9 Oct 2012

Florists warned against speading vine canker

1:46 pm on 9 October 2012

Florists slipping a few decorative canes of kiwifruit vine into floral arrangements may be creating a pathway for the spread of vine canker, biosecurity executives say.

Kiwifruit Vine Health  is asking florists not to use kiwifruit plant material because of the potential risk of spreading the vine-killing disease PSA-V.

KVH chief executive Barry O'Neil says florists were initially advised some time ago not to use kiwifruit plant material.

But he says as recently as last week, growers were reporting it still being used flower arrangements.

"The person receiving the flowers could take them anywhere in New Zealand," he says.

"Plant material is very effective at moving PSA.

"We just want to make sure that this area of risk is shut down".

Dr O'Neil says people may have forgotten warnings or have decided there's no risk because the disease has already spread.

"I don't agree with that. There's still a number of significant growing areas ... that we must keep free (of PSA) for as long as we possibly can."

Florists New Zealand Incorporated chair Michele Clark says that, suprisingly, vines are still being sold in the floral markets, and it is also possible old vines are still being used, as dried kiwifruit canes can last for several years.

Ms Clark says her organisation and others in the industry are doing their best to get the message to florists about the risk of spreading the disease.

Dr O'Neil suggests grape vines may be an attractive alternative to replace kiwifruit in floral arrangements.