11 Nov 2011

Kiwifruit regions increase Psa watch

5:45 pm on 11 November 2011

Kiwifruit producing regions not affected by Psa have stepped up surveillance measures in a bid to keep their patches free of the infection that has devastated orchards in Bay of Plenty.

The vine-killing disease PsaV has now infected 90% of gold and more than half of green variety orchards in the Te Puke district, one year after the disease was first found there.

An anxiously awaited test for the disease in Northland came back all-clear this week.

However, Kiwifruit Vine Health, which is responsible for managing the disease, says kiwifruit growers in all regions remain on edge.

General manager John Burke says they are doing more to keep the disease at bay, which is timely as vines come out of dormancy to reveal the symptoms of the disease.

Meanwhile, Kiwifruit Vine Health has announced it will no longer pay for Psa testing in the Te Puke priority zone.

Mr Burke says the infection is so dense in that region there is no benefit in paying for the testing of the few remaining orchards clear of it.

However, he says the organisation is still very interested in hearing from gold variety growers whose orchards are withstanding Psa.

The negative impact of PsaV is being blamed for a predicted drop in kiwifruit volumes this season.

Te Puke-based co-operative Satara, which represents about 10% of kiwifruit growers, says it expects volumes for this season to fall by up to 12%.

Satara packed nearly 10 million trays last season.