Unlike last year’s frost-ravaged season, this year the California kiwifruit industry is predicting a larger crop of excellent quality.

“Last year, California produced just 5.6 million trays, but this year’s crop is more in line with normal production levels of 6.5 million 7-pound tray equivalents,” said Chris Zanobini, president, California Kiwifruit Commission (CKC).

The CKC recently released the official pre-season estimate for California kiwifruit.

“This year we are in very good shape with respect to both volume and quality,” Zanobini said.

Kiwifruit grower and CKC Chairman John Fagundes agrees this year’s fruit quality is excellent.

“The fruit is coming off with really nice shape and it’s virtually blemish free this season,” said Fagundes, who is harvesting kiwifruit in the southern San Joaquin Valley. “The crop appears to be peaking at size 33 which is an excellent size for retail sales.”

Zanobini, who heads up marketing programs for the California kiwifruit industry, says kiwifruit in the past was often sold per piece which worked well for smaller-sized fruit.

“Now that the industry is producing larger fruit, market research suggests that it is best for retailers to sell the fruit by the pound for maximum profits,” Zanobini said. “Research also shows that larger kiwifruit displays will result in higher profits at retail.”

Zanobini noted that California kiwifruit is grown using conventional and organic growing methods.

November is traditionally one of the biggest sales months for California kiwifruit.

“This year we are expecting good movement during November because of the excellent quality of this year’s crop and the fact that exports from New Zealand and Chile are largely gone from marketing channels this season,” Zanobini said.

“It’s been very tough lately for California kiwifruit growers to compete against foreign imports,” said Mike Noland, a Marysville, Calif., kiwifruit farmer.

“This year, given the weakening U.S. dollar, we are optimistic that Italian imports will be less desirable for our customers,” Noland said.

For more information, contact the CKC at (916) 441-0678.