23 Oct 2009

Ban on NZ tamarillos lifted

12:42 pm on 23 October 2009

An 18-month ban on exports of tamarillos to Australia has finally been lifted.

However, with the end of the season fast aproaching, it's not yet known if growers will be able to take advantage of it.

Australia banned imports of New Zealand tamarillos, tomatoes, capsicums last June, after the discovery of a bacterium, Liberibacter, which is passed on to the crops by an insect called the potato/tomato psyllid.

The ban was relaxed for tomato and capsicum growers last year, provided they met strict requirements including fumigating the crops, although in some cases those have now been relaxed.

The bacterium can cause abnormalities and lower yields in the crops, and is proving to be very problematic for potato growers, who cannot see the damage it's doing to the underground tubers.

The Tamarillo Growers Association says growers were hurting. The Australian market previously took about 40% of New Zealand's total exports, with the remaining 60% going to the United States.

Chairman Craig Watson says growers will now have to consider whether it's worth sending what's left of the fruit to Australia.