Bad news continues for kiwifruit orchards

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 05:00 02/11/2012

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Five Coromandel and two Waikato kiwifruit orchards are among 50 new cases of the vine-killing disease confirmed this week, with 61 per cent of New Zealand's kiwifruit hectares now affected by the virus.

Biosecurity agency Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) said 10 Coromandel orchards now had Psa-V, including four green Hayward fruit properties near Whangamata.

Green fruit vines have proved less vulnerable to the disease than the Hort16A or Zespri gold variety. A total of 1751 kiwifruit orchards now have Psa-V.

Eight Waikato orchards have it and 35 in Waihi.

In Tauranga west 23 new cases were found this week alone. In kiwifruit heartland Te Puke, where Psa-V was discovered two years ago, there are 1056 cases, said KVH. The disease has spread north to Katikati.

The industry hopes many gold fruit orchards in areas where Psa-V has recently been found will get one more harvest, before growers have to cut out their gold vines.

Researchers have said Psa-V could cost the industry up to $885 million, and they expect hundreds of job losses.

A Lincoln University report has estimated the immediate cost of Psa at between $310 million and $410m over the next five years, and more than double that in the long-term for lost development.

The economic drain on the former $1.3 billion export sector has now spread beyond growers to reliant businesses, and the Lincoln report estimates as many as 1400 jobs could be lost by 2015.

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- Waikato Times

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