NZ: Psa detection "reinvigorates" Hawkes Bay fight against disease

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NZ: Psa detection "reinvigorates" Hawkes Bay fight against disease

New Zealand's Hawkes Bay Fruitgrowers Association says while the detection of kiwifruit disease Psa-V in the region has been disappointing, it has "reinvigorated" countermeasures to stop its spread.

The association's kiwifruit chair Peter Olsen told a grower meeting on Monday emphasized a multi-pronged approach, while many producers had already been applying the lessons learned from the heavily hit Bay of Plenty area.

The meeting was attended by a Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) representative and a grower from Te Puke.

"It's not just about applying more sprays to try and stop Psa but orchard management, how we go about managing the orchards regarding cutting and pruning," he says.

"I know one thing that some growers in Hawkes Bay have already been doing, and I guess more will be now, is physically locking their gates.

"Often we have casual workers just stroll onto orchards looking for work, so we just have to try and prevent that risk of people moving Psa from one orchard to another.

He says the area is dominated by green varieties, but over the years there has been a move to gold variety fruit. However, due to the Zespri Gold's susceptibility to the disease, some growers have begun grafting to the more tolerant G3 variety, marketed by Zespri as SunGold.

He says the areas 40-50 orchards have the benefit of relative isolation from one another.

"One thing we think we have in our favor is our orchards are relatively well separated as opposed to the Te Puke, Bay of Plenty area where you have orchards right beside each other," he says.

He emphasizes all advice from industry sources was that Psa would be difficult to contain, and that growers should have been preparing themselves for its arrival.

"I wouldn’t say it’s a huge surprise, but obviously it reinvigorates all our efforts to counter it."

He adds grower meetings will be held more frequently, but aside from Psa concerns the area has been going fairly well.

"There was a period two or three years back when the global financial crisis definitely had an impact, depressed returns a little bit for growers but I think things have rebounded considerably," he says.

"Putting Psa aside, things are looking relatively positive. Even in spite of Psa, growers here are optimistic we can overcome the Psa challenge, and there is a good future for kiwifruit growers in New Zealand."

Olsen began kiwifruit farming in 2008 because he believed it was a "fantastic product" that was positive and excellent for nutrition.

"Also, the single point of entry model used for marketing kiwifruit I think is positive for me, and in fact there are other industries in New Zealand which are talking about adopting a similar model."

Related story: NZ: kiwifruit disease detected further south

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