Growers take no chances over PSA
Matamata kiwifruit growers Bill and Bev Crabb have taken a proactive stance towards avoiding a potentially destructive vine disease, Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae or PSA.
The Crabbs said they would employ a ‘‘best practice’’ principle at their orchard.
PSA is a bacterial disease which affects the kiwifruit vine and early symptoms of the disease include brown spots on the leaves.
PSA was first found in orchards in Italy in 1992 and has cost its economy two million euros.
PSA was first confirmed on a Bay of Plenty orchard earlier this month, the first time the disease has been confirmed in New Zealand.
Given the disease’s track record in Italy and the fact kiwifruit exports are worth $1.5 billion to the New Zealand economy, organisations including the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Plant and Food Research and marketing company Zespri are working closely with growers in a collaborative approach to contain it.
The Crabbs’ property is PSA free but in a wise move they are not taking any chances.
They have grown organic green kiwifruit on six hectares of land on their Matamata property since 1981 and said they would put in place measures to protect their livelihood from the disease.
‘‘ We are disinfecting everyone who comes on to our property and orchard as a way to do our bit.
‘‘But, to be honest, at the moment, we don’t really know very much about PSA itself.’’
However, there was one misconception the Crabbs wanted to clear up.
‘‘ People seem to think that because PSA has so far only been found in the gold variety of kiwifruit that it only affects that variety.
‘‘But this may not exactly be the case. The green variety which we grow flowers about three weeks later than the gold.
‘‘The green is due to flower now and we’re playing a bit of a waiting game following advice and recommendations we are given and trying to be optimistic.’’
Mr Crabb said during his years growing kiwifruit he had encountered diseases but this was different.
‘‘It’s when it’s a new disease that it’s a problem and once we find out if PSA is new or has been here for a while that will give us some idea of where to from here.’’
INSPECTION: Matamata kiwifruit grower Bill Crabb takes a look at his vines.