28 Feb 2019

Wairarapa pea weevil ban could come to an end

9:23 am on 28 February 2019

A more than two-year ban on growing peas in Wairarapa could soon be ended with no pea weevils being detected in traps this season.

Pea Weevil (Sitona lineatus)

Pea Weevil (Sitona lineatus) Photo: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic / AnemoneProjectors

Pea weevil larvae feed on young peas, ruining crops and potentially threatening valuable fresh and seed pea exports.

The pest was first discovered in the Wairarapa in 2016 and the region has been subject to a ban on growing peas since then, with two years of "area freedom" required to ensure pea weevil has been eradicated.

In late 2017, 15 pea weevils were found in trap crops at two sites east of Masterton but the rest of the region was clear. Recent trapping work in the 2018/19 pea growing season resulted in none of the weevils detected anywhere in Wairarapa.

Federated Farmers arable chair Karen Williams said this was great news for growers who took a big financial hit to eradicate the pest from New Zealand.

Ms Williams said the governance group handling the response to the incursion would meet at the end of March and discuss how much longer the growing ban had to be in place.

"I hope to have a robust discussion with the governance group about whether a partial lifting of the controlled area notice may be practical, or whether a further 12 months full regional ban is necessary to properly secure area freedom from pea weevil in the Wairarapa," she said.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show before the ban, Wairarapa accounted for about 10 percent of New Zealand's pea production.

In 2016 New Zealand produced 60,000 tonnes of peas, earning $50 million in domestic sales and $80 million in exports.