Desperate kiwifruit growers can now use an antibiotic against vine-killing Psa-V - but one grower warns some won't be able to afford it.
Kiwifruit Vine Health, the organisation leading the fight against Psa, has approved the antibiotic spray KeyStrepto for use between now and December 15.
The antibiotic was "another tool" affected growers could use.
The approval comes after 59 new cases of Psa-V, which is expected to cost hundreds of jobs and cost up to $885 million, were identified in the past two weeks.
Latest figures show 1369 orchards have the disease, most in the Te Puke area.
Te Puke grower Rob Thode told the Bay of Plenty Times KeyStrepto would be "a relief" for some but others would not be able to afford it.
"A lot of growers are down to their last dollars so this is a big challenge they're facing," said Te Puke grower Rob Thode.
"I've worked it out that it's approximately $100 per hectare per application and that's after GST. Many growers don't have any money left to do this," he said. "I am thinking about using it but a challenge for me is the cost."
KVH operations manager Neale Cameron said the cost was justified for growers as it helped "protect their assets ... There's a lot at stake."
Mr Cameron said KVH did not offer any financial subsidies on orchard sprays. He said there were channels available if growers needed help and that came in the form of pastoral care.
KeyStrepto was approved for use on Psa-affected Kiwifruit orchards last year and became embroiled in controversy after 26 growers illegally injected it into vines. Primary Industries officials warned them but decided not to prosecute them.
The antibiotic was not originally intended for use on kiwifruit but was approved under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997.
"If [Psa] gets into the vascular system there's nothing that will cure it but this will drop the inoculant levels down and help reduce the spread of Psa," Mr Cameron said.
He said KeyStrepto had "a fast, knockdown effect but a very short lifespan" so it should be used in conjunction with protection programmes.
Before growers use the antibiotic, they must tell KVH, which will then audit the orchard and decide whether the spray is appropriate to use.
The antibiotic will only be approved on orchards KVH officials believe face significant threat of infection. After December 15, it will be illegal to use it.
Growers in Te Puke, Tauranga East, Tauranga West, Katikati, Waihi, Opotiki, Whakatane, Franklin Controlled Area, South Waikato Controlled Area and Whenuakite Controlled Area will have access to KeyStrepto.
Growers outside these areas can apply on a case-by-case basis for permission to apply KeyStrepto.
For more information visit www.kvh.org.nz