Feijoa grower fears they 'won't be here next year' as devastating disease hits Northland crops

Feijoa crops in Kerikeri in Northland are being devastated by a fungal disease, costing growers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Anthracnose disease is rife in all but two of Kerikeri's 20 orchards.

Orchard owner, Stuart Duff, has just over 1800 trees and 600 of them have the fungus. The feijoa season has just started but Mr Duff says he's lost more than $1500.

He says he's already thrown away "just over three tonnes," of the fruit.

The fungus is a mutation that starts off as a small black spot which spreads all over the fruit within three days. While it's not dangerous to eat, it means the fruit isn't saleable.

Mr Duff has had his orchard for seven years and held a crisis meeting with other growers today. He says none of the growers in Kerikeri will break even, some are ripping out their entire crops and others are considering closing down.

"The other day I nearly had a breakdown, this is my livelihood, I'm thinking what an earth am I doing, there's absolutely nothing I can do."

He says he's tried everything, but the disease isn't curable.

The growers have approached the Ministry for Primary Industries but he says they haven't been able to help.

"I'm feeling totally deflated considering not only will it devastate the feijoas but go onto devastate far bigger industries in the horticulture world in this country," he says.

MPI says it can't help. It's role is to diagnose and investigate any new and exotic diseases and this fungus has been known about for more than 10 years.

Scientists from Plant and Food Research, a government funded research institute have visited the area and have told growers they are working to apply for funding to get some sort of program up and running to help them.

Anthracnose disease is rife in all but two of Kerikeri's 20 orchards. Source: 1 NEWS