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Biosecurity, Zespri still uncertain over extent of Psa kiwifruit infection

Thursday 11th November 2010

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MAF Biosecurity New Zealand officials and Zespri Group are still unsure as to the scale of the Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidae (Psa) infection.  

Almost a week on from discovering the bacteria, Biosecurity NZ has cleared 57 orchards of the 135 growers who reported symptoms. Of the 78 growers who asked officials to visit, several were outside the Bay of Plenty region, though Barry O’Neill, director general of Biosecurity NZ, refused to be drawn on where they were located. Biosecurity NZ, Zespri and Plant & Food Research hosted a media briefing in Mount Maunganui.

Five orchards totalling 100 hectares and within a 10 kilometre area have been placed under quarantine, three of which have been confirmed as being infected with Psa. Biosecurity officials will begin treating vines with copper spray at the first two orchards this afternoon, or tomorrow morning at the latest. The treatment was delayed so all parties could be consulted on the issue.

Lain Jager, Zespri chief executive, said there are still too many uncertainties, and industry and officials won’t be able to make a decision on how deal with the infection until they know how far it’s spread and how long it’s been in the country. Once that’s been established, they will decide on whether to eradicate, isolate or manage Psa.

Jager wouldn’t be drawn on to the potential cost of any of these actions.

Australia and the US have banned imports of the root plant, though the actual fruit doesn’t face censure. Japan has also confirmed it won’t block local kiwifruit.

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