19 July, 2017
The ABGC Board has committed to providing regular updates via email to the industry throughout the current round of testing of suspect plant material found on a Tully farm last week.
In terms of ongoing on-farm biosecurity management, the ABGC recognises that feral pigs are a large risk in the spreading of TR4 and have requested the Queensland Government commence a comprehensive and coordinated feral pig management program.
We also ask that everyone respects the biosecurity requirements of all banana farms and only enter when invited.
The following is an update as at 18 July:
SITUATION WITH SUSPECT TR4 SAMPLE
On 4 July 2017, the Tully grower advised Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) that 17 Banana Plants in a small patch in an isolated five-hectare paddock, on their 130-hectare property had symptoms consistent with possible Panama Topical Race 4 (TR4).
Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) immediately took samples and on 12 July issued a notice to the grower which advised that the initial PCR test result (a molecular test) on one of the samples had indicated that there is a possibility it could be a TR4 infection. The definitive test to determine if the sample is TR4 is a VCG (biological test) and that will take another three weeks.
The grower advised the following facts:
· The diseased plants are all in less than one hectare, close to the national park. Ten plants are in one tight cluster and the others surround that cluster.
· Feral pigs are common in the area.
· Very good on-farm biosecurity has been practised on the farm.
· While TR4 has not been definitively confirmed, every precaution to protect Australia’s vital banana growing industry is being applied.
· Strict quarantine on the area was immediately and voluntarily imposed.
· While only a small patch of land is affected, the entire paddock has been isolated. No equipment has been allowed in or out of the paddock in line with BQ protocols.
· Harvesting and packing operations for much of the farm has stopped until a system is put in place to remove all soil and plant material from any machinery crossing or traversing any public road.
· BQ have deployed surveillance people looking for further suspect plants out on the farm.
· If the VCG result shows that the samples are TR4, the intention is to meet all BQ regulatory requirements and to continue to pack fruit from the rest of the farm.
· At that point, the suspect-looking plants will be destroyed as per BQs protocols.
· If the sample is proven to be some other disease, then the additional biosecurity measures would have been applied as a precaution.
In summary, the grower is implementing strategies in case the VCG result comes back positive. That is, the site is being secured and farming systems are being changed to accommodate a likely TR4 infection.
The grower is working cooperatively with BQ and will keep ABGC and the industry informed of developments.
This e-bulletin is produced by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council as a part of the Communications Project for the Banana Industry funded by HIA Ltd using the banana industry R&D levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.
It is important that ABGC is advised if you know of growers who are not receiving these e-bulletins or the Australian Banana magazine. We may have out of date email or postal addresses for these growers.Please email any updated contact details to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, it is important for membership purposes that growers advise ABGC if they change trading name or their agent (wholesaler) or add one, and also to let their agent know.