Grow­ers take no chances over PSA

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By JEREMY SMITH

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.

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