NZ: learning Europe's lessons from Psa

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NZ: learning Europe's lessons from Psa

The chief executive of New Zealand's Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has called for the industry to take on a national pest management strategy with clearer goals and management practices for different parts of the country.

Barry O'Neil tells a recent trip to Europe reinforced his convinctions that more needed to be done to tackle kiwifruit vine disease Psa, to avoid the types of problems that have been seen in Italy and southern France.

"What I saw there was the impact on gold kiwifruit orchards, with Hort16A which is the gold variety that has been badly affected in New Zealand, and the impacts were similar to what we’ve seen in New Zealand," he says.

"What we also saw was that with the green kiwifruit production, the Hayward variety, was also significantly affected with vines showing secondary systems, cankers, and in some orchards up to 100% of the female vines were affected by Psa.

"That reinforced to me that if we don’t continue aggressively managing and containing the disease that we will have increasing problems with Psa in New Zealand."

O'Neil highlights the proposed National Pest Management Strategy (NPMS) would help the industry have a more concerted approach to tackling the disease.

"Firstly we’d have clear objectives of what we’re trying to achieve into the future and the proposals I’ve put to growers in New Zealand would cover three areas.

"The first area is those areas where Psa is not present, so Northland, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and Nelson, and the objective is to keep the disease out.

"The pest management strategy would give us more teeth with respect to the ability to stop movement of material into those areas, and the ability to monitor those areas to ensure they are Psa-free."

He says the second zone would be for areas with limited distribution of Psa such as South Auckland and Auckland.

"The proposal is to more aggressively contain and work more together as a community to ensure that Psa doesn’t spread rapidly through those growing areas.

"The third zone or situation is the more widespread infections such as Te Puke, and the idea there is to support the recovery pathway and we’ll do that by ensuring that the orchards with Psa are being managed so that the disease doesn’t create a problem for neighboring orchards.

"It would be up to the orchardist to manage the infection and it’s only if the orchard can’t be managed that the strategy will kick in, and require that orchardist to take the appropriate management."

He says while some kiwifruit varieties are more tolerant to Psa, none are resistant.

"The Hayward is a relatively tolerant variety to Psa, but if we don’t manage it properly we will see problems, and that’s what the Italian and French experiences show.

"The orchardists over there weren’t acting appropriately and as such they’ve ended up with greater problems.

"Psa was first seen in Italy in 2007 and they didn’t see the problems in Hayward until 2009-10, so we may not have the same situation that Italy has had until Psa has been in New Zealand a bit longer."

KVH is currently consulting with the kiwifruit industry on the matter, and once recommendations are made O'Neil will prepare a report for the KVH board on whether there is enough grower support necessary to prepare a formal NPMS proposal.

Click here to read more about KVH's discussion paper on the proposed strategy.

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