Eighteen farms now suspected to have potato virus

A growing number of Canterbury potato crops are being investigated for a virus, which has the potential to affect production.

Potato Mop-Top Virus (PMTV) was found on a farm for the first time in September.

Biosecurity New Zealand has confirmed that 18 farms are now suspected of having the virus.

Incident controller David Yard said PMTV is not a food safety issue, however it's not yet known what impact it will have on production.

"Potato mop-top virus is a crop disease which, if found to be wide-spread, could cause some productivity issues for growers," he said.

"It is a notifiable and unwanted organism in New Zealand under the Biosecurity Act."

This is the first time the virus has been found in New Zealand however it is common in other countries.

Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said the industry is working closely with Biosecurity New Zealand to learn more about the virus, the impact it could have on growers.

"We will then consider if it is possible to eradicate it, or whether we will need to work with growers to manage its impact over the long term," he said.

Affected potatoes can display symptoms including distortions to the skin, deep cracking, and rust-coloured arcs, streaks or flecks in the tuber flesh.

Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating how the virus may have entered the country.

Any potato farmers who think they may have affected crops should call 0800 80 99 66.

Further support can be found at:

Rural Support Trust: 0800-787-254 www.rural-support.org.nz

 Healthline: 0800 611 116

 Lifeline: 0800 111 757 (open 24/7)

 Depression Helpline 0800 611 116 (open 24/7)

 Biosecurity New Zealand PMTV Response Liaison/Welfare Team: