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Kiwifruit grower discovers unusual insect in bamboo canes

It pays to keep your eyes open

Kiwifruit grower discovers unusual insect in bamboo canes

A Kerikeri grower showed it pays to keep your eyes open and look more closely at any unusual insect activity.

Scott Day was planting kiwifruit seedlings to fill a few gaps in his Gold3 kiwifruit orchard when the bamboo cane he was putting in to support the young vine splintered.

Scott explains: “I’d just opened a new packet and the third stake I grabbed to push into the ground splintered in my hand and a grub fell out.

“I remember from the bamboo canes I got last year that the pack showed it was a product of China, so I thought it’s probably not a good thing to see this grub and I needed to find out more.”

Scott took photos and contained the grub before taking it into his local Fruitfed Supplies store in Waipapa on a Saturday morning. Staff made sure that Area Sales Manager and Scott’s Field Representative Mark Robinson was told of the issue at the first opportunity. Scott also called the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to report the discovery of an unexpected pest in the bamboo canes.

“When I looked further, I found more grubs which I put in a container. It was obvious which stakes were affected by the damaged area of bamboo cane. Mark and Steven Jesen from the store were quick to get to our orchard to collect the grubs and the stakes which were wrapped up securely and taken away.”

MPI identified the insect as the bamboo longhorn beetle (Chlorophorus annularis), the same species detected previously in 2013. They also confirmed that the overall risk the insect might establish in the wider environment because of this incursion is considered extremely low as New Zealand conditions are unfavourable to this insect which lives in subtropical and tropical countries.

Dr Elaine Gould, Fruitfed Supplies’ Technical Specialist for Subtropicals, was asked to help MPI and Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) by examining the bamboo from the same consignment in the Bay of Plenty.

“I worked with several of our people to track and trace every pack of bamboo canes from the affected consignment,” Elaine says. “We checked which growers had signs of the bamboo long horn tiger beetle in their bamboo canes. The discovery of beetle frass (see photo), which is chewed bamboo fragments and beetle excrement, was a clear sign of infestation. These canes were destroyed. Other packs were returned to the Te Puke store and stored in closed containers before going to the Port of Tauranga to be refumigated.”

Scott says he’s mindful of biosecurity risks. “I always have biosecurity in the back of my mind. If something looks out of place, it needs to be looked at more closely. No one wants to be that guy who didn’t act when seeing something that didn’t look right.”

In the past, he’s found stink bugs that might have been brown marmorated stink bugs. “I caught the bugs to inspect them better. They turned out to be native brown stink bugs, but it’s important to check.”

He also makes sure his staff are aware of possible risks. “If I come across something like possible signs of Psa or a pest we haven’t seen before, I show our staff what I’ve found and explain why it’s important they keep an eye open for something unusual. Everyone has a part to play.”

Raising staff awareness is part of Elaine’s role. Elaine conducts biosecurity training with Fruitfed Supplies personnel to ensure they know of the various pests and diseases that could gain a foothold in local horticultural enterprises.

Day to day, Mark Robinson supports Scott with the various crop protection and nutrition products needed for the 7 ha of Gold3 kiwifruit that Scott and his wife Jess own.

Mark credits Scott with a high level of foresight to have taken the actions he did.

“Scott is relatively new to the kiwifruit sector and clearly had his eyes open for anything out of the ordinary.

“He did absolutely the right thing contacting us immediately, so we were able to make sure this pest was contained quickly and efficiently according to MPI processes thanks to the efforts of several Fruitfed Supplies personnel.

“This situation also highlights why our Technical Team works with our staff and growers during grower presentations to ensure we have the right knowledge about biosecurity risks in our region. We all have a part to play in being vigilant to protect our industry from new pests and diseases.”