NZ: Zespri to license Gold3 kiwifruit after positive test results
New Zealand kiwifruit company has announced a wide-scale release of Gold3 kiwifruit licenses to growers, after testing showed it had higher tolerance to vine disease Psa-V than the current Hort16A variety.
Zespri chairman John Loughlin said the move was a milestone after the negative impacts Psa has had on Hort16A growers and communities that rely on the kiwifruit industry.
A company release said Gold3's tolerance was supported by an extensive laboratory research program, with observations and experience both in New Zealand and overseas.
The release said the variety has naturally higher yields, appears easier to manage through the supply chain, stores well late in the season and has had positive in-market consumer responses over consecutive seasons.
"Gold3 has consistently delivered a very good Gold eating experience to consumers across key Zespri markets," a spokesperson told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"Similar to Zespri Gold, it has been characterised as having an appealing overall flavour and high ratings in the attributes of sweet/sour balance, freshness and juiciness."
The company release said once a grower grafts across to the variety it will take up to three years to return to full production. Loughlin pointed out the variety was not without its risks.
"We do not have all the knowledge on either the Psa or the commercial performance of Gold3," he said.
"However, based on what is known to date we are confident this pathway is realistic and gives the industry its best chance of coming out of Psa."
In February, kiwifruit company Turners & Growers indicated it had received a positive response from Zespri for negotiations to export another Psa-tolerant kiwifruit Enza Gold, with 350,000 trays potentially on the cards this year.
The Zespri spokesperson said the application for Enza Gold was still in processing so there were no updates to give on its outcome yet.
Last month, outgoing Turners & Growers CEO Jeff Wesley told www.freshfruitportal.com the transition period to G3 would be a benefit to Chilean gold kiwifruit exporters.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) responded positively to Zespri's announcement, with president Neil Trebilco saying it signalled 'fresh hope for growers'.
"There will be more orchardists who will need to cut their orchards out, which means they will be without income for at least a further year until their Gold3 vines begin to produce a crop," he said.
"While it is great to be talking about a starting point, we have to remember that many growers will be hurting for some time yet.
"That we have got to this point is because of our unified industry structure, which has ensured that the response to Psa has been as focused and coordinated as possible. Once again our industry structure has overwhelmingly proven its benefit to all growers."
KVH spokesman Terry Richards said the move was a significant step but the hard work continued for the industry, as the disease remained a long-term risk for all kiwifruit growers.
"Our focus going forward is to continue to get best available scientific knowledge and practical information to growers about minimising the impact of Psa on orchards."