22 Nov 2010

Federated Farmers calls for ministry to explain

9:03 pm on 22 November 2010

Federated Farmers wants the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to disclose the basis for its refusal to suspend pollen imports after the outbreak of the kiwifruit vine disease PSA.

Federated Farmers says it believes the practice could spread PSA and has called for it to be suspended.

The ministry says the suspension is not necessary because some growers rely heavily on artificial pollination, and there is no evidence yet that proves it is causing the spread of the disease.

But Federated Farmers' biosecurity spokesperson, John Hartnell, says the ministry needs to provide some confidence that what is being brought into New Zealand is being properly screened for diseases, viruses and fungal spore.

Mr Hartnell is questioning whether authorities have carried out the appropriate screening.

Call for cautiuon

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is urging growers to be cautious about artificial pollination.

The disease has been confirmed on 55 orchards in the Bay of Plenty, Tasman district, Hawke's Bay and Waikato.

Artificial pollination involves spraying kiwifruit vines with pollen collected from other plants. It improves fertilisation rates and is widely used in the kiwifruit industry.

Zespri director of corporate and grower services Carol Ward says a blanket ban is not appropriate and growers should act with caution and understand the risks.

Growers are being asked to practise good orchard hygiene and monitor for symptoms of PSA.

Kerikeri orchards get all-clear

Zespri says two Kerikeri orchards with suspected PSA symptoms have been given the all-clear, and test results are pending on another five.

Three Whangarei growers are also awaiting test results.

Kiwifruit marketing organisation Zespri is urging growers to be cautious about artificial pollination.

Northland is still officially clear of PSA. The region supplies four per cent of the annual kiwifruit crop.

Fruitgrowers Federation spokesperson for Northland, Rick Curtis, says growers are being vigilant about inspecting their orchards, but so far PSA does not appear to have gained a foothold in the north.

Positive tests

Another six orchards have returned positive tests for PSA.

Three are in Te Puke, two in Hawke's Bay and one in the Whakatane-Edgecumbe area.

Twenty of the 61 confirmed cases are green kiwifruit orchards, with the rest gold.

Another three orchards have been placed under movement restrictions.

Some growers are cutting back affected vines in line with ministry hygiene and disposal procedures.

Zespri says 485 orchards have now been inspected by assessors.

With 338 sets of test results received so far, approximately four out of five orchards have been given the all-clear.