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16-Sep-11

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HELP STOP SPREAD OF KIWIFRUIT DISEASE, OTHER PESTS

by Matt Johnson

Northlanders are being urged to remain vigilant and do their bit to help curb the spread of the kiwifruit vine-killing disease PSA and other unwanted nasties, including pest plants and animals.

 

 

The Northland Regional Council says keeping diseases and pests out of Northland altogether where possible is by far the most cost-effective option for Northlanders.

 

Don McKenzie, the council’s Biosecurity Senior Programme Manager, says the kiwifruit industry is battling with the bacterial disease PSA - Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidiae - around the Te Puke region.

 

 

“With more than 240 orchards in the Te Puke area affected, this disease is costing millions of dollars, but fortunately it hasn’t reached Northland so far.  However, it could be spread by anyone bringing infected branch stock, soil and other materials into Northland from infected areas.”


Rick Curtis, Chairman of the Kerikeri Fruitgrowers Association, says the kiwifruit industry is worth tens of millions of dollars to the Kerikeri area annually, with about 300 fulltime and 1000 seasonal jobs reliant on it.


Mr Curtis says while those in the local kiwifruit industry are well-aware of the risks posed by contaminated plant material, tools and machinery, they are especially worried about the risks posed by the general public unknowingly bringing infected plant material into Northland.


He says home gardeners are asked to support growers’ efforts by not bringing any plant material into our region and warns if PSA does reach Northland it will devastate local orchards.


Northland Regional Council member Tony Davies-Colley says PSA is one of a number of risks Northland faces and says we have to collectively remain vigilant about unwanted diseases and pests if we are to get on top of them.

 

“Our forests and economy are at risk from new pests and diseases and we need everyone to be mindful of how these pests can easily be spread around.”

 

 

Mr McKenzie says there are a few simple steps people can take to help spread pest plants, animals and insects.

 

“Check and clean all materials before you bring them home. Other pesty hitchhikers such as pest ants and weed seeds are also easily transported, yet the damage these pests can do to your home and garden can have a lasting impact, costing you time and money.”

 

 

He says the regional council offers a pest identification advice if people are unsure what they’re dealing with, but the key is getting more eyes and ears protecting the region’s border and your own back yard.

 

People wanting to know more about tackling pest plants or animals can contact members of the council’s biosecurity team on 0800 002 004.

 

 

Alternatively, information is available on line at www.nrc.govt.nz/pestmanagement

 

“Report any new pests promptly and we may have a chance of getting the next new invader before it costs us all.”