A grower has illegally moved kiwifruit plant material from the Bay of Plenty to the Hawke’s Bay, increasing the risk of Psa infection of Hawke’s Bay kiwifruit orchards, which is a breech of biosecurity regulations.
Zespri has been accused by kiwifruit farmers of keeping its problems with fraud in China secret. In spite of being informed by Customs in February 2011 that China was investigating the company for double invoicing and faced heavy fines, growers were not fully informed of the case until January 2013.
With harvest well under way, the 2013 kiwifruit crop is looking to be even worse than anticipated with the effects of the drought adding to those of the Psa-V infection. At the half-way stage of harvest, the total crop is expected to be less than 80 million trays, 20% down on predictions for the season of more than 100 million. Gold yields are down on last season by more than 50%.
The Chinese national convicted of tax fraud and smuggling of New Zealand brown kiwifruit in China is appealing his conviction, claiming Zespri are the real culprits.
The results of the PSAv infection of New Zealand’s kiwifruit orchards hit home this week with the announcement that exports of gold kiwifruit will be down 57% (17 million trays) this year. The long term impact is greater however, with plans by Zespri to double the volume of kiwifruit exports and treble export returns by 2025 now sunk.
The vine disease PSAv has cost Bay of Plenty company, Eastpack $19 million. The company reports its revenue dropped from more than $80 million in 2011 to less than $68 million in 2012, as a direct consequence of reduced crops due to PSAv.
The incidence of contamination of organic kiwifruit crops through use of Citrox BioAlexin could increase as not all possible orchard users have yet been surveyed, according to Zespri. The company’s general manager of science and innovation, Dave Tanner says that less than half those who have used the spray have been affected and, with some still to submit their spray logs, he expects more cases to emerge.
Newly released data shows that Italy is firmly established as the world’s largest kiwifruit grower, its 430,000 tonne production representing 30% of the global total. New Zealand’s 365,000 tonnes puts it in second spot with 25% of the total, just ahead of Chile’s 238,000 tonnes (16%).
Psa-V will have a detrimental effect on the size of this year’s kiwifruit harvest, according to the first crop estimate of the year from Zespri.
Turners and Growers (T&G) has said it will cease further action against kiwifruit marketer Zespri, once the current appeal against last year’s High Court decision is concluded.
Fears are growing amongst kiwifruit producers that the future of the gold variety may be limited.
Seeka Kiwifruit Industries has said it will be cutting jobs next season because of the lower expected crop due to Psa-V infection of its Bay of Plenty orchards. The company has made a voluntary redundancy offer to staff as a first step.