not only delicious to eat, they are high in anti-oxidants and vitamin C.

Companions Marjoram, lemon balm, French marigold

Quantity 2 plants per household. Male and female are needed for pollination.



  • Vigorous deciduous climber
  • Need male and female plant
  • Fertile, well-drained soils
  • Large harvest
  • Sweet tangy fruits

Our Top 2 Varieties

Cocktail Kiwi a dwarf growing variety with tiny grape-sized fruit that can be eaten with their smooth green skin. Harvest in February and March. Plants usually come with a male and a female planted in the same pot. Ideal in containers and in a conservatory or greenhouse.

Hayward Female the most widespread variety grown here. Produces large, slightly flattened furry fruit in May. Fruit are greenish-brown, their juicy bright green flesh has many black seeds around a white centre. Grow with ‘Chiefton Male’ as a pollinator.

Getting started

Plant container grown plants from spring into summer.


Plant kiwifruit in full sun with protection from prevailing winds. Kiwifruit are ideal grown over a large, strongly-built pergola where they will soak up summer sun and offer much needed shade to anyone sitting below. They can be grown through trellis and trained along wires fixed to fences and walls. They are also great for camouflage - grow one over an ugly garden shed.
The dwarf Cocktail kiwi can be grown in containers such as half barrels and wide pots where their shallow roots can spread. This means you can plant a pair in your sunniest spot – say on a deck or terrace - if your veg garden doesn’t happen to be big on suntraps.

Kiwifruit grow in deep, fertile soils that do not dry out too much in dry weather when plants are thirsty and forming fruits. If your soil is slightly sticky and you want to improve it, you can add well-rotted compost and grit or fine pumice to make a large mound at the time of planting and continue to mulch with rich compost as your plants get established. You can always grow kiwifruit in a raised bed filled with sterilized a mixture of topsoil and well-rotted organic compost if you have a really sticky clay soil.



Space plants at least five strides apart. Soak plants in water before planting them.
Prepare the planting area. Soil should be weed-free and well dug through to at least a full spade’s depth. Add well-rotted compost if necessary and mix with surrounding garden soil. Carefully remove kiwifruit plant from container by turning upside down and holding the plant across the base of its stem with a spread hand. Tap the bottom of the container until the plant and its root ball come loose. Handle plants by the root ball to prevent damage to stems and shallow roots. Place kiwifruit plant in a hole that is just larger than the container it came in. Back fill around root ball making sure there are no air pockets. Water well and mulch with a finger-thick layer of peat, pine needles, shredded bark or untreated sawdust.
If planting in a container ensure it is large enough. Half barrels and wide rimmed terracotta or glazed pots all look good with Cocktail kiwis. Use rich compost with plenty of organic material and a layer of drainage material beneath it. Add slow release granules or sheep pellets before planting. When Cocktail kiwis are grown in containers it pays to put them where you can easily monitor them to ensure soil is moist – particularly in dry weather. Plants are often placed against a wall with trellis on it to which they can be attached or with a metal training pyramid or cylinder standing above the pot.


Keep plants weed free and maintain constant moisture levels – this is especially important in the weeks during which the fruit swell and ripen.

Feed: As long as you maintain a nutrient rich layer of mulch around their base this should give them all they need but to give plants a boost you can feed them with a sprinkling of blood and bone meal around the base of the stem in spring and summer. Container grown plants may need more regular feeding with a constant layer of mulch maintained at all times and a sprinkling of blood and bone meal in spring and summer.
Flowering: Creamy open-faced flowers appear in spring. Kiwi fruit must be pollinated so you need a male and female plant that both flower at the same time. One male plant can plant up to 8 female plants as long as their flowering times are compatible. Bees and insects pollinate kiwifruit but the female flowers don’t produce nectar so plant borage, lavender, alyssum and cornflowers close by to attract them onto your plants when they flower.


Fruit ripen from March to July depending on variety. They are best if left to fully ripen on plants before picking by hand. They should still be firm when picked. Either break stalks off just above fruit or snip them with secateurs. Keep stalks short so they don’t damage each other when stored.

Storage: Fruit can continue to ripen after picking with sweetness improving over a matter of days depending on their state when harvested. Kiwifruit last well if chilled in a fridge and can be stored for several weeks like this.
Cutting them across the middle and scooping out the sweet pulp with a spoon is the generally preferred option but where tools are absent you can score the skin with your thumbnail and prize fruit apart in the middle. The delicious pulp can then be squeezed into a hungry mouth.


Pruning of female plants is carried out after plants have finished fruiting and plants are still dormant in winter. Old stems are cut out at this stage to make way for fresh new growth. Young vigorous stems have their tips removed or are fully cut out in summer to prevent plants from becoming unruly. Excess leaves can be removed over buds on female plants in summer to allow sunlight to get to developing fruits.
Pruning of male plants involves removal of stems that have flowered in summer. Any vigorous vertically arching water shoots are also cut back to help maintain a good framework. Cut out any messy grow and heavily entwined stems.


Kiwifruit are not without their issues. A number of fungal and bacterial diseases can affect plants and these can be attributed to damp, wet soils. Scale insects, aphids, passion vine hoppers, leaf roller caterpillars and thrips may have a go at them. Tiny worms – nematodes – can attack roots of plants grown in garden soil. Kiwifruit plants grow large and for this reason sustainable pest control can be an issue, try to give plants the right growing conditions and ensure you attract beneficial predatory insects into your gardens with companion plants.

Watch the video: Introduction to Flower Picking

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