Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

New Psa flare-up as disease spreads

A 10km 'controlled area' has been placed around a kiwifruit orchard in Whenuakite. Photo / Thinkstock
A 10km 'controlled area' has been placed around a kiwifruit orchard in Whenuakite. Photo / Thinkstock

The arrival of kiwifruit scourge Psa-V in Coromandel is being treated as another manmade spread.

A 10km "controlled area" has been placed around a kiwifruit orchard in Whenuakite after industry agency Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) received a provisional Psa-V positive result on four Gold9 vines there.

The case, which the 18 growers within the area have been advised of, is the first time the disease harming the billion-dollar kiwifruit industry has been found in Coromandel.

It follows the first confirmed cases of Psa-V in Waikato two weeks ago, with two Te Awamutu orchards still under investigation.

KVH chief executive Barry O'Neil said news of the spread of Psa-V into the Coromandel region was "not completely unexpected".

Psa-V symptoms became more obvious as sap started to flow in early spring, when there had also been a marked increase in new cases last year.

But Coromandel was identified as a high-risk region for a Psa-V incursion, given its close proximity to Psa-V-infected areas in the Bay of Plenty, where the outbreak began nearly two years ago.

"To find an incursion in another region is very disappointing," Mr O'Neil said.

"However, growers have learned a great deal over the past 18 months and have responded swiftly and responsibly.

"Since being identified with Psa-V, the affected and adjoining vines in this Gold9 orchard have been removed and disposed of."

Mr O'Neil told the Herald it was likely the disease had been spread by a person, as it was suspected to have been in Waikato.

The agency was working with affected Coromandel growers to contain the spread and minimise its impact on kiwifruit orchards in the region.

Extensive monitoring of orchards was under way and an incursion trace-back investigation would be carried out to understand how the infection arrived there.

At the same time, KVH is reviewing the results of a growers' referendum held last month over a proposed national Psa-V pest managementplan.

Among other aims, the plan would give Kiwifruit Vine Health legal powers under the Biosecurity Act to ensure growers properly manage risks and orchard protection.

- NZ Herald

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