27 Oct 2012

Kiwifruit canker set to spread in Northland

10:29 am on 27 October 2012

Northland growers say the discovery of the kiwifruit vine-killing disease PSA-V in the region is a serious blow.

Tests have identified the bacterium in a Kerikeri orchard growing the Enza-Gold cultivar, and a controlled area covering 102 orchards around the property has been set up.

Fruitgrowers Federation Northland director Rick Curtis says the industry is worth $35 million a year to the Northland economy and growers had hoped to keep the disease out for at least one more season.

"It's devastating for growers and it's devastating for people who work in the industry," Mr Curtis says.

"Lots of other people are going to be affected by it as well".

He says it's disappointing the disease has appeared so early in the season, because it will make it more difficult to halt its spread.

"All we can do is follow the best practice which is orchard hygiene, protective spray programmes and cut it out if we see it - and just try and manage it the best we can like everyone else has".

More Northland cases likely

Kiwifruit Vine Health chief executive Barry O'Neil says PSA is most likely to have spread to Northland through infected plant material or contaminated orchard equipment and may have been there, undetected, for six months.

Dr O'Neil, says infections are likely to be confirmed in more orchards in the area as growers increase monitoring and are more familiar with the signs of the disease.

Confirmation of the disease in Northland comes soon after the discovery of the canker in Hawke's Bay.

Dr O'Neil says PSA-V has recently been confirmed on a second Hawke's Bay orchard, about 6km from the first discovery in the Taradale area.

Since the disease was first found on an orchard near Te Puke in November 2010, it has spread to all parts of Bay of Plenty, as well as being found south of Auckland, Waikato, Hawke's Bay and the Coromandel area.