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New case of suspected Panama TR4 at a Queensland banana farm

A suspected new case of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) has been detected on a Tully Valley banana farm in Far North Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program Leader Rhiannon Evans said our surveillance team identified banana plants displaying symptoms typical of Panama TR4 during a routine inspection of a property last month.

“We have a positive result from preliminary diagnostic testing for Panama TR4, however further testing is required before a conclusive result can be determined and this testing can take up to four weeks to complete,” she said. “The grower was notified immediately and we are working with them to ensure strict on-farm biosecurity measures are maintained with a focus on preventing disease spread and minimising any production downtime. The property with the suspect detection is in close proximity to the three previously confirmed infested properties.”

File Photo: Biosecurity measures in Queensland from a previous detection. Source ABGC

While Panama TR4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit, Ms Evans added the Queensland Government would continue to stand with the banana industry to meet the challenges of Panama TR4.

“Since the first detection of Panama TR4 in Queensland in 2015, banana growers have made strong biosecurity measures part of their day-to-day operations, and the ‘come clean, leave clean’ message is well and truly embedded in the community,” she said. “It is important for growers to report suspect looking plants as soon as possible. Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow disease spread and can extend the on-going viability of farms. This suspect detection reinforces the need for growers to implement and maintain robust on-farm biosecurity measures to protect their farms and the wider banana industry. It is equally important for growers to introduce strategies that will minimise production downtime if the disease is detected on their property.”

Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair Stephen Lowe said while the industry knew the disease would eventually spread, it’s still news no one wants to hear.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the grower affected. This is no doubt going to be a challenging time for them and their family, and we will look to help them through this in any way we can,” he said. “This is definitely news that no-one in our industry wanted to hear. Biosecurity Queensland has a strong surveillance program in place and this has assisted with early detection of the disease in this instance.”

Mr Lowe added that the new suspect detection was another reminder that Panama TR4 was here to stay and encouraged all growers to maintain strong biosecurity practices.

“It is an incredible feat that the disease has been contained to such a small area so far," he added. "Indeed, this latest case is in close proximity to the other affected farms in Tully. However, there can be no doubt that it is spreading – and sadly it will continue to do so.”

If anyone suspects Panama TR4, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. To find out more about Panama TR4 visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.

To stay up to date follow Biosecurity Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@BiosecurityQld)

Source: ABGC Media Release


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