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Kiwifruit Vine Decline Syndrome (KVDS) in Italy highlights importance of a Pathway Plan
15 October 2020

There have been several articles in the media recently highlighting Kiwifruit Vine Decline Syndrome (KVDS) in Italy, a phenomenon with yet undetermined cause that is believed to be associated with the collapse of more than 3000ha of kiwifruit in Italy. This is not new and has been observed since 2012, however is gaining more attention as the syndrome is associated with an increasingly large number of hectares and kiwifruit growing regions in Italy.

KVDS was first observed in 2012, near Verona in the North Italian province of Veneto. Initially the decline was observed on about 50ha of kiwifruit, but over time an increasingly large number of hectares have been reported with about 80% of vines in this region now impacted, and reports of the syndrome from other kiwifruit growing regions including Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio and as far south as Calabria.

The syndrome has been referred to by several names, initially as Verona vine decline, then La Moira or “the death”, and is now referred to internationally as KVDS.

While the increase in media attention has brought this syndrome to the forefront of people’s minds, KVH and Zespri have been monitoring this vine decline syndrome closely over the last five years, including visits to the region and funding research to better understand the possible role of pathogens in this syndrome (which has been inconclusive).

The most obvious sign of KVDS is the sudden and rapid wilting of the plant which ultimately results in plant death. Affected vines can sometimes die within weeks of first symptoms appearing. These symptoms are usually associated with a compromised root system, where feeder roots disappear, then root necrosis sets in.

There has been a recent increase in research efforts in Italy to better understand what is driving this decline and yet the cause still remains undetermined. Researchers have been trying to understand whether it could be irrigation practices, significant climatic rainfall events, soil borne organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, soil oxygen levels, global temperature increases, or a combination of these. While various hypotheses have been developed into what is driving this decline, more work is required to clearly define the relationship between the potential causal factors.

Zespri and its SunGold Kiwifruit partners have set up a taskforce to investigate this decline and initiate an industry wide response to KVDS, developing tools to help and support growers. KVH will continue to work closely with Zespri and its partners to ensure we continue to remain informed of this emerging risk.

KVH, through Zespri, has also made our On-Orchard Biosecurity Guidelines available to Italian growers to ensure they remain vigilant around on-orchard biosecurity. While there is no evidence of a pathogen being the primary cause, if it were to be discovered later that an organism was responsible, managing its spread through good pathway management would be vital to ensuring the industry had the best chance at possible eradication or at the very least, a good containment strategy to help minimise its impact.

This is a classic example of the need for biosecurity practices to be in place as routine day-to-day activity, as would be the case under KVH’s proposed Pathway Plan for the kiwifruit industry. We’re currently consulting on this proposal - for more information please visit the KVH website here, or give us a call to discuss further in person. Most importantly, please take the time to send us an email and let us know your views on the proposed Plan.

Kiwifruit Vine Health

25 Miro St
Mount Maunganui
Tauranga 3116

Tel:  0800 665 825
Fax: 07 574 7591

Email: info@kvh.org.nz