Controls to rid the Wairarapa of the insect pest pea weevil are now formally in place.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today placed a ban on growing peas within a specified area and placed controls on moving pea material (seed and untreated pea straw) within, in and out of this area for the next 2 years.
The controls, which have been developed in partnership with the pea industry, are set out in a legal Controlled Area Notice which makes the whole of the Wairarapa, up to and including Pahiatua, a Controlled Area.
Download a map of the Controlled Area [PDF, 3 MB]
MPI’s Director Investigation, Diagnostic Centres and Response, Dr Veronica Herrera says the team, along with the pea growing industry, considered a range of measures to control the insect pest, but ultimately agreed with international experts that the temporary ban on growing peas in the Wairarapa would have the greatest chance of success.
"Pea weevil larvae only feed on young growing peas, damaging crops, so removing their food source will, over 2 years, wipe out the population. In essence, no peas, no weevil," she says.
"It’s important we do this to protect all of New Zealand’s commercial pea growers, as well as home gardens."
"We know that the local pea growers are making a sacrifice to protect their grower counterparts in other regions. We’re currently considering options for alternative crops and a future support package for local growers to ensure the necessary controls have as little financial impact as possible," Dr Herrera says.
Wairarapa home vegetable growers are also being asked not to plant peas or sugar snap peas for the next 2 seasons.
"We’re working with garden centres and retailers to remove pea seed and also pea straw from shelves in the Controlled Area. We are also developing communications to home gardeners to make sure that they are well aware of the ban. It is unfortunate but important they come to the party. By complying with the ban now, they will protect their home gardens into the future."
Fresh, frozen and canned peas will still be available for purchase in the Controlled Area. Ornamental sweet peas can also be grown in the Controlled Area.
- The pea weevil, which damages pea crops, has been found in pea seeds grown on eight different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in seed stored at 3 additional properties.
- There is a very good chance we can eradicate it.
- To do this, MPI has imposed a legal ban on planting green peas or sugar snap peas in the Wairarapa.
- This applies to both commercial and home gardeners.
- Pea straw poses a low risk of spreading the pea weevil. MPI has traced and removed all pea straw from the known 8 affected properties.
- Pea straw will also be removed from retailers in the Wairarapa. Gardeners who have already spread it in the Wairarapa do not need to remove it, but are asked to check areas where it has been applied for any sprouting pea plants. Where found, remove the seedlings and either compost or put out with household rubbish. If gardeners have pea straw still in bales, please hold onto it and await further advice.
- Gardeners anywhere outside of the Controlled Area can grow peas and use pea straw freely. Those with pea straw likely to have been sourced from the Wairarapa, e.g. in Wellington, can also go ahead and use it normally. There is a very low risk that it contains peas or weevils and an even lower risk that weevils could reproduce. These gardeners can lend extra support, if desired, by removing any sprouting pea plants.