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Zespri banks on new gold kiwifruit strain to combat Psa bacteria

Wednesday 21st March 2012

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Zespri International, the legislated fruit marketing monopoly, is pinning its hopes on a new strain of gold kiwifruit to see off the vine bacteria that invaded local orchards in 2010.

The company has launched a recovery plan that will grant growers of the Hort16A varietal, which has been devastated by the Pseudomonas syringae pv actinadiae bacteria, licences for the Gold3 strand. Gold3 has shown a good level of tolerance to Psa, Zespri said in a statement.

“Zespri is being very clear to growers that this pathway is not without risk,” chairman John Loughlin said. “Based on what is known to date we are confident this pathway is realistic and gives the industry its best chance of coming out of Psa.”

Earlier this week, the fruit marketer said trays for the 2012 season will probably be down 20 million to 95 million trays as the Psa bacteria ravages kiwifruit crops. Zespri will produce about 1 million trays of the new Gold3 variety that was commercialised in 2010 after decade-long development.

Psa has infected more than 40 percent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit hectares, with the level of infection ranging from low-level leaf-spotting to entire orchards being cut out, Zespri said.

Last year the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry flagged the diseases will probably cut exports of the fruit by a quarter in the March 2013 year.

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