19 Aug 2014

Future of G9 kiwifruit still uncertain

3:49 pm on 19 August 2014

Growers of a newly developed kiwifruit, which has raised concerns over its commercial viability, have more time to decide whether to change to a different variety.

G9 was first commercialised, along with another gold variety G3, back in 2010 in response to the bacterial disease PSA which has virtually wiped out the former variety of kiwifruit.

Approximately 150 hectares of G9 is grown, much less than G3's 4000 hectares.

But concerns have been raised as to the viability of the G9, particularly in terms of its tendency to shrivel, making it less appealing to the customer.

An industry meeting was held last week and Zespri general manager of grower and government relations Simon Limmer said the issue was still on the table.

"Gold growers have been considering this following the feedback from Zespri just to work out how Gold Nine fits into the portfolio, and just considering whether as a group, collectively, they see a way of incentivising or wanting to facilitate a transition for Gold Nine growers to transition to Gold Three. The conclusion from the meeting was that the industry was comfortable with status quo if you like - that Gold Nine growers had a pathway to transition or that Zespri was offering or facilitating a mechanism for them to do so, and that was best left as is for the moment."

Mr Limmer said the growers would need to consider the financial implications of moving to another variety.

He said growers have the cost of changing over and then the ongoing operating costs of managing the orchards for a year or two before the income starts to flow.

"But that's a decision growers are taking more and more in the kiwifruit industry as they have a more balanced portfolio of varieties. In this case, Zespri has proposed a mechanism whereby they are offering up some of the grafting costs and the licence transition is waived. Beyond that, it's up to the growers to make their own decisions."