An outbreak of citrus canker disease is reportedly spreading in Australia, putting the US$600 million citrus industry on edge.
The country has been free of the disease for more than a decade, but it was discovered on a potted lime tree in April in a plant nursery in Darwin, The Australian reported.
Last week infected trees were found in Katherine in the Northern Territory and in Kununurra in Western Australia.
It is understood 4000 citrus potplants were sold by the Darwin nursery to retailers in New South Wales (NSW), Queensland and South Australia during the past year, according to the article.
Fears are rising that the outbreak could quickly reach the major citrus-growing regions of South Australia’s Riverland, the Murray Valley, central Queensland and northern NSW.
Some of Australia’s largest fruit growers are reported to be furious at how the outbreak has been handled by government officials and industry organizations, accusing biosecurity authorities and Citrus Australia of a “code of silence” about the outbreak and downplaying its seriousness by saying it is confined to urban gardens.