Industry News

Kiwifruit growers allowed antibiotics

Kiwifruit growers have again been granted permission to use antibiotics on their vines, in a bid to increased defence against PSA. There are, however, concerns that some growers will not be able to afford the investment.

Kiwfruit Vine Health has authorised the use of antibiotic spray Keystrepto until December 15th. The approval comes after the emergence of 59 new PSA cases over the last two weeks alone. The new cases are expected to cost $885 million and lead to the loss of many jobs.

The spraying will cost in the region of $100 per ha, but the increased cost comes at a bad time. The profitability of orchards have dropped an average of 33% (based on prime performing orchards), in one year. This means that the best orchards were able to generate pre tax profits of $66,000 per ha in 2011, but only $44,000 per ha this year.

There is some good news, however, despite reduced quantities of Hort 16A, prices are good this year, as is quality. Simon Limmer, grower and government relations manager with Zespri, says he expects a "clean exit" from the selling season this year.

Price for green fruit are also good, in Europe also. The new varieties are in the market now in increasing volumes. Hort 16A continues to be planted in areas that are PSA free.