"Truly yellow" kiwifruit variety planted in Chile
Production of a gold kiwifruit variety developed in Italy has begun Chile, with 1,000 hectares of orchards due to be planted by several growers in the near future.
Chilean companies Summerfruit and Dalpane Vivai Chile have been working with the variety known as AC1536, which was developed by the Italian universities of Udine and Bologna.
Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com, Summerfruit owner Giampaolo Dal Pane said the cultivar would be set apart from other kiwifruit by its intense yellow flesh color and early ripening time.
"The gold kiwifruit varieties which have been planted up until now had a color that wasn't particularly yellow. Some were a kind of clear green, others a bit white, but this yellow is truly yellow," he said.
The AC1536 variety is typically harvested in Chile from March, but depending on the region it could even be picked in late February.
Dal Pane added another strong point was the cultivar's taste - sweeter than a green kiwifruit but no more so than other gold varieties and still with a hint of acidity.
"It is a particular and distinct taste, almost exotic...all of which makes this a very high quality variety," he said.
The cultivar was first planted in Italy two years ago, and in 2014 test sales were carried out. This year saw the first commercial volumes hitting the domestic market.
Orchards were said to be producing around 40 metric tons (MT) per hectare in the second year, with an average weight of 110 grams.
"This year there were very interesting sales results. It is a kiwifruit that everyone likes - that is the key point," the representative said.
The variety will be sold under the Dori brand, and Dal Pane said two groups were being formed for marketing operations - one focused on Europe and the other on the Southern Hemisphere.
In Chile, three additional companies have already signed contracts and have agreed to plant 500 hectares in total. Dal Pane said other major growers were also in the process of signing contracts.
The program involves collectively planting 1,000 hectares in four years, and the variety will only be available to the 'club' companies.
"This year we will complete close to 60 hectares. The club will be formed at the start of the next year," Dan Pane said.
Dan Pane highlighted Asia as a key market due to the importance placed on food color.
"Right now we are doing tests in Asia, and it looks like the results as positive," he said.
Dal Pane explained that due to concerns over the destructive kiwifruit vine disease Psa, the majority of production would be grown under plastic. The nursery plants will only be produced in the north on of the country, where there is a low prevalence of the disease.
"We think that this variety is quite resistant to Psa, but given the aggressive nature of the disease in Chile, we believe that it would be better to plant the orchards under plastic, especially from the VI (O'Higgins) region southward," he said.
"We already have 38 hectares in the VI region and we haven't found any Psa damage."