High Value Crops

High value crops are those agricultural and horticultural plants that are highly significant to New Zealand's primary industries. Continued access to new genetic material is a crucial step in providing the varieties that customers’ desire and in developing varieties with improved traits. Development of these crops also provides a basis for research and innovation in the biotechnology sector.

Import Requirements

All plants imported into New Zealand must meet certain phytosanitary requirements prior to receiving biosecurity clearance. The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that destructive pests and diseases are not inadvertently imported in association with these plants.

The phytosanitary requirements are determined by MAF and published in the form of import health standards. Requirements include inspection, testing or treatment of the plants, prior to export, upon arrival at the New Zealand border and most commonly for high value crops, in post-entry quarantine (PEQ). Depending on the importance of the crop and the severity of the potentially associated pests and diseases, imported seed and plants may be released at the border (e.g. many vegetable seeds) or following PEQ.

Further information about the import requirements for propagative plant material may be found at:

Post-Entry Quarantine Space & Testing

Unless sourced from MAF-approved high health schemes, many important crops (e.g. apple budwood, potato tissue culture and raspberry canes) must be imported into the most contained level of PEQ (Level 3). There are three levels of PEQ in New Zealand (see standard PBC-NZ-TRA-PQCON: Specification for the Registration of a Plant Quarantine or Containment Facility, and Operator). Level 3 is the most stringent, and is reserved for important crops and/or plants that may be infected by the most damaging pests and diseases. A full list of the nursery stock and seeds which require Level 3 PEQ may be found here Link to PDF document (57 KB).

Plants in Level 3 PEQ generally undergo a pre-determined testing regime prior to clearance and therefore to be fully operational PEQ facilities must have access to an accredited testing laboratory. The pre-determined tests which are required in PEQ are specified in MAF's import health standards, and detailed on the import permit. To ensure that latent infections are detected, the tests are mandatory and must be done irrespective of whether the plants appear diseased. MAF's Plant Health and Environment Laboratory (PHEL) develops PEQ testing manuals, describing the materials and methods used to test for pests and diseases in quarantine, based on the requirements described in the import health standard. These manuals are available in the links below.

Whole plants and cuttings must be imported into a Level 3 quarantine greenhouse during the quarantine period. Tissue culture may be imported into a Level 3 Quarantine Tissue Culture Laboratory for all or part of the quarantine period, depending on the diseases which may be associated with the plants.

PHEL is able to provide Level 3 PEQ space and testing for imported plants and seeds, on a fully cost-recovered basis. The price list for providing these services is available on the PHEL website.

A number of private companies (including ArborGen (offsite link to www.arborgen.co.nz), Plant & Food Research, (offsite link to www.plantandfood.co.nz) and The Tree Lab (offsite link to www.thetreelab.com)) have developed Level 3 PEQ capacity to quarantine crops such as Actinidia (kiwifruit), Vaccinium (blueberry) and Vitis (grapevine). Plant & Food Research also has an accredited testing laboratory which has been approved to test a limited range of imported plants such as kiwifruit.

PHEL is also responsible for diagnosing the cause of pest and disease symptoms that are observed during inspections of plants held in PEQ; unlike pre-determined tests, diagnostic tests are only required if symptoms are observed. This diagnostic work is also cost-recovered and complements the pre-determined testing that is required for crops held in Level 3 PEQ. Diagnostic testing is generally more expensive because a broad range of tests is required to identify the cause of the symptoms and more than one pest may be identified. The price list for diagnostic tests is available on the PHEL website.

As an alternative to undergoing Level 3 PEQ in New Zealand, MAF will consider allowing high health plants from MAF-approved sources to be imported into a lower level of quarantine. A list of accredited sources of high health material can be obtained here. Plants from these high-health sources may require some testing in quarantine in New Zealand, this service is also available from PHEL.

PEQ Testing Manuals

Stakeholder Updates

Page last updated: 10 April 2014