Number of Psa hit orchards jumps

By Kiri Gillespie

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A sudden spike in Psa-affected orchards has been recorded.

The latest Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) Bulletin reported 21 newly identified results last week, adding to a total 2073 Psa affected orchards.

The 21 cases refer to a Katikati orchard, a Tauranga West orchard and 19 in Te Puke.

The increase was a result of KVH identifying and following up identification numbers in the Te Puke area that had not previously reported Psa infection.

Despite the increase, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said there were still positives for the industry, so long as growers could hang in there .

Mr Guy visited Te Puke yesterday to meet growers and industry officials in his first Psa visit since he was named minister three months ago.

"I know this is an issue for kiwifruit growers and to me, the Government is supporting growers in this moment of hardship," Mr Guy said.

"From what I've seen today and what I understand so far, the future is looking pretty good.

"We just have to get through the next 12 months or so. Having visited the research centre and seeing all the good they are doing in the industry, the future will be very bright for them."

Zespri government-relations manager Matt Crawford and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Industry president Neil Trebilco said growers had reaped the benefit of dry, still weather.

Mr Crawford said KVH knew of about 30 local orchards they hadn't heard from regarding their Psa status, so a letter was sent out.

"Twenty-one came back and said 'yeah, we've got it and had it for awhile'. The reality is they might have had it for a year or so."

Mr Crawford said research showed Psa became dormant when temperatures were in the 19C to 22C range but it was expected to "wake" with autumn's arrival.

"Then we'll really get a sense of where we are at."

Mr Trebilco agreed with that: "The beast is sleeping but when the wind changes, it starts raining, we expect it to start again." Government support was important to growers, Mr Trebilco said.

Since Psa was first detected in Te Puke, organic grower Jeff Roderick has hosted several politicians on his orchard and Mr Guy's visit certainly was not unique: "It's part of an industry service." However, it was encouraging, Mr Roderick said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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