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Wairarapa pea growing ban extended

Wairarapa pea growing ban extended

Extending the ban on growing peas in the Wairarapa for at least a further 12 months offers the best chance of ensuring pea weevil has been eradicated in the district, Wairarapa Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

"After the 12 months we can then review whether a continued total ban, partial restrictions or other measures will be the best option going forward, based on what the trap crops show us."

The Pea Weevil Governance Group announced the continuance of the production ban to Wairarapa growers at a meeting in Masterton on Tuesday. Karen said while the growers naturally had lots of questions, the decision to continue the ban "was probably expected because pea weevil had been found this past growing season.

"This announcement at least gives growers some certainty around making plans for the coming season."

The growing ban was initiated in July 2016 after pea weevil was found in a Masterton seed store. Nationwide surveys over the past two seasons have not found the weevil anywhere else in New Zealand. Trap crops in the Wairarapa caught 1735 weevils in the first year of the ban across 11 different sites, and only 15 in year two on two sites.

To prove that New Zealand is free of the destructive pest, which if it got a hold here could seriously affect the nation’s pea growing and processing industries, there needs to be two weevil-free years in the Wairarapa.

Karen said growers were told on Tuesday there had been no alterations made to the Cabinet minutes approving ex gratia payments to eligible growers unable to plant peas, which has been taken as meaning such compensation will continue to be paid while the ban is in force.

The ban is no small issue in the Wairarapa, where peas had been a major crop for decades, with growers building up considerable agronomy skill. Growers have been putting in more wheat and barley and some different crops, and trials of other crops is occurring, but none of these have reached a commercially successful stage like past pea crops.

"If there are any seed companies keen to grow some alternative crops in the Wairarapa, and look outside the traditional focus on Canterbury, that would be a most welcome approach," Karen said.

ENDS


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