Excluding China, for which official production data is not available, Italy is far and away the most important kiwifruit producer in the world, with an annual harvest of 450,000 metric tons. This is equivalent to 70% of European production and just under one-third of world production.
Though Hayward remains the most important cultivar both in currently productive orchards as well as recently planted ones, new varieties have become commercially available, which offer physiologically ripe fruit at earlier harvest dates. The most innovative aspects of the new varieties are the nonfuzzy skin and yellow pulp of the species Actinidia chinensis which have been warmly received by consumers for the sweet flavour that sets these varieties apart from the comparatively acidic Hayward.
Unfortunately, the spread of the bacterial disease caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae is inflicting serious damage in all countries where kiwifruit is cultivated. A. chinensis varieties are particularly susceptible to infection. As for other bacterial infections, a true chemical cure doesn’t exist: the best prevention is a combination of good field management practices (avoid excessive vegetative growth by limiting nitrogen fertilization and irrigation, avoid excessive plant density), application of copper-based sprays at critical times when bacterial attack is most likely (leaf drop, bud break) and proper choice of orchard site.