Tests confirm TR4 on suspect Tully Valley farm

Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has today announced that a suspect Panama Tropical Race 4 detection on a Tully farm has returned a positive result.

Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) has advised the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) that vegetative compatibility group tests (biological testing) has conclusively confirmed the presence of TR4 through samples taken from the farm.

The ABGC strongly urges growers to be vigilant in their on-farm biosecurity measures in light of this news.

“We are obviously very disappointed for the farm family involved.  At the same time, we are grateful as an industry that they have been proactive in bringing the suspect samples to the attention of BQ,” ABGC Chair Stephen Lowe said.

“This confirmation of TR4 is certainly not a good result for the industry, and I urge every grower in the north to ramp up on-farm biosecurity to minimise the risk of further spread.”

ABGC reminds banana growers to implement effective biosecurity practices – if they haven’t already done so – such as removing all plant material and soil from machinery and footwear before they are brought onto their farms.

“The farm family have isolated and stopped all access to the infected block,” Mr Lowe said.

The family had good biosecurity in place prior to the detection and have since improved that some more.

It has been more than two years since the first detection of TR4 on a banana property in Tully and ABGC is confident every means possible is being taken to protect the remainder of our vital Australian banana industry.

“The industry expected TR4 to spread and growers have been preparing for this,” Mr Lowe said.

It is essential for the industry and region, that everyone respect quarantine areas and for people to stay out of all banana farms unless invited by the grower.

It is also timely to remind everyone that the latest positive results will not impact fruit sold to consumers. There is also no expectation that supply will be challenged.

Mr Lowe said the pathogen responsible for TR4 impacts the banana tree/plant, not the fruit.

“It enters the plant’s root system and restricts its uptake of water, stopping it from producing harvestable bunches and eventually killing it.  So the impact on-farm is the ability to grow that banana plant.

“So the message right now is, the best way people can continue to support the banana industry is to keep buying bananas. Bananas will continue to be a healthy, delicious and nutritious product and will not be affected,” Mr Lowe said.