Tomato seeds and making sure they are disease free
By Janine Grul
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are tasked with keeping our environment as safe as possible from new pests and diseases. One possibility for introduction of new diseases is seed. When a new virus or disease is detected in a crop you can be sure that seed is the first thing that MPI look at to see if this could have been the cause.
MPI maintain the Import Health Standard for Seeds for Sowing (IHS) – current version is 163 pages. https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/9575-Draft-Import-Health-Standard-155.02.05-Seeds-for-Sowing
Seed companies like Lefroy Valley bring ALL their seed into New Zealand with the paperwork, seed tests and declarations currently required under this IHS. MPI regularly update the IHS to cover new threats when they are identified around the world. These changes can cause delays to seed coming into NZ as additional testing is required.
For example, changes to the IHS in the past year had all seed companies scrambling to get seed officially tested for Tomato Mottle Mosaic Virus when MPI added this to the IHS without any warning or grace period. This caused months of delay in seed imports for tomato (and capsicum) seed as every variety now needed to be retested before it could come to NZ or be tested on shore when it arrived – at a cost of around NZ $2,000 per test!
Current IHS for tomato seed alone has 8 diseases/virus that seed need to be tested for and found free of to be able to come into NZ. Lefroy Valley’s tomato breeders: Axia Vegetable Seed & Gautier Semences, produce their seed under the GPPS brand. This is a standard of hygiene in seed production and plant raising to prevent infection with pathogens. During production seed is closely monitored for any sign of problems. All seed lots are tested for disease and identified by unique lot and batch numbers to be fully traceable.
On a recent visit to the International Mail Centre in Mangere where a huge proportion of mail arrives into NZ, it was concerning to find out just how many packets of seed arrive in envelops and parcels. Many of these packets are not from reputable seed companies, nor identified as to what they contained and some had live insects living in them too. Many packs are concealed to try to hide the fact they are seeds! The potential for disease to enter NZ this way is a worry. The mail staff do their best to find these often-illegal packs of seed but some will no doubt slip through just because of the huge volume of mail arriving.
Lefroy Valley want to be sure we have the healthiest and most disease-free seed possible to give the grower the best chance at having a successful crop.
If you are interested to hear about tomato varieties from the Lefroy Valley range, please call Paula 021 731 009 and Janine 0274 438 024.
Article supplied by:
Technical Sales & Administrative Manager