8 Nov 2011

Te Puke orchard available for Psa trials

7:26 am on 8 November 2011

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit grower whose Te Puke orchard was the first to be identified as having the vine-killing disease Psa a year ago has made part of his orchard available for research trials to find ways of controlling the bacteria.

Russell West's orchard is in the first priority zone, set up in an attempt to contain the more virulent strain of the disease, known as Psa-V.

The disease has now infected more than a fifth of New Zealand's kiwifruit orchards in Bay of Plenty.

Mr West says research is taking time and as growers see their vines dying and their income diminishing or disappearing altogether, they are impatient to get results and he's been happy to help the research effort.

"Some people have come to us and said they'd like to try a product and we've said "go ahead" because we have the view that everyone in the world should putting their head to this because the answer might come out of left field and we want to give everyone a chance."

Currently, Mr West's orchard is hosting a trial by Omnia, a company that specialises in treatments for plant diseases.

It is trying out pellets to combat the Psa bacteria that are inserted into the trunk of vines.

Meanwhile, Kiwifruit Vine Health - which is leading the battle against Psa - says research and development is focusing on new cultivars as well as disease-resistant rootstocks and it hopes something will be available in the next two to three years.