The kiwifruit industry has bounced back from the devastation Psa which wiped out Zespri's golden Hort 16A crop almost 10 years ago.
It ruined vines. It ruined orchards. It ruined lives.
Today kiwifruit is the biggest horticulture export out of New Zealand and the sector is booming, but as Carmen Hall reports, it is facing new threats,
Every kiwifruit orchard in Waihi, 99 per cent in Te Puke and 97 per cent in Tauranga have Psa.
But other threats like the Queensland fruit fly and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug are high on the industry radar, experts say.
Latest Kiwi Vine Health figures show 92 per cent of kiwifruit hectares nationwide were battling the bacterial disease while the wider Bay of Plenty has the highest number recorded.
Chief executive Stu Hutchings said the South Island and the Far North were the only kiwifruit-growing regions not affected.
Kiwifruit Vine Health was established in December 2010 to lead the industry's Psa response.
Little was known about the bacteria, but on December 23, 2010, growers whose orchards tested positive for Psa-V were offered compensation funded by the industry and Government if they cut their vines out.
''As we learnt more about the virulent nature of Psa, it became obvious the weeks-long process of testing, negotiating compensation, and lining up trained contractors to cut out an orchard was a delay we could not accommodate,'' said Hutchings.
The cost of compensation was also unsustainable, he said, and the decision was later made to stop payouts, but many growers continued to cut their own vines out.
Kiwifruit Vine Health today works to build biosecurity resilience and has transformed into an industry-funded biosecurity agency.
Hutchings said it was ''focused on educating the public, industry members and growers regarding biosecurity threats, research, incursion preparedness and response, and management of current pests''.
It represents the industry in the Government Industry Agreements that specifically focus on readiness and response planning for pests and organisms like the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Fruit Fly.
The organisation spends about 30 per cent of it's time on managing Psa – overseeing protocols which help keep exclusion zones free of the disease, slow its spread in affected areas, and minimise its impact on production, he said.
But there were many potential threats to kiwifruit with more than 70 pests and pathogens.
■ Fruit flies, especially the Queensland fruit fly is present in Australia. It was detected and destroyed this year in Northcote and Devonport. If it was found in a kiwifruit production region such as Te Puke, the short-term trade implications would have been significant.
■ Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is another significant threat that places enormous pressure at the borders. This pest is native to Asia and is currently invading the US and Europe. New Zealand border staff intercept hundreds of items containing BMSB. It pierces the fruit with its mouth to feed. Overseas kiwifruit growers report fruit losses of around 5-10 per cent from this pest, but up to 30 per cent on the worst blocks.
■ Pathogens include Brazilian wilt caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata, a soil-borne fungus which is causing significant impacts to kiwifruit growers in Brazil. It has been the focus of readiness efforts between KVH and MPI, and research within Zespri.
Kiwifruit Vine Health
■ Kiwifruit Vine Health employs nine staff and receives funding each year from grower levies.
■ There are two levies funding activity of Kiwfruit Vine Health, one for Psa and one for wider biosecurity work. These add up to 1.6c per tray of kiwifruit exported (except to Australia) and equated to an income of $1.9m for the financial year ending March 31, 2018.