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Why New Zealand Kiwi?

New Zealand is the third largest producer of kiwi in the global market. This is largely due to northern New Zealand’s temperate climate, its close proximity to volcanoes, and its long term commitment and experience in growing this fruit. Several factors are needed for optimal kiwifruit growth, which is why New Zealand is the preferred source over other countries. Firstly, kiwis are best grown in a temperate climate. With an abundant amount of irrigation, they can withstand a maximum of 114°F in the summer and a minimum of 27°F in the winter. Anything lower than that will damage the vines. The soil must be well drained and have a pH of between 5.5 and 7.2 in order to grow good kiwifruit.

In addition, kiwi orchards need to have adequate shelter from the wind, for wind can break the growing shoots and delay production. Frost in the fall and spring will also damage the plant’s vine, resulting in death; thus, a kiwi plant needs around 240 days free of frost.

Most of New Zealand’s agricultural production takes place in the Bay of Plenty and Auckland provinces located in the upper coast of North Island. These areas are some of the warmest regions of New Zealand, averaging 56°F in the winter and 78-90°F in the summer. Sunshine is plentiful, with most areas experiencing 2,000 hours of sunshine per year.

Volcanic Activity

New Zealand’s abundance in agriculture is also due to the country’s volcanic activity. The region of active volcanoes, called Taupo volcanic zone, located in the realm of the North Island. In the short-term, volcanic activity is damaging to the ecological environment. Ashes from the volcano may bury or break the stems, thus hindering the plant from photosynthesis. However, these very same ashes are beneficial for New Zealand’s soil in the long-term. Agriculture in the Bay of Plenty region is grown on volcanic loams where volcanoes have erupted 4,000-40,000 years ago.

The properties found in volcanic soils allow for greater creation of capillaries. These capillaries give the soil more porosity and a lower density, thus allowing it to hold more water (Ping 2000). The retention of phosphorus in volcanic soils allows the soil to be more fertile, which then produces more crop yield. Volcanic soils also have a pH between 5-7, allowing it to grow the optimum kiwifruit which needs a pH lower than 7.3 to grow.

References:

  • Lebon S.L.G. Volcanic Activity and Environment: Impacts on Agriculture and use of Geological Data to Improve Recovery Processes 2009. Reykjavik, Iceland: University of Iceland.
  • Ping C.L. “Volcanic Soils”, In Sigurdsson, Houghton, McNutt, Rymer and Stix (eds.) Encyclopedia of volcanoes 2000. Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 1259-1270.
  • Ugolini F.C., Dahlgren R.A. Soil Development in Volcanic Ash 2002. Davis, California: Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis. 69-81.
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