Chilean kiwifruit heartland at "enormous" risk from Psa, says committee - FreshFruitPortal.com

Chilean kiwifruit heartland at "enormous" risk from Psa, says committee

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Chilean kiwifruit heartland at "enormous" risk from Psa, says committee

The Chilean Kiwifruit Committee has called for greater government controls in orchards, processing plants and nurseries to contain bacterial vine disease Psa, which is slowly advancing north from the province of Linares to larger production areas. kiwifruit close-up 5

Comittee president Carlos Cruzat said actions to date had not been enough to raise awareness amongst growers about the importance of preventative control, prompting plans to start an active campaign to "defend the province of Curicó as a growing area and as a Bacteriosis frontier".

A committee release said the disease was moving "timidly" toward the provinces of Talca and Curicó, which account for 63.4% and 14% of kiwifruit cultivation respecitvely in the VII (Maule) region, which makes up just under half the national total.

It said this posed an "enormous risk" to the survival of growers, with potential for a silent contagion in the fall without symptoms.

A more telling percentage however is that 71.1% of Chile's gold kiwifruit - historically more susceptible to Psa than green varieties - are in Maule. Of the gold kiwifruit orchards in the region, 86.5% are in Curicó.

"With concern we see there are growers who are still minimizing the risk of this serious disease, who consider the actions of the industry to be alarming, putting the health conditions of their orchards and of their neighboorhoods at risk," Cruzat said.

"We are not overreacting. What we want is to avoid falling asleep in the face of a chance to contain this disease and enhance the kiwifruit industry.

"From 2010 to date, the price of kiwifruit has risen systematically, which is why it is fundamental to realize that we cannot waste this great option to reposition kiwifruit as a good commercial alternative."

The committee said that without internal farm management against the disease across the industry, the range of preventative actions taken to date, including plant material movement controls and orchard regulations, would not be sufficient.

Cruzat added that growers in the VI (O'Higgins) region, who account for 35.2% of national production, had not taken phytosanitary programs or treatments seriously enough.

"Few kiwifruit growers in the VI region are implementing active prevention programs, which is why we believe it is necessary for SAG (Agriculture and Livestock Service) to control orchards, nurseries and fruit centers. This is a national problem and it is necessary to put the whole industry on alert," he said.

"We have to strengthen integrated management of Psa. Local authorities must commit resources and work, and growers ought to be vigilant, active and engaged."

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