Encouraging results from citrus canker response

2 July 2018

(Issued by Department of Agriculture)

The strong response to the citrus canker detection in the Northern Territory is delivering important outcomes, as government and industry work together to manage this significant plant health risk.

Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Kim Ritman, said positive news from the tracing of potentially infected plants provided assurance that the risk was being managed effectively.

“Despite extensive tracing from the initial detection in the NT and inspections on around 950 premises, only 20 additional plants have been confirmed as infected and these have been seized and destroyed,” Dr Ritman said.

“Surveillance has been conducted on more than 560 premises in the Northern Territory and 380 in Western Australia, and there have been no detections outside of these jurisdictions.

“The detections remain restricted to the home and garden sector in the far north of Australia, well away from the main citrus production areas in the south.

“Thousands of tonnes of citrus fruit for international and interstate export has been inspected, with no detections of citrus diseases.

“Routine surveillance for citrus pests undertaken by industry and government has also provided assurance that the disease is not present in commercial production areas.”

The current detection in NT is markedly different to the 2004 Emerald outbreak in Queensland, as the source of that outbreak was in a commercial citrus area. It has also been confirmed as a different genetic strain of citrus canker, so it is not a re-emergence of past outbreaks.

The response plan and ongoing biosecurity work ensures government and industry are doing their part to protect Australia’s biosecurity, but support from the public and farmers is also highly important.

“Farmers need to ensure they have effective on-farm biosecurity measures in place to manage any potential risks on their properties and reduce the likelihood of pests and diseases getting into their orchards,” Dr Ritman said.

“I also encourage members of the public to keep an eye out for any suspect citrus canker symptoms—and if you see something, immediately report it to your local biosecurity department on 1800 084 881.”

For information on identifying and reporting suspected cases of citrus canker, visit outbreak.gov.au.

For information regarding on-farm biosecurity, visit farmbiosecurity.com.au.