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What is brown and fuzzy on the outside, but green and sweet on the inside? A California grown kiwi! Kiwi plants are in the botanical genus Actinidia and grow as woody vines. They produce beautiful white blossoms that, once pollinated, develop into the kiwi fruit you see in markets. California grows the Hayward variety of kiwi which is the most popular. Around the world there are over 40 known varieties of kiwi fruits.
Kiwi season in California runs from late September through May. Because of its harvest time, it’s considered a winter fruit. California produces 98% of the kiwis grown in the U.S. , which is impressive as there are fewer than 300 kiwi growers in the state. Kiwis are produced in several California counties, including, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Butte, Yuba, Sutter, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and San Diego.
The kiwi is native to China. It was considered a delicacy and originally called the “Chinese gooseberry.” This fruit was exported and grown in other countries, including New Zealand, where the first Chinese gooseberry commercial vineyard was planted in the early 1940s. The production of this fruit spread rapidly across New Zealand. In 1962, a California produce dealer first arranged to have kiwi fruit imported from New Zealand to California. That same produce dealer also changed the name from Chinese gooseberry to kiwi, or kiwifruit, because the fruit resembled New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi. By the end of the 1960s, California was producing its own kiwi fruit in the northern part of the state. Commercial production of kiwis has increased dramatically since those early years.
Kiwis are high in vitamins C and E, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, folate, magnesium, lutein and zinc. They are an ideal low-calorie, fat-free fruit. Kiwifruit can be found in your local grocery stores, as well as your neighborhood certified farmers markets . The Marketing Branch of CDFA works with the California Kiwifruit Commission to keep consumers informed about kiwifruit production in California.
Kiwi is a refreshing winter fruit. Enjoy!
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