14 Nov 2010

Eight kiwifruit orchards have vine disease

9:37 pm on 14 November 2010

Biosecurity officials are warning the kiwifruit disease PSA may have already spread beyond Bay of Plenty, with the number of orchards with confirmed infections doubling to eight.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has placed movement restrictions on 11 orchards.

Officials are investigating 82 properties, with 300 samples being taken from each site.

Growers at the worst affected orchards have already started destroying their vines or spraying with copper under supervision from MAF officials.

The man heading the MAF response, David Yard, says some sites that have tested negative are having to be re-tested because a suspicion remains.

He says all the confirmed outbreaks to date are within a 13-kilometre radius in the Te Puke area, but that doesn't mean orchards in other regions are in the clear, and growers must stay vigilant.

An industry advisory committee met on Sunday evening in Mt Maunganui to discuss plans for fighting the disease.

MAF says it plans to present some options to Agriculture Minister David Carter ahead of a public announcement on Monday.

MAF to advise PSA-affected kiwifruit growers

The Ministry of Agriculture is to release guidelines to kiwifruit growers whose orchards have the disease, to help them stop its spread.

Mr Yard says MAF wants to give stressed owners clear guidance about what they should do once they find out their vines are affected.

He says the ministry hasn't decided what will be the best method to dispose of the vines, but in the meantime, will encourage growers to prune the vines and bag them up.

Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated president Peter Ombler says the fact that a property is quarantined doesn't necessarily mean the disease is present, but growers are anxious to find out either way.

Mr Ombler says the country's 2700 growers should check their orchards at least three times a week and report any symptoms of the disease as soon as possible.