Spraying HiCane in Alert Levels 4 and 3: extra precautions needed

The nationwide Alert Level 4 lockdown means people around the country are at home all day and this poses real challenges when applying HiCane. Zespri and NZKGI are receiving calls from concerned members of the public and we’re seeing the concern on social media about HiCane spraying during lockdown.

The Government confirmed food production businesses – including the kiwifruit industry – can continue to operate under enhanced health and safety protocols under Alert Level 4, which means HiCane application is permitted. However, this is a privilege and widespread public concern about spraying could jeopardise our industry being allowed to operate as essential workers.

Given the unique circumstances of the HiCane application period coming at the same time as a nationwide lockdown, we strongly advise all spray applicators consider the following extra measures to provide additional public confidence.

  • Appoint a spotter to observe applications and warn any passersby
  • Reschedule applications on orchards in residential areas until lockdown is lifted
  • Check with the MSO that neighbours have been notified at least 12 hours beforehand (24 hours in Northland)
  • Double check you meet all obligations for signage, pre-application risk assessment and keeping spray on the orchard
  • Consider using no-spray buffer zones on bays which back on to residential properties or where shelterbelts are in poor condition
  • Please be extra considerate as neighbours don’t have the option of leaving their homes while HiCane is applied.

Please also be aware there will be many more people out walking on rural roads during lockdown and extra care is needed when applying HiCane and other agrichemicals near roads and walkways.

Lockdown can be stressful for everyone – stay safe and be kind. For more information, contact Zespri’s compliance team at 027 2836192 and preharvest@zespri.com

Industry Safe Spray Requirements

While many growers choose to get spray contractors to do their Hi-Cane application, the MSO (usually the grower but sometimes the orchard manager by agreement) must:

  • Ensure spray plans are in place and that risk areas on their orchards like nearby houses, schools, livestock, other crops, waterways etc. are understood.
  • Ensure the required signs are in place.
  • Prevent spray from drifting off the orchard and take care around sensitive areas like paths and waterways.
  • Make sure that spraying only takes place in the right conditions – ie no more than a breeze. Zespri’s GET team will be providing specific resources on the latest drift research and best practice to support growers and spray contractors this season.
  • Notify neighbours at least 12 hours beforehand (the time period can vary by region and you can check requirements on Growsafe’s website) – this is critical. Make sure you have the right phone numbers for your neighbours so you can get in touch when planning your spraying.
  • Make sure spray stays on the orchard. Spray applications must be made using AI nozzles and drift reducing adjuvants to minimize drift , and shelter will reduce drift leaving the orchard. Where shelter is poor, adjust spray practices or use no-spray buffer areas.
  • Listen to your spray contractor – if they tell you the conditions aren’t right for spraying, wait until conditions are right.

Spray contractors are responsible for:

  • Following the spray plan
  • Meeting local government requirements including signage and drift management
  • Making sure staff have the appropriate qualifications

If your spray contractor tells you the conditions aren’t right for spraying, wait for the right conditions. Remember the MSO and the spray contractor are both responsible for following the rules around Hi-Cane use.

For spray contractors: If the grower/MSO tells you the conditions aren’t right for spraying, wait for the right conditions. Remember the MSO and the spray contractor are both responsible for following the rules around HiCane use.