Banana freckle disease again detected in Northern Territory

Unfortunately, the plant disease known as banana freckle has been found in the Northern Territory again. The detection occurs three years after it was officially eradicated from Australia. According to NT Farmers chief executive Paul Burke, the disease had been confirmed on a rural, residential property in the Batchelor region, south of Darwin, on Tuesday afternoon.

Burke said it was too early to determine the source or the potential spread of the disease: "Banana freckle causes leaves and fruit to become spotty and has a sandpaper feel when touched. The disease significantly reduces fruit quality and yields." He added that the disease was seen as a major threat to Australia's $500 million banana industry.

NT chief plant health officer Anne Walters said the outbreak had been detected on dwarf cavendish bananas and surveillance to understand the extent of the infestation had started. "It may well be limited to one or several properties in that [Batchelor] area, or it may be more widespread, so we're doing a lot of surveillance," Dr Walters said. "We have restrictions on the property in question and asked them not to move any plant material or fruit off the property... this restriction is limited to just this property at this stage."

Dr Walters said it was too early to say whether or not the government would enforce more restrictions or conduct an eradication program.



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