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New Zealand Plant Protection 68 (2015): 440

Remote microscopy diagnostics for pre-clearance export of apricots grown in Central Otago

B. Attfield and D. Anderson


Central Otago growers wishing to export apricots to Australia are required to have fruit graded, packed and inspected by a registered packhouse as part of the Offshore Pre-Clearance Inspection Programme. As part of this programme, an Australian government inspector is brought to Central Otago by the industry for approximately 6 weeks to carry out fruit inspections in the packhouse, specifically targeting insect interceptions. Any insects found in the 600 fruit sampled from each lot inspected (0.5-30 pallets) are brought to Plant & Food Research, Clyde, where a technician prepares the specimen for remote microscopy diagnostics (RMD). RMD enables same-day insect identification by experts from the Plant Health and Environment Laboratory, Ministry for Primary Industries, Christchurch. A camera mounted on a compound or stereo microscope relays images in real time via the internet, enabling the specimen to be manipulated by the technician in Clyde for identification by qualified staff in Christchurch. Previously, insect identification took approximately 3 days, as specimens were sent by courier from Central Otago to a certified laboratory in Auckland. RMD real time saving equates to less fruit spoilage and less disruption to transport systems awaiting shipments to be cleared.

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