News and Views

Winning the battle against pest pea weevil

pest pea weevil stock image

A return to pea production is finally on the horizon for Wairarapa growers, with confirmation no weevils were detected from the 25 trap crops planted in the 2018/19 season.

“This is great news for growers, who took a big financial hit to eradicate this insect pest from New Zealand,” Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

The Pea Weevil Governance Group will meet at the end of March 2019 to decide on future response options.

“I hope to have a robust discussion with the Governance group about whether a partial lifting of the Controlled Area Notice may be practical, or whether a further 12 months’ full regional ban is necessary to properly secure area freedom from pea weevil in the Wairarapa,” Karen says.

MPI figures show that in 2016 New Zealand produced 60,000 tonnes of peas, earning $50 million in domestic sales and $80 million in exports. The Wairarapa was responsible for about 10 per cent of this national output.

But pea weevils, which ruin crops when their larvae chew their way into peas and spend the summer living in them, were found in the Wairarapa in April 2016. By July 2016 a controlled area notice was in place to prevent peas from being grown on farms or home gardens in the Wairarapa. By removing their food source any remaining weevil population dies out.

Two years of “area freedom” is required to assure industry, government and our major trading partners that the pea weevil has been eradicated.

A small number (15) weevils were found in trap crops at two sites east of Masterton in late 2017 but the rest of the region was clear. No weevils have been found anywhere in the region in the 2018/19 season.

“Whatever the Governance Group’s decision, I would be extremely disappointed if merchants were at all hesitant about offering pea production contracts in the Wairarapa once the ban is lifted. Local growers have been assiduous and committed to eradicating this pest weevil, at considerable cost to their incomes,” Karen says.

“They deserve support – and the industry’s thanks – when the experts give us the all clear.”

Source: Federated Farmers

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