Psa found on Whangarei kiwifruit orchard

This is the first confirmed case of Psa-V on an orchard in the Whangarei region.

Just as the local kiwifruit industry appeared to have recovered from the ravaging bacterial disease Psa, a new positive test result has emerged – this time in Northland.

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) says it has received a Psa-V positive test result on gold variety Hort16A kiwifruit vines on an orchard in Whangarei.

This is the first confirmed case of Psa-V on an orchard in the Whangarei region, the grower-driven, industry organisation says. 

KVH chief executive Barry O’Neil says this new find in Whangarei is very disappointing and will be particularly hard for local growers and the regional committee. 

“Based on the symptoms found—dieback and exudate—it’s likely the disease has been in the area for some time and the symptoms are now starting to show,” he says.

KVH says all growers in the region have been advised of the situation, including best-practice advice.

KVH will hold a meeting for Whangarei growers next week and will be carrying out extensive monitoring in the region over the weekend.

There are a total of 49 orchards in the Whangarei region comprising of approximately 144 canopy hectares.

“Every grower in every region should be proactively monitoring their vines and maintaining a robust spray programme this spring to protect their orchards as much as possible,” Mr O’Neil says.

Kiwifruit growers had earlier been warned not to be complacent about the vine disease due to the cold winter, which can make Psa more active.

Evidence of fresh Psa comes as a group of Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit growers proceed with a class action against the government over poor border controls.

The claim alleges that Biosecurity NZ was negligent in allowing Psa to be introduced into New Zealand, costing New Zealand at least $885 million.

Prime Minister John Key has said the government is confident of its position and handled things appropriately.

Earlier this month, Zespri announced that the kiwifruit industry had set a new export record for gold fruit volumes.

Zespri handled 32 million trays of gold fruit this season  – three million more than in 2011, when Psa was rampaging through the region.

Shares of Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, the country's biggest kiwifruit grower, fell 1.5 percent to $3.30.

Growers in the Whangarei area are advised the following.

  • Monitor orchards extensively and report any suspicious Psa-V symptoms to KVH on 0800 665 825.
  • Maintain strict orchard hygiene procedures as per KVH Best Practice: Orchard Hygiene. Refer to www.kvh.org.nz/hygiene.
  • Implement and maintain a protective spray programme. KVH recommends a copper spray application as soon as possible. Refer to the spring spray programme in the Psa-V Seasonal Management Guide available on the KVH website www.kvh.org.nz/seasonal_advice.
  • No kiwifruit plant material, including budwood and nursery stock, along with any potentially contaminated orchard equipment, can be moved between orchards.