22 Mar 2012

New gold kiwifruit offers hope of disease resistance

2:11 pm on 22 March 2012

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is hailing what it calls a turning point in the fight against the vine-killing disease Psa.

It has announced a wider rollout of a new gold kiwifruit variety that is showing what the company says is a good level of tolerance to the disease.

All growers of the original gold variety, Hort16A, which has been the hardest hit by Psa, can now purchase G3 licences for $8000 a hectare.

Payments can also be deferred until the new vines produce fruit, which will take about three years.

About 500 growers on 1400 hectares of land are expected to take up the offer.

Zespri chairman John Loughlin says growing the new variety will not be risk-free because it is not yet fully clear what impact Psa may have on G3 or its commercial performance.

But he says Wednesday's release is a major milestone for the industry and marks a turning point in its rebuild.

Mr Loughlin says banks have signalled they will support growers during the transition.

Zespri released the first licences for up to 200 hectares of G3 gold kiwifruit last year.