Orchardists leaving nothing to chance to stop Psa

Some Northland kiwifruit growers were working to keep Psa at bay long before the announcement last week that the vine-killing disease had arrived.

The van Rooyen family, of Kerikeri's Maraenui Dr, have been using a vehicle trough for disinfecting vehicles, mulchers and mowers since September, and are building a separate pedestrian entrance and foot bath.

In the meantime, anyone entering the property has to dip or spray their footwear in disinfectant at a Psa station as well as using hand sanitiser.

They are about to install an electric gate to control access and a water blaster with disinfectant attachment for cleaning vehicles and equipment before they enter the property.

The family knows the threat all too well - the former tobacco growers were threatened by a similar disease, angular leaf spot, in Zimbabwe. The treatment and precautions against angular leaf spot are identical to those for Psa, technical director Derek van Rooyen said.

The family has 0.5ha of G9 gold kiwifruit, a 0.25ha trial of red kiwifruit, and have just grafted 4ha of G3, a gold variety more resistant to Psa. They run four other orchards in the district, where they are taking similar measures with support from the Satara fruit-growing cooperative.

- Northern Advocate

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