6 Sep 2011

Antibiotic spray approved for kiwifruit orchards

1:59 pm on 6 September 2011

Kiwifruit growers in Bay of Plenty have been given permission to spray the antibiotic streptomycin on their vines in an effort to control the vine disease PSA.

The organisation responsible for a plan to control the disease, Kiwifruit Vine Health, has approved its use by growers who have orchards in the PSA priority zones and high risk areas.

Glasshouse trials have shown the bactericide is effective in killing the virulent form of the disease.

Growers will be able to spray the antibiotic on vines until the end of September, before flowering occurs.

KVH general manager John Burke says it will be used as a "knockdown" spray which will reduce inoculum levels quickly.

He says orchard owners and managers will be held accountable if they don't follow agreed protocols.

Grower won't use the spray

Te Puke kiwifruit grower Chris Dunn says he wouldn't use the spray even if he had PSA infected vines.

He has several orchards in the PSA priority zone and says he's been successfully using a variety of biological methods to keep his kiwifruit vines healthy.

He says several countries have banned the use of the antibiotic and it is not clear whether New Zealand produce will be accepted there.

Mr Dunn also has concerns about the implications for human health, and the non-selective nature of the antibiotic, which will kill both good and bad bacteria.