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Spray season begins for kiwifruit growers

Friday, 31 July 2015 12:00 p.m.

The spray season for kiwifruit growers starts this month (August), and Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working with the industry to minimise spray concerns.

Hydrogen cyanamide, often known by the brand name Hi Cane, is sprayed on kiwifruit vines to increase the number of fruit on the vines, promote bud break and ensure earlier and shorter flowering.

In recent years the Bay of Plenty Spray Focus Group, which includes kiwifruit marketer Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Kiwifruit Vine Health, the public and Regional Council staff have worked to reduce community concerns by promoting and using best practice spraying methods.

The kiwifruit industry has also made it compulsory for growers to use low-drift technology when spraying and actively communicates with growers and contractors to encourage best practice.

Chair of the Group, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Senior Pollution Prevention Officer John Morris said the group continues to promote good spraying practices, especially around notifying adjoining neighbours and using roadside signs.

“The Spray Focus Group would like to see everyone abiding by the Regional Air Plan Rules and adopting a best practice approach to using agrichemicals. It’s a timely reminder for orchardists and spray applicators to take extra care.

“Generally neighbours like to be notified so they can take extra precautions such as moving stock, keeping pets inside or going out when the spray is being applied. Road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, also have a right to be warned – especially when spray is being applied to orchards adjoining public roads or close to sensitive areas such as schools, bus stops and other areas public have access to.  It’s all about working together as a community.”

Owners or contractors must notify the neighbours of any adjoining properties within 50 metres at least 12 hours before spraying and no more than 20 days in advance.  However if a formal agreement can be reached with neighbours notification can be varied to accommodate all parties. 

Signs must be displayed on the road boundary at least 24 hours before sprays are applied, and be removed by the applicator when the land is safe for re-entry. 

“A lot of great work has been done over the past few years and we want to continue this and strive for improvements,” he said.

“If anyone is concerned about a neighbour spraying, they can contact the Regional Council’s Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883. This is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr Morris said. 

Honorary wardens provided by kiwifruit growers’ organisation NZKGI have been trained to investigate complaints immediately, and Rural Post delivery staff are also trained to recognise and report any problems.

Wild Kiwifruit