Kiwifruit orchards inspected
Kiwifruit growers in Manawatu and Horowhenua face a nervous and uncertain week as their orchards are inspected for vine-killing bacteria Psa-V.
The inspections are to take place after Psa-V was found at one orchard in rural Whanganui on Friday.
It is the first time the bacteria has been found this far south-west in New Zealand and the nature of the find has monitoring co-operative Kiwifruit Vine Health worried.
There are 25 kiwifruit orchards comprising 92 hectares of farmland in the Manawatu, Horowhenua, Whanganui region.
Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive Barry O'Neil said no region was safe from Psa-V and every grower needed to be extra-vigilant over the spring season.
"Based on the symptoms found - cankers with red exudate and cane dieback in male Hayward vines - it's likely the disease has been in the [Whanganui] area for some time and the symptoms are now starting to show after winter dormancy," Mr O'Neil said.
"Every grower in every region must be proactively and vigilantly monitoring their vines and maintaining a robust protective spray programme to protect their orchards."
A controlled area with a 10-kilometre radius has been set up around the infected orchard. The seven orchards within that radius were being monitored. They now had to abide by strict hygiene standards and were not allowed to transport "risk material" including composted vines, orchard infrastructure, and reject fruit outside of the controlled area.
Mr O'Neil said spring was when new Psa-V identifications were likely to be confirmed.
"It's very disappointing . . . particularly for the local growers," he said.
It has been nearly three years since Psa-V was first discovered in New Zealand and the cost to the industry of its arrival has been projected to hit $885 million in the long term. Orchards without the disease are now in the minority.
Growers in the Whanganui-controlled area were advised to do the following: Monitor orchards extensively and report any suspicious Psa-V symptoms to KVH on 0800 665 825.
Maintain strict orchard hygiene procedures.
Implement and maintain a protective spray programme.
No kiwifruit plant material, including budwood and nursery stock, along with any potentially contaminated orchard equipment, can be moved out of the area.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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