17 Nov 2010

PSA strain i/d no longer priority - MAF

6:53 am on 17 November 2010

The Ministry of Agriculture says finding out what strain of PSA is infecting kiwifruit orchards in Bay of Plenty is no longer a high priority.

There's been concern that the vine disease here could be as virulent as the one that has ravaged vines in Italy, and MAF and the kiwifruit industry have said that finding out what strain it is was pivitol in their response to the outbreak.

MAF's response manager, David Yard, says determining the strain of PSA is no longer a priority, as he says it is more important knowing how widespread the disease is and how it reacts in the New Zealand environment.

He says "the critical thing is the organism itself."

The exact strain won't be known for another couple of weeks.

Wild vines

The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand says wild kiwifruit vines around Te Puke could be spreading the vine disease.

Its Kaimai ranges campaign chairman Peter Maddison says wild vines are growing out of control down the gullies surrounding orchards at Te Puke and could be carrying the disease.

Dr Maddison says he has written to MAF Biosecurity and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council urging an immediate eradication programme.

He says the authorities have been concentrating on the kiwifruit orchards, but the wild vines could be important because they could recolonise the disease into orchards cleared of the infection.