Plant & Food Research has the largest kiwifruit breeding programme in the world.
Plant & Food Research is the sole research provider to the New Zealand Kiwifruit Research Consortium, jointly funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and ZESPRI® Group Limited. Building on the commercial success of ‘Hort16A’, marketed as ZESPRI®GOLD Kiwifruit, we are developing new cultivars of superior quality that command a market premium, with a focus on taste, novelty and convenience. New releases include 'Zesh004' (commonly known as Green14), marketed as ZESPRI®SWEET GREEN Kiwifruit, and 'Zesy002' (Gold3), marketed as ZESPRI®SUNGOLD Kiwifruit.
We are also developing a series of bite-sized kiwiberry cultivars (Actinidia arguta), including 'Hortgem Tahi', marketed in Europe as nergi®.
Our Actinidia (kiwifruit) germplasm collection is the largest outside China and provides a vital resource for the breeding programme. The genetic diversity found in this collection provides an extensive library for our genomics researchers to identify genes controlling key traits.
Our researchers have identified molecular markers for flower sex development and routinely screen the results of our breeding crosses to separate the fruit-bearing females from the non-fruiting males. This limits the number of plants assessed as potential new cultivars at a much earlier stage, increasing efficiency. Other molecular markers are also under investigation for inclusion in the screening process.