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Seedgrowers Alarmed At Varroa

18 August 2006

Seedgrowers Alarmed At Varroa

The varroa mite will have serious implications for Canterbury seedgrowers, said Hugh Wigley, chair of the Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection of Federated Farmers.

"The full impact of the varroa bee mite on Canterbury seed crops has been seriously underestimated," Mr Wigley said. "We require immediate action to eliminate varroa from the South Island.

"Herbage seed crops need honey bees to pollinate flowering crops. Seed crops require a high level of pollination and a reduction in bee numbers can lead to crop failure. "Pollination by honey bees is an integral part of the production of herbage seed.

"The vegetable seed industry is most vulnerable, as it requires high levels of pollination for successful seeds. This new successful export industry is growing and is currently earning $35 million in exports. The export clover seed industry earned another $19 million in 2005. Seed crops that require honey bee pollination are an important part of New Zealand's agricultural exports," Mr Wigley said.

"Most importantly clover provides the nitrogen necessary to stimulate the grass pasture, upon which New Zealand's pastoral exports of meat, milk and fibre production depend.

"About 3.8 million kilograms of clover seed was dressed for sale from the 2005 production year. A large part of that production is used for pasture renewal in New Zealand. The Canterbury region is the main producer of herbage seed in New Zealand.

"The varroa mite, if uncontrolled, will impact on the horticultural and nursery industries and also on the home garden, where flowering trees and shrubs if not pollinated will be unable to fruit or seed.

"The Herbage Seedgrowers subsection urges the government to adequately fund the elimination of varroa from the South Island. At the same time research into Varroa mite control methods must be accelerated and work by HortResearch in to varroa resistance in bees given a high priority," Mr Wigley said.


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