22 Aug 2012

Kiwifruit disease now in Waikato

10:30 am on 22 August 2012

Kiwifruit growers in Waikato are coming to terms with the news that a virulent strain of the vine-killing disease PSA has been found in the region for the first time.

The disease, first discovered in New Zealand near Te Puke in November 2010, has cost the industry several hundred million dollars in lost production and treatment of vines.

Until now, it has been confined to orchards in Bay of Plenty and half a dozen in the Franklin district south of Auckland.

Confirmation that the PSA-V strain has been been found on a six-hectare block of organic kiwifruit north of Te Awamutu has shocked growers.

Kiwifruit Vine Health's Waikato co-ordinator, Richard Glenn, says the spread of the disease in the region is a nightmare and a mystery.

Mr Glenn, who grows kiwifruit and apples, says he felt sick when he heard the news.

The organisation's chief executive, Barry O'Neil, says a 12km control area is being set up around the infected orchard and 26 growers inside the area will be advised about closely monitoring their blocks and spray options.

Growers will meet representatives from the agency and Zespri in Cambridge on Wednesday to discuss strategies.