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Regional Council assists kiwifruit growers

Regional Council assists kiwifruit growers

For immediate release: 17 November 2010

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the kiwifruit industry on controlling the bacterial Psa outbreak in kiwifruit vines.

Nine Regional Council staff and vehicles were seconded for surveillance work last week and over the weekend. The Council is also assisting MAF in finding potential disposal sites for prunings from infected vines. The vines are likely to be disposed of using air curtain incineration in a portable burner, or deep burial.

While staff are assisting with control of the outbreak, they have been banned by their Chief Executive from visiting kiwifruit orchards while the disease Psa is being investigated.

Staff have been told that given the seriousness of the issue and the possible effects the disease could have on the industry and the region, the Council did not want staff visiting kiwifruit orchards or adjoining properties for work purposes, unless it was necessary.

Regional Council Land Management Group Manager Warwick Murray said staff are still able to investigate spray complaints and other urgent pollution issues.

“This is a time that the kiwifruit industry needs our support and we’ll do all we can to make their lives easier and to assist in the response effort.”

The Council has also been asked to survey wild kiwifruit for signs of infection. The Council has been working with kiwifruit growers’ representative body NZKGI to significantly reduce the number of wild kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty. Wild vines escaping into the environment are a major pest, smothering native and exotic trees.

Over the past eight years the two organisations have destroyed more than 25,000 wild vines. With each kiwifruit having more than 1000 seeds wild vines establish easily through bird droppings.

Mr Murray said it would require ongoing vigilance and effort from kiwifruit growers and farmers to keep on top of the problem.

ENDS

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