Possible PSA disease in NZ kiwifruit orchard in Australia

New Zealand-based kiwifruit grower Seeka is investigating a possible outbreak of the vine killing disease PSA in one of its Australian orchards.

Seeka has 154 hectares of kiwifruit in Australia, and thinks it may have found PSA in an orchard it is developing in Victoria.

It follows the discovery of unusual bacterial related symptoms.

PSA, found in New Zealand in 2010, is estimated to have infected 80 percent of kiwifruit orchards nationwide and cost the industry up to $1 billion in lost exports.

"The symptoms are consistent with the PSA disease (pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae) – although the presence of this disease is still to be positively confirmed, " Seeka said in a statement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange.

"We have advised Agriculture Victoria, who are now moving to take samples for analysis," it said.

Of the 154 hectares Seeka has in Australia, 93 hectares are the Hayward variety [green] and in production.

The remaining 61 hectares are in development, with 47 hectares planted in root stock and ungrafted, and 14 hectares grafted two years go.

"As part of our preventative measures, Seeka has removed the grafted canopy from 4.5 hectares of the 2-year-old vines, with the remainder under watch," the company said.

"The Hayward variety in production does not appear to be affected and our experience in New Zealand is that Hayward can tolerate PSA," it said.

The detection is in the non-producing part of the orchard, and normal hygiene and response protocols have been put in place.

Seeka is removing suspicious plant material, and is re-evaluating the varietal mix to be grafted into the orchards under development and is likely to have a greater focus on Hayward, which is less effected by PSA, if that is the disease.

The company says PSA is not expected to be a significant problem in Australia given the hot summer climate, and is more likely to show symptoms in spring.