Biopesticide gains support from kiwifruit industry

Kiwivax label with ACVM

A biopesticide that helps combat kiwifruit vine disease is gaining traction amongst the kiwifruit industry in their ongoing fight against disease caused by Pseudomonas syringae p.v. actinidiae (Psa).

In March this year, Kiwivax was added to the recommended product list of Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH), the leading organisation supporting biosecurity in New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry. This makes Kiwivax one of only two biological agents KVH endorse for the reduction of Psa symptoms.

“Growers welcome additional biological products like Kiwivax in their fight against Psa, particularly organic growers who currently have limited options,” explains Barry O’Neil, Chief Executive of KVH. “Kiwivax offers an opportunity to boost naturally occurring resistance mechanisms within infected plants.”

Kiwivax has also recently been included in Zespri’s Crop Protection Standard for use through kiwifruit bud phase and postharvest periods, and certified organic by BioGro NZ.

The KVH and Zespri recommendations follow registration of Kiwivax by the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Group in December 2016. The ACVM Limited Label Claim states that Kiwivax can reduce Psa symptoms by increasing disease resistance, and this has been proven in glasshouse trials with young kiwifruit seedlings.

“These are important steps to greater uptake by the wider kiwifruit industry,” says Alistair Pullin, Agrimm Technologies’ Sales and Distribution Manager.
Agrimm are collaborating with Dr Robert Hill and Dr Christine Stark of Lincoln University’s Bio-Protection Research Centre to monitor the effects of Kiwivax treatment on Psa symptoms and plant health in mature kiwifruit orchards over a three-year period.

“This research will support the long-term desire for a full label claim, and will also enable us to better advise growers on the most effective use of the product,” continues Mr Pullin.

Kiwivax, which was originally developed from research in the Bio-Protection Research Centre, is a mix of specific strains of naturally occurring beneficial root-associated fungi. This type of biological agent has advantages over chemical controls as the fungi persist and grow in the soil and rootzone of kiwifruit plants for many months, and disease resistance will not develop.

The research and development of Kiwivax was supported by funding from Zespri, KVH and the Next-Generation Biopesticides research programme. It can be purchased from Agrimm who advocate its use as part of an integrated Psa management programme.