Baby kiwifruit from Chile would be allowed into the U.S. without undergoing methyl bromide fumigation under a proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The March 21 proposed rule, which has a comment period through May 20, would allow importation of baby kiwi from Chile subject to a systems approach.

Under that system, the baby kiwi would have to be grown in a region of Chile that is certified as having a low prevalence of Brevipalpus chilensis, also called false red mite. In addition, the fruit would have to undergo preharvest sampling at the production site and post harvest inspection.

“This proposed rule would allow for the safe importation of fresh baby kiwi from Chile using mitigation measures other than fumigation with methyl bromide,” the USDA said in the proposed rule.

Chile exports only a few metric tons of baby kiwi, with Europe and Canada as the top destinations, the USDA said. Currently, the U.S. allows imports of baby kiwi from Chile if the fruit is fumigated with methyl bromide but U.S. imports are minimal.

Jaysen Weidner, lead salesman for Hurst’s Berry Farm Inc., Sheridan, Ore., said the proposed rule promises to allow expanded shipments to the U.S.

“We really didn’t bring any in (this year) just because of the fact you had to fumigate them and they don’t really hold up all that well to fumigation,” he said.

Weidner said the company has a lot of success shipping baby kiwi direct to Europe and Japan with no fumigation, so he anticipates similar success with non-fumigated fruit to the U.S.

The export season for baby kiwi Chile is primarily from mid-February to mid-March. For U.S. growers, the harvest season is typically between Sept. 15 and Oct. 30, he said.

The USDA said the effect of expanded fresh baby kiwi fruit imports from Chile is expected to be minimal for U.S. producers due to timing differences and the small quantity expected to be imported.