MEDIA RELEASE: Nurseries urged to remain vigilant after citrus canker found in Northern Territory

Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) is reminding growers to remain vigilant with their on-farm biosecurity measures, following an early detection of citrus canker at a plant retailer in the Northern Territory.

Citrus canker, a contagious disease largely affecting citrus trees, has not been detected in Australia since it was eradicated from Queensland in 2009, and could have detrimental impacts on the citrus industry if it were to spread further.

Symptoms of citrus canker may present as raised spongy lesions on leaves, stems and fruit that are tan to brown in colour and are surrounded by an oily, water-soaked margin, and a yellow ring or halo. Large or older lesions collapse forming a crater-like appearance.

While the majority of Australia’s citrus growing regions are geographically isolated from the NT detection, production nurseries play a vital role in the Australian citrus supply chain, producing seedlings and young trees that are sold across the wider industry from citrus growers through to retail outlets.

NGIA National Biosecurity Manager John McDonald is urging all growers to check their citrus plants and alert the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881if they detect any signs of citrus canker or plants displaying unusual disease symptoms.

“Protecting our nation’s world-leading biosecurity status is of upmost importance to our industry. It underpins our clean, green trading status and enables us to produce a safe, high-quality product that our customers value,” Mr McDonald said.

“Growers strive for continual best practice in biosecurity and the timing of this detection is another reminder to ensure that on-farm biosecurity programs are working effectively to help authorities stop citrus canker in its tracks.

“Any growers who spot citrus plants with unusual symptoms or suspect Citrus Canker in their crop should phone the Hotline, which will put you in touch with the respective department of primary industries or agriculture about the necessary next steps.”

Growers can check the latest citrus canker status update via the NGIA website, and visit www.pestid.com.aufor symptom identification.

Mr McDonald leads the nursery industry’s biosecurity program which is funded by Hort Innovation using the nursery R&D levy and funds from the Australian Government. The program works with a wider biosecurity

network to help limit the spread of exotic pests and disease such as citrus canker.

“Citrus canker is a serious plant disease and infected trees may suffer from low vigour and reduced fruit quality and quantity. It does not pose any threat to human or animal health, but has serious impacts on fruit production,” Mr McDonald said.

“We are working quickly and effectively with key industry bodies and government biosecurity agencies including the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources, which is currently taking the lead to contain this serious disease.”

More information on citrus canker can be found at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/pests-diseases-weeds/plant/citrus-canker

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