Samples taken from banana plants on another property in the Tully Valley have returned a positive result from an initial molecular (PCR) test for Panama disease tropical race 4.
Panama disease tropical race 4 was initially detected on Cavendish banana plants on a farm in the Tully Valley, North Queensland, on 3 March 2015.
Biosecurity Queensland’s Chief Biosecurity Officer, Dr Jim Thompson said a range of diagnostic tests were yet to be completed by the Plant Biosecurity Laboratory in Brisbane and until all tests were completed, a final conclusive positive result cannot be given.
“The suite of tests will take up to 4-6 weeks to complete,” Dr Thompson said.
“The property owners are working with Biosecurity Queensland to control and contain any disease and mitigate the risk of further spread. They’re exceptionally proactive and already have strict on-farm biosecurity measures in place on their property.
“The property owners are erecting exclusion fencing around the area to minimise the potential risk of disease spread while diagnostic testing is completed.
“We will be working with them and the peak industry body, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, to provide support and advice as required.
“Prompt reporting of plants with suspected symptoms of Panama disease is a legal requirement, and critical to successful containment of the disease. Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow any spread.
“Growers are urged to maintain their on-farm biosecurity to protect their properties from Panama disease tropical race 4.
“As the disease is spread through soil, mud and infected plant material, it is essential that people, vehicles and machinery and equipment are appropriately decontaminated on property entry and exit.”
Panama disease tropical race 4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit. The fungus only affects the health of the plant and its ability to produce fruit. Bananas are still good to eat.
If you suspect Panama disease in your plants, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. To find out more about Panama disease tropical race 4 visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.
Australian Banana Growers Council:
Biosecurity Queensland has today announced a suspect Panama TR4 detection on a Tully farm.
The Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) urges growers to ramp up their on-farm biosecurity measures in light of the news of this suspect detection.
“The initial molecular test has come back positive. It will be four to six weeks before the definitive test results are known,” ABGC Chair, Stephen Lowe said.
“Nonetheless, growers need to protect their farms as this TR4 risk is not going away.”
ABGC reminds banana growers to implement effective biosecurity practices, such as removing all plant material and soil from machinery and footwear before they are brought onto their farms.
The ABGC has been advised that a grower on a property near the first infected farm in Tully, recently reported a suspect plant to Biosecurity Queensland (BQ).
Mr Lowe said that BQ took a number of samples from a part of that property which have undergone diagnostic testing over the past week in their Brisbane laboratory.
“The molecular test known as a PCR test has now come back positive for Panama TR4, and it will be several weeks before the definitive test results from a biological test are completed.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the property owners for their prompt response in reporting the suspect plants to authorities. Their reporting of this is imperative to control the fungus spreading further and affecting more farms.”
“ABGC is working closely with the owners of this property to provide assistance and ensure every possible measure is taken to avoid the further spread of this soil borne disease.”
“The farm owners have isolated and stopped all access to that block,” Mr Lowe said.
The important thing to note for the public is that banana fruit is not affected by Panama TR4 and it remains completely safe to eat and handle.
Mr Lowe said that TR4 only affects banana plants when the pathogen enters their root system and restricts their uptake of water, stopping them from producing harvestable bunches and eventually killing them.