Kiwifruit Disease

First listen to November 15th 2010 to hear about the kiwifruit disease, PSA.

When kiwifruit orchard growers first noticed signs of the PSA disease 20 months ago, there were hopes that this would not be a big problem. However, now more than 1000 orchards have PSA. This is 37% of the kiwifruit growers and means losses to these people of about $400m. They have to replace their dead vines with healthy plants.

A new report shows poor communication between growers and the Ministry for Primary Industries (which used to be called the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry).
Government scientists tested pollen in 2010 and found that it could carry PSA disease but they did not tell kiwifruit growers because they did not know that New Zealand imported pollen. Kiwifruit growers looked at earlier research which said that pollen could not carry PSA so they imported pollen from China in 2010.

Some growers also imported young plants from China. These were in quarantine for six months but it is not clear if six months was long enough to kill any bacteria.

The report recommended that the Ministry for Primary Industries make some changes in the future.

Note: kiwifruit are safe to eat. The disease is not in the fruit.


vine –kiwifruit grown on vines which climb along wire, like grapes
pollen – a powder on the anthers of flowers; the male gamete
quarantine – isolated from other plants so disease cannot spread
it is not clear – we do not know

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