NZ kiwifruit orchards to be tested for correct use of Psa-V antibiotics
New Zealand kiwifruit growers are bracing themselves for more testing following fears some producers may have misused sprays in an attempt to save their vines from the Psa-V disease, website Stuff.co.nz reported.
Marketeer and distributor Zespri will visit every orchard to check growers followed procedures correctly.
Kiwifruit Growers president Neil Trebilco said some irregular activity could have happened in September when Psa-V ravaged the Bay of Plenty.
"There may have been some growers who were desperate enough to use products that they shouldn't have used, and obviously, as an industry, we'll be looking at that and making the appropriate decisions to make sure that none of that product gets to market," he was quoted as saying.
Zespri is stepping up its previously random testing and refusing to sell fruit where residues were still detected.
With harvesting about to start in a few weeks, Trebilco urged growers to come forward to tell the industry if they had used products wrongly or without approval.
"There are literally hundreds of products and a lot of them are not permitted for use [here] so if growers have used it we want to know about it. We are absolutely aware that we need to protect our markets," he said.
Zespri Gold kiwifruit was the variety most affected by Psa-V which has contaminated about 30% of the industry's orchards, particularly in the Bay of Plenty.
Government agencies have been testing a range of sprayed and injected antibiotics to counter disease, but the injected product was scrapped and approved sprays had to be used within a strict time limit.
Zespri chairman John Loughlin said he knew of no cases of growers ignoring the witholding periods.
"Our position on testing was formulised right at the outset when we approved the tool. We want to protect 99.9% of growers who have done everything properly, and secondly, we want to protect our brand and our message for global consumers," he was quoted as saying.
Eastpack chair and Zespri director, Ray Sharp has announed his resignation citing conflict between his position and the way he was managing his orchard.
Zespri chairman Loughlin refused to say if the conflict related to reports that some growers were planting a new unlicensed variety gold kiwifruit that the industry hopes will be more resistant to Psa-V.
Loughlin said an independent investigation as to whether Zespri deputy chairman Peter McBride was linked to unlicensed planting of the new G3 variety should be completed this month.
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