Panama TR4 detected on sixth banana farm

Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) has been detected on a sixth commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley.

Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) has advised the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) that samples taken from suspect plants have returned positive results from diagnostic testing known as PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

As these are the first plants taken from the property to return a positive diagnosis, additional testing will be completed to provide further confidence in these initial results. This testing will likely take several weeks.

The suspect plants were discovered during routine surveillance by BQ.

Panama TR4 was first detected in the Tully Valley in 2015, and there have now been five farms detected since.

ABGC CEO Jim Pekin confirmed that the new detection was on a farm in close proximity to the other infected properties.

He said any news of a new detection was a nervous time for both the grower and industry.

“First and foremost, our focus is on the affected grower, their family and workforce as they wait for further testing results,” Mr Pekin said.

“We always knew that as a soil-borne disease, it was going to be challenging to limit the spread of Panama TR4. However, this doesn’t detract from how devastating it is, and it comes at a time when many banana growers are facing unprecedented challenges.”

Mr Pekin and BQ agree that the new detection reinforces the need for growers to adopt and maintain robust biosecurity measures.

“This is a timely reminder to growers to ensure their on-farm biosecurity is robust, for the protection of their farm and the wider banana industry,” he said.

Mr Pekin reiterated the fact that Biosecurity Queensland and North Queensland growers have had incredible success in slowing the spread of Panama TR4, managing the disease more successfully than any other country in the world.

“We have demonstrated that we have the tenacity to rise to challenges presented by this disease, and I am confident that we will continue to do this into the future.”