By Fred Woods
The Lee County Farm-City Committee is sponsoring a tour of a large commercial kiwi farm, Southeastern Kiwi Farming Cooperative, near Reeltown Aug. 24. The public is invited for the tour. Meet at the Lee County Extension office at 600 S. 7th St. in Opelika at 9 a.m. or at 10 a.m. at the Kiwi Farm. Go west on Alabama Highway 14 past Notasulga, bear right on Ala. Hwy. 120 at Liberty. The tour will conclude with a Dutch-treat lunch at Elmer’s Restaurant on Hwy. 14.
The farm is the only commercial kiwi farm in Alabama.
Kiwi fruit are native to China and were originally known as Chinese gooseberries. They grow on vines, much like grapes or muscadines, supported on overhead trellises. They start bearing fruit in three or four years.
First plantings at the Reeltown farm were in spring 2015. Currently, about 200 acres have been planted. Generally, Kiwi will grow anywhere peaches will grow, but the high establishment cost, which may run as high as $4,500 per acre, has limited commercial production, although some backyard arbors may be found.
Kiwi fruit are extremely nutritious, high in beta carotene, antioxidants and vitamins C and E. They are reportedly to much of the rest of the developed world, what orange juice is to American consumers.