Citrus canker not impacting international trade

The citrus canker detection in Darwin last month provided early enough warning to give hope for eradication, says Citrus Australia Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Hancock.

“I am involved on the ground and I’ve been providing industry input to the response,” Nathan said.

While there are no international trade implications at this time, some jurisdictions have introduced domestic movement controls to prevent entry of citrus canker hosts and carriers from the Northern Territory. These could be fruit, plants and plant material, soil, equipment and machinery.

The NT is not a significant commercial producer of citrus and in 2018 the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has not issued certification for the export of any citrus material from Darwin.

“We’re committed to maintaining our favourable pest and disease status, which includes internationally recognised freedom from citrus canker,” Nathan said.

The disease has not been detected in citrus growing areas, however surveillance in these areas is ongoing.

“Citrus growers buying new plant material should inspect it thoroughly and be sure to know its origin.”

Citrus canker can be spread rapidly over short distances, particularly in tropical and subtropical climates by wind-blown rain.  Overhead irrigation systems can also spread the disease. Long distance spread occurs through flooding, cyclones, or by people moving infected plant material or equipment.

“We also urge any Northern Territory residents who have citrus plants to check them for signs of citrus canker,” Nathan added.

“Early detection, reporting and not moving infected plants is vital for eradicating the disease.”

The symptoms of citrus canker include blister-like lesions on both sides of the leaves that are raised, tan to brown in colour and are surrounded by an oily, water-soaked margin and a yellow ring or halo. Large or older lesions may have a crater-like appearance.

Signs of infection should be reported immediately to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Additional resources

Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881

Citrus canker fact sheet (Plant Health Australia)