Spring Creek apple grower Kevin Murphy says a European canker disease devastating pipfruit orchards in Nelson has not spread in Marlborough.
Tens of thousands of trees have been pulled out in Nelson during the past couple of years and hundreds of thousands have been infected as the fungal disease runs rampant after several unusually wet growing seasons.
Pipfruit industry leaders have said the canker has the potential to become as serious as the Psa disease hitting kiwifruit orchards.
Mr Murphy said he once found European canker on a few young fruit trees he bought from a North Island nursery and pulled them out straight away. It had not spread to other trees in his 20-hectare orchard.
"Our climate is not conducive to the canker," Mr Murphy said. However, backyard apple-growers should keep an eye out for canker and cut infected areas out of trees, he said.
He and his wife, Alison Murphy, are the sole commercial apple-growers in Marlborough, as other pipfruit blocks have converted to vineyards.
Motueka Fruitgrowers Association chairman Simon Easton said efforts to fight the canker in Nelson were being hampered by orchardists "growing to extinction", who either could not or would not follow an industry management strategy.
The disease was costing growers up to $1 a carton to control, as many were struggling to make money after three years of losses, he said. He blamed the rapid spread on intensive planting of dwarf varieties in new orchards and nurseries supplying infected seedlings.
Lower Moutere orchardist Ian Palmer, who stepped down this month as Pipfruit New Zealand chairman, denied the disease would make it tougher for growers to get their fruit into new markets in Australia. The disease could be managed and did not affect fruit quality, he said.
Fungal disease that thrives in wet conditions. Spread by rain, wind and even air-blast sprayers.
Canker spores enter the tree through fresh scars caused by leaf fall, pruning or during bud break, petal fall and harvesting.
Cankers are generally slow-acting but can encircle infected branches, causing shoot dieback, and eventually kill the tree.
Reduces fruit production but not quality.
- The Marlborough Express