Australia: TR4 spreads on quarantined banana farm
Despite measures taken to quarantine a Queensland banana farm where Panama disease Tropical Race IV (TR4) was detected earlier this year, the devastating fungus has spread to another section of the plantation.
The Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC) chairman Doug Phillips said the plant was on the same Tully Valley farm that was quarantined in early March.
The plant is in a separate farming block to the area where the original infested plants were found and destroyed.
"The find of a TR4-infested banana plant on another section of the quarantined farm emphasises the importance of the surveillance work being done by Biosecurity Queensland to minimise the risk of the disease spreading," Phillips said.
"While the situation remains that TR4 has only been detected on one quarantined banana farm all growers need to keep a watch for any banana plants showing symptoms of the plant disease and report concerns to Biosecurity Queensland."
Soon after the detection was confirmed in March, the ABGC destroyed a total of 210 plants on a 10-hectare section of the farm, including the 10 plants that had tested positive for TR4 plus another 200 surrounding plants.
Phillips said growers needed to remember TR4 could be present for some time before banana plants show any symptoms.
"TR4 symptoms may become visible fairly quickly in some instances or they could take more than a year to become evident so growers need to keep checking and rechecking their plants," he said.
"We’d also ask everyone in our banana growing communities to keep up their efforts to support growers’ on-farm biosecurity protocols and to gain permission before visiting banana farms."
The biosecurity response to TR4 has included workshops funded jointly by the Federal and Queensland Governments informing growers about TR4 and on-farm biosecurity practices.
The workshops, managed by ABGC, are continuing and have so far been attended by growers whose farms cover 70% of the North Queensland banana production area.
TR4 is a soil-borne fungal disease that affects banana plants by entering the root system and stopping the plants taking up water. It does not affect banana fruit and is not a risk to human health.
The TR4 pathogen is carried in soil, water or plant material and is a major threat to the global banana industry. The quarantined Tully Valley farm is the only location where it has been confirmed in North Queensland.