Australia: Citrus canker detected in Northern Territory

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Australia: Citrus canker detected in Northern Territory

Citrus canker has been detected in retail nurseries in Australia's Northern Territory, but to date the disease has only been found on a potted lime variety that is not found in commercial production. 

Citrus canker. Photo: Plant Health Australia.

In a release, the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources said "a number of citrus plants" showing signs of infection were removed from nurseries from Darwin and Palmerston.

"It is thought that three citrus plants were sold from a Darwin nursery and three sold from a Palmerston nursery," the department said.

"The department has strong evidence to suggest the plants are infected with citrus canker.

"Early detection, reporting and not moving infected plants is vital, and will give the department the best chance of eradicating this disease. The department is asking the public to check their citrus plants for symptoms."

In response, Citrus Australia emphasized all citrus products concerned had been removed from the affected nurseries and held in quarantine to be disposed of safely.

"Citrus canker has previously been found in Australia and was successfully eradicated", said Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock.

"We hope that this early detection and related activity to contain the disease through controlled movement of citrus plant material will give us the best chance of eradicating the disease", he continued.

The Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP), which provides technical and scientific advice in response to exotic plant pest and disease outbreaks, has met to discuss the detection.

"Citrus Australia is working on this issue with successful eradication as the desired outcome in this instance. We will be working with the authorities, local community and growers to do what we can to achieve this", Hancock said.

He said Citrus Australia wanted to encourage all citrus growers to report any signs of citrus canker, calling on all nurserymen and growers to inspect any new material and be aware of its origin.

Plants that were purchased over the past 12 months are of particular concern. The symptoms of citrus canker include blister-like lesions on leaves, stems and fruit 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.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports the disease destroyed more than half a million trees in the state of Queensland 14 years ago

Photo: APHIS, via Wikimedia Commons

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