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NZ: Psyllid decimates tamarillo industry

An insect responsible for the destruction of tomato and potato crops has been busy attacking tamarillo as well -  it affects members of the family Solanaceae. The tomato-potato psyllid has been in the country since the mid 2000's and spreads a bacterium that leads to zebra chip disease.

The Tamarillo Growers Association says that since it started attacking crops the production has been reduced by almost two thirds, to 260 tonnes last year.

Association manager, Robin Nitschke, says the insect has had a significant impact on the industry and points to a decline in grower numbers as evidence. Back in 2007 there were 120 registered growers, compared to just 40 at present. 

"It kills the tree so we've got to replant and three years later we've got a crop. In that three years the psyllid has another chance to have a crack at that young plant before it's actually producing anything."

he says the pest is more damaging to the tamarillo sector that it is to tomoatoes and potatoes. The annual crops are replaced every year, unlike the trees that bear tamarillios and need to mature before they can bear a good yield of fruit.

Nitschke says the industry is hopeful of the introduction of biological controls to combat the psyllid and would like to reduce its reliance on chemical solutions.

The main tamarillo growing regions are Bay of Plenty, Northland, Auckland and Coastal Taranaki.

Source: www.radionz.co.nz

Publication date: 5/2/2012


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