New Zealand examines pollen link in PSA outbreak
PSA, the kiwi vine killing disease that has infected plants in New Zealand this month, has been found in a few pollen samples, prompting an industry group to call for a ban on pollen imports and artificial pollination of kiwi, according to local newspaper the New Zealand Herald.
The country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says on its website that a few pollen samples from 2007, 2009 and 2010 tested positive for the bacterium, but says that “there seems to be no clear link between the use of artificial pollination and the spread of the disease.” The disease may have been in New Zealand for a few years, though it is not clear whether the pollen is the definite source, the MAF website said.
Federated Farmers’ biosecurity spokesman John Hartnell wants the ban on imported pollen and artificial pollination until officials can be sure it is free of diseases not currently found in New Zealand, according to the newspaper. The move would also protect New Zealand’s bees, he said.
The MAF website says that the orchards that have tested positive so far did not use artificial pollination, suggesting that there may be a different source of infection.
Kiwi exporter Zespri is awaiting more MAF test results, but acknowledges that a definitive cause may never be found, the newspaper website said.
As of Monday, 61 orchards had tested positive for PSA, according to Zespri.
Photo: The New Zealand Herald