The Q&A Archives: How can I get larger kiwis?

Question: I have some three-year-old hardy kiwi bushes that produced fruit for the first time last year. It was tasty, but less than 3/4 inch long. Is this normal? What can I do to get larger fruit this year? David H. Keene West Long Branch, NJ

Answer: The 3/4-inch fruit is probably normal for the variety you're growing, says Michael McConkey, owner of Edible Landscaping Company, growers of more than 15 varieties of hardy kiwi in Afton, VirginiA. You could simply plant larger-fruited varieties, such as Ken's Red and Geneva, which bear 1-1/2-inch long fruits. Or, you can prune your hardy kiwis in early summer to create less vegetative growth and more fruiting spurs, resulting in more-and bigger-fruit, McConkey says. On the female plants, pinch back to four inches any new growth or water sprouts more than eight inches long. Hardy kiwi are vigorous growers, so you'll probably need to pinch these shoots back three times over the course of the summer, he says. Let the old growth and fruiting spurs develop normally. Pinching new growth redirects energy to this year's fruiting spurs, which can result in a 20% increase in fruit size, McConkey explains. It also stimulates the plant to create more fruit spurs for next year, he adds.

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