Successfully growing bananas in spite of Fusarium wilt Panama disease is already a part of everyday operations for many banana growers, including the finalists at the most recent Farmer of the Year awards.
East Palmerston growers Shannon Paton and partner Sarah Schultz and Walkamin’s Michael and Lisa Lankester were finalists in the plant biosecurity category at the 2014 awards. Shannon and Sarah went on to be awarded the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year title in the plant category.
Both couples have implemented biosecurity protocols on their farms to guard against Panama race 1, the race that has been present in east coast growing regions for many years. Race 1 affects non-Cavendish varieties including Lady Fingers and niche varieties such as Ducasse and Red Dacca.
Since confirmation of the more serious race of Panama disease, Tropical Race 4, in the Tully Valley, both Shannon and Michael have been fielding calls of assistance from growers wanting to know where to start with on-farm biosecurity.
As TR4 affects all banana varieties, the growers have also been reassessing their own on-farm biosecurity.
All growers of race-1 susceptible varieties have been warned not to dismiss any apparent infestations on their farms as race 1.