Pacific Northwest cherry growers are hoping to be able to ship cherries to New Zealand without fumigation in the future. They shipped a small volume in 2004, under a protocol requiring fumigation.
During a visit to New Zealand earlier this year, Dr. Mike Willett from the Northwest Horticultural Council presented to New Zealand officials a proposal to substitute a systems approach. The Northwest cherry industry would prefer a protocol that matches what they hope to have for other export markets, such as Japan.
Buyers in New Zealand are excited about the prospect of a nonfumigation protocol, he said.
Willett also discussed the possibility of access for Northwest stone fruits to New Zealand. California already ships peaches and nectarines there, and the Northwest would like that access to be extended, without fumigation. “We think there’s really no difference in the pest complex, and we should be able to qualify under the same protocol,” he said.
Northwest stone fruit shippers are interested in exporting there, he said. “We’re shipping cherries, and people are starting to make more contact with the trade. It’s another market we could ship to without fumigation.”
Willett met with Marie Dawkins, manager of Summerfruit New Zealand, who raised no objections to imports of Northwest stone fruits. “In many people’s eyes, particularly the people who are marketing them, it’s a good thing, because they keep the product in front of people for more months of the year,” Willett said.
New Zealand has been taking significant quantities of apples, particularly Gala, but there have been concerns about leaves in the cartons with the fruit. Another difficulty has been that New Zealand requires “appropriate pest control activity” for two pests—quince rust (a disease) and winter moth (a leafroller)—that are not found in Washington’s commercial fruit production areas.
“How do you prove you’ve controlled it if you don’t have it?” Willett wondered.
New Zealand officials said it’s up to the U.S. government to decide what adequate control is, as long as the product isn’t shipped with those pests.