Australia identifies key pests to protect berry industry

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Australia identifies key pests to protect berry industry

Australia has launched a biosecurity plan to protect its growing raspberry and blackberry industries. The Industry Biosecurity Plan for the Rubus Industry announced last week at Berry Quest in Mooroolbark, Victoria will focus on pest management and other potential threats.

Plant Health Australia manager Brad Siebert cited Spotted-winged drosophila or Drosophila suzukii as the biggest concern for the local industry.

"Unlike other fruit flies, this pest can infest not just ripe fruit, but also fruit as it is ripening. The females lay eggs beneath the skin, larvae hatch and feed on the fruit leading to rapid softening and wrinkling, rendering the fruit unmarketable," Siebert said.

The plan identified 200 exotic pests, including 13 high risk pests, that could pose a risk to the Australian industry if they were to enter the country.

Raspberries and Blackberries Australia president Philip Rowe said the plan will focus on reducing the risk of exposure to such pests.

"One thing we need to do is to raise awareness of exotic pest threats among rubus growers. That way, if one of these pests does make it into the country, we can spot it quickly, giving us the best chance to contain it and hopefully eradicate it," Rowe said.

There are currently 140 berry farms across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, according to Plant Health Australia. The value of the industry grew from US$11.6 million in 2005-06, to US$38.7 million in 2011-12.


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