Kiwifruit disease spreads through Waikato

Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

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Nearly 30 kiwifruit orchards in the greater Waikato region are now infected with Psa-V, the vine-killing disease that has brought the gold fruit export industry to its knees.

An additional 36 orchards in the Waihi area have the bacterial infection.

There are 131 registered kiwifruit orchards in Waikato, which until Psa-V hit in August, contributed around 20 per cent of the country's export organic kiwifruit crop. Last year they earned $29 million and provided jobs for 300 at the season's peak.

The Kiwifruit Vine Health agency said 14 Waikato orchards had been confirmed with the disease and 15 on the Coromandel Peninsula.

The next kiwifruit harvest is in April and KVH Waikato co-ordinator Richard Glenn said for many growers this would be their last gold fruit crop until new graftings of hopefully less vulnerable varieties got established.

"It's going to be a tough five years. Kiwifruit growing in New Zealand has changed forever."

The disease, discovered in Te Puke two years ago, has now spread throughout the North Island.

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