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Seeka says attempts to contain kiwifruit canker faltering

Seeka says attempts to contain kiwifruit canker faltering

By Jason Krupp

Aug. 12 (BusinessDesk) - Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Ltd. says attempts to constrain the Pseudomona Syringae Actinidiae bacteria (PSA), which first struck New Zealand orchards in November last year, appear to be failing with the spread during the winter months more aggressive than expected.

The listed fruit grower and packer said the disease has now spread beyond the Te Puke growing region and has moved to the Matapihi area, north of the Papamoa Hills, with Seeka supplying orchards covering 200 hectares of the green kiwifruit varietal and 138 hectares of the gold varietal now infected. The disease has also been discovered at two of the company's long term lease orchards.

"Generally across the industry detections have increased with 19 PSA confirmations in the last week," the company said in a statement. "A total of 170 orchards have now been affected across a wide area."

Previously, the company took a $1 million impairment charge from its joint venture in New Gold orchards that were hit by the PSA bacteria, and reported a $282,000 decline in the fair value of its vine assets and a $4.3 million decline in its crop assets.

No further details on the financial impact of the disease were given in today's statement.

The company said the gold variety of the fruit appears to be particularly susceptible to the disease with secondary infections in the green variety seen in only a small number of cases.

So far efforts to eradicate the disease at its orchards have been mixed, with the removal of infected plants at some sites successfully eliminating the disease, while other have been unsuccessful at eradicate the PSA bacteria.

Additionally, Seeka said it has teamed up with post-harvest cooperative Eastpack to search for a scientific solution to combat the disease.

Seeka shares were unchanged at $1.95 today, and have fallen 30.4% so far this year.


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