1 Nov 2011

Industry hopes Northland Psa result is false alarm

10:15 am on 1 November 2011

The Kiwifruit Vine Health organisation says it will probably be mid-week before it has a definitive test result for a suspected case of Psa disease in a Northland orchard.

And it says there's still room for hope that it will prove to be a false alarm.

Samples from about 20 more suspected cases of the kiwifruit vine-killing disease have been sent for testing from the Kerikeri area in Northland.

An initial test has indicated the virulent form of the disease has infected a vine in a kiwifruit orchard in the Kerikeri area.

If it is confirmed in the follow up test, it would be the first known case of Psa-V outside Bay of Plenty.

Kiwifruit Vine Health general manager John Burke says however that there are still some doubts about the initial result. He says the symptoms on the vines are not that typical, so there is still a bit of hope it is not Psa-V.

Mr Burke says if there is an infection it is likely the disease has been accidentally transported to the area, possibly even before anyone was aware it was in New Zealand.

He says he expects to know on Monday whether Psa symptoms have shown up in any other Northland kiwifruit orchards.

Growers not taking chances

Kerikeri Fruitgrowers Association chair Rick Curtis says growers are taking a proactive approach to the news Psa may have come to Kerikeri.

He says all the growers in the district sprayed their vines with copper spray over the weekend in a co-ordinated effort to contain the disease.

He says the small size of the Kerikeri kiwi-growing area may be an advantage in tackling Psa: "We certainly hope so."

Hopes green variety can stand up to Psa-V

Meanwhile, growers of green or Hayward variety kiwifruit are hoping their vines will prove to be more resistant to the effects of the virulent strain of Psa than the gold variety.

After initially hitting gold kiwifruit, the virulent strain is now increasingly showing up in green vines in the main growing area of Bay of Plenty.

But New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers president Peter Ombler says the symptoms appearing on green vines so far are generally limited to the primary signs of leaf-spotting, and there is still a good chance those vines will fend off the disease and survive to produce a crop.

Mr Ombler says that has been the experience in other countries such as Italy.