AU: Region's grape industry saved by some quick action

Central Highlands table grape growers may have been saved from losing their interstate markets without even realising they were in jeopardy.

Hy-Mal has long been an effective fruit fly bait spray used by grape growers in the region, and up until September this year, growers were allowed to use the spray in a fashion that satisfied the conditions for marketing grapes into interstate fruit fly quarantine areas.

The problem was, the permit to use Hy-Mal ended in September and was replaced by a differently worded permit that only satisfied the wine grape industry, which applies the spray in a different fashion.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry staff picked up the omission from the new 2012 permit, which would effectively have shut out many Queensland growers from interstate markets.

"If Queensland growers were forced to apply the bait as a spot spray, according to the newly issued October 1 permit, they would not satisfy the requirements of (interstate guidelines) and would have been unable to consign table grapes to domestic markets such as Melbourne and Adelaide," DAFF principal horticulturist David Oag said.

"We immediately contacted Crop Care (who manufactures Hy-Mal) and the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority, urging there be a delineation between methods of application."

Crop Care horticulture business manager Kerrie Mackay said urgent requests were made to the APVMA to amend the permit's wording - which it did.

Mr Oag said baiting was a widely used fruit fly control strategy across the Queensland table grape industry, and Hy-Mal remained a major option.

"Hy-Mal is now one of the few remaining effective measures that grape growers have against fruit fly," he said.


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