Keeping imported kiwifruit pest free
04 May 2017
Readers of the KVH Bulletin may recall that over the past few years, KVH has been advocating for tighter controls on the import of Italian kiwifruit to reduce the risk of White Peach Scale (WPS) entering our borders. We have also been working with kiwifruit importers to ensure they are aware of this threat and measures they can take post-border to reduce risk. While these discussions have not resulted in changes to the Import Health Standard, we are pleased to report that interceptions of WPS have declined significantly over the past season despite a similar level of infestation reported offshore. This is a great result and reflects measures that both the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and importers have taken in dealing with Italian counterparts to ensure fruit arriving in New Zealand is free of unwanted organisms. This season there were almost 900,000 kilos of kiwifruit was imported in 31 consignments, which were all inspected by MPI at the border. Only two of these consignments were found to have WPS, and were fumigated to remove biosecurity risk. This compares to 18 out of 46 consignments – or 39% - last year. KVH and Zespri are also funding research being conducted in Italy to better understand cold tolerance of WPS and the ability of these organisms to reproduce following long periods of cold storage. This research is ongoing and the outcomes will support further actions to reduce risk. WPS is regularly intercepted by MPI at our borders. This pest has caused considerable damage to Italian kiwifruit orchards with production losses of up to 20% in some years. WPS infects bark, fruit and leaves of plants. In severe cases it appears as white, cottony masses encrusting the bark of the tree. Trees which are heavily infested can become stunted and young plants can die very quickly after infestation. Read the KVH factsheet to learn more about identifying and controlling WPS.