The traditional California kiwifruit harvest began in late September, but Morro Bay-based Shanley Farms delayed San Joaquin Valley kiwifruit picking for two months.
The result is very sweet fruit with brix levels as high as 12.5, said Megan Shanley, director of marketing.
There was a method to the delayed harvest madness, she said.
Under the state’s marketing order, the minimum brix level for kiwifruit is 6.2.
“There is no incentive for growers to produce kiwifruit that tastes really amazing,” Shanley said. “We’re attempting to bring back great-tasting California kiwis.”
In storage, brix levels in kiwifruit can increase by as much as 7 points, she said.
Shanley Farms expects to ship more than 10,500 20-pound cartons of the late harvest hayward variety kiwifruit, under the Sierra Sweet Kiwi label.
“Our plan is to ship into mid-January,” Shanley said.
Even with the high sugar content, the Sierra Sweet kiwifruit still offers a shelf life of up to 10 days after the fruit is pulled from the cooler, she said.
Foreign buyers have been quick to purchase the fruit, Shanley said.
“We took a big risk holding them on the vines longer,” she said. “It’s not something any California grower-shipper has tried before.”
Several growers, however, have contacted Shanley Farms about joining the late harvest marketing approach in the future, Shanley said.
Venida Packing, Exeter, is handling the packing and shipping of the kiwifruit, but Shanley Farms is marketing the fruit. The telephone number is (805) 234-8533.