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NZ: Kiwifruit disease strikes Bay again

A second case of the devastating kiwifruit vine disease Psa-V has been confirmed in Hawkes Bay, and growers have upped their spray regimes again. The outbreak was confirmed yesterday in an orchard close to where the first case of the bacterial infection was found on October 12, on Omaranui Rd, near Taradale. Growers were increasingly anxious, Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Association kiwifruit chairman Peter Olsen said. "What can we do - we are already doing everything practical that we can as far as orchard hygiene is concerned," he said. "There will probably be a bit more spraying done to protect the canopy - it's a pretty horrible pest to try and deal with. My understanding is it can't travel on its own - it adheres to moisture and dust. It is extremely difficult to contain something like that."

Last week Hawkes Bay suffered gale-force winds. The outbreak was found on gold-variety Hort16A, which growers were encouraged to replace with the more-resistant G3 variety, also a gold kiwifruit, but growing techniques for it have yet to be fully refined. G3 was grafted on to remaining rootstock, which also showed good resistance to the disease. "I don't have G3 myself, I just have the old green Hayward variety, but many are putting a lot of faith in it." He said grower meetings with disease-control agency Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) were useful for staying up to date "but there seems to be no magic bullet - we've just got to do what we can". Last week's meeting had representatives from Hawkes Bay's 50 kiwifruit orchards, he said.

A Hawkes Bay Controlled Area has been established around 43 orchards. KVH called a second meeting of growers for today at Crown Research Institute Plant and Food in Havelock North. Mr Olsen said "good information" had been given at the first meeting "but nothing dramatically new". "It was a reinforcement of what we have been told before and what has been learned at the Bay of Plenty over the last couple of years." Figures released by Kiwifruit Vine Health showed the disease had continued to spread. Forty-two new cases were discovered last week - 21 in Te Puke, seven in Katikati, five in Tauranga east, four in Tauranga west, two in Waikato, two in Franklin, and one in Opotiki. The total number of infected orchards so far was 1670.

Last month the Commerce Commission found there was no conclusive evidence to show the imported pollen sold by Kiwi Pollen caused the Psa outbreak, but the company had misled growers into thinking its pollen came from New Zealand. "We all knew it would arrive here one day and we have just got to try and learn how to manage it," Mr Olsen said. A Ministry for Primary Industries report estimated the profit of a typical Bay of Plenty orchard would fall by a third.


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