Kiwifruit growers warn proposed ban on toxic spray will cost sector hundreds of millions of dollars

A decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) could have major repercussions in the kiwifruit industry.

It's recommending a ban on a spray used widely in orchards.

But without it kiwifruit growers say it'll cost the sector hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Whetu Rolleston has spent her whole life around her family's kiwifruit orchard and like 90 percent of conventional growers her operations include spraying the crop with hydrogen cyanamide or Hi-Cane.

"What it does is, it synchronises them all to come at the same time," she says.

"Where it's grown, particularly in the north of the country there's not enough frost so this substance is used to initiate flowering," EPA general manager Dr Chris Hill says.

But the EPA is recommending the chemical be phased out and banned.

"We found it could have toxic impacts on reproductive systems and the thyroid… quite significant impacts on flora and fauna, particularly birds as well," Dr Hill says.

The chemical has already been banned in Europe and is under review in the United States. But reports undertaken for growers have shown a ban could cost the industry.

"We're definitely talking in the millions of dollars," New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) CEO Colin Bond warns.

"It is fair to say that it would have a significant economic impact to the kiwifruit industry in this country."

There are already stringent measures taken to reduce the risk posed by Hi-Cane.

"Full PPE for Hi-Cane use, we have spray contractors - anyone who applies the products have to meet the protocols of its use," Rolleston explains.

But the EPA says the recommendation is still in its draft stages and people can submit if safety protocols can be tightened.

"We'll certainly be including that in the overall assessment and that could change the overall recommendations," Dr Hill says.

A change which could hold the future of kiwi growers in the balance.