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New Zealand Says Kiwifruit Vine Disease Discovered

New Zealand, the world’s third-largest kiwifruit producer, has placed entry restrictions on a North Island orchard to avoid the spread of a possible vine infection pending further testing. The local currency fell.

An initial test suggested that a strain of a bacterial disease, Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae, may be present on some vines, Biosecurity New Zealand said today in a statement on its website. More tests are scheduled to be complete in two days, the body said. The disease carries no risks to human or animal health and doesn’t affect plants other than kiwifruit vines.

The New Zealand dollar fell as low as 78.68 U.S. cents after the statement from 79.55 cents late in New York on Nov. 5. New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry earned NZ$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) for the 12 months ended March 31, according to Zespri Group Ltd, the world’s largest marketer of the fruit.

“This potential risk to our kiwifruit industry is being taken seriously,” Biosecurity Minister David Carter said today in an e-mailed statement. “It is imperative that a considered and responsible approach to this potential threat is taken by all primary sector stakeholders.”

The currency bought 78.96 cents at 5:33 p.m. in Wellington.

Turners & Growers Ltd., New Zealand’s largest fresh fruit exporter, said there was no trace of the suspected disease in its orchards, according to a statement sent to the stock exchange.

The disease, should it be confirmed, would reduce crop volumes and cause market restrictions that could affect growers’ returns, kiwifruit company Satara Co-operative Group Ltd. said in a statement. Satara and Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Ltd. both suspended share trading in Wellington prior to the government’s statement, citing a pending announcement.

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