In April 2018, Citrus canker was found in the Northern Territory (NT); a contagious plant disease affecting the health of citrus plants, including lemon, lime, mandarin, pomelo and grapefruit plants and some of our native species. The NT Government has been working with the community, local citrus farmers and industry groups such as NT Farmers to ensure the disease doesn’t spread, and to get rid of the disease from the NT entirely.
Restrictions on the movement and growing of citrus plants are in place. Where a plant with citrus canker disease is found, a Restricted Area is declared and all citrus canker host plants within 600 metres of the infected plant must be removed. Citrus plants cannot be replanted in the Restricted Areas until the restrictions are lifted.
The intention behind this to ensure that the disease cannot spread beyond the area of infection. On properties where citrus canker host plants have been removed, the property must be re-surveyed twice to confirm there is no regrowth or citrus canker host plant material available for the disease to live on.
Removing citrus canker host plants from Restricted Areas and re-surveying properties helps the NT demonstrate freedom from citrus canker disease. Proving freedom from the disease will enable the lifting of movement, cultivation and quarantine restrictions for citrus plants, leaves and fruit currently in place in the NT.
As at 31 July 2019, 99 per cent of residential properties in the 13 declared Restricted Areas in the NT had been surveyed for citrus canker host plants, and a total of 4,540 citrus canker host plants had been removed.
The first round of re-surveillance has been completed on 87 per cent of these properties with no evidence of citrus canker disease found during re-surveillance.
'Fantastic community support'
Claire Morton, Program Manager, National Citrus Canker Eradication Program, said: “Thanks to the fantastic community support for the citrus canker eradication program, including reporting symptoms of the disease and not growing citrus plants in any of the Restricted Areas, we’re able to work towards declaring the NT free of the disease in the future. Once this is achieved it will be great to have all of the current movement, cultivation and quarantine restrictions lifted for commercial farmers and residents in the NT. We ask residents to get their citrus plants checked for the disease, as this is a key part of the citrus canker eradication plan.
“Citrus plants purchased or received since 1 January 2017 are of particular interest, as they may have been in direct contact with the disease. “Residents with these plants are asked to contact us to arrange a free plant health check.”