NSW takes tough stance on suspected citrus canker
Following strong evidence citrus canker has been detected in Darwin, the NSW Government has taken a tough stance on biosecurity, issuing a Control Order prohibiting the entry of all citrus from the Northern Territory including plants, fruit and leaves.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) issued the Biosecurity (Citrus Canker) Control Order 2018, which will be in effect from 20 April 2018 for 18 months (unless revoked prior).
According to DPI’s Deputy Director General, Biosecurity and Food Safety, Dr Bruce Christie, the Order is a necessary precautionary measure to protect NSW citrus industries.
“We are still waiting on final rounds of lab results to confirm what we suspect is citrus canker. This diagnostic testing is complex and may take several weeks,” Dr Christie said.
“At this stage, we don’t know how the disease may have infected plants in the Northern Territory, and all leads are being investigated to determine its origin and how far it may have spread.
“In the meantime, emergency response measures have been activated to manage any potential risk of the disease spreading.
“DPI specialists at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute are playing a vital role, testing samples collected from a wide-range of citrus from the Northern Territory as part of the response.”
Citrus canker is a contagious disease caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas citri sub species citri, which can affect all citrus plants. There are also non-citrus hosts for this disease.
The disease presents as lesions or cankers and severely impacts fruit quality and yield. In the worst cases, it can cause trees to die.
Citrus is one of most important horticultural industries in NSW with a production area of around 13,000 hectares.
NSW produces around 250,000 tonnes of citrus annually representing 40 per cent of Australian production and 36 per cent of citrus exports.
The Australian citrus industry is the largest fresh fruit exporter in Australia worth in excess of $200 million annually.
Citrus canker has been found in Australia previously and was successfully eradicated.
The disease does not affect human health, animals or other plants, and infected fruit remains safe to be consumed.
About citrus canker
- The disease presents as lesions or cankers at infection sites and severely impacts fruit quality and yield.
- The symptoms of citrus canker include blister-like lesions on both sides of the leaves that are raised, tan to brown in colour, and are surrounded by an oily, water-soaked margin and a yellow ring or halo. Large or older lesions may have a crater-like appearance.
- Premature fruit drop can occur, along with defoliation, twig dieback and general tree decline. In severe cases, it can lead to tree death.
Key facts on the NSW citrus industry
- The largest and most important production areas in NSW are in the Riverina and Murray Valley regions, with smaller plantings located around Bourke, Narromine and the Central and North coast regions of NSW.
- The main citrus fruits grown in NSW are navel and Valencia oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit.
Media contact: 02 6391 3686
Acknowledgement: reproduced from a media release by NSW Department of Primary Industries