New Zealand kiwi vine disease reports multiply outside original site
Officials with New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) have expanded their search for the kiwi vine bacteria PSA outside of the Bay of Plenty where the first case was reported.
A total of three cases have been confirmed, and according to a statement from the country's kiwi exporter Zespri, another 20 are being investigated. MAF and officials with Zespri, have been contacted by another 65 orchards that suspect the presence of the bacteria. The search has now expanded to include other growing regions outside of the Te Puke, Bay of Plenty zone.
MAF officials fear that the infection of Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae, or PSA, is more than an isolated pair of infections.
"We're now seeing it more widespread than we would want to see," Biosecurity Minister David Carter is quoted as saying in the New Zealand Herald. "It looks as though we are dealing with a bigger problem than we thought," he added.
MAF officials have warned the public to stay from kiwi orchards in order to limit possible contamination. The MAF also has started spraying orchards to stop further spreading.
The fear is that trading partners will soon start to ban the entrance of New Zealand Kiwi. The United States and Australia have blocked the entry of plant roots but no prohibitions have yet been placed on the fruit.
Zespri is also deploying some 40 inspectors in the Te Puke region to act a s a "rapid response team" and collect samples of both green and gold varieties leaves, according to a press statement.
The sampling is part of an effort that in conjunction with laboratories of the MAF will provide a better geographical sense of how the bacteria has spread. The results are expected for early next week.
Zespri has urged its growers to continue normal operations while strictly adhering to hygiene practices, especially when moving machinery from orchard to orchard.