You have the power to protect your investment
Biosecurity threats could affect your OGR, and have wider ramifications for the local community through loss of productivity and jobs, and potential movement restrictions. For example, Brazilian Wilt, the fungal disease decimating kiwifruit orchards in Brazil is resulting in up to 50% vine loss on some orchards and threatens the viability of their entire kiwifruit industry.
The best way to protect your orchard and investment is to have a good understanding of risks - restrict access to those who you are comfortable share your knowledge and requirements. This will limit or prevent the spread of unwanted pests and diseases vine-to-vine and between orchards. Be sure to consider the risk from people, vehicles, machinery and tools that come on to your property. Define and signpost access areas, using the free signs from KVH that are available through your local pack-house.
The importance of good biosecurity practices was highlighted last week by the farming industry, which is currently dealing with several properties infected with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. The president of Federated Farmers wrote a column for the NZ Herald reiterating their important on-farm biosecurity messages, which not surprisingly align well with what is standard across our kiwifruit industry.
Where and when restricting access isn’t practical, ensure good orchard hygiene practices, particularly the KVH hygiene recommendations, are followed. Tools should be cleaned and sanitised at least between rows to limit the inadvertent spread of biosecurity threats within the property. Diseases can be spread with tools that are not effectively sanitised between vines. When working in a disease affected orchard, best practice is to move from the least affected to the most affected areas.
Harvest is a time when there is a lot of movement onto and between orchards. Maintaining good orchard hygiene is particularly important over this period. Harvest bins in all regions must be sanitised and clear of plant material prior to reuse. Growers need to ensure bins moving onto their orchard are inspected and free of leaf and plant material, to minimise individual risk.
Share your biosecurity expertise with visitors, harvest staff, and contractors and make sure they know, and follow, your hygiene requirements. If anyone visiting or working on your property – including friends and family – have been overseas recently, consider the risks they pose through potentially dirty footwear and hitchhiking pests in luggage. Make sure everyone that works on your orchard also knows to report anything unusual to either the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66 or KVH on 0800 665 825 (encourage them to add these numbers to their phone contacts).