23 May 2011

Kiwifruit orchard sales wither since PSA outbreak

6:02 am on 23 May 2011

Discovery of the PSA vine disease in kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty region has resulted in orchard sales all but drying up.

The disease was discovered on an orchard near Te Puke six months ago.

Since November, PSA has been confirmed on 229 orchards and 66 growers have removed a total of 87 hectares of vines.

Real estate agent Stan Robb says there was huge domestic and offshore interest in buying orchards before PSA was discovered.

''The week before the announcement, we had $26 million worth of contracts in place that were due to go within a few weeks," he said. "As soon as it was announced, they fell over."

Only two sales of kiwifruit blocks have taken place since November.

More questions over vine disease

Kiwifruit Growers president Peter Ombler says there is still a huge amount to learn about PSA, as it will not be eradicated, and growers have to live with it.

Kiwifruit Vine Health says a research and development programme is underway to provide answers.

Outbreaks of the disease in South Korea and Italy have destroyed large areas of vines. Kiwifruit Vine Health general manager John Burke says close contact is being kept with Italy.