7 Sep 2011

Zespri says kiwifruit antibiotic spray won't cause residues

7:35 am on 7 September 2011

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is confident that the use of the antibiotic streptomycin to help control the vine killing disease PSA will not jeopardise exports.

Kiwifruit Vine Health has given approval for Bay of Plenty growers in high risk areas to spray the product KeyStrepto onto their vines up to three times before flowering.

Opponents say its use could damage Zespri's ability to sell kiwifruit next year into the European Union, which bans any fruit containing residues from antibiotics or chemicals.

Zespri grower relations general manager Simon Limmer says there's no risk in using the antibiotic before flowering.

He says the Environmental Protection Agency would not have authorised the the kiwifruit industry to use streptomycin if there was a danger of residues in fruit.

Mr Limmer says Zespri has a zero residue policy on fruit, and the applications will be completed prior to flowering.

He says fruit will be tested in orchards before picking, and also after it arrives at a packhouse.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's largest kiwifruit grower, Te Puke based Seeka, hasn't yet decided whether to use streptomycin on its orchards.

Chief executive Michael Franks says the spread of PSA V in a 16-hectare gold kiwifruit orchard it leases, has heightened the company's concerns about the disease.

He says KeyStrepto is under review, and if it were used, it would only be used once.

Mr Franks says Seeka's own trials are working on injecting antibiotics rather than spraying them.

He says the trials include trying to cure kiwifruit vines heavily infected with PSA V.