04 May 2018
The Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) is continuing work to trace citrus plants that may have been infected with citrus canker, and is working to re-establish interstate trade of citrus fruit, leaves and nursery stock out of the Northern Territory.
Plants suspected of being infected with citrus canker (Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri) were discovered in nurseries in Darwin and Palmerston in early April.
“We have a response team in place working to eradicate this disease,” DPIR Chief Plant Health Officer Sarah Corcoran said.
“Our priorities at the moment include tracing where potentially infected citrus plants have moved to, visiting nurseries to inspect plants, following up public reports of suspected citrus canker on plants, and working with the citrus industry and interstate trading partners to re-establish trade.”
Surveillance officers have been visiting nurseries across Greater Darwin this week, and private properties that have reported evidence of citrus canker on their plants, to check for citrus canker and have taken samples and quarantined plants as necessary.
“We are working our way through nurseries, fruit producers and domestic properties who’ve made reports. Please contact the citrus canker hotline on 1800 931 722 if you are a commercial grower or nursery and haven’t heard from the department, or believe you require a surveillance officer to inspect citrus at your property,” Ms Corcoran said.
“So far we have only found signs of citrus canker in nursery stock, and all suspect plants were purchased earlier this year.
“This is encouraging as it hopefully means we have detected the disease early and will have a better chance of eradication.
“At this stage we have not detected any signs of citrus canker on commercial citrus properties.”
Last week, interstate trading partners put a temporary halt on citrus canker hosts – fruit, leaves and nursery stock – moving out of the Northern Territory.
“The trading ban is a temporary measure at this stage and we are working through options to re-establish trade at the moment,” Ms Corcoran said.
“We will need to gain agreement from trading partners and industry before trade can recommence.
“The Northern Territory Farmers Association has established an industry reference group of Top End citrus growers, which met last week to discuss the movement restrictions.
“A response plan for the next six months has been submitted to the Consultative Committee of Emergency Plant Pests. This plan is being reviewed and once finalised will guide our activities and help us determine the best way to eradicate this disease.
“We continue to ask Territorians to please check their citrus plants for signs of citrus canker and report any suspected cases to the Citrus Canker Hotline on 1800 931 722. Please do not move the plants or take samples yourself.
“We thank everyone who has already contacted the hotline and are following up on all these reports, as early identification will give us the best chance of containing and eradicating citrus canker from the Northern Territory.”
Citrus canker diagnosis is a lengthy and complex process involving multiple different tests. The Northern Territory is in the final stages of the confirmation process.
Media contact: 08 8999 2029