The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and local pea growers are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.
The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.
The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it.
MPI’s Director Investigation Diagnostic Centres and Response, Dr Veronica Herrera, says the team has been exploring a range of control options and has decided, along with industry, that a temporary (2 year) ban on growing peas in the Wairarapa will have the greatest chance of getting rid of the pea weevil.
“We met today with a large proportion of the Wairarapa pea growers and most agree that while it will be tough, taking out the larvae’s food source in this region for a couple of years will protect all New Zealand’s growers in the long term. The weevil has not been found in other regions.
“No other country has attempted eradication of this pest as all discoveries have been considered ‘too far gone’. We have caught this early enough that we believe we have a very real chance of full eradication with this method,” Dr Herrera says.
The controls on growing peas and moving pea material out of the Wairarapa are expected to be put in place in the near future and MPI will issue full information about the controls.
MPI is working closely with the Foundation for Arable Research and seed merchants to source viable alternative cropping options for Wairarapa growers for the next 2 seasons, to reduce the financial impacts on farm operations and the region.
“We know that this situation is very concerning to local growers who will bear the brunt of this operation through no fault of their own. We very much appreciate their support in helping rid New Zealand of this pest.”
Dr Herrera says Wairarapa home vegetable growers will also be asked not to plant peas for the next 2 seasons and the Ministry will be distributing comprehensive information about this.
“We’ll be working with garden centres and retailers, plus doing widespread advertising and information drops to ensure home gardeners understand the situation and why it’s important they help out. Their assistance will protect their home gardens into the future.”