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Kiwifruit Vine Health

NZ: Taking the fight against PSA to the next level

The work in controlling the initial spread of Psa has been done, the protection sprays have been sorted and a new Gold3 variety - more tolerant to the vine-killing disease - is about to be widely released to kiwifruit growers to create a path to recovery.

Now, Barry O'Neil, recently appointed as chief executive of Kiwifruit Vine Heath (KVH) to replace John Burke, wants to move to a new level of fighting Psa.

A biosecurity expert, Mr O'Neil is hoping to include the control of Psa in the national pest management strategy under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

"We need to have more teeth with a rules regime," he said. "Psa will continue to cause significant problems for the industry and we don't have a resistant variety.

"The new Gold3 is tolerant and works when you have good orchard management and hygiene in place.

"The rules should be fair and equitable to everyone. If my neighbour creates a risk for me, I can't do anything about that. We are reliant on the goodwill of the growers and the industry."

An official Psa management strategy would outline precautions taken against the disease, including transport of equipment and plant material from infected areas.

Mr O'Neil said areas of non-compliance would be addressed but not necessarily with fines.

"If an orchard was abandoned or diseased and vines had to be removed or managed, then KVH would have the authority to step in and the bill would be sent to the owner.

"The whole aim of the strategy is to keep some areas free of Psa (such as Northland, Hawkes's Bay, Gisborne and Nelson), and to keep other areas such as Te Puke contained and support the recovery."

Mr O'Neil said the plan would be sent out to growers for discussion next month to gauge their support.

"Growers need to understand how to grow kiwifruit with Psa around and there needs to be continued research about the best tools to use to manage the disease," Mr O'Neil said.

Source: www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz

Publication date: 5/3/2012


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