27 Apr 2011

New test speeds up kiwifruit disease detection

7:16 am on 27 April 2011

A new rapid-detection test available from this week will tell kiwifruit growers within days rather than weeks what strain of PSA disease is infecting their vines.

Growers already have access to a quick test that confirms whether or not they have the vine-killing bacterial disease.

But the follow-up analysis, to find out whether it's the virulent or less virulent strain of infection, can take more than two weeks.

Now a Te Puke laboratory, Verified Laboratory Services, says that with funding from post-harvest operators Seeka and Eastpack it has developed a test that shortens that to two days.

Peter Mourits of Seeka says the virulent strain of PSA can kill vines very quickly, so speeding up the diagnosis is important.

And John Burke, general manager of the Kiwifruit Vine Health organisation - set up by the industry to direct the PSA control programme - says speedier testing will help it as well.

Mr Burke says the virulent form of PSA has been confirmed on 97 orchards in the Te Puke area, but there are another 91 orchards where they still haven't identified the strain.