April 2013
Farm & Field

Kiwi: A Golden Opportunity


Billy Dozier, retired Auburn University horticulture professor, displays the yellow flesh of an AU Golden Sunshine kiwifruit. Dozier led the research project that led to Auburn’s patenting of AU Golden Sunshine and four other kiwifruit varieties.

 

When one thinks of crops Alabama is known for growing, you will be sure to list cotton, soybeans, peanuts, corn, catfish, etc., but, in the upcoming years, you may be able to add kiwis to the list due to a number of new varieties patented by Auburn University. Now-retired Auburn University horticulture professor Dr. Billy Dozier spearheaded the research on kiwis in Alabama starting in 1985 at the Chilton County Agricultural Experiment Station. The varieties have been patented and are now for sale to anyone interested. They are perfect for anyone who wants to try their hand at growing something new or could even turn out to be a high-value specialty crop to the state and the southeastern region.

Kiwifruits are native to China and were originally known as the "Chinese Gooseberry." They were commonly used as an ornamental vine and not as much for their fruit. The vines can reach up to 25 feet, so they are grown on trellises to support the heavy growth. Tips for building structures to support the kiwifruits can be found on Gold Kiwi Group’s website http://growaukiwi.info. The information found on their page is all based on their research done on the fruits over the last 28 years.

There are several varieties that have been patented. One variety is the green-fleshed, egg-shaped, fuzzy, "traditional" kiwifruit which has more of a sweet, but tangy taste. There are also a few yellow-fleshed varieties called "goldens"; they are slightly different with a sweet taste and a smooth skin. According to Dozier "no one has ever tried one and not liked it. It is not sour but has a sweet tropical flavor."