NZ: Psa pressure pushes T&G to withdraw Zespri appeal

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NZ: Psa pressure pushes T&G to withdraw Zespri appeal

New Zealand fruit company Turners & Growers (T&G) has withdrawn its High Court appeal against Zespri due to 'severe pressure' on the kiwifruit industry with vine disease Psa.

The company's case aimed to put an end to Zespri's export monopoly for kiwifruit, with an appeal that was to be heard on Nov. 1.

"Psa will change the industry in a way that no-one could have imagined.  Like all kiwifruit growers, Turners & Growers is hoping that a solution will be found quickly and that needs to be the focus for everyone in the industry at this time," said T&G managing director Jeff Wesley.

"The Turners & Growers Board remains committed to gaining the right to export our own kiwifruit varieties, but believe challenging the legality of the Kiwifruit Regulations 1999 is not the right course given the threat currently facing the industry."

A T&G spokesperson has told the company is still continuing with its appeal in the second part of the case, which focuses on claims against Zespri under the Commerce Act. A date for this hearing is yet to be decided.

In an announcement, T&G confirmed none of its orchards had yet been impacted by the disease.

The company believes it had a strong case against the single desk marketer, as in August the High Court found Zespri had taken advantage of its market power in adopting a policy of only commercializing new cultivars that it owned.

However, despite these grounds the court ruled that T&G could not show Zespri had the purpose of substantially lessening competition because it could not prove the government would deregulate the industry or when it would do so.

New Psa-V test developed

On another note, Hill Laboratories and Plant & Food Research have developed a faster, more reliable and cheaper test based on DNA sequencing to detect Psa-V in kiwifruit vines, website reported.

Special projects manager at Hill Laboratories Dr Terry Braggins, said the development followed months of intensive work responding to the kiwifruit industry's needs.

"It involved DNA sequencing of a number of strains of Psa and identifying areas of the sequence that were unique to Psa-V. This means the test is far more specific than the current methods. We are able to positively identify Psa-V with a single test, which means a faster and cheaper test for growers," he was quoted as saying.

Braggins said this was crucial given kiwifruit growers were making big financial decisions on the future of their vines, the story reported.

Psa-V is spreading progressively through kiwifruit orchards in the Bay of Plenty. Another 43 orchards were identified as being infected with Psa-V recently.  Signs of the bacterial disease have become more evident with spring growth.

Related story: NZ: T&G launches appeal against High Court Zespri ruling

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