Virus cuts gold kiwifruit crop

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 08/07/2013

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The gold kiwifruit harvest has finished and the crop is estimated at half that of last year, as the effects of the Psa kiwifruit virus fully take hold.

Zespri, the country's major kiwifruit exporter, said numbers were still being finalised but its export gold kiwifruit volumes were expected to be 12-13 million trays.

Last year it exported 24.6 million trays, which was down 16 per cent because of the virus.

Zespri spokeswoman Rachel Lynch said many growers had been working to overcome Psa by grafting in a more resistant variety, Gold3, but it would take two years for the vines to bed in.

Green kiwifruit volumes were looking on a par with previous years. Volumes of the Haywards variety were 70 million trays last year and it was expected to be similar or slightly less in 2013.

Although the fruit was slightly smaller, the drought had given the industry much sweeter fruit which, combined with strong sales, was encouraging for grower returns, Lynch said.

On the outskirts of Tauranga, gold kiwifruit grower Chris Dunstan said the outcomes for his peers varied widely. "We went, in our particular case, from having 9000 bins last year to about 200 this year."

He would manage this year by diversifying some of his activities, and selling a couple of properties.

The Psa virus is thought to have spread to about 64 per cent of kiwifruit orchards but experts say the hot dry summer has helped rein in the spread of the disease.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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