25 Jan 2013

Trial being held of kiwifruit canopies

6:31 am on 25 January 2013

The kiwifruit industry is trialling artificial canopy structures to see how effective they are in stopping the spread of the PSA disease.

The canopies cover growers' orchards, protecting their vines from the wind and rain and cold weather which can spread the bacteria and allow it to thrive.

Zespri says trial work is underway to determine the impact of canopy structures on Psa infection levels in kiwifruit.

Science and innovation manager David Tanner said he is expecting detailed results from the trials by spring - at which point he says growers will be able to use the information to make up their minds on whether to invest in the approach.

Dr Tanner said covered orchards are standard growing practice in Korea.

Protective Canopies director John Holwerda said orchardists are going to have to learn a new way of growing kiwifurit.

He said experience overseas has shown that plastic or glass covers have been highly effective in protecting the vines and initial results in New Zealand have been impressive. Different types of crops are grown under plastic worldwide.

"That's part of the reason why we're doing the trials, part of the reason why we've got so much interest I guess in other growers wanting to learn about how we grow under that environment."

Mr Holwerda said an efficient and viable gold kiwifruit growing business in New Zealand would probably cease, unless PSA is stopped .