7 Nov 2011

Origin of kiwifruit disease still unknown one year on

8:58 am on 7 November 2011

A year after the kiwifruit vine-killing disease Psa was first discovered in a Bay of Plenty orchard, a report on how the infection got into the country is yet to be released.

More than one fifth of orchards have been identified as having the disease since Psa was discovered, most of them in Te Puke.

Priority zones cover more than 70% of the country's kiwifruit land.

Dozens of hectares of vines have already been cut down, costing growers millions of dollars in lost production with potentially hundreds more hectares to be removed before the next harvest.

Kiwifruit Growers president Peter Ombler says the disease is having a very serious impact on the current gold variety and uncertainty remains over green kiwifruit production.

A major packing company Eastpack says it may have to offer voluntary redundancies if kiwifruit production drops.

Kiwi marketer Zespri says its sales have not suffered yet but that is likely to change next year.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says a report on the origin of the disease is being finalised but it can not yet say when it will be made public.