Prod­uct groups Process Veg­eta­bles NZ

Slowly but surely

NZ Grower - - Contents - Se­nior Busi­ness Man­ager | Process Veg­eta­bles NZ JOHN SEY­MOUR

If pea wee­vil was to es­tab­lish per­ma­nently in this coun­try and spread it could have a se­ri­ous im­pact on our pea grow­ing and pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries and our ex­port pea seed mar­kets. As a re­sult of re­sponse ef­forts to date, it ap­pears that the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) and the pea grow­ing in­dus­try are on track to erad­i­cate pea wee­vil from NZ.

What is pea wee­vil?

Pea wee­vils are a small in­sect of 4-4.5mm long, brown­ish-grey in colour with white flecks. They lay elon­gated yel­low eggs on the out­side of pea pods and af­ter one to three weeks the lar­vae hatch and bur­row into the pea. Pea wee­vil lar­vae are white/cream in colour with a brown head and feed in­side the green grow­ing pea seed. The lar­val stage of the wee­vil may con­sume nearly the en­tire con­tents of the pea seed as they ma­ture leav­ing just a seed mem­brane win­dow for adult es­cape. There is one gen­er­a­tion per year and the wee­vil will only in­fest green ripen­ing peas, not dry peas. Though the pea wee­vil can­not re­pro­duce in stored grain, some­times the adults can re­main con­cealed in grain for up to two years.

What has the erad­i­ca­tion re­sponse in­volved?

Pea wee­vils de­pend on the pea species Pisum sativum for their en­tire life­cy­cle. This host-speci­ficity has formed the ba­sis of the re­sponse ac­tions, with a ban on pea grow­ing in the re­gion. With the re­moval of the in­sect’s food source, it is ex­pected that the pop­u­la­tion will die out. A ban has been placed on grow­ing green peas (in­clud­ing sugar snap and snow peas) so the area is de­void of the wee­vils feed­ing host. MPI is­su­ing a Con­trolled Area No­tice (CAN) that in­di­cates where peas can’t be grown (all of the Wairarapa in­clud­ing Pahiatua) and re­stricts the move­ment of pea seed and pea straw within, and in and out of the area.

Wee­vils spread by fly­ing from one site to an­other, but can also be moved in in­fected pea seed, straw or dirty farm ma­chin­ery which is why there are move­ment re­stric­tions as well as grow­ing re­stric­tions. A per­mit may be ob­tained from MPI un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances to al­low move­ment of risk goods (for ex­am­ple, feed peas) and this per­mit may spec­ify re­quire­ments to mit­i­gate any risk, such as fu­mi­ga­tion of prod­uct be­fore move­ment.

It looks like the re­stric­tions are work­ing. The trap­ping pro­gramme for the 2017/18 sea­son found only 15 pea wee­vils from two neigh­bour­ing sites. That is sig­nif­i­cantly down com­pared with the pre­vi­ous sea­son, dur­ing which 1735 pea wee­vils were found across 11 sites.

It is thought that this progress is largely due to the CAN that is cur­rently in place. MPI have in­di­cated that they in­tend to main­tain these re­stric­tions un­til they are con­fi­dent that the pest can be erad­i­cated from NZ.

Grower sup­port is cru­cial

It is ac­knowl­edged that the re­stric­tions have had an im­pact on the pea grow­ing in­dus­try in the Wairarapa area. Grower ef­forts and sup­port, in­clud­ing abid­ing by the grow­ing and move­ment re­stric­tions in the CAN and show­ing flex­i­bil­ity by find­ing al­ter­nate crops to plant, has been cru­cial for the re­sponse suc­cess to date.

It is im­por­tant that the con­di­tions of the CAN con­tinue to be ad­hered to – af­ter more than two years of hard work to erad­i­cate the pest it would be dis­as­trous to al­low pea wee­vil to es­tab­lish again by plant­ing host ma­te­rial.

Is erad­i­ca­tion pos­si­ble?

As sum­mer ap­proaches there is a need to be es­pe­cially vig­i­lant - warmer tem­per­a­tures and pea flow­er­ing mean the time is right for pea wee­vil flight and re­pro­duc­tion. If you see a pea wee­vil or if you see peas be­ing grown in the con­trolled area re­port this to MPI on 0800 80 99 66. It’s im­por­tant we all play our part to max­imise the chance of suc­cess­fully erad­i­cat­ing this pest. The erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme has been un­der­way for over two years and it seems that, slowly but surely, the bat­tle is be­ing won. But we can’t af­ford to be com­pla­cent as the erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme is not over yet and the re­stric­tions are still vi­tal to max­imise our chance of suc­cess.

Af­ter last sea­son’s suc­cess­ful trap crop pro­gramme the re­sponse is well on the way to erad­i­cat­ing pea wee­vil and the CAN cur­rently in place re­mains in force with ad­di­tional aware­ness mea­sures. As at the end of last sum­mer 15 pea wee­vils were trapped from two sites out of 22 trap crop sites com­pared with 1652 wee­vils trapped from 11 sites dur­ing the pre­vi­ous sea­son. Also no wee­vils were de­tected out­side the con­trolled area in the Wairarapa.

New posters and sig­nage

The pub­lic in­for­ma­tion cam­paign has started in lo­cal news­pa­pers and on lo­cal ra­dio. New road­side signs will be put up soon and posters and other in­for­ma­tion ma­te­ri­als are be­ing dis­trib­uted.

Trap crops

The next round of trap crops for the 2018/19 sea­son will be planted when con­di­tions per­mit and daily tem­per­a­tures in­crease. AsureQual­ity will have two staff mem­bers on the ground to work di­rectly with trap crop grow­ers who will in­tro­duce them­selves to those grow­ers over the com­ing weeks.

Watch out for grow­ing pea plants We thank those who are as­sist­ing with sur­veil­lance and ask for more vol­un­teers to scout within crops such as faba beans as well as in gar­dens to be sure that the re­main­ing pea wee­vils are not newly hatched from eggs on un­known vol­un­teer plants through crop checks by AsureQual­ity and fur­ther pub­lic aware­ness. It has been brought to our at­ten­tion that a re­searcher from Canada no­ticed three pea plants grow­ing within a field of faba beans in the Wairarapa. These bean plants were pulled out and de­stroyed but height­ened the need to look for and dis­pose of vol­un­teer pea plants.

Please also re­mind friends and neigh­bours that the grow­ing of peas or the mov­ing of pea straw into the Wairarapa re­gion is still pro­hib­ited and if you see grow­ing peas please call 0800 80 99 66.

There will need to be ev­i­dence that that there are no re­main­ing pests be­fore erad­i­ca­tion can be de­clared, which will take time. By act­ing early, be­fore the pop­u­la­tion may spread to other ar­eas, we ap­pear to have a good chance of erad­i­cat­ing pea wee­vil within our bor­ders

For more in­for­ma­tion visit the MPI web­site:­tec­tio­nand-re­sponse/re­spond­ing/alerts/peawee­vil

It has been brought to our at­ten­tion that a re­searcher from Canada no­ticed three pea plants grow­ing within a field of faba beans in the Wairarapa. These bean plants were pulled out and de­stroyed but height­ened the need to look for and dis­pose of vol­un­teer pea plants.

▶ The new Pea Wee­vil Re­stric­tions poster. (Credit MPI)

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