Council considers pest control for wild kiwifruit
Kiwi Vine Health / Provided
Wild kiwi vine, foreground, in the North Island. (File photo)
The extent of the range of wild kiwifruit in the Marlborough Sounds is under the microscope – as the council considers whether it should be included in its pest control plan.
Historically planted on ‘old farms’, wild kiwis have spread to parts of the Marlborough Sounds, bringing with them the potential to harm native plants.
A review of Marlborough District Council’s pest control plan was undertaken in 2017.
Kiwifruit Vine Health submitted this review and in 2018 asked the council to include wild kiwifruit as a recognized pest, saying it impacts native biodiversity and is also a reservoir of pathogenic organisms. such as PSA and pests such as fruit flies and bedbugs.
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Rob Simons, Marlborough District Council’s senior biosecurity officer, said this week that the council was unable to include wild kiwifruit in the council’s pest control plan in 2018 because they are not didn’t know enough about it.
“But what has happened since then, through further work in the Marlborough Sounds, we found kiwi fruit plants, and from those plants we actually discovered satellite infestations of wild plants,” Simons said.
“That led us to investigate how much it is, so we’re currently trying to build this picture of…where does it grow, how many are there, and can we actually control it with our current resources?”
He said through the Jobs for Nature project, a $1.219 billion program introduced as part of the Covid-19 response, “control work” had been undertaken to eliminate wild plants.
The pinnacle of the southern Jobs for Nature “Flora Restoration and Protection/Kotahitanga mō te Taiao” program was the group that helped remove the plants.
Simons said that at this stage it was not considered a consulting project, as they were still in the “information gathering” stage.
“We are using this information to eventually develop a proposal to modify the regional pest management plan, to incorporate kiwifruit as a new program,” he said.
He said all control work was currently being undertaken in conjunction with the landowners.
“So there’s no regulatory support, it’s just a voluntary thing,” he said.
“If however, through our investigations, we find that yes, the kiwi becomes a bigger problem and we run into situations where the wild plants cannot be removed or managed because the occupiers of the land do not want it. , then the council will look into the possibility of including as a pest in the regional pest management plan,” he said.
That would mean he was backed by regulations, Simons said.
He said the infestations they found were existing kiwifruit vines, which were planted like “an apple tree in the backyard”, usually on old farms.
“There is one site, near Manaroa that we know of, where the kiwi has spread some distance from a parent plant and where the seedlings are actually growing on an old forest block that is regenerating into native bush,” did he declare.
“There is now an opportunity in one form or another to take action to prevent this from becoming a bigger problem in the Marlborough Sounds.”
How to prevent wild kiwis:
Producers – Remove unpicked fruit from vines and mulch as soon as possible. This prevents massive bird feeding and allows the fruit to compost as quickly as possible.
Post-harvest operators – Cover discarded fruit bins to prevent birds from feeding on ripening fruit.
Farmers – Cover fruit stocks with shade cloth, windbreak netting or similar to prevent birds from reaching the fruit. Only feed what will be eaten by livestock at one time to prevent birds from eating the leftovers.
The audience – Be careful with the removal of kiwis, especially when in the bush.