Wild kiwifruit warning for growers

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Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) are urging kiwifruit orchardists and farmers to keep up best-practice handling of reject kiwifruit, as picking season comes to a close.

They are also encouraging everyone to keep an eye out for wild kiwifruit vines and report sightings to Regional Council on 0800 884 880.

Regional Council senior biosecurity officer Shane Grayling said: "Wild kiwifruit vines can smother areas of bush and forest. They also pose a risk to the kiwifruit industry if they're carrying the bacterial disease Psa-V."

"It's easiest to spot wild kiwifruit vines at this time of year. The leaves start to turn yellow and contrast with surrounding vegetation."

"Birds love to feed on kiwifruit that's left out on vines, in reject bins or on paddocks for stock feed. They then spread the seed that grows into wild kiwifruit vines in areas of native bush and forestry blocks, near orchards or farms," Mr Grayling said.

Regional Council and KVH work collaboratively to fund and manage wild kiwifruit and abandoned orchards. Regional Council is the lead agency managing wild kiwifruit while KVH is lead agency for abandoned orchards.

Mr Grayling said that everyone has a part to play in preventing wild kiwifruit spread. Regional Council recommends the following best practice:

Orchardists

- Remove unpicked fruit from vines and mulch as soon as possible. This prevents mass feeding by birds and allows the fruit to compost as quickly as possible.

Postharvest operators

- Cover bins of reject fruit to prevent birds feeding on ripening fruit.

Farmers

- Cover stockpiles of fruit with shade cloth, windbreak netting or something similar, to prevent birds from getting to them.

- Feed out only what will be eaten by stock at one time to prevent birds from eating leftovers.


Members of the public

- Be careful with the disposal of kiwifruit, particularly while out in the bush.

- Keep an eye out for wild kiwifruit and call Bay of Plenty Regional Council on 0800 884 880 and ask to speak to a Land Management Officer if you suspect you have seen a wild kiwifruit vine.

"Wild kiwifruit is listed as a 'containment' pest in the Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan which means landowners are responsible for its control. When we receive reports of wild kiwifruit, we work with landowners to confirm the report and help them to get the control work done" said Mr Grayling.

For more information about wild kiwifruit and effective control methods, contact Regional Council, phone 0800 884 880, or see the factsheet 'Minimising the spread of wild kiwifruit' at www.boprc.govt.nz/pestfactsheets

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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