NZ gold kiwifruit variety holds up well to Psa but export not allowed

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NZ gold kiwifruit variety holds up well to Psa but export not allowed

A Turners & Growers gold kiwifruit variety has shown a good level of resistance to Psa-V vine disease, but New Zealand's single desk marketing system rules mean it can only be shipped as far as Australia.

Turners & Growers kiwifruit operations manager Hans Krabo has told the ENZA Gold variety has been healthier than the Hort16A variety in the face of disease.

"They are more resistant; you can’t say they are resistant as there is no variety in the world that is resistant, but they have a lower degree of susceptibility," says Krabo.

"There is a long way to go but there are orchards of ENZA Gold growing well in the most affected areas of Te Puke. We're talking about Hort16A kiwifruit dying over the fence and ENZA Gold is looking healthy.

"It gets a bit of cane die back but only to a small degree and then it seems to stop, so you could argue that it is better at holding up to the disease - I suppose it is by sheer luck of the draw because there wasn't the Psa knowledge when it was developed."

Krabo highlights this has been the case for more than a year now and hopefully the plants will continue to be healthy, but the company doesn't want to "beat its chest too soon".

However, while the variety has so far delivered on the physiological front, growers have been reluctant to grow it due to the export constraints placed on the industry by the single desk marketing system of Zespri, says Krabo.

"It’s very simple. It’s because of the monopoly of Zespri which restricts us with this variety. Many growers are extremely Zespri-oriented and still are really blindfolded and are only looking to market what Zespri has.

"The level of enquiry for ENZA Gold has been good for years, but the challenge for us here is the constraints for the exportability of the fruit. If growers had more export choice there would be a higher interest, but a lot of growers don’t grow it because they don’t have the export right.

"ENZA Gold is not part of their export options but I think it will be, and then any grower could look to a new variety and be free to export. The monopoly will eventually go sooner or later."

The Australia-New Zealand option

He says the alternative of  growing just for Australian and New Zealand markets is still too limiting for many growers to consider it as a viable option.

"We are already selling ENZA Gold in both New Zealand and Australia. The New Zealand market may eat a lot of kiwifruit, but it’s not as easy to grow kiwifruit specifically for the New Zealand market, as there is so much cheap fruit out there.

"Australia on the other hand is a good returns market and a good option, but it’s much smaller and limited."

Opportunities further afield

Krabo says while ENZA Gold can't be exported from New Zealand, its performance so far makes a good case for its cultivation in other countries where export is allowed and Psa threats are always looming.

"We are growing ENZA Gold around the world and its now higher on the agenda to diversify our growing areas in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres," he says.

"Psa could well surface in any country, even if they don’t have much of it already.

"When you look at Hort16A, no one wants to grow that anywhere on earth, because if you have it and Psa comes, you know the outcome."

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