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End of era for Zespri Gold exports?

It was the glamour fruit of the industry, famed for its stunning golden flesh, sweet taste, health attributes and the returns it brought to growers, but now, around 20 years since it was released, the kiwifruit known as Hort16A or Zespri Gold looks set to disappear from fruit bowls, according to a Bay of Plenty Times article cited by

Kiwifruit Vine Health, the organisation charged with helping the industry overcome the vine killing disease Psa-V has said that "Gold 16A almost definitely does not have a future in the Psa-V environment and this cultivar will need to be eventually replaced".

If that's the case it will bring to an end an exciting era for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry which saw it launch one of the few new fruits to the world in the 20th century.

The gold fleshed fruit was naturally bred in the late 1970s by HortResearch (now Plant and Food) scientists at the Te Puke research orchard using seeds imported from China. A female plant which produced yellow fleshed fruit was crossed with a male fruit known to produce large succulent fruit.

The fruit was marketed under the brand name Zespri Gold and found rapid acceptance particularly in Asia and Japan where its sweeter taste was preferred over its green fleshed cousin.

So lucrative was the fruit that many orchards were converted to gold and entire new blocks were planted, especially in Te Puke.

Now with Hort16a about to bow out, the New Zealand industry, and Zespri in particular, will be looking at ways to improve returns for green growers, in an effort to ensure the industry remains viable until answers to Psa are found.