Te Puke grower Lee Hoggard’s gold kiwifruit vines have produced a good crop this season even though there are signs of the vine killing disease Psa-V in his orchard.
Unlike many of his neighbours, Lee grows the variety called Enza Gold under licence from Turners & Growers, and it appears to have more resistance to the disease, which has killed thousands of Hiort16A vines, most of them in Te Puke.
Lee Hoggard’s orchard produced 265 bins of Enza Gold despite having signs of the disease Psa-V.
“Psa-V is in my orchard and orchards around it but the Enza Gold vines do appear to have more resistance.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from growers who think they might like to graft Enza Gold but are reluctant to because at the moment that fruit can only be exported to Australia.”
Some growers in Te Puke whose orchards have the disease have picked just a few hundred or a few thousands trays when they would normally have harvested tens of thousands, he says.
T&G has applied to Kiwifruit New Zealand for collaborative marketing agreements with Zespri over a number of years to sell its Enza Gold fruit on international markets.
“In the past we have been turned down. This year we got a disappointingly small number of trays approved to sell to Korea and China, but at least it’s a start.”
Enza Gold fruit being picked from Lee Hoggard’s Te Puke orchard.
Lee hopes now that T&G has new owners, the two companies may be able to reach an agreement which would see Enza Gold fruit sold in markets other than Australia.
“Currently in Enza Gold we appear to have a kiwifruit which is more resistant to Psa-V than Hort16a but can’t sell it internationally.
“Zespri is facing a reduction in its gold volumes due to the disease so the way I see it, each company has something the other one wants. It would be ideal if they could work together.”
Many of the growers who have looked at his orchard say they are afraid to `put all their eggs in one basket’ by grafting to the new Zespri variety G3, and they don’t have much time to make up their minds as the first round of the tender process closes on tomorrow.
“Some just don’t know what to do and may in fact do nothing this season, but wait to see what happens to newly grafted G3 vines.
“Because of what Psa-V has done to Hort16A I think we need several kiwifruit varieties, just as apple growers have different varieties, to reduce the risk of being wiped out by a disease as has happened with Psa-V.”
Enza Gold fruit ready for picking on Lee Hoggard’s Te Puke orchard.
Lee’s 2.8 ha orchard has two blocks of Enza Gold, one which has produced its second crop and the other its first. Between them they yielded 265 bins, which are yet to be packed into trays.
“The fruit looked really good and I like the taste. It’s not quite as sweet as Hort16A but that may appeal to some consumers.”
A former dairy farmer, Lee says he couldn’t bring himself to use copper or antibiotics to control Psa-V on his orchard so concentrated on applying sprays made from worm castings, other biological sprays and fish foliar feeds .
“The idea was to introduce as many good bacteria as possible to stop the spread of the bad ones. We are trying to just concentrate on vine health.
“I have a real concern about antibiotics getting into the food chain and that stems from my dairying days and the strict use of antibiotics in cows.”