Kiwifruit Industry Now Focused on Learning to Live with Psa

Media Release - 26 November 2010

Three weeks on from learning that Psa may be present on a Te Puke kiwifruit orchard and
subsequently having that confirmed, a new business is being established to run the ongoing
kiwifruit industry management strategy for Psa.

The special-purpose organisation will be in place by Monday next week with a new Board
comprising representatives from ZESPRI, post-harvest suppliers, New Zealand Kiwifruit
Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).

ZESPRI Director Corporate and Grower Services, Carol Ward, said work is underway to
confirm the name, structure, rules and membership of the new organisation. “Affected
growers are understandably seeking details regarding their eligibility for financial assistance,
so we anticipate that one of the new organisation’s first priorities will be to confirm the
details of the financial assistance package, including eligibility requirements and the
application process.”

“ZESPRI has put in place a team of dedicated technical, grower relations, management and
communications staff to project manage the transition to the new organisation – and we’ll
continue to be heavily involved and supportive of the Psa industry management strategy.”

With 80 orchards now confirmed as having the Psa infection, Ms Ward said the industry was
learning more about Psa every day. “Obviously it’s very disappointing news as more growers
receive positive test results for Psa and we’re working very closely with those affected
growers to ensure they have access to the right people and information to support their
orchard management decisions. In addition, there is a large amount of research work
underway to attempt to answer some of the questions we still have on Psa.”

Ms Ward said that over 600 orchards have been assessed and 459 test results have been
received to date. “Approximately 80 percent of test results have come back negative, and
the affected orchard area is still anticipated to be less than 1 percent of the total industry
orchard area.

“In addition, around 95 percent of the infected orchards are only showing the initial
symptom of leaf spotting, and thankfully have not progressed to the more severe symptoms
which indicate vine health is impacted. These orchards are being monitored closely. So,
while we’ve got some urgent challenges ahead as the industry adapts to cope with Psa in the
future, we’re not anticipating any significant impact on production and sales next year.”

The majority (approximately 76 percent) of the Psa-positive orchards are within a 23km
area south of the Te Puke township. One of the latest positive test results was from Gisborne
– the first in that region. Other areas with orchards that have had Psa confirmed are
Hawke’s Bay, Tauranga, Whakatane/Edgecumbe, Waikato, Golden Bay and Motueka.

Ms Ward said that ZESPRI is working closely with MAF to develop a process whereby
restricted place notices can be removed from orchards. “This is likely to happen towards the
end of next week and does not affect the obligations on all orchards regarding the spread of
organisms.” More information regarding the transition will be communicated with affected
growers and the wider industry next week.

In ZESPRI’s latest grower newsletter, the Kiwiflier, ZESPRI CEO Lain Jager recognised the
immense amount of work that has gone on in the past three weeks by thanking those

“Thank you to the Industry Advisory Council, the Minister of Agriculture the Hon David
Carter, the teams from MAF, ZESPRI and Plant & Food Research, post-harvest operators,
orchard contractors, the artificial pollination industry and beekeepers, and kiwifruit growers
across the country for the urgency and tremendous effort that has gone into addressing the
Psa issue over the past three weeks,” said Mr Jager.

“We all realise that there is much we do not yet understand and this means that the
industry’s response strategy will be necessarily dynamic over the coming year, as we learn
more about the extent and impact of Psa in New Zealand. By working together and applying
specialised and focused resources through the new Psa management organisation, we will
ensure we are monitoring the situation closely, learning quickly and, importantly, are
configured to react in a coordinated and rapid fashion if change is necessary.”


MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) advised of a suspected case of the bacterial vine
disease, Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae (Psa), on a kiwifruit orchard in Te Puke late on
Friday 5 November, and Psa was confirmed on Monday 8 November. The number of affected
orchards is now 80, which represents approximately 1 percent of the New Zealand industry’s
orchard area.

The New Zealand crop is entering the main growing period for the 2010/11 season; vines
have flowered and are being pollinated. Over 99 percent of the vines are looking great, so
ZESPRI remains confident of a very good season ahead.

Psa is a bacterial vine disease that carries no risks associated with human or animal health,
and does not affect plants other than kiwifruit vines. Psa has been present in Italy, Korea
and Japan for many years but has not previously been detected in New Zealand.

Because Psa is not transmitted on kiwifruit, there has been no change to market access for
New Zealand kiwifruit.

Back to Newsroom