28 Dec 2012

Hope for new kiwifruit vine disease treatment

3:19 pm on 28 December 2012

Kiwifruit orchardists in Te Puke are preparing to try a new Italian fertiliser in the hope of combatting the vine-killing virus Psa-V.

The product, known as Yeti F, has been trialled for the past two months on 25 hectares of badly affected vines.

The fertiliser is mixed with silver compounds, with small amounts of copper and iron, which improves the health of the plant and makes it easier for it to photosynthesise.

The method has been tested with positive results for the past nine months in Italy, where scientists have been working to fight the disease since it hit that country in 1992.

The product is imported by Perazim Technology. Its director, Chris Dunn, said when badly affected plants were cut back to the stump and injected with Yeti F at the base, more than 90% of the grafts grew again.

Mr Dunn said the plants showed clean growth with minimal leaf spotting and no die-back, but it was too early to say whether the plants still had the disease.

The agency in charge of finding a solution to the disease, Kiwifruit Vine Health, has had 300 products independently tested since the disease was first detected in New Zealand two years ago.

Kiwifruit Vine Health director Peter Ombler said it was important to use any information available from other countries.