19 Dec 2011

Kiwifruit growers welcome pollen import review

6:37 am on 19 December 2011

Kiwifruit growers are welcoming greater scrutiny of the importation of kiwifruit pollen, identified as a possible pathway for the introduction of the vine disease Psa.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) has commissioned an independent review of the rules applied to pollen imports from Chile and China from 2008 to 2010.

Imports were suspended when the Psa outbreak occured in November last year.

The review follows a series of investigations by the ministry since Psa was first found on a Bay of Plenty orchard.

MAF says it had strict rules in place covering pollen imports. It says at the time there was no internationally published science that indicated pollen was able to spread Psa.

Recent research, however, shows live Psa bacteria can be found in kiwifruit pollen, taken from inside closed flowers, from both diseased and apparently healthy vines.

MAF says that indicates pollen imports were a possible entrypoint for Psa, and the independent review will investigate that further.

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton, who has two kiwifruit orchards in Te Puke infected with Psa, says growers want to know how the disease was introduced.

MAF says the independent review will look at the current importing rules, how they were developed, the decision-making surrounding them, and what should happen in future.