12 Nov 2010

Kiwifruit exports uninterrupted despite vine disease

2:10 pm on 12 November 2010

A Zespri executive says international markets have voiced no concerns about New Zealand's kiwifruit supply, despite the outbreak of the vine-killing disease, PSA.

The bacterial infection has been confirmed on three Te Puke orchards. Six other orchards are now in quarantine and more than 100 properties report having symptoms of the disease.

The United States and Australia have banned imports of nursery plants and cuttings, but Zespri director of corporate and grower services Carol Ward says no country has threatened to ban imports of the fruit, or requested to take kiwifruit only from regions unaffected by the disease.

Ms Ward says the industry is now closing down for the season and the last exports are due to leave next week.

Spraying with a copper solution started on Thursday to stem the spread of the disease in the worst affected orchard.

Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated president Peter Ombler told Morning Report that many of the properties whose growers have identified potentially diseased vines are likey to test negative for the bacteria in the end.

Nelson orchardists to increase hygiene measures

Nelson kiwifruit growers will step up measures to try to protect their vines from the disease.

About 50 growers from New Zealand's southernmost commercial growing region met in Motueka on Friday to be updated on on progress in curbing the disease's spread.

Mainland Kiwifruit Growers chairman Rod Fry says checks of 140 orchards in that region areas have found some spotted leaves, but no suspicion of PSA so far.

Hygiene measures will be increased, including disinfecting footwear and equipment and putting 'keep out' signs on orchard gates.

Maori kiwifruit growers briefed

Maori kiwifruit growers were being briefed by industry leaders and Government officials at a meeting in Mouth Maunganui.

There are hundreds of Maori kiwifruit growers in the region and the industry is a significant employer of local Maori.

The chief executive of the Maori kiwifruit co-operative, Te Awanui Huka Pak, Hemi Rolleston, says many orchards are in multiple ownership, and the beneficiaries will not now be able to walk on kiwifruit land to collect watercress, or access waterways for fear of spreading PSA.

Industry leaders meet

Members of the Industry Advisory Council, which represents growers, packers and exporters, met on Thursday night in Mount Maunganui.

Council member Alistair Hawkey says the meeting was important for sorting out what information is still missing in dealing with the disease, and the council expects to have all the facts by early next week.

Growers in Northland have also met representatives of marketing company Zespri to discuss the disease, though Kerikeri grower Kerry Farrand says there is no trace of PSA on any orchard in the region he has heard about.